1937 Crocker 61ci “Hem-Head” V-Twin Engine

Built in Los Angeles by American designer and engineer Al Crocker, these influential bikes are known as the Duesenberg of motorcycles. (I think another comparison is that the Crocker is the American Vincent). Conservative estimate of the value of the original Crockers hovers around $300,000 in restored condition. Bonhams will be auctioning off three Crockers in August at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California.

1937 Crocker 61ci "Hem-Head" V-Twin Engine

From Paul d’Orléans / The Vintagent:

Hi Wes,
I don’t think of the Crocker so much as the Vincent of the USA, as that was a completely radical, uniquely engineered machine. By the time Al Crocker was building his machines, the American motorcycle industry had been decimated by the Depression, and from the dozens of interesting makers of 20 years prior, there were only two options, Indian and Harley, and only HD offered an ohv twin – the Knucklehead of 1936+.

Crocker originally built ohv conversions for Indians, then speedway racing singles, and finally the big twins, and was able to make significantly more hp than the ‘big two’. To make a whole machine was brave, and ultimately doomed, but in this, I’d say Crocker was more like Britten, building a successful bike from scratch, which beat the factories at their own game. Hence, the huge price paid for both, the back story is phenomenal, the underdog who was better than ‘the best’.
All the best, Paul

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1937 Crocker 61ci "Hem-Head" V-Twin Engine

“Al Crocker famously advertised that if any of his bikes were ever beaten by a stock Harley, he would refund the owner’s money. No refunds were ever requested.”


1937 Crocker 61ci "Hem-Head" V-Twin Engine

1937 Crocker 61ci "Hem-Head" V-Twin Engine

From Bonhams:

As a bespoke machine, each Crocker was made to the specifications of its buyer. This expensive and time-intensive approach meant that quality remained high but production output low. Total Crocker numbers never exceeded more than 125 units before World War II forced the firm’s closure, and today only around 50 of those units are accounted for, making Crocker motorcycles extremely rare.

From Wikipedia:

In the mid-1930s, Crocker and Bigsby began to work on a heavyweight, high-performance, overhead valve, v-twin motorcycle and in 1936 the first Crocker rolled out of the factory. Crocker knew there was a good market for high-speed touring bikes, but even he was surprised when he received more orders than he could possibly fill for his new 1936 Crocker “Small Tank” 61 cubic inch 1000 cc Hemi-Head model. The Crocker Twin was widely regarded as the fastest production motorcycle in the world. In 1939 Crocker introduced a new and improved model named the Crocker “Big Tank”. However, as Crocker was producing during the height of the Depression, it became increasingly difficult for him to manufacture vehicles in small quantities, and in 1942 he abandoned production of motorcycles altogether.

+ Sources:
1937 Crocker 61ci “Hem-Head” V-Twin Engine :: Bonhams
Wikipedia :: Albert Crocker
Crocker Motorcycle Company
 
 

RELATED POSTS:

  • Richard Morris

    Forget all the talk about the depression. Al was a very wealthy man. He worked for Thor in the teens and took the widow Hasha with him to Kansas city and opened a successful Indian dealership there in 1923. He moved to LA in 1928 because of the larger population, and fair riding in so.Cal. was Utopia. Bored with his business,and of fertile mind, enjoyed speedway and desided to show those JAP and Rudge blokes a thing or two. Bored with that, his swansong was his own heavyweight, Scoutlike twin that debuted in time to show the Knuckleheads at Harley he was no Knucklehead! 55 twins later, no man ever took a Crocker in first gear..(60mph) I know, I proved it on my small tank, now owned by “Barn Smell” Walksler and “Black Hills” Lonnie who owns my big tank.

  • Donald Redig Jr.

    CROCKER MOTORCYCLES Are My Favorite Motorcycles On This Planet, PERIOD!, AMIGO!!! I Absolutely LOVE These THUMPERS! And, I Don’t Mean Triumphs! DIG!, AMIGO!!! FEAST Your Eyes On One & You Will See What I Mean! Oh, AL Really Was Ahead Of His Time, Let Me Tell You He Was MASTER GENIOUS, In The Field Of Engine Design, These Engines That Ole AL Built were Like One Offs In The Beginning, & He Even Had Some Of His Engines Combined With INDIAN MOTORCYCLES! Maybe It Was INDIAN Who Worked With Al I Don’t Rally Know, But The Stuff I Read Or Here From The Old Timers! You Can Get More Solid Information Like This! Don’t Ever QUOTE Me On Anything But I’m Sure This Is As Close As You Can Get For Good Solid Information! Well I’m Out Of Here, AMIGO, ADIOS, & GRACIAS!!!