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

By June 10, 2012Motorcycles

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


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


  • Friday

    Ernie Edward Skelton (1922 – 1995) is the down fall of his own Scam. 22 was his favorite number, 37-61-22, a stroker plate motor. Harry Sucher’s BS fictional writing adds weight to the down fall. Page 54 of the 2010 Register Chuck Vernon claims he was the “Author of all editions of the Register” and a “collector of Crocker information since 1960” <<< this is a problem when genuine adverts and magazine articles contradict 1942 and 1941 production and the Register starts to fall over because of the existence of those 2 years of manufacture, which puts a question mark against every single bike listed. The integrity is shot to hell.

    DMV 102-5441 is the only bike that sails through 'clean as a whistle' because it has always been the token replica. Even though it used to be a 1938, its still a DMV stamp.

    Elmo looper owned a Phelon and Moore, PANTHER motorcycle which went missing when he died 5 November 1969. The person that had "Possession" of that bike became the new legal owner

  • Friday

    Chuck Vernon claimed his bike 40-61-117 was built by Elmo looper and Art Smyth , problem = The Looper family have never heard of Art Smyth and there was no such thing as a lever seat mechanism. Chuck never met Elmo. Chuck claimed he had the prototype 36-61-1x, problem, ‘The Motorcyclist’ magazine has 2 pics of the first bike made. The HD 61 Knuckle was delivered in march 1936. the claim is that Crocker beat HD to the market by 5 months! The prototype was built in 1935. George Hood also built a replica 36-61-A, his client should have had the motor stamped ’35-61-A’ to knock out Chuck Vernon’s replica. The Booze fighter bike 39-61-103 is also a replica, complete with stroker plates, HD rods and pistons. These 3 bikes are expensive representations of Crocker motorcycles. polished con rods can not hide the true identity of the HD con rod length

  • Friday

    Ernie Skelton “borrowed” the Bigsby drawings from Murray Looper and never returned them. Harry Sucher wrote that Skelton had “possession” of the drawings, which is as good as a public notice in the public domain and after the statute of limitations kicks in, Skelton was the legal owner of Al Crocker’s intellectual property, giving him the right to manufacture without royalty or license, he also wrote the Crocker Register to support his venture. There was never an inventory of factory parts , this can be confirmed by Elmo Looper’s son. Elmo only owned 3 bikes and did not restore, service or provide parts to anyone. Harry Sucher and Chuck Vernon never met Elmo Looper and he never touched Harry Sucher’s bike 38-61-31. The Motorcyclist magazine had 2 pics of the first Crocker built in 1936 and Al had orders for 12 bikes, not 14 **. Paul Bigsby and Gene Rhyne did not work at the factory in 1942, no mechanics were employed at the factory. Woody Mount re-Tooled the factory in 1941, this is written by Al Crocker. The Scooters were built late 1940, this is written in The Motorcyclist, popular Science and Popular Mechanics , October, November and December 1940. The Crocker was $480 and 61″ , the HD 74″ was cheaper and bigger. Elmo Looper was at the factory briefly and specifically for stroker motors, the only examples happened to be his motors. Engine size was not an option, they were always advertised as 61″.
    Where is an example of the Advert for money back guarantee ? what magazine ?
    Harry Sucher said there was a loss of $2500 per unit < that's his story.
    John Cameron said Customers had to provide wheel rims < that's his story.
    John claimed Al Crocker bolted Hemi Heads onto his bike 39-61-61 < that's his story . The only photo's show Cameron with Vertical valve heads
    John claimed he built 38-61-38 < that's his story . Elmo Looper built it in 1941, there are Looper photo's

    Skelton cast new Hemi heads in the 1970s and this is when Cameron's bike turned into a stroker with Hemi heads. 38-61-38 had all its internals removed and was sold off. Elmo Looper was the only guy with stroker motors. Al Crocker handed him the drawings and he gave them to Murray. The only way to get the drawings was to find Murray. The only way to find Murray was thru Elmo. The only way to find Elmo was thru the 13 rebels club that would hang out at Elmo's house. Skelton latched onto the 13 Rebels to get his foot in the door.

  • 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!!!