Al Crocker made V-Twin cruisers in Los Angeles, California, between 1936 and 1942. Unlike his mass-produced counterparts at Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle, Crocker specialized in bespoke bikes. That independent spirit drove him to outperform those competitors with a 61 cubic-inch (1,000cc) Hemi-Head V-twin that generated 50 horsepower at 5,600 rpm. At that time, Indian and the MoCo couldn’t top 40 horsepower.
Unfortunately, that independent spirit also resulted in Crocker only producing around 100 Big Twins by the end of the company’s 6-year run. Fortunately, Motorcycles Only shop owner Bob Ross got his hands on an example and stashed it away for decades. The Los Angeles-based motorcycle shop was known for its custom work, but Ross only added upswept fishtail pipes and rebuilt the engine in 1950.
Kept under a tarp on the side of the Ross house for 25 years, the 1939 Crocker Twin went to Jim Lattin following Bob Ross’ passing. Kept in Lattin’s motorcycle collection for years, the Big Tank eventually sold to Chilli Childs. While we can’t find any solid dates for when this all transpired (questionable?), the current owner, Childs, assures that the 1939 Crocker is as close to original as possible.
“It’s still 61 CI, we kept it at that engine capacity, so it’s a pretty standard machine inside, although it’s got a new updated clutch,” stated Childs.
“The bike isn’t restored,” Childs continued. “We didn’t touch the paint or the plating; we just put it all back together with new internals. We didn’t want to touch that remarkable patina, and just left it how Bob Ross did it in the 1950s.”
Back then, a Crocker Big Tank retailed for $480 with a $5 upcharge for special paint. Rest assured that this rare V-twin cruiser will go for much more when Mecum Auctions presents the collector’s item at its Las Vegas 2021 event between April 28 and May 1, 2021. Yes, the 1939 Crocker may have its share of rust, but sometimes, rust is as good as gold.