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Talbert Leigh Pontiac – Cadillac Sales – Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Exactly how long Talbert Leigh was in the car sales business has not been determined. The dealership was in two different locations in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, during the postwar period when these images were taken. The bottom photo in the post shows the agency located in an older prewar style masonry structure with a 1948 or 1949 Cadillac out front and a GMC COE Wrecker that is also be seen in a later image.

Talbert Leigh had relocated to East Pine Street by 1949 or 1950, judging by the appearance of the Pontiac seen just below in the showroom window. The modern structure has a masonry and glass front decorated with neon signs. The service department apparently was located in a steel building attached to the rear of the sales area. The detached Body Department looks like it might have been a World War II surplus Quonset hut built up on a cinder block wall to raise its overall height.

How long the enterprise was in business is not known, but later on it changed to a Dodge and Plymouth franchise. The Stone County Enterprise, an area newspaper contained an advertisement in a January 17, 1957 issue showing the change. If you can add anything to the story, please let us know. The photos by Robert C. Waller are courtesy of the University of Southern Mississippi.

  •        Talbert Leigh Pontiac – Cadillac Sales on East Pine Street, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, circa 1950.

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  •        A 1953 Pontiac Coupe with the personnel wearing what today is socially inappropriate headwear.

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  •                                           The “Body Department” located in a raised quonset hut.

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  •       The interior of the “Body Department” with new GM sheet-metal hanging hanging on the right.

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  •                                                 The service department in a modern steel structure.

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  •       An unknown earlier location – Note the wrecker has a fresher appearance and recent tire paint.

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23 responses to “Talbert Leigh Pontiac – Cadillac Sales – Hattiesburg, Mississippi

    • John, With all due respect, American Indians and others feel that it stereotypes all of them as wild savages. Times have changed and by younger generations today it’s considered demeaning to Indians. Google: “Degrading to Indians”

      This sentiment is likely the reason why Pontiac dropped using the Indian symbol in the late 1950s.

      The Old Motor is for enjoying cars and not discussing politics and other social situations.

      Since this might be a touchy subject we will not open this to further discussion here.

  1. I always like seeing photos of dealer showrooms and service departments. In the second photo it looks like there’s a Morris Minor in the used car lot.

  2. David, thanks for posting this article. I too enjoy reading anything relating to the older dealership business operation, facilities, and of course , about the employees at these stores.

  3. Renault had a strong presence in the US during the Fifties but the grille on that car looks more developed than the 4CVs I’m familiar with. Vauxhall & Pontiac had a sales arrangement from 1958-1960, so I’d like to throw this one out – 1948-1951 Vauxhall Velox L Type.

  4. Dont know how lucrative it woulda been to be a Cad dealer in Mississippi which has always been the poorest
    state in the land

  5. Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and Caddies were big items in the South in the 50’s and 60’s. Usually among the upper middle class, doctors, lawyers, big farm owners, big wigs in town. Mississippi was poor, but that doesn’t mean there was not wealth in the state. Also, such big cars were probably the only ones that could run an A/C unit for most of the year.

    • That’s what’s interesting about local culture. Where I grew up, even the people who could afford a Cadillac would go for a loaded Olds or Buick because only rich people and phonies drove Cadillacs. I recall Jay Leno telling how his mother would duck down at intersections because she was embarrassed to be seen in their Caddy. He said she would even roll her window down to tell anyone who saw them ‘we’re not really Cadillac people.’

  6. Chief Pontiac, at the time of this series of photos, was thought to be a great warrior who resisted the British, especially at Ft. Detroit. His image is strikingly similar to the one Pontiac used for a number of years, in his honor I would imagine.

  7. I was checking out Google Streetview, and the building at 404 E. Pine St., Hattiesburg MS looks like a perfect match for the “unknown location” in the bottom picture.

    • Sorry, meant MS for Mississippi, not MI. I wish I could post a pic or link, but check it out for yourself and let me know what you think. If you look closely, you can see the window on the side wall was bricked up but definitely there.

    • The 1949 yearbook for Mississippi Southern College page 189 has an ad for Talbert Leigh Pontiac Cadillac at 406 East Pine Street.

  8. That little foreign car is definitely a Renault 4CV (or750 as it was known here in NZ). It is a very early one with more bars on the grille than the later ones.

    Regarding the Indian thing with Pontiac, they may have dropped most reference to it in the 1950s but the Star Chief name plate stayed around until the late 1960s. My 1965 Bonneville has an Indian head symbol as the high beam light in the dash. I don’t know what year was the last for that feature.

  9. In the South that I knew, all my cotton farmer Uncles ran Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles, but the more sophisticated in town (preachers, lawyers, doctors, etc.) drove Caddies. Farmers liked the big V-8s for covering those Texas miles at high speed with everything running. Doing over a ton through the fields at night for miles on end was a real thrill for me from a family of straight six Chevies!

  10. I don’t know. That car in the parking lot looks like a Morris Minor to me. The fat front fenders extending into the door and the white wheels with the small hub caps were both hallmarks of the Minor. Looks like an MM or early Series II, just too far away to tell. At this distance, the main difference between the 4CV and the Minor would be the 4CV has a one piece windshield while the Minor has a two piece. Can anyone else who’s blown up the picture be able to comment on that.

  11. So after some more google map research on the 2nd dealership location, I finally found it, it’s the current dosset gmc Cadillac dealer, slightly remodeled, Quonset hut is gone, but the buildings roof is easily recognized from the aerial view and matching it to the old service department picture at 1058 West pine street.

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