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History Auto Dealerships

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

  1. You can buy a car in minutes from Carvanna or Vroom, have it delivered to your house the same day. Who needs all the overhead with a dealership? You can get anyone to honor the manufacturer;s warranty and cut staff down to a few people that service a wide area.

    I cannot keep track of the local dealers that the name changes almost any given week. What was a Dodge dealer last week is now a Mazda dealer today. Local lots with acreage are whored out to store cars for them, land fills that are capped have thousands of cars parked on them.

    Most of the car dealers I grew up with are simply gone, Babylon Ford.. razed 5 years ago, Babylon Chrysler now sells Hondas, Booth Chevrolet sells Buicks and has a new auto-group name on it. The auto groups that are big pull some weight with the auto-makers. If they sell x number of cars, they practically get great deals on future allocations.

    One stalwart place is Newins Ford in Bay Shore, they have been around for I guess 70 years and I believe is still in the family. I knew one parts guy who was there for many years and retired. My neighbor works in the office there, her family always has new Fords. They blow out a lot of big trucks and have a busy service department.
    egads likes this.
  2. I've got that beat. I refused to allow a dealer decal or license plate frame on a new car once that I bought. I even grabbed the prep order and wrote that across it. My claim to fame was at that time I was working there and was in the early stage of job hunting but the deal on the car was too good to pass up. And I did not trade in my old car, I kept it, an important part of the next paragraph.

    Early on in my time there I had an O/T car with a license plate frame on it from a dealership that no longer existed, different brand, well known performance oriented dealership in the area. Dealer decided one day that all cars in the shop should have his frame on it. At the time I had a bad rear axle bearing, my friend also worked there as a tech replaced it, all official, order written on the car. He came to parts and said "You better look at your car" so out to the shop I went. My frame was gone, in it's place was the dealer's frame. Dealer had his pet porter putting the frames on. I went to the porter and politely told him to put my old frame back on. He said that he was following orders and started getting mouthy with me. Well that started the ball rolling. Let's just say that the discussion between him and me stopped all the work in the shop, it ended with the porter digging through the trash can for my frame, removing the dealer's frame and putting mine back on. I then asked for the offending frame, die cast metal, took it, broke it in two and handed it back to the porter while saying "When the dealer owns this car he can do whatever he wants to with it, until then it is my property and keep your hands off it!" That got back upfront but there was nothing they could do about it.

    They had some questionable practices with both customers and employees. One of their more "famous" ones with employees was passing out paychecks lacking signatures late in the afternoon. Contract stipulated that employees were to be paid by 5 P.M. Friday. If things were fine checks were handed out by lunchtime. If they needed a little "float" they were held until just before the magic hour then passed out hoping that nobody would notice that. All fine and good until you got to the bank, then surprise, bank would not process them.

    When the state started to go after them threatening their dealer license I accelerated my search, just about a week later I found a new store to go to.

    Last dealer I worked for also started that "our dealership frame on all employees cars". I had a "Ralph Spoilsport Motors" (anybody remember Firesign Theater?) and made it known that it would not be touched unless the dealer paid my monthly note for me.
    Truckdoctor Andy, Hnstray and egads like this.
  3. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,758


    I have a licence plate frame that came from the local Ford dealer that went up in flames in 1963. Really want to put it on my sixties era Model T but sadly it doesn't fit my 1926 plate.

    Sent from my SM-T350 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  4. 31 5w
    Joined: Aug 6, 2010
    Posts: 119

    31 5w

    Our good friends for many yrs. owned the Volvo dealership in Daytona. Small family owned for 30-40 yrs. B/4 you flame , many times there where more Hot Rods there than Volvos. Great guys, always willing to help fellow car guys. Got up in age, Volvo wanted new signage >>> 2-3 mil. in up grades. Bought out by Fields Auto Group because they were tired of the corporate crap.
  5. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296




    Several years ago, I wrote about a Chevrolet dealer that was near our Westside of Long Beach home. It was not in Long Beach, but past the Terminal Island Freeway, in the city of nearby Wilmington, CA.
    upload_2020-8-10_4-50-27.png It was not located on PCH in the beginning, but on the next big street closer to the harbor, Anaheim St. (It was located in downtown Wilmington.) The oddball naming of the streets and the direction it ran Southeast from Wilmington through Long Beach, (was parallel to PCH) actually ended up intersecting with PCH in Southeast Long Beach, near the golf course and Hody's Drive-In Restaurant.

