Cavalier Soda Pop Machines

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 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 for 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 bottles. Later this was replaced by a one-piece cast wheel with the 3 spokes less obvious. 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 only 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. A rather unusual double-sided version of the 51 came out in 1954. The C-102 was advertised as serving Coke from both sides "thus doubling your speed of service!".  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. With the scarcity of the 6 ounce bottles in parts of the country, this machine has found favor among many collectors today.

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-55D measures only 16" wide x 23" deep x 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. These are two machines to consider for collectability as interest spreads into the "square corner" era.

The Cavalier Corporation advertised themselves as one of the more all-around manufacturers of vendors for Coca-Cola and I think many machine enthusiasts would agree.


Cavalier 27 (C-27)
41" High
18" Wide
22" Deep
Vends 27 bottles
Precools 9 bottles
Manual Operation with Crank Handle
Produced in Late 40's to mid 50's. The Cavalier 27 was designed for low usage indoor locations.  Two versions were produced with one major difference.  This difference was the crank handle.  Earlier versions came with a ships wheel style handle.  The later versions came with a star type handle.

Cavalier 51 (C-51)

64 9/16" High
24 3/4" Wide
20 1/4 " Deep
Vends 51 bottles
Precools 36 bottles
Manual Operation with Crank Handle
Produced in 50's. The Cavalier 51 was produced to compete with the Vendo 39.  Many machines came solid red and had "ice cold" embossed across the bottom of the door.  Inside, a long belt of individual cylinders rotates to vend one 6 1/2 oz. bottle.

Cavalier 72 (CS-72)

56 3/4 " high
24 3/4" wide
21 7/8 " deep
Vends 72 Bottles
Pre -cools 17 Bottles
Electric coin operation 
Vends 9 Selections of Beverage 
Produced 1958-1959. One of the most collectable Coke machines, the Cavalier 72 has a very small profile, rounded corners, and vends 12 oz and smaller bottles from 9 trays, giving ample selections. After depositing a coin, the "Have a Coke" button lights up, until you pull out a soda.

Cavalier 96 (CS-96)

67" High
24 ¾" Wide
21 ¾ " Deep
Vends 96 bottles
Precools 17 bottles
Electric Coin Op 
Red "Have a Coke" button lights
when coins are inserted.
Vends 12 Selections of Beverage
Produced in late 50's. Idendtical to the Cavalier 72, except that it is taller and thus held more drinks. Desired because of its small size and rounded corners, the Cavalier 96 holds up to 12 varieties of bottled (up to 12oz) beverage.

        Cavalier 102 (C-102)

67" High
24 3/4" Wide
35 1/4 " Deep
Vends 102 bottles
Precools 82 bottles
Manual Operation with Crank Handle
Produced in 50's. The Cavalier 102 is simply two C-51's joined back to back.  It was designed so that it could serve from both sides.  These machines were common at gas station pump lines.  Each side could refresh while filling the family automobile on that Sunday drive.


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Copyright © March 12,1997

Last updated on November 19, 2000