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History Auto Dealerships

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Chaz, Nov 2, 2017.

    Joined: Aug 23, 2016
    Posts: 268


    very true analysis. Well said.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Hnstray and loudbang like this.
  2. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,843

    from California

    we had "Central Chevrolet" in Fremont which started in 1937 when Fremont was Centerville. when the big bail out of the car companies came Central was dropped by GM. all they want is those corporate blue dealerships, so any "mom and pop" dealer would have to invest millions for no good reason to make their dealership look like all the others.
    oldsjoe and loudbang like this.
  3. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,583

    from Quincy, IL

    Just read an interview with Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, that was published in the Oct 30 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Excellent insight and commentary about current and future of the retail auto industry in the USA.

    loudbang likes this.
  4. No matter whether the dealership has family or corporate ownership and that the owners might be the nicest people in the world you still have to deal with a salesperson. And then you have to deal with the sales manager. And then you have to deal with the finance/insurance guy even though you're paying cash!

    It hasn't changed since I bought my first new car in 1969 and it will not change anytime soon.
    loudbang likes this.
  5. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,548

    from Colorado

    There are exceptions.....Small town dealerships have to depend on repeat customers and if they screw you over, word of mouth is almost quicker than Twitter. Internet car sales put more pressure on local dealers to take care of their customer base even more so today.
    loudbang and Hnstray like this.
  6. I worked for two New car dealers in 40 years. VW & Mazda from 1971 till 1990. Then Buick & Pontiac from 1990 till 2012. General Manager both times so I feel I had my finger on the pulse of the business. The fact that the big mega auto groups took over is spot on. Both of my tenures were with so called ma & pa dealers. At the end, our computer bill for all the GM tech things ( parts, service, sales, finance, etc was just under $ 9,000.00 a month. Selling 30 new cars a month didn't cut it with all the other overhead . Sad but true.
  7. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,583

    from Quincy, IL

    As some HAMB’s know, I spent my working life in the retail auto industry. It is a constantly evolving business, like many others. The peak number of auto dealers was in 1950,with over 20,000 individual dealerships. That number has continuously shrunk, to in the mid teens, in spite of a near quadrupling of population in the same time frame.

    Also in that same time frame, farms, mom and pop grocery stores, department stores, gas stations, neighborhood schools, and numerous other entities, both business and public, have experienced consolidation into fewer, but larger, examples of each. The reasons are many, most economic, but it is the maturation of a society and technology.

    There are downsides and benefits. Not everyone agrees on which are which, but that is the way it is.

    47ragtop, bobwop, oldsjoe and 2 others like this.
  8. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,877


    Cormier Chevrolet in Long Beach 1963


    Somewhere in the 1963 movie, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, in the background you will see a Cormier Chevrolet banner. The building behind the actor is the corner dealership. It was one of the premier Chevrolet dealerships in So Cal at the time from 1952-65 in the downtown location. They closed that location and moved to the Carson, CA dealership lot next to the 405 freeway in 1965-66.

    The 405 freeway Carson location is a stone’s throw away from the old Lions Dragstrip entrance. They were the “go to” dealership for parts with the nearby location to the drags. I ordered my 65 El Camino at the downtown location in late 1964 and picked it up in January of 1965, before they moved near the Lions Dragstrip, sometime in late 1965-66.
    But, before several other Chevrolet dealers popped up in Long Beach, it was a short drive to this dealership for parts, accessories, and factory warranty service from our Westside LB house. Plus, we drove right by Lions Dragstrip.

    ADDENDUM: The sad image portrays what happened to the Lions Dragstrip since closing in 1972. Rows and rows of 40 foot containers are lined up ready to do their jobs for the whole world. Those containers come from the LA/LB Harbor via train tracks or the Terminal Island Freeway.
    Cormier Chevrolet sign on the 405 freeway was one of the tallest displays along that freeway. They were one of the first dealerships along this freeway corridor. It was one that drew people off the freeway, either going north to Los Angeles or South to Long Beach.
    The big semi truck is on the 405 freeway south lanes, just behind the Cormier property. But, sometime in 2008-09, they ran into a financial problem.

    Carson approves $8M bailout for Cormier Chevrolet

    The Associated Press
    Posted: 04/23/2009 08:01:14 AM PDT
    Updated: 04/23/2009 08:01:14 AM PDT
    CARSON, Calif.—The giant Cormier Chevrolet dealership is getting a nearly $8 million bailout from the city of Carson. The City Council approved a plan late Tuesday that calls for the Redevelopment Agency to acquire the dealership’s property and lease it back for five years at a subsidized rate.

    It’s designed to keep the 43-year-old dealership in operation.

    Slumping auto sales nationwide has GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors, calling in dealer loans. Without the city’s help, the dealership would be unable to pay a $2.6 million debt to GMAC and would close.

