1940 Crocker “Big Tank” Big Twin By Mecum

This black Crocker “Big Tank” is the ultimate American V-twin, a machine of legendary performance and amazing styling.

Albert Crocker was the ultimate indie manufacturer, bucking the two big American V-twin manufacturers—Indian and Harley-Davidson—by creating a machine that was faster than anything they offered and came with fantastic looks that owed everything to the coolest customization trends of the late 1930s.

The Crocker’s teardrop fuel tanks, abbreviated fenders and high handlebars were exactly what the fast boys rode in the ‘30s, and his self-designed engine could be ordered from 62 CI to 100 CI, simply by installing bigger pistons in the extra-thick cylinders. Any Crocker was good for 110 MPH, and the biggest ones were even faster than that, making it the fastest production motorcycle in the world—the last time an American motorcycle could make such a claim, until the electric Lightning LS-218 in 2013. Al Crocker and Paul Bigsby designed the Crocker OHV V-twin motor in 1935, intending it to be the fastest production motorcycle in the world, as well as the strongest and best-handling.

The 45-degree V-twin engine had hemispherical OHV cylinder heads and an incredibly strong 3-speed gearbox integral with the frame. The Crocker Big Twin debuted in 1936, and every machine was bespoke; the customer specified the state of tune and engine displacement. The 62 CI Big Twin produced 55-60 HP, which exceeded its American competition by 40 percent or more. Al Crocker offered a money-back guarantee for any Crocker owner who was “beaten” by a standard Harley-Davidson or Indian motorcycle, as he had indeed built the fastest roadster in the world, with speeds above 110 MPH the norm. The first 27 Crockers had hemispherical combustion chambers, and then Crocker redesigned the cylinder heads with parallel valves and enclosed springs. Their distinctive cast aluminum fuel tanks were enlarged in 1938, making all earlier models Small Tanks and later models Big Tanks.

The total production of Crockers is perhaps 72 total V-twins; by 1942, war work restrictions meant Crocker could no longer produce motorcycles, and he chose not to resume production postwar. This 1940 Crocker Big Tank in basic black is a spectacular and legendary machine, and as a Crocker V-twin, also one of the most collectible motorcycles ever built.

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