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Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

Posted by on Jan 12th, 2017 and filed under Viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

The Former Car Dealerships of CV – Part 6

I think I’ll draw this series to a close. I received an unprecedented response and it’s obvious that the car dealerships of CV are fond memories for many. I could go on forever, but I have more of CV’s history to cover. I have one more memory to share, and then I’ll mention a few dealers that haven’t been mentioned yet.

Bruce Bartels wrote: “The Chrysler dealer in Tujunga was Verdugo Chrysler-Plymouth if I remember correctly. Paola Oldsmobile was at 2865 Foothill since about 1954. It became the first Toyota dealer – Hightower Toyota – for a couple years until they built the new building across the street from Gianera Pontiac.

Mike Lawler is the former  president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at lawlerdad@yahoo.com.

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at
lawlerdad@yahoo.com.

“Paola Olds occupied the whole block between Dyer and Glenwood. Tickle Tree Cafe is where the body shop for the dealership was located and deserves a lot of credit for the work they did to remake that contaminated land into a viable new business. You are right; the Antique Store was the showroom. Bruce’s Automotive was the parts room and most of the service bays. TLA Heating and Air Conditioning now owns the end three old service bays at Glenwood.”

Several other auto dealers can be found by looking through old newspaper ads. Over in in the 7200 block of Foothill Boulevard in Tujunga (at Commerce and Foothill) sits that strangely empty shopping mall, largely unoccupied since it was built nearly a decade ago. According to newspaper ads from the ’60s, that land had two dealers sharing the same block. On the Commerce end of the block was Wellman Ford, later becoming Dick McGee Ford, and changing once again to Sunrise Ford. They sold the amazingly popular, but deeply flawed, Ford Pinto. That car sold by the millions, but you rarely see one today. At the other end of the block (in the early ’60s) was Steve Newton Dodge. Besides the popular Dodge Dart, Newton Dodge also sold the exotic French Renault line of cars.

Looking at a newspaper from 1936, we solve the mystery I talked about in Part 1 of this series. The building at 2131 Verdugo Blvd. (just east of Montrose) that’s currently Suzy’s Furniture Gallery was listed on a 1923 map as an “automobile dealership” but I could find no specifics. This 1936 newspaper ad shows that it was Montrose Motors, an Oldsmobile dealership. They were offering the new 1937 Olds sedans for just $685. A phone directory from that same year shows that W.L. Doughty was selling Buicks at 2758 Honolulu Ave., just across the street from Rockhaven Sanitarium, in beautiful downtown Verdugo City.

Going back further to 1928, the newspaper shows us that new Chevrolets were being sold from Shelton Motor Company at 2274 Honolulu Ave., about where Town Kitchen and Grill is today. That building was a market in 1928, so Shelton Motors was perhaps lodged in an office inside the market. An aerial photo from near that time shows cars arranged in the empty lot next door (where Sake restaurant is now), so maybe that’s where they displayed their new car selection. One year earlier, an ad shows that same line of Chevrolets being sold from Young’s Service Station on the corner of Ocean View and Honolulu (where Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is).

And lastly, from 1926, in a twist on the new car theme, I find an ad for four-room bungalows in Highway Highlands. (Highway Highlands was a subdivision targeting lower income buyers, located just below Foothill between Dunsmore and Boston avenues.) Each new homebuyer would also be given a free car, at just $2,400 for the entire package.

It’s truly amazing how many new car dealerships we had in the area. I want to thank all my readers who responded, and I apologize that I couldn’t include all your messages here. As I said before, I could have gone on forever. But for those who love cars, you’re in luck – more history is coming in future columns. For instance, did you know Montrose once had an auto assembly plant, or that several Indy cars were produced here?

Stay tuned for that!

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