- Written by webmin
Much like a Bigfoot photo, the above picture sent in to us by Bob Cunningham is a little blurry, shot from a distance, and possibly shows something that most people never thought they would see. Bob’s theory is that the microcar in the photo, shot in 1955 in Kansas City, could be a Panda. Bob wrote:
As you know, Crosley Motors merged with Aerojet General in 1953. Finn Hudson, an orphaned Kansas City Crosley dealer, immediately stepped forward with a plan to keep the car dealer network afloat. He established Small Cars, Inc. to manufacture and distribute the $999 Panda – a dainty, Crosley-based, two-passenger fiberglass roadster of his own design. The body rolled on a 70-inch wheelbase and featured a tall, concave grille, protruding headlights, modest tail fins and a large, curved windshield. Construction of a Panda station wagon prototype was also started.
The project languished for two years until a former Crosley distributor, Service Motors, partnered with Kansas City attorney, W.C. Boatwright, to purchase Hudson’s entire Crosley parts inventory. They hoped to manufacture 3,600 Pandas in the next five months. Unfortunately, the plan unraveled and, in 1957, all of the inventory was sold off. The buyer acquired the fiberglass body molds, parts to build ten cars, and at least one running roadster.
According to a vintage article in MotorLife magazine, Service Motors owner Ed Herzog claimed to have assembled twelve Pandas before the project ended. If so, did they all look alike? I may have found photographic evidence that styling for the production Panda was a bit more sophisticated. I recently acquired the attached photo which I was told was taken in Kansas City in 1955. Note this little car had Panda-style headlights and fins, but the doors and wheel wells were more similar to a 1955 Chevrolet. I’m curious to know whether any Kansas City-area readers might be able to positively identify the car.
Bob also included the only known photo of a Panda for comparison purposes:
While the mystery may indeed have been a Panda, we also see much more 1955 Chevrolet in it than just the wheelwells, so another possibility is that somebody sliced and diced a then-new Chevrolet into smaller proportions to fit on a smaller chassis, perhaps a Crosley, making it something like the Crosillacs we’ve highlighted here in the past. Your thoughts?