    Cormier Chevrolet brings some $550,000 in annual sales tax revenues to city coffers. City officials say it is important to protect existing sources of revenue.

    So, in 2011, Win Chevrolet took over the dealership location. Thus, ending the Long Beach-Cormier Chevrolet distinction since 1952
    47ragtop, Ron Funkhouser and oldsjoe like this.
  9. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,583

    from Quincy, IL

    Interesting comments on Cormier Chevrolet. I was in the Navy ‘62/‘65, stationed in Long Beach. During that period I bought a ‘58 Chevy Bel Air 2 dr Hardtop from Cormier from the downtown Long Beach Blvd location.

    It was a ‘back lot’ trade in, not yet prepped for resale. It was a good solid car, but with a few bumps and bruises. At first they didn’t want to sell it ‘As Is’, but eventually agreed to do so.

    Having had a few years of body shop experience, in spite of my youth, I pulled bumpers and trim, found a paint shop that did nice work at good prices. After body work and paint, I reassembled the bumpers/trim and brought the Chevy back to looking like new.

    Thanks for the reminder of Cormier Chevrolet and the good memories it brought back. Oh, btw, Cormier is where I saw the only ‘65 Chevy Impala 409 that I can recall.

    Edit: I also went to Lions Darg strip a few times and visited Mickey Thompson’s nearby shop on one of my forays. Thompson had a transport trailer sitting outside with a Catalina and the Tempest drag cars on board and inside the shop, the 4 Engine Challenger. Pretty heady stuff for a ‘bumpkin’ from the Midwest to see the ‘real things’ I had only viewed in magazines before that.

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  10. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,877


    Hey HNS,

    Nice story on Cormier. You were actually in my Westside neighborhood during that time. What a small world. If you were stationed in the Terminal Island Naval Base, my friend used to allow us to go to the swimming pool there.

    We always envied those workers at Cormier Chevrolet. My brother bought his 58 348 Impala at the dealership in late 1957. My friends all owned 53-55-56-57 Chevies during high school and we were always in there buying parts.

    The owners were Long Beach locals and if memory serves me correctly, they were named the top Corvette Dealer in the USA during the downtown dealership days on many occasions. It did not hurt that one of the sons always drove a Corvette.

    But, as a senior in high school, 1962, I wanted to be a car salesman and interviewed for a job. The manager questioned my car knowledge and I scored with the top points out of several applicants. He was impressed with my car knowledge and especially of the 58 Impala... Did I get the job? No, as I was just turning 18 and he said that all of his sales force was over 25 years old and it was not a job for a kid...!
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
    47ragtop, Ron Funkhouser and oldsjoe like this.
  11. donno
    Joined: Feb 28, 2015
    Posts: 420


    Some body should forward this topic to Cal Worthington and Tex Earnhart.
  12. It's pretty unimaginable to me that a city government would bail out a car dealership...
  13. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,877


    Hey C,
    City governments do a bunch of stuff in closed door sessions that we, the general public can't hear what is being discussed. Back in those early 60's Carson was a giant landfill trash dump on one side of the freeway, the blimp landing on the other and a few industrial buildings. (of course, homes, too.) But, there were no big commercial enterprises like car dealers to up the income of the city coffers. Cormier Chevrolet was one of the first big dealers here.

    If you were to drive by Carson within the last 30-40 years, there are a ton of car dealers, big businesses, shopping centers, restaurants and the latest giant sports center for big time soccer events. The giant landfill trash dump is the future home of a possible NFL team stadium. The old golf course covering the dump is gone, but another one is next to the blimp landing area on the other side of the 405.

    Cities will do just about anything to bring in money. Car enthusiasts can see the super testing grounds from Porsche built into an area just across the road from the future stadium.

    If anyone is driving to and from LAX on the 405, you will notice this area is expanding at quite a fast rate and bringing in more income for the city. Plus, so far, just about everyone drives cars...So dealerships increase like bunnies...

    oldsjoe, Hnstray and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  14. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,583

    from Quincy, IL

    It is not charity, it is often ‘good business’.......and properly called ‘economic development’. Consider the retention of jobs, tax base and the draw of consumers to the big box store.

    And where there are stores drawing customers, other stores want to locate.

    In my own case back in the early ‘90s, my dealership had outgrown the facility and I was going build a new dealership at another location. My existing store (built long before I bought it) did not have City sewers, only septic system, and I got no cooperation from the City to remedy that. My new store was to be built on a plot of ground at the edge of the city limits. That meant the sales tax revenue share the city had been getting was now going to the county unless I agreed to annex to the city.

    I agreed to annex IF the City would extend sewer and water to the new site at their expense, about 18 months of tax revenue. They agreed. Before my new building and site was finished, a few other significant projects were launched in the immediate area that was previously undeveloped. The City touted their ‘foresight’ in preparing for growth by having extended the utilities into that area. ;)

    It is now heavily developed with major big box stores and numerous other businesses of all kinds. Property and Sales taxes are free flowing income to local government and schools.

