1938 Crocker V-Twin Small Tank

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Crocker Motorcycle was a small bike manufacturer in Los Angeles that in its 10 years of production developed a reputation as one of the best motorcycles ever built in the United States. Owner Al Crocker actually gave a money-back guarantee for any owner whose bike was beaten in a race by a stock Indian or Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Crocker V Twin models were the fastest American production motorcycles, reaching speeds over 110 mph.

The company ceased motorcycle production in 1942 with the coming of WWII.

This bike will be sold by Mecum Auctions in Monterey, California on August 18-20, 2016, right before the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.

---- Specifications ----
Price -- Production --
Engine 1 liter V2 Weight --
Aspiration -- Torque --
HP 60 HP HP/Weight --
HP/Liter 60 HP/Liter Range --
0-62 mph -- Top Speed --
from Crocker Press Release
  • 1938 Crocker 2.5 gal Small Tank
  • 61 inch V Twin
  • Has undergone an extensive mechanical restoration over the past 18 months
  • Particular attention was paid to preserving its character and patina
  • Fresh tires and refurbished brakes
  • Rebuilt clutch, engine and gearbox
  • Rewired and the generator renewed
  • Serial number 386149

Crocker motorcycles have deep roots in the American motorcycle industry, but more ‘stories’ are told about Crocker than facts. Al Crocker earned his engineering degree from Northwestern University, and started his career with the Aurora Automatic Machine Co, who built Indian’s engines under license before 1907, and sold their own Thor brand. Aurora hired Crocker to develop a new engine when their Indian deal ended that year; he also raced the Thor motorcycles he designed. Crocker’s design was successful, and he was hired away to Indian, where he worked under Paul Bigsby; their roles were reversed 25 years later.

Crocker opened an Indian dealership in Denver by 1919, and in Kansas City by 1924. By 1930 he’d moved to California, and purchased the Freed Indian dealership at 1346 Venice Blvd in Los Angeles. He would remain at this address for the rest of his motorcycle career, and the spot would become legendary as the home of Crocker motorcycles.

In 1933, Al Crocker and Paul Bigsby designed a single-cylinder 500cc OHV speedway engine, which first appeared on the Emeryville, CA speedway track on Nov 30, 1933, and won 9 of 12 heats in one night. Only 31 Crocker Speedway models were built, although they built a pair of chain-driven OHC single-cylinder prototype engines in 1936. For his own reasons, Crocker saw more opportunity in building a new V-twin motorcycle rather than continue with Speedway racing. It was a momentous decision, and earned Crocker enduring fame.

Crocker’s V-twin was designed during 1935, and was intended as a durable and powerful motorcycle, which was still relatively light and nimble. Its 45 degree V-twin engine had hemispherical OHV cylinder heads, and a nearly 'square' bore/stroke (3.25"x3.62" - 62 CI), with an incredibly robust 3-speed gearbox, with its cast steel housing part of the frame. While Bigsby made the patterns, most castings were subcontracted, then machined in-house. The first models used H-D valve gear, Indian timing gears and brake shoes, plus occasional H-D or Indian headlamps and ancillaries. Crockers featured a pair of cast-aluminum fuel/oil tanks, holding 2.5 gallons initially (the 'Small Tank' models).

There was no 'standard' Crocker when production began in 1936, each customer specified the state of tune and engine displacement, as the cylinder barrels were cast with extra thick walls, and could be overbored to a full 100 CI. A ‘standard’ 62 CI Big Twin produced 55-60 horsepower, and Al Crocker offered a money-back guarantee for any Crocker owner who was 'beaten' by a standard H-D or Indian, as he had built the fastest production motorcycle in the US, with speeds over 110 MPH the norm. The first 27 Crocker ‘Hemi’ twins had hemispherical combustion chambers and a lovely 'Crocker' embossed rocker arm housing. Crocker then redesigned the cylinder heads with parallel valves and enclosed springs. Two different 'Hemi' head castings used, and four changes to the parallel-valve casting over the Big Twin’s five year run. The cast-aluminum fuel tanks were enlarged in 1938, making all earlier models 'Small Tanks', and later models 'Big Tanks'. By 1942, 'war work' restrictions meant Crocker could no longer produce motorcycles, and he chose not to resume production postwar.

This 1938 Crocker ‘Small Tank’ was purchased in the USA and taken to Australia in 2004. Since then it has received an extensive mechanical restoration, with particular attention paid to preserving its aged character and patina. It has new tires, new wiring, a refreshed generator, relined brakes. The 61 CI engine, gearbox and clutch have been rebuilt. It is a genuine Crocker, and represents a very rare opportunity to own one of the most important and legendary motorcycles ever built.