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Busy New Car Dealership Repair and Car Storage Department

Part of operating a new car dealership has always included having an up-to-date service department manned by expert mechanics, and back in time, indoor storage for new autos. The left-hand side of this staged image shows a service bay filled with a variety of different makes of automobiles and one truck in for service.

Back in the late-1920s, it was common to overhaul a vehicle’s engine, clutch, and transmission and some of the cars in the line-up here are apparently having this sort of service work performed on them. The roadster in the foreground is a circa-1925 Buick Six equipped with overhead valves and four-wheel brakes.

In the background is a number of new late-1920s touring cars which are stored in an interesting double stacked arrangement to save on floor space. Note that at least three of the cars have whitewall tires and the first car in the upper row has double wide whites. If any of our readers can positively identify these new automobiles, then the make of cars handled at this sales agency will be known.

Tell us what you find of interest in this series of images courtesy of the University of Oregon Library. View over three-hundred other vintage garage and car dealerships in our earlier coverage.  

  • Enlargeable views of the new car dealer’s service and storage departments.

18 responses to “Busy New Car Dealership Repair and Car Storage Department

  1. Get a kick out of the chain hoist lift used on the 3rd car to the rear. Often wished I would be able to lift a car like that.

    • I remember a local dealership that had those same chain falls in their service bay in the late 60’s

      The mechanics would use them to raise the front of the cars for servicing.
      I recall thinking then, that they were a little out dated.

  2. When I was a toddler , I wandered through my Dad’s store in wonder. The really big stores had indoor storage on many floors with cable operated elevators to move cars from floor to floor. My first big job was helping to close the 80 year old store that was Wentworth and Irwin at 10th and Burnside in Portland. Powells Books has mostly preserved the layout, with a new building in the NW corner. As I drive around the city, I see many old stores that were Nash, Packard and Studebaker, as well as the victims of the 2008 shakeout. When I go by what was Timberline Dodge and Alexander C-P I get angry as Mr. Laws invested at least a million in upgrades only to have the rug pulled. The Chevrolet store on Sandy as well as the one in Tigard are both gone as is the entire plant in Vancouver that was McCoy and Bill Copps. The more things change…….

  3. I’d guess it’s a Buick dealer, all engines being repaired are Buick and the cars at the rear seem to be Buick Special Six-55 Sport Tourings

  4. This is a personal photo for me.

    My grandpa, Bill Liepelt, worked for a Buick dealership in New Haven, CT right about this time. He was about 18 years old. It too was multiple level, with new car storage up top. He was sent to fetch a car from above and bring it down for prep. The ramp from above came down to a door on the street. However, to save money on doors, they only had one. So it was offset to the ramp so you could get out from below. And in the day of mechanical brakes, if you lost one clevis pin, you had nothing. This brand new car lost a clevis pin.

    Until the day he died at 95 years old, he never knew how he got through the door, around the corner onto the busy street and stopped without killing anyone.

    Another story stuck with him from that time. As today, a dealership also fixed what ever came in the door. A fellow a few bays over got a Wills Ste Claire V-8 to repair. The owner just bought it used, but it had a miss. The mechanic fiddled with ignition, carburetor, etc. for quite a while before doing a compression test. One cylinder was completely dead, not a wiggle on the gauge. Not having a removable cylinder head, he had to pull the pan. He found one rod and piston assembly missing. Someone had turned up a wooden plug that had been driven into the bore. So, they put the pan back on and told the owner not to worry about it. It still had plenty of power.

    Thanks again Dave for a fantastic site.

  5. Great shot, guess the twin spare tires were added to the Sport Tourings just before delivery to save on space. Bob

  6. Am I wrong in seeing that the new Buick Tourings are up on wooden A-frame like structures? And if so how did they get there? And last question is why? Glad to see one of your responders used the term “Chain Falls”. Only know of one person here in central PA who uses that to describe a chain hoist.

    • Stan, Yes they are up on what appears to be wooden supports.

      I still call them “chain falls” as the old timers did – I have an excellent Yale “Screw Gear Block” unit with a very fine feed.

      This set has seen service on the California Dry Lakes and at the Salt Flats by Al Jerauld and George Barber for engine changes on their “BABY BOMB,” a Land Speed Record setting Belly Tanker powered by a Ford 60 HP V-8.

      • I call them chain falls and we use them to hoist and on door openers to lift a door rather than pushing a button on the wall. (Suppose now they have apps on a smart phone to do it too- pffffft.) Chain falls work when the power is out and when the door is frozen down you don’t have to rely on safety devices to avoid letting the magic smoke out of the lift mechanism.

        Shock! Realizing as I’m typing this that I probably do qualify as an old timer depending who you ask.

        Storing cars on what looks like large sawhorses: cars were lighter, wood was old growth and full dimension, fasteners were real American high quality steel. Also labor was cheaper than floor space so doubling up made sense.

  7. I first saw a chain fall in the garage of a farmer in N.J. whose garage was so old the wood was black with age and dirt.
    (Today they call it patina)The fall hung from a huge beam in the rafters.At 6 yrs old I found it an incredible sight because it made me aware of possibilities.It also would have made an incredible still-life painting.And the smell of the place!This was about ’63.Mr. Thomas’s garage,Lewis Lane,Basking Ridge,N.J.Sookie Thomas,where are you?

  8. It’s interesting (and typical) that there’s little or no overhead lighting. Thus all the work was done facing the windows. There were still a few old-time shops like that around when I was growing up in the ’40s and ’50s.

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