Category Archives: Garages and Dealerships
There aren’t many car dealers that can say they have been run by continually by the same family for seventy-eight years, but that’s precisely the case at the business shown in our photo today. After being orphaned in his native Armenia at the age of thirteen, John Mirak emigrated to the U.S. in 1920 and learned auto repair on the job. By 1932, he had saved enough money to open the Arlington Center Garage and Service Corporation with a few partners.
He began his long career as an independent businessman in 1936 after acquiring a Chevrolet franchise. A move to 1125 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington Heights came in 1982, a location where they continue to do business today, almost eight decades after the company was founded. The rest of this series can be found here. You can find more photos and stories about garages and car dealers on The Old Motor. Photo by Nishan Bichajian courtesy of the MIT Libraries.
We are actually on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge today, rather than in Boston proper. That is Hadley Street between the DeVincent Ford and University Motors showrooms. While our photos are always about the cars, the great signage in these two images appeals to us, too. All the neon here must have been quite a treat to see at night. Ford used those highly visible red, white and blue crests on their products between 1950 and 1958.
The instantly recognizable “Chief Pontiac” trademark is very much in evidence at University Motor Sales’ Goodwill Used Car Trading Post. We also spotted two separate painted totem poles in these images which, although they would be considered quite politically incorrect today, must have been dazzling examples of the sign painter’s art when this photo was taken. You can view an earlier image of the entire sales lot here. You can also see earlier installments of this series here. Photos by Nishan Bichajian courtesy of the MIT Libraries.
This series of photos was taken by the Dick Whittington Studio for the Pennzoil Oil Company. The images were taken for the company to help in promoting its engine oils, chassis grease, and equipment in 1931. A circa 1928 Packard Roadster is seen above up on a hydraulic lift being greased, at the same time the engine oil is being drained into a fifty-five gallon drum on wheels. The location was the Biltmore Garage in the Los Angeles.
The operator in the above left photo, is showing the Pennzoil “Master Lubrication Guide” to the Packard owner to assure him that his car will be correctly lubricated. The center photo shows all of the equipment necessary, and in the right photo the Packard gets a fresh supply of engine oil. Just below is a Pennzoil sign and a rack carrying glass oil bottles topped with metal pouring spouts, it demonstrated the company’s setup on the gas pump island at the Biltmore. This time another Packard on the right, a 1929 is used for a backdrop.
Pennzoil describes the early history and the start of the company as follows: “It was 1889. The world’s first billion-barrel oil field was discovered in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and South Penn was born. One of John D. Rockefeller’s original companies under Standard Oil, South Penn developed Bradford field and by 1908, around the time Henry Ford’s Model T hit the road, began producing their flagship line of motor oils. They named the oils “Penn’s Oil” in 1913 and soon thereafter renamed them Pennzoil, with the distinctive image of the Liberty Bell to reinforce their Pennsylvania heritage”.