Well, how exciting. The number of calls, emails, letters and more that we received with regard to the “What’s It,” pictures we published, showed that you readers had some interest in this little “mini feature.”
The December car didn’t get much in terms of any info regarding it, aside from a few comments in passing like, “I think I’ve seen that car, but I can’t remember where.” Or, “That car looks familiar.” Some discussion about it looking like an individually styled “custom” came from many readers but nothing definitive as to what it is, who might have built it, does it still exist or where it might be now.
The little gray “What’s It” in January, however; did indeed spark a lot of interest and “guesses” as to what it might be, including several who believe it is a Crosley Farm-O-Road, a Crofton Bug, a King Midget and one fellow from El Salvador who said it looked like a car built there, not for export, called a “Cherito.” Several individuals said that it was a “Proto-type” utility type vehicle built for a very important and specific use, at the Freightliner factory in Portland back in the 70’s. The body is aluminum, the chassis appears to be a Crosley, but there are no name plates, serial plates etc. to be found on the car that would identify its origin or brand. The lack of any manufacturer IDs and the multiple claims of recognition gives me reason to believe that last identity might be correct.
The Crosley Farm-O-Road was built in the early 50’s. The Crofton Bug was an updated version of the Farm-O-Road re-branded and built by Crofton Marine Engineering from 1959 through 1963. The Crosley engine was built by several manufacturers until sometime in the early 70’s, about the time some say this Proto-type was built by some of the crew at Freightliner. The similarities between the Crosley, the Crofton and this car are obvious but different in that the hood top is flush with the fender tops on the What’s It, but they aren’t on either the Crosley or the Crofton. The top itself doesn’t match anything I’ve found made by either manufacturers, but it does look like a Freightliner top. I’m going to talk with the current owner to see what else he might know about it and I’m going to go a little farther on this “What’s It” by contacting the Crosley Automobile Club to get their input in an effort to definitively identify this unique car. I encourage any of you who might know something about it to contact me too.
That “very important and specific use” mentioned above? The Friday beer run of course. I’ve been told (unconfirmed and unverified) the little car was used for picking up cases of beer at the local convenience store on Fridays. This is just hearsay of course.