The past few years has been rough on the automotive aftermarkets industry. With the recession, many people pulled back their spending on cars, and many storied names were forced to declare bankruptcy, or even liquidate entirely. Yet there are still those companies that soldier on, having weathered wars hot and cold, recessions, space races, and a multitude of presidents from both sides of the political spectrum.
Crane Cams is celebrating 60 years in business this year, and not only are they alive, but they are thriving as a leader in the performance aftermarket.
Crane Cams got their start back in 1953 when Harvey Crane Jr., a racer, began experimenting with “souped-up” camshafts to increase his cars power output. Crane’s camshaft work allowed his Flathead Ford engine to outperform the competition, and it wasn’t long before other racers came knocking on Crane’s door, wanting their own camshafts. So was born Crane Cams.
Crane Cams' headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Crane would experience many successful innovations, including a patent for the first mechanical roller-tip rocker technology. In 1965 Crane pioneered the use of computers in camshaft design, though by the 1990s they had expanded their offerings to include the first aftermarket digital ignition system. And we can’t forget their retrofit hydraulic roller lifters, another popular Crane product.
Just to put things into perspective Crane gave us some very unique insites to how the world has changed since 1953:
- Dwight D. Eisenhower was President.
- The NHRA was just two years old.
- It would take another decade for the 200 MPH barrier to be broken in drag racing, and four decades to go 300 MPH.
- Ralph Lee Earnhardt just became a full time professional driver, running the Carolina oval tracks. His son Ralph “Dale” Earnhardt (who would eventually become a seven time NASCAR Cup Champion) was just two years old.
- Bill Blair won the astonishing purse of $6,755 in his 1953 Oldsmobile on the sands of Daytona Beach.
- The Daytona International Speedway wasn’t built yet.
- The Flat Head Ford V-8 was the racers choice of engines.
- The first Corvette was manufactured in June of 1953; it came with a 235 cu/in Blue Flame straight six engine.
- Chevrolet wouldn’t have a V8 for two more years, when it offered the 265 cu/in engine in the 1955 Corvette and Bel Air.
- SEMA wouldn’t be founded for 10 more years.
Here’s to another 60 years at Crane Cams!