    Then as the Chevrolet business grew they moved to a new, larger facility on PCH, next to the exit of the Harbor Freeway (farther West) Their next door neighbor was the famous KENDON Porsche Dealership.
    upload_2020-8-10_4-58-7.png Gledhill Chevrolet seemed like it was closer than driving into downtown Long Beach. But, it actually was 4 miles farther West. The traffic during those early days just seemed like there was less to contend with on PCH at any hour, other than rush hour. Plus, there were several great Mexican food places on PCH in the Wilmington area, nearby the Harbor Freeway.


    The So Cal locals in the Long Beach area were happy to have a 4th Chevy dealer so close by for necessary parts or for ordering “special order” factory hot rods.
    “The name Gledhill rings a bell. Fred Gledhill Chevrolet, Inc, Wilmington, CA was about 3-4 miles from our house on the Westside of Long Beach. The dealership originally was named Del Dryer Chevrolet. In 1958, the top two Chevy dealers in the local area were Cormier Chevrolet in downtown, Long Beach near our high school and Gledhill Chevrolet in Wilmington, a short drive from our house.

    We had a choice and selected Cormier in downtown Long Beach, because my brother’s 58 Impala’s special order would take two weeks (in a trade with another Chevy dealer) Gledhill seemed closer to our house, but they had to order it from Detroit to get it to Wilmington.”

    From a Corvette forum:
    "Fred Gledhill Chevrolet was located at 1500 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington, California. The dealership is remembered by Corvette historians as the purported delivery dealership for the three 1968 L-88 James Garner A.I.R. race cars. The dealership closed due to falling sales."

    from 348-409 forum:
    "Now, about Tom Jacobson. He was a 409 guy from the beginning. He worked at Fred Gledhill Chevrolet back in the day. For many years he was the parts manager at Gledhill Chevrolet in Wilmington, Calif. He ran a '62 Biscayne 409 named Ol'Blue at Lions Drag Strip, and was competitive in the day.
    ( there was also Economy Chevrolet in Alhambra, owned by Chad Gledhill, Fred's brother.) Today a restoration clone of that car is on the floor of the NHRA museum in Pomona at the fairgrounds."

    "Tom Jacobsen's racing lineage goes way back to the 1960s, when he was one of the pilots of Tom Sturm's Just 4 Chevy Lovers, Chevelle. Here's a pretty amazing racing family portrait from 1971 of the Jacobsen family, posed in front of their ramp truck toting their Old Blue/Gledhill Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stocker, which Jacobsen ran into the mid-1970s. Dig that '70s miniskirt and go-go boots!"
    Lions Dragstrip Museum 2019
    i.rant and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  6. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296



    "In 1957, as many as four car dealerships could be found along Broadway Street: South Coast Ford, Tommy Ayres Chevrolet, Siemonsma Buick, and Allen Oldsmobile/Cadillac."


    Living in one area of So Cal for so many years, one begins to remember the changes that have taken place over time. Those changes have also been burned into our brains. Some of the newest generations of the families that started the early car dealers in coastal Orange County cities, now have a giant presence in inland OC along the freeway for maximum exposure.

    It wasn’t too long ago that the little sleepy beach town of Laguna Beach had 4-5 big car dealers in one section of the main road leading in and out of the city for places far inland. The main street is/was Broadway that led to the Laguna Canyon Rd. that eventually led into the big 405 Freeway or farther North, and the I-5 Freeway. As much as the locals drove out of the city on Laguna Canyon, so did the folks that lived miles away in inland OC and went to the beaches in the area. The narrow two lane winding road went through some beautiful country sides, but was a danger to oncoming traffic over the years.

    How did the locals put up with it? There wasn’t much to do other than going against the flow of traffic into town. But, there was no way to impede the North-South Route on PCH along the shoreline. That is the most heavily used highway running from the SF Bay Area down to the Mexican Border with a myriad of towns along the way, 24 hours a day. For us, it led to the pristine surf spots all along the OC coastline from our own city to the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, weekly, for many decades.

