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The Cavalier Corporation entered the Coca-Cola cooler market as a natural progression in a business begun in 1895 making ice refrigerators. Advertising for their coolers in the mid 30's lists them as the Tennessee Furniture Corporation of Chattanooga, with the name change to Cavalier occurring around February, 1938. The company built their coolers to meet the exact specifications of the Coca Cola Company, hence, their similarity to Westinghouse coolers of the same time period. Their early electric units used refrigerating compressors made by Frigidaire which the company touted as a product of General Motors giving "neighborhood service, available in nearly every town and and city throughout the United States."

While most other manufacturers were moving away from chest coolers in favor of upright machines following WWII, Cavalier continued to build coolers. Along these lines, the company introduced the "Office Dry Cooler" or, Model FD-2, in October, 1945. Meant for business and professional offices and low traffic areas, the cooler was not that distinctive by itself, other than the fact that it was small - 18 1/8" wide x 18 1/2" deep x 40 3/4 high. It's the later modifications of this basic cooler which have made a mark of Cavalier among collectors today. The first such evolution of the machine occurred when the Vendo Company marketed a coin-op lid for the FD-2. Similar to the earlier "Vendo Top," this modification cut the capacity to 17 bottles in vending and 17 bottles in pre-cool. The Vendo Company advertised this model as part of their line in 1946, calling it the V-17. These machines are considered rare today.

A somewhat more radical change was made to the Model FD-2 by Cavalier itself in 1949. The C-27, as the new model was called, was created for coin operation. A hinged front door, added to the basic FD-2 cabinet, provided access to the coin mechanism, coin box, crown box, bottle chute and refrigeration unit. Embossed "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Ice Cold" slogans were added to the sides and front of the machine. One turn of a 3 spoke "ship's wheel" on the front door would dispense one of 27 cold bottles of Coke. Sometime later in production, the spoke wheel was replaced by a one-piece cast wheel with the 3 spokes less obvious. Most machines are found with the later version wheel.

A further progression to the basic FD-2 took place again by Cavalier around 1957 when the company introduced the model C-33. A slightly modified C-27, the C-33 used a familiar crank handle in place of the ship's wheel, and a new vending scheme allowing for 33 bottle capacity. As this was the peak of the "white-top" era, the machine appeared with a white front door and the embossed slogans were dropped from the sides of the machine. While not quite as desirable as the C-27, values for the C-33 rank slightly behind those listed for the C-27.

Cavalier finally broke into the upright coin-operated vendor market for Coca Cola in 1953 with the introduction of their Model C-51. While somewhat larger than the Vendo V-39, the C-51's outside appearance was very similar to the Vendo's. In fact, most of the coin box door parts to the Cavalier, including the crank handle, are identical to the V-39. The vending mechanism inside the Cavalier is radically different from the Vendo model, however. Nicknamed the "ammo belt", the C-51 uses and endless belt of stamped bottle holders which wind up and down inside the machine. A rather unusual double-sided version of the C-51 came out in 1954. The C-102 was advertised as serving Coke from both sides "thus doubling your speed of service" In fact, examples of this machine have been found with the slogans "For Whites" and "For Blacks" painted on opposite sides, certainly a reminder of a part of our history from the 1950's.

Finishing out the round-top era of the 50's for Cavalier was their Model CS-72 (and its larger version, CS-96) introduced in 1958. Again, in Keeping with the times, white was the predominant color of this machine. As a so-called "slant-shelf" machine, the CS-72 holds 8 bottles each on a series of 9 slanted shelves. The shelf can be easily adjusted to accommodate short 6 ounce bottles, up to and including the taller 12 ounce bottle.

Along this same line, Cavalier came out with a "square corner" machine in 1959 which deserves mention because of its size and versatility. The Model C-55 measures only 16" wide by 23" deep by 61 1/2" high and vends either 6, 10, 12 ounce bottles or 12 ounce cans! This certainly ranks as one of the first and smallest can vendors ever manufactured for Coca-Cola. A two selection version was also made, the Model C-55E, which had a light-up front panel in addition to the other features of the 55D.

The Cavalier Corporation advertised themselves as one of the more all around manufacturers of vendors for Coca Cola. Above Description Courtesy Steve Ebner ~ Fun Tronics.

The Cavalier Corporation remains, along with Vendo, as one of the original manufacturers of Coke Machines. They were located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, carring on a tradition of building Coke coolers that began in 1935. Cavalier closed their doors in August of 2000. Cavalier was one of the first to get into the can dispensing market with the introduction of their Model C-55D in 1959. They continued to be innovative throughout the 1960's.

Just like their competitor's Cavalier considered parts interchangeability to be an important selling feature and they were ahead of most with the introduction of round corner Models CS-72 and CS-96 in 1958. That same year they were advertising the fact that they had sold "more than half a million coolers since 1935" so they had a well extablished track record. In late 1959 the Model 96 was introduced in the square corner configuration as the CS-96C and would continue relatively unchanged through the 60's and beyond. The Model 72 was replaced by the smaller capacity CS-64C and the slightly Larger CS-80C.

In the mid 1960's, Cavalier was advertising that they offered the largest bottle coolers in slant-shelf and automatic models. Sizes for the slant-shelf models ranged from the CSS-64 to the CSS-177 and from the C4-96 to the C6-320 for the automatic drop chute style- a total of 13 different models. Noticeably absent from the company's product line during this time period were any pre-mix or post-mix cup dispensing machines.

Cavalier entered the upright machine market in 1951 with the introduction of the Model CM-51V or C-51. The year 1951 also stands out as marking the beginning of the end of the ice chest era of coolers. In a letter dated May 12, 1951, that ws sent to all Bottlers of Coca Cola by Cavalier, the company stated that the demand for ice coolers had been so small in the first half of the year that is was unlikely any more would be manufactured for some time. As a point of interest, their stock of ince coolers as that time consisted of

62 Junior Ice with Zincgrip tank, 263 Master Ice with zincgrip tank, 109 Master Ice with stainless steel tank, 279 Giant Ice with Zincgrip tank, and 102 Giant Ice with stainless steel tank.

Cavalier was by no means out of the cooler market. Cavalier continued to offer at least two models of their popular "Dry" (forced air refrigeration) coolers at least as late as 1966. In 1960 the CMD-D - "12- case Master Dry" sold for $249.75 and the CGD-C- "22-case Giant Dry - sold for $334.75. Compare that to a CS-64C at $289.50. It's interesting to note that these two coolers were sold with the 2 tone white and red paint scheme after 1956 but were advertised again with the all red coloring during the Stylestar period of the mid 1960's. Also Cavalier was one of the few of the major manufacturers to make and sell picnic coolers and related items.

Cavalier finished out the 1960's sticking to their commitment of producing vendors exclusively for the Bottlers of Coca Cola. Many of their 1950's models have seen significant value increases in the past few years and their smaller 1960's square corner models are enjoying new popularity as well. The chest coolers are also finding new favor as the availability of 6.5oz returnable bottles are but gone and not fully replaced by the 8 oz no returnable bottles.


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