December 27: Crosley produces first right-hand-drive U.S. Postal Service delivery truck on this date in 1951
Powel Crosley, Jr., the once owner of the Cincinnati Reds, began building cars in 1939. In many ways, Crosley was ahead of his time, offering a vehicle that boasted a Prius-like 50 mpg back in 1942. The company also brought disc brakes and car radios to Americans, as well as introducing the first U.S. sports car, the Hotshot, to market in 1949; a car used by New York's Governor, Nelson Rockefeller. President Eisenhower, too, drove a 1951 Crosley CD Surrey, but despite its high profile drivers, declining sales forced the company to cease production in 1952 -- but not before Crosley created the first ever custom right-hand-drive mail delivery truck on this date in 1951, used by the U.S. Postal Service in Cincinnati, Ohio. This layout became standard from that day forth.
At the same time as Crosley was building its revolutionary mail van, its CIBA (cast iron block assembly) engines were being used in races across the world to great success, specifically in 750 cc sports car events. Siata, an Italian tuning shop turned automaker founded by amateur racecar driver Giorgio Ambrosini, utilized Crosley motors in its 300 race car, winning the SCCA's 12 hour Vero Beach race in 1950. Check out the video below of a Siata racing around the streets of Watkins Glen in 1951, powered by Crosley's 750 cc motor. Also, how awesome was the old Watkins Glen racetrack?
Photo: John Lloyd, via Flickr