Auctions and Brokerage
From the Collection of Thomas Mittler
The Crosley Hotshot
Crosley Motors debuted in 1939 as an offshoot of industrialist Powel Crosley Jr.’s self-made empire, built on radio and appliance manufacturing. Given the timing, the company’s fortunes might have suffered from the impending world conflict were it not for a wartime US Navy contract that approved development of their overhead-cam inline-four CoBra motor.
In a revised version featuring cast-iron construction, this engine found its way into the post-war models, including the Hotshot Roadster that first appeared in 1949. With its strong motor and low weight, the Hotshot could achieve 90 mph even without modifications. The model went on to win the Index of Performance at the inaugural 1950 6 Hours of Sebring and became a popular platform for SCCA racing.
The Crosley Gardner Special
This car began life as one of 742 Roadsters made for the 1950 model year, and by 1953 was owned by Chuck Gardner of Glendale, California. Mr. Gardner conducted a series of competition-oriented modifications, including the replacement of selected steel body components with aluminum panels, and the tuning of the engine with a new performance header and dual carburetors.
Mr. Gardner entered the Crosley in numerous events in the G Modified Class during the 1953 and 1954 seasons, frequently winning first overall or first-in-class, and earning a mention in the January 1954 issue of Motor Life magazine, and the November 1953 issue of Honk! In 1955, the unique racer was purchased by Jim Shaw, a fellow Californian who modified the nose and dashboard and then displayed it in his personal museum. Subsequent owners included Terry Matheny and David Brodsky, a noted West Coast Crosley enthusiast, who sold it to Cornelius Lynch.
Mr. Lynch put the Gardner Special on the market in 2003, when it was then acquired by Donald Osborne, the noted concours emcee, co-editor of Sports Car Market magazine, and automotive contributor to publications including The New York Times. Mr. Osborne commissioned an engine rebuild with a new Braje intake manifold, including a two-barrel Weber carburetor and custom cam cover. Braje components are fashioned by noted Crosley parts-builder Nick Brajevich.
After running the Gardner Special in several VSCCA events, as well as the Monterey Historic Races and the 2005 Fall Vintage Festival at Lime Rock, Mr. Osborne offered the car at Amelia Island in 2008. Then acquired by Thomas Mittler, the Crosley still displays beautiful mechanical upkeep and cosmetic condition. Few cars offer such legitimate racing history at such a minimal investment, and the Gardner Special promises enjoyable rally sessions or a unique concours piece that is sure to draw attention.