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Down Town Garage – A Full Service Facility

Updated – The Down Town Garage operated in a time when parking garages offered full service for the customer. Early facilities of this type were used by city dwellers and visitors as a safe and convenient place to leave a car. When the car was dropped off, the owner could specify the basic services required before it would be picked up.

Many garages of this type also had arrangements with repair shops and could get anything done that the customer needed to have fixed or serviced. For regular customers, the billing was monthly, and it was an easy way for a busy car owner to deal with all of the car care needed.

Update – Thanks go out to Peter Christianson, who has tracked down the name of the owner and the location. Rae W. Carpenter was the proprietor of the garage in 1922, and it was located on Ionia Ave NW in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Who can ID the truck chassis?

The location of this garage is unknown along with the maker of the chassis of this tow truck. If you can add anything about the garage, truck or towing equipment, please let us know. You can view over 250 garage and dealership images here on The Old Motor.

14 responses to “Down Town Garage – A Full Service Facility

      • Truck says opposite city hall on the hood, so find the location of the old city hall and that will tell where on Ionia Ave. I found an article from last year on the failed preservation efforts on the old city hall, at the corner of Ionia ave and Lyon Street. The article goes on to say the clock tower was felled at Lyon and Ottawa, so that tells us which of the four corners city hall was on, eliminating the south west corner, the south east corner is a museum that apparently has been there since then so that leaves the north west and north east corners.

  1. We just discussed this on Hemmings. I believe, the towing rig is a Manley Manufacturing, hand cranked towing lift. I think that’s the operator, Jethro Bodine, leaning agin’ the wall. ( you’d need Jethro to crank that unit)

  2. The only short reference to United I can find shows it was built in Grand Rapids from 1916-1926. They apparently built mostly one-ton models, and in various guises went under United Motor Truck Co. Then, in 1918, it became United Motors Co., and then United Motor Products Co. in 1922. It merged with Acme Motor Truck Co. of Cadillac, Mich., in 1927. Apparently its prime model was the AX, four-cylinder one-ton model.

  3. I agree that this is probably a Manley Wrecking Crane ( York, PA ) – I once owned one very similar.

    This is interesting (to me) in that the wrecker appears to be built on a true ( and new ) truck chassis, as opposed to a re–purposed older luxury car, such as a Locomobile or Cadillac.

  4. For an interesting, in depth, look at the evolution of mechanics, I recommend a book called “Auto Mechanics” by Kevin L Borg. An interesting “problem” from the early days was the chauffeur taking the master’s fancy car and hiring it out as a taxi or a joy ride opportunity. Fairly common in the big cities where autos came along after the horse and buggy and there wasn’t any place to store the vehicles when not in use. The stables and livery services were not really suitable although there is a lot of documented cross over from blacksmiths to car mechanics. Hence the early development of these full service garages. Apparently the chauffeur problem got so bad that some of the garages were forced to monitor the comings and goings of the vehicles and report unusual activity to the owner – who was paying for the storage of the vehicle.
    A system like this might be useful for families with teenaged children – but I digress.

  5. Some years ago, I purchased a 1938 Hillman three position drophead from a similar lockup in England. It seemingly had been stored there for decades and had under 2000 miles from new .

  6. To get an efficient and affordable tow company, it helps that you ask for referral. You can ask your friends or mechanic if they can recommend to you a good tow service provider. If referrals are not available, you can search the web for reputable towing companies with positive reviews and feedback.

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