The Crofton Line
When Powell Crosley sold out his automotive interests in 1952 to Aerojet General, it was not the end of the line for the Crosley-designed vehicles.
Between 1959 and 1962, a version of the unique Crosley Farm-O-Road was produced by Crofton Marine Engine Co. as the Crofton Bug for several years.
The Farm-O-Road appeared as part of the Crosley line in 1950. This miniature Jeep was in keeping with Crosley's philosophy of offering minimum cost vehicles. With a wheelbase of only 63 inches and an overall length of 91.5 inches, it made a VW Beetle look huge. Crosley aimed the 1,000-pound vehicle at the small farmer, who could not afford both a car and a tractor. Crosley even offered accessories like plows, cultivators and harrows.
After lying dormant for several years, W.B. Crofton, a successful GMC and Detroit Diesel products dealer saw a potential market for a small utility vehicle. He started producing a slightly modified version of the Farm-O-Road in San Diego, California called it, appropriately, the Crofton Bug.
The minor modifications made to the Crosley design included an overall length increase to 105 inches for more load carrying capacity. Even though the Bug had a shipping weight of only 1,100 pounds, it was rated for a full half-ton payload capacity. While the early model retained the nearly horizontal steering wheel of the Farm-O-Road, it was changed to a more vertical attitude during the production run. Like wise, the Farm-O-Road's grille treatment of three large vertical oval openings was later changed to three columns. The center-mounted instrument panel was revised and presented less information than the one used on the Crosley version. For example, an electric fuel gauge was an option. The standard model came with very uncomfortable looking lowback seats, but for $20 more you could get a pair of deluxe high back seats.
Power came from the venerable Crosley four-cylinder overhead cam engine. For the Bug, the rated horsepower was now 35 at 5200 r.p.m. up about 10 horses from the Crosley days. The displacement was still 44 c.i.d. Unlike the Crosleys that used a crash box to the bitter end, the Crofton had a three speed synchromesh unit. For $100.00 to $200.00 more, depending on the year, you could order a six speed compound transmission. The later Crofton catalogs also listed an optional 45 h.p. 53 c.i.d. unit for about $300.00 more.
Crofton offered a rather unique warranty for the power plant. The engine, transmission and clutch would be completely overhauled at the factory for $12.50 for each month of ownership starting with the date it was delivered to the dealer. For example, overhaul of a year-old engine would run a mere $75.00. After one year, the cost was a flat $150.00.
Initially the Crofton came in only one color, high-visibility yellow. However, because of customer demands, other colors like red, black, blue, green, gray, orange, tan, aqua, white and gold were offered for $20.00 more. The option list for the Croftons was rather extensive. It included such utility items as a tow bar, snowplow, trailer hitch, pintle hook, dual rear wheels, and a variety of different tires, towing eye power take-off unity, Powr-Lok differential and electric winch.
If you wanted an upgrade version of the Bug, you order the "Brawny" Kit. With it you got the standard Bug plus the six-speed transmission, Powr-Lok differential, full crash pan, and 9.00 x 10 inch high flotation or 7.5 x10 inch cleated tires. In 1961, the Brawny Bug cost $1,800.00.
While the Farm-O-Road had been aimed at the small farm market, Crofton went after the commercial user and sportsman. Advertisements show the Bug in use around golf courses, city parks and at airports. It was also a handy delivery vehicle in town or within large factories or warehouses. The Bug was also touted for use by postmen, parking meter coin collectors and utility meter readers. Crofton ads also expounded on how the Bug, especially the Brawny, was just the thing for campers and hunters, and at a 1,100 pounds was perfect to carry on your yacht for those trips onshore.
Crofton also produced a much more industrial type unit, the Tug, based on Bug components. The Tug was essentially a platform on wheels with a drivers seat and steering wheel located at the very front behind a vertical front panel and windshield. The engine was located under a cover next to the driver. While still retaining the 63-inch wheelbase, it was 124 inches long and could carry a payload of 1,500 pounds.
While most sources indicate that the Bug was discontinued after 1961 or 1962, Crofton catalogs as late as 1963 still show the Bug. These were probably leftover models. Somewhere between 200 and 250 Bugs were made.
CROFTON BUG SPECIFICATIONS
Wheelbase 63 inches
Overall length 105 inches
Width 48 inches
Height 59 inches
Tread F/T 40 inches
Weight 1,000 pounds springs Semi-elliptical leaf type
Rear axle 5.38:1
Transmission three-speed synchromesh
Clutch 6.5-inch single plate
Brakes four-wheel hydraulic, drum
Tires (standard) 5.30x12
Fuel capacity 8 gallons
Type Four-cylinder, water cooled, five main bearing, OHC
Bore and Stroke 2.5x2.25
Displacement 44 c.i.d.
Compression 9.9:1 ratio
Horsepower 35 at 5200 r.p.m..
Maximum torque 40 ft./lbs. at 3700 r.p.m.
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