    The photo from 1974 shows the Chevrolet and Ford/Mercury Dealerships across the street from each other on Broadway at Beach Street. The former Chevy building, at 350 Broadway, has a Goodyear Tire and Service shop, while the Ford/Mercury space has transformed into The Plaza, a two-story retail and office center. When we lived there, we used the Chevy dealer for parts and services. For other specialty parts, we had to drive out of town to get access to those hard to find parts for a 1940 Ford Sedan Delivery.

    Allen Cadillac could be found on the busiest corner of the whole coastal beach town. Broadway and PCH is very busy as we all know from driving down PCH in the summer, but the dealership moved next to the I-5 Freeway in Laguna Niguel for better exposure. (Google search)


    By the early 90s, all car dealers were gone from Laguna Beach, except for a few small, classic car dealers and repair shops/used car lots. They no longer occupy prime downtown locations, such as the PCH and Broadway corner. The Chevy and Ford dealers were very busy until they were overtaken by the expanding city buildings. Plus, the dealers themselves knew it was not just a community supported business, but needed a larger presence and exposure. Those that stayed in the car business are doing well in the relocated places.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
  7. phoneman
    Joined: Dec 5, 2010
    Posts: 104

    from Missouri

    I worked in dealerships when I was younger one was a ford dealership that had been built in the 50's. They said under their franchise agreement the only thing ford really had any recourse on was being out of trust. (money problems with ford). When they sold, the new owners franchise agreement with ford could dictate the look of the dealership and eventually forced him to build a new dealership. There were also games played with with allotments for inventory.
    Ron Funkhouser likes this.
  8. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296



    In reading a 1958 version of Drag News, I found an advertisement for Warren Biggs Chevrolet on South Vermont in Los Angeles. That puts the dealership in the middle of the Wilshire/Rampart Area. My impression of that ad was… So, that is where the 315 HP special order 58 Impalas ended up… HA!

    When my brother ordered his black 58 Impala, he wanted a 315 HP model. He wanted the top horsepower available for any 1958 Chevy make. But, he was told at the time, (fall 1957) that a black 348 -280 HP model was a dealer “trading model” with another dealer, somewhere in Los Angeles. The black 58 Impala could be here (Cormier Chevrolet in Long Beach) within days, not special order wait for 5-6 months for the 315 HP model.


    Joe Pisano was a crafty drag racer and salesman for Warren Biggs Chevrolet. But, in reality, by the time the ad had come out in May of 1958, our own Cormier Chevrolet in Long Beach had several models on order. By that time, we had already been racing in the A/Stock class since November 1957.
    Ron Funkhouser likes this.
  9. { A Story } My dad only bought new cars. He was a salesman's dream customer. When daddy wanted a new car he would go to the dealership, and pick one off the showroom floor. No shopping around. So at 10 years old I started going with him to pick out our new car. My first picked was a new 1963 Dodge Convertible white with red interior. He also bought a new station about every three years. I didn't care to help pick them out. They were just used as a business, and family car. But the convertibles were used for church, parades, the beach, etc. and were garage kept. He usually kept them a little longer than the wagons. In 1967 he went to trade the 63 Dodge in for a new convert. I had him go to Kern Motors Pontiac dealer. I wanted a new 67 GTO. He said that it didn't have enough room for our family. So we drove off in a new Bonnieville Convertible. I took it to get my drivers permit at age 16. So I loved that car, and kept it to this day. I had daddy take me every September to see all the new models. I always came home with a promo model of one of the new cars. Great memories. He stopped driving this year at 89. He's in great health but it's just safer to drive him now. Thanks Ron.....
  10. "Let’'s just look at the extras on this fabulous car! Wire wheel spoke fenders, two-way sneeze-thru wind vents, star on mud guards, sponge-coated edible steering column, chrome fender dents and factory air conditioned air! Yes Dear Friends, it's a beautiful car with doors to match!" :cool:

    I gotta get me a Ralph Spoilsport Motors license plate frame!
    Chris Nantus and shovelheadrider like this.
  11. cardealer
    Joined: Apr 21, 2009
    Posts: 38

    from So-Cal

    Auto delerships are normally any city's largest sales tax generator. Think about the average sale price times the 7.5-9% sales tax times the annual vehicle sales. No retail outlet, not even your local mall produces more revenue. It's why almost every major California city has an automall - if 1 Dealer is good, 15 of them is better. Got so bad in California they had to make it illegal for a city to lure a Dealer from another city with free land, tax incentives, etc. Auto dealers are one of, if not the most powerful lobbying group in the country because they are the engine of most cities economies. Look at Longo Toyota or Galpin Ford. If their sales team got knocked down from Covid-19, you would see the city counsel taking ups on the lot if they had to.........
  12. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,947

