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National Treasures

A look at the vintage motorcycles on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.

1938 Crocker Motorcycle

 1938 Crocker 1 

1938 Crocker

An Indian dealer in late 1920s Los Angeles, Albert G. Crocker ventured into building his own machines with the aid of Paul Bigsby, a talented engineer/designer. They produced some successful single-cyclinder speedway bikes (in the debut on November 11, 1933 at the Emeryville Calif., speedway, rider Cordy Milne took nine "firsts" and one "second" out of 12 starts), and then launched their unique and hand-built vision of a sporting V-twin in 1936. Using aluminum components and a stout engine design, the bikes epitomized power-toweight performance, Crocker fans extolling the bike's virtues as far exceeding those of their American motorcycle manufacturing contemporaries, Indian and Harley-Davidson. The first twin, a 61ci (1000cc) hemi-yheaded version, produced 40 horsepower in a machine that tipped the scales at 480 pounds. Features included each cylinder's two pushrods sharing a common tube, and the transmission housing as an integral part of the frame. Claimed top speed was 110mph. The 1930s price tag was $500 to $600 depending on options, a hefty sum in those days.

The last batch of Crocker, using an improved no-hemi head design, was produced in 1940 as World War II sucked up precious materials. Compounding the problem was simple economics: Crocker was losing money from "Seconds" parts before the company ceased to exist. Perhaps 60 crocker V-twins were built; the number is in dispute.

1938 Crocker 2 

This particular Crocker motorcycle was orginally on display in the Harrah's Casino in Reno, Nev. It was sold in the early Eighties to Bill Lester of Lester Wheels fame and later restored by Florida resident Otis Chandler, who then purchased it for his Vintage Museum. During Mr. Chandler's ownership, this 1938 Crocker was used in the Guggenheim Museum's "Art of the Motorcycle" display in Las Vegas.