  15. Mike
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 3,503


    We still have a few family owned dealerships that have been here in the Phoenix area for a long time. We bought my 2010 Challenger and my wife's 2013 Challenger from Bill Luke Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep, the Luke family has been selling Chrysler products here for a very long time.
    Sanderson Ford has been around for ever, they still have their old, intact dealership building from the '60s within their huge complex of buildings.
    Also, there is the Earnhardt family of dealerships, they have been around for many years.
  16. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,877


    Hey HNS,

    I finally found an old photo of the actual Cormier Chevrolet as the corner property on Long Beach Blvd. We frequented that place for a ton of Chevy parts. It was several blocks from my high school that was on 1600 block of Atlantic, the next street over. The showroom was nice and the service/parts were in the back of the building down the side street. They also had a used car lot across the street.

    It was fun picking up my brother's 1958 black Impala and later, my 1965 red El Camino from them. It was the only show in town.
    47ragtop, Hnstray and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,877



    We had grown up in Long Beach from 1946 on and had seen plenty of auto dealerships in the downtown area in those early days. My dad bought his (34 year history) long line of Buick sedans from the local Buick dealership on American Avenue, (that turned into Long Beach Boulevard). As the years moved on, those some of those dealerships began to see less expensive offerings in different areas of Long Beach/Signal Hill/Lakewood areas. Dealerships began to sprout up a few miles away, near our famous Cherry Avenue raceway course. The land was less expensive and being on the border of three cities helped spread the future buyers.

    It did not hurt that this location was at the corner of Willow St. and Lakewood Blvd. That and being nearest to one of the largest nearby freeway interchanges, helped the millions of drivers going to the airport or going 80 mph on the 405 freeway either way. Notoriety and location help with car dealerships. We used to pass up this location as a secondary road to get to the LB Airport and the LBCC Veteran's Stadium for our high school football games. Then, later on, the drive to the always popular Vets Stadium Swap Meets.

    When the local Dodge Dealer moved from downtown Long Beach to the nearby Cherry Avenue location, that created a competitive location for the Chrysler-Plymouth Dealership to relocate. There were several hot Plymouth super stock cars that came from the Plymouth dealerships. (Ray Vines and R.O. Gould in the same buildings/ location in succession) It helped that across the Lakewood Blvd cross street was one of the coolest 360 degree restaurants on top of the circular Holiday Inn.

    The circular Holiday Inn in the background with the 360 degree view from the top floor restaurant.


    My wife (college girl friend at the time) and I thought the food was pretty good. She was impressed with the date/dinner, so we came back for another visit several months later. The views from every seat in the restaurant were outstanding. We liked the North West view toward Los Angeles and the South West view toward the ocean/coastline. At one time, it was rated one of the top restaurants in Long Beach. A restaurant in the same building as the Holiday Inn? Who would have thought of that idea? Ray Vines/R.O. Gould Auto Dealership was seen on Willow Street, just below the Western view from the restaurant.
    Ray Vines Chrysler/Plymouth dealer Willow and Lakewood

    "Googie" style architecture proliferated in southern CA from the post-WWII 40's into the mid-60s and featured sweeping roofs, geometric shapes, large glass panes and designs symbolizing motion and the "space age." “With its complex “flying V” roofline, the Ray Vines Chrysler building at the corner of Willow Street and Lakewood Boulevard is unquestionably eye-catching.”

    “Most of the Ray Vines building contains simple volumes with flat roofs and decorative concrete block in muted colors. Yet it is dominated by the exuberant Googie-style showroom, with its sharply angled roofline soaring skyward, anchored by a rough stone accent wall at the joining point of the two gables. The roof sheltered floor-to-ceiling display windows that beckoned homeward-bound Long Beach commuters to peek at the glistening cars inside.”

    “However, the Googie roofline remains to proudly mark one of the finest Modern property types: the 1960s car dealership.”
    “This Ray Vines Chrysler used car dealership was built in 1963. The building may have been designed by Paul B. Clayton. It later housed the R.O. Gould Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. When the 2008 photos, above, were taken, the building housed Nationwide Auctions. After that, the building housed Cal Worthington Cars and Trucks. In 2010, there was talk of demolishing the building. However, the building was saved. It was adapted for a car wash and the Ren Sushi Restaurant. The tall sign is gone…”
    After the Ray Vines Dealership, in the same location… R.O. Gould
    upload_2020-6-18_4-52-22.png upload_2020-6-18_4-52-45.png
    It was similar in “Googie Design” to Peter Findlay Oldsmobile dealership in Las Vegas, 1963.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  18. pigIRON63
    Joined: Nov 25, 2019
    Posts: 101