    from Colorado

    My wife has a German sports car that she thought about selling. Kelly says it’s worth about 40% of the 2006 sticker price. Carvana offered half of that! After digging deeper into the online car outfits that advertise on TV, I wouldn’t touch them with an 11’ pole.
  13. Bad for the employees also especially when one or two dealer groups own all the stores in a geographic area. For lack of a better description their attitudes become "If you want to stay in this town you'll work for what we want to pay, not what you want to be paid."

    There is a FB page for dealer parts people, a couple of days ago someone started a thread of pay plans. While I did not participate in that particular thread as I retired almost four years ago I was surprised how many were paid strictly hourly or on pay plans that were the normal around here twenty years ago. I only saw one respondent that was in the ballpark of what I did. Makes me glad that I got out when I did.

    To be fair though, this started back in the 80's with the promotion of "Twenty Groups" at NADA meetings. Those were dealer roundtable meetings of dealers with similar financial numbers at those meetings, purpose was to better their businesses. Some good, some bad ideas came from these. One thing that was extensively discussed at these meetings were employee compensation plans, we all know what that leads to.
  14. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296


    The years of 1959/60/61 Chevys were somehow very popular, but there was a lone wolf, 61 Pontiac Tri-Power Bonneville that was also fast. Missing were the late model Ford V8s and other big motor brands for some reason. I guess the interchangeability of the Chevy parts was a big factor. Plus, we all worked on Chevy cars and could help with any repairs, exchanges or add on speed parts. But, where did that Pontiac come from during this time?


    I remember a friend wanting something different in his daily driver in high school. He had the only great paying job at a Texaco Gas Station that everyone liked to get gas and hang out. Sometimes, late at night, he would allow us to use the lube machine for our cars. It was a great place to work as almost every car with teenage girls out for a night of cruising around would stop for gas. Since it was a full service gas station, our friend was the center point for meeting teenage girls.

    If he was busy doing a customer’s mechanical work and a car load of girls came into the station, one of us would run out there to meet and “fill up the tank.” It was a fun place to be at night, especially on the weekends. Our friend knew of all of the Chevy sedans that were popular in our group of high school teens. But, since he had more money than all of us with his great paying job, he bought a blue, 1961 Pontiac Bonneville Hardtop.

    Well, that Pontiac was certainly different. But, that blue color was pretty cool, including those odd ball, but great looking factory wheels were the best.
    upload_2021-4-17_4-57-2.png similar look of his car...

    There were two big time Pontiac Dealers in our So Cal cruising area. One in Long Beach and the other in Bellflower, just a few mile north. So, the facts are fleeting, but we saw a similar model in the Long Beach dealer, but our friend could have bought his at the Bellflower Dealer as the inventory called the shots back then.

    If it was driving distance, we visited other dealers. If the dealer knew of the model we liked in any brand, made a few calls and found one many miles away, then a dealer trade was in the making.


    In researching the possible dealers, this ad popped up and then it was a flood of information.
    “Suburban Pontiac closed in the mid-1980s. The red Pontiac logo sign was most likely neon, originally. This photo is from 2008. In 2011, the sign was removed. In 2017, the bulding was demolished.”
    The remains of the Suburban Pontiac which closed in the mid-80's.

    But, for us, the long ago mystery remains as to which local, So Cal dealer our HS friend went to, to get his brand new, sparkling blue Pontiac as his first car.
    Sky Six likes this.
  15. garage2small
    Joined: May 25, 2012
    Posts: 583


    I just heard from a friend that still lives in Cleveland that Mullinax Lincoln had finaly closed the doors for the last time a couple of weeks ago, after nearly 75 years of continuous operation by the same family in the same location out of the same building.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  16. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296


    upload_2021-6-1_4-27-34.png June 1957


    While this old Chevrolet dealer was located in the area around the old Wilshire district of Los Angeles, their reach in providing hot Corvettes all over So Cal happened. Then as the Corvette popularity started getting hot, other L.A. area Chevrolet dealers did what ever was possible to entice the power hungry sporty car folks to their dealerships. Harry Mann, Ernie Porter Chevrolet, Clippinger, Felix, Cormier, etc.

