Motorcycle Throwback - The 1940 Crocker
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Motorcycle Throwback - The 1940 Crocker

The second half of the 1930's proved to be an annoying one for Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles that found themselves going head to head with a very strong competitor. Though the Crocker Motorcycle Company started putting together single-cylinder motorcycles for speedway racing in the earlier part of the decade, they blew a hole in the other two motorcycle companies' plans when they released a beautiful and high quality v-twin in 1936. Never heard of the Crocker motorcycles? Well here is what you missed:

The Crocker v-twin was a completely customizable machine produced by the Crocker Company in between the years of 1936 and 1941. Though allowing for buyers to pick out the color and chrome trim on their motorcycle was nothing new by now, Crocker allowed for customers to also pick out the gear ratio as well as the engine displacement that they wanted on their ride. Engines were produced starting at 61 cubic inches and were as large as 100 cubic inches.

Two versions of the v-twin were proposed to customers as well. Crocker designed both a large tank and a small tank model with both being made of cast aluminum. The difference between the two was easy to see. The larger tank model not only had two mounting bolts running down the tank halves but also had a more upright fork angle in order to shorten the wheelbase and make its steering more responsive. This made the motorcycle great for racing. So much so that Al Crocker offered his customers a full refund guarantee if they were ever beat by another rider who was on either a stock Harley or Indian motorcycle. Crocker claims that he never had to make such a refund; hence the grief for Harley and Indian.

This beautiful 1941 Crocker sold for about $230,000 in 2007.   The big and small tanks were both made out of cast aluminum for quality while the big tanks were marked by two mounting screws on either side.
This beautiful 1941 Crocker sold for about $230,000 in 2007.   The big and small tanks were both made out of cast aluminum for quality while the big tanks were marked by two mounting screws on either side.

But Harley and Indian got a break in the early 1940's when war took down the Crocker Motorcycle Company just as it did with many others. Due to the economic climate and the rationing caused by WWII, Crocker decided to stop producing motorcycles after pumping out a mere 61 of these extraordinary bikes and turned to the more profitable market of manufacturing aircraft parts. Thus was the end of the Crocker motorcycle line.

With the small number of bikes having been produced, Crocker motorcycles are hard to come by. That, paired with their amazing quality and still sleek but classic look, makes these bikes a treat to see in person. But dream on about owning one because they're now very much so out of most people's price range. In 2007 at an auction in Las Vegas, one of the remaining 1941 big tanks was sold for a whopping $236,500 while a 1937 Crocker "Hemi-head" V-Twin was sold for $276,500 at an auction in New York. That same year, a 1931 Crocker 61cc was purchased for $236,500 in Chandler.

With the quality of the motorcycles back in their heyday and their continued reputation, we can only wonder what would have become of the Company and what motorcycles it would have produced today had the war not have encouraged the motorcycle manufacturer to close its doors.

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      Friday, August 26, 2011 6:48:39 AM
      Frank said:

The last sentence in the second-to-last paragraph has two mistakes. As your own article informs, there was no "1931" Crocker. The bike was 61 cubic inches, not cc's. Crocker produced more than 62 motorcycles. In fact I own #62, the last small tank model. "...had the war not have encouraged..." doesn't make sense. In fact, Crocker's production was geared by regulation and government direction to producing non-motorcycle war materiel in 1942. Indian and Harley produced exlusively for the armed forces from '42 to '44, mostly 45" and fewer 74" bikes. Both companies produced transverse motor, shaft drive knockoffs of the BMW for use in the African desert. Crocker also produced a scooter.


      Monday, August 29, 2011 4:12:14 PM
      BikeBandit said:

Hey Frank, thanks for all of the additional information! The "1931" was indeed a typo. It was actually a 1941. And congrats on owning a Crocker. It seems that the number 62 has been an estimate but there were definitely less than 100 produced. However many remain is fairly unknown. We'll definitely have to look into the Crocker scooter. Do you have any pictures of your Crocker? (Dumb question because owning a beautiful bike like that you must have some!) We'd love to see it. Feel free to email any to so we can gawk.



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