    Auto groups have taken over. Almost all of the family owned dealerships around my area have sold out or closed up. Seems that they just can't compete with them. Auto groups can buy the cars cheaper because they can buy more cars(bulk). This means they can sell them cheaper, and they have more variety to choose from. The other problem for the family owned dealerships is the manufacturer makes them have the whole vehicle line up on the lot. They force their dealerships to have every model made.We have some family friends who own a Chevrolet dealership that is over 80 years old. It is in coal country. Who buys a new Corvette in a coal town? They used to sell a lot of new trucks and SUVs. When COAL was was added to the list of bad four letter words, the mines were shut down and all of the repeat and potential customer base were with out good paying jobs and the family owned dealerships struggled. The auto groups could balance it out by funneling funds from their prospering dealerships to their struggling ones. The family owned dealerships weren't making enough money to pay the light bill and had to close the doors.
    The auto groups get special treatment from the Gov't (taxes and incentives) and the manufacturers. When those run out they change names and start again.
  19. toml24
    Joined: Sep 23, 2009
    Posts: 1,562


    There is a Mercedes Benz dealership in Newport Beach California that sells 27 cars A DAY!!
  20. onetrickpony
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 443

    from Texas

    I have a friend who owned a small Chevy dealership. He sold out to a big chain and went to work for them. He says it's no more work to manage finances for a dozen dealerships than is is for one. He has fewer headaches and makes more money.
  21. mopacltd
    Joined: Nov 11, 2008
    Posts: 855


    Oh yes. Drew Ford in La Mesa, CA. "The round house of value". They sponsored "Drew Ford drag club, had a wheel dino. And with Paul Fischer running the dino (open for all makes) many clubs ran much better, faster and longer because of him.
  22. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 4,636

    from red oak

    3 2nd generation family owned new car dealerships in our town of 5000. Well 2 now since GM restructured their company a few years ago. Now they sell more new car trailers than used cars now. We don`t even have a Wal-Mart in our county either.
  23. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 7,115

    jimmy six

    My last 3 pickups are from a mom & pop in Costa Mesa. I have had great luck with them and only order from the fleet guy. Service is good I use their coupons and can have breakfast at Norms while they service my truck. I hope they will stay; they sold their first car in 1923 and still family owned.
  24. firemangordy
    Joined: Feb 28, 2007
    Posts: 331


    Harbor Chevrolet in Long Beach has been owned by the same family for over 90 years. They started in downtown Long Beach and moved to their current location on Cherry Ave. in 1959.

  25. stubbsrodandcustom
    Joined: Dec 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,283

    from Spring tx

    Here in Houston, Almost 20 years ago Autonation started this crap with 1 price used cars, Like carmax, then all of the sudden disappeared and closed. 20 years later they are buying up alot of mom and pop dealers, converting them to autonation, same thing with a company called Sonic. The independents are few and far between now a days.

    There is a dealer here downtown who has been here for a long time. Knapp Chevy. Glad to see them still working and doing well. Family owned, GM is Robby Knapp.

    I think this comes from a push from manufactures only wanting large ticket sales, volume etc. We have a dealer down the road Randal Reed, guy is a good business man I guess, rolls Fords like water, volume is his game. A simple mom and pop dealer cant compete with that here, You go 30 miles outside of town you can find some dealers with decent mind sets. BUT the dealer has changed through the years, you cant order what you want easily anymore, people want instant gratification on purchases too. Sucks things have gotten like this but society has pushed the little guys out of the equation just like big companies like Walmart and Amazon. I remember when used car salesmen were about the lowest form of human life, lies and bait and switch.
  26. bigbob55
    Joined: Mar 19, 2010
    Posts: 800

    from Pittsburgh

    Buy my new cars in Western PA at Colussy Chevrolet. My first new car purchased there was a 1964 Impala SS
  27. I think at most car dealers in recent years, especially used car dealers, the "sales reps" aren't so much "car salesmen" as they are "loan salesmen". As profits on the actual car sales has dwindled it's shifted more to the profits on the financing. It makes for more bankers and fewer car guys in the showrooms.
  28. egads
    Joined: Aug 23, 2011
    Posts: 757


    WARNING language WARNING ( probably get deleted )
    bobss396 and motorplex88 like this.
  29. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 7,115

    jimmy six

    My brother ordered a 70 Ford from Ralph Williams in Encino. When he picked it up he took a 3/8" nut driver from his pocket, removed the license frames and dealer display name. He handed them to the sales manager saiding "we won't be needing these" and drove off.
    egads likes this.
  30. garage2small
    Joined: Aug 16, 2015
    Posts: 435


    In my home town of Cleveland Tn. Mullinax Lincoln/Mercury, now just Lincoln been in operation in the same building, at the same location, operated by the same family since I was a small child and I am 73.

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