    During the50s-60s, Cormier Chevrolet of Long Beach had the distinct advantage of being the closest Chevrolet dealer to Lion’s Dragstrip. But, as we all know, the power of advertisements takes over the buying power for the consumers.


    Courtesy Chevrolet was located at 800 Western in Los Angeles, California in the 1940s through the 1970s.

    Corvettes at Lions Dragstrip 1958-60

    i.rant likes this.
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296




    Leave it up to a car dealer's sales force to do something that has never been seen in advertisements. Selling a custom factory hot rod truck or a push/tow truck. How interesting that Gas Ronda of super stock car fame was a sales person and had the audacity to advertise a truck to drum up sales.

    Did he not know that Ford F 100 trucks are some of the most sold trucks in the USA? I am sure he did, this just added to mystery as why a truck is the best selling of the factory lines back then and even today.


    Someone asked me the other day why I listed our new 1958 Chevy Impala and 1965 El Camino with heavy duty accessories. It was the extra items that a dealer could charge and still make the build a little extra power or support for the power. Did the heavy duty shocks work better than regular installed shocks. Probably and that only racers would order heavy duty items for their custom factory builds.

    Wow, a 1964 Ford F100 truck with a 427 motor, dual quads and a 4 speed. That is quite some build. With wider wheels/slicks or wide Inglewood Posatraction tires, the look would have been perfect for the street or dragstrips.

    In looking at other ads from previous “old ads” and threads, those old hot rod guys like Gas Ronda (Downtown Ford) and Joe Pisano (Warren Biggs Chevy) had a field day selling factory customized hot rods for anyone with the extra cash. What a cool job.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  18. garyf
    Joined: Aug 11, 2006
    Posts: 255


    In my 30+ yrs. working in and out of dealerships I have seen.
    The family owned dealer who started their children out with a broom and then in every department until (could run) ability Before moving up front with a suit and tie. They were successful and long lasting. The opposite practice resulted in failure.
    '28phonebooth likes this.
  19. Lone Star Mopar
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 3,344

    Lone Star Mopar

    I've just noticed over this summer the small East Texas town my folks live in there is a locally owned Ford dealer that's been buying out all of the other local dealers and rebranding them under his name. Much smaller lots and less inventory than the mega dealers, maybe 30 cars/trucks on the lot. His territory is now stretching into counties an hour away.
  20. Have the license plate frame and found the matching yard stick recently (Saddleback swapmeet):
    license plate frame -1.jpg
    yard stick-1.jpg
    Rice n Beans Garage and jnaki like this.
  21. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,296



    My dad started buying his long line of Buick sedans at Boulevard Buick very close to and across the street from Mel Burns Ford. (2000 Long Beach Blvd.) He bought his second Buick, a 1949 giant 4 door roadmaster that was the largest car we had ever seen. It seemed like the back panel tray was big enough for both of the small two brothers to lay down and take a nap, while looking out of the rear window.
    upload_2022-9-7_3-29-59.png 1881 American Avenue

    Over the years, we frequented the dealership every 4 years to check out the next round of Buick sedans. Our mom even went and selected a Buick Skylark convertible, but it was only time to buy a new 4 door sedan for our dad. The amount of driving our mom did, the Skylark convertible would have had very low miles even into the last years of 1998 in Long Beach.

    As little kids, we were just along for the ride. we had our favorites, but again, it was a purchase time for our dad. when we started getting involved in hot rods/ custom cars, and drag racing, he knew we had valuable insight into cars of all kinds. But, it was his choice.


    upload_2022-9-7_3-33-39.png Fall 1956
    The same salesman was there for those 4 door sedan purchases and when our dad moved up to a 2 door 57 Buick Roadmaster, it was a two door. The next level was another two door, but the coolest 1963 Riviera. The ultimate in cruising sedans. He gave our dad plenty of support and offered plenty of dealer extras at no cost as our dad was a great customer.

    By the 1960 era, the name of the street was changed to Long Beach Boulevard. This was in line with being the major downtown street from the ocean, deep into other inland neighboring cities. Through several more purchases and years, he ended up buying his last Buick from Boulevard Buick in 1982. Although the two brothers tempted him with trips to foreign car dealers, Mercedes, Volvo, and including a new Jaguar on the same Boulevard Buick lot, He stuck with his favorite, Buicks.


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