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Exhibit of Compact Crosley Cars Coming to Kemp Auto Museum

The World War II-era cars were made small enough to be sold in department stores.

The Kemp Auto Museum is unveiling a new exhibit tomorrow that features a collection of classic Crosley vehicles, known as some of the first compact cars in America. 

The exhibit consists of six cars spanning from when Crosley first started production in 1939 to when it shut down in 1952. Some shoppers may have got a sneak peek of the exhibit at Macy's Department Store in Chesterfield, where a Crosley vehicle has been on display. 

Kemp Auto Museum Assistant Curator Mike Dyer said they proposed showing off one of the Crosley Car's in Macy's because it keeps in line with the car manufacuter's history. 

The first Crosely vehicles were marketed as "compact" cars and were made to be sold in department stores, and its dimensions reflected that.

"The original '39 cars werent made to be wider than 48 inches so they could fit through the department store doors," Dyer said.

Museum Outreach Coordiantor Jada Jamison explained that the company's founder, Powel Crosley, wanted to introduce a low-cost, fuel-efficient vehicle that would be competitive in the World War II-era economy. 

Ration of gasoline was in full effect with most households receiving only 4 gallons a week, Dyer said. Crosley's car could go 50 miles to the gallon due its light weight and relatively unpowerful engine. 

He said part of what interests him about the Crosley company is how far ahead of his time Powel Crosley was. Today, the car industry has come full circle and now vehicles that are lightweight, safe and fuel efficient are high in demand. 

While the history may be enticing to adults, Dyer also said the museum is a big hit with children. 

"Kids are always fascinated with cars," he said. "Kids love go carts and these cars are basically the size of a go-cart."

The exhibit will run Oct. 3 through Nov. 3 at the Kemp Auto Museum, located at 16955 Chesterfield Airport Road. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-5p.m., Wednesday-Saturday. 

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