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Thein’s and Agnew’s Used Car Lots – Pittsburgh Pennsylvania


Today we return to the series of vintage car photos taken in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area we have been viewing recently to 5417 Penn Avenue in the City, the site of Thein’s Auto Sales. Like many used car lots the signage, of course, tells you how wonderful the stock offered is with the following slogans: “The Best,” “Dependable,” and “Enter with Confidence.” Five late-model used cars are visible in the front row with older and more affordable units located behind them, at the rear are the typical back lot specials.

Norman Agnew’s used car lot below was located in Shadyside, a neighborhood on the east side of Pittsburgh apparently at 786 Centre Avenue, a tree and brick-lined thoroughfare with streetcar tracks. The signage and appearance of Agnew’s were a little more upscale than Thien’s, although other than the front row less of the stock was easily visible while driving by. The Lot’s tagline was “Used Cars With A Guarantee That Counts.” The stock in the front row all appear to have good paint jobs and are clean, bright and shiny.

Tell us what you find of interest in this pair of photographs courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh Library.

18 responses to “Thein’s and Agnew’s Used Car Lots – Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

  1. In the lead photograph, parked up front, are a 1950 BUICK Super Riviera and a four-door 1948 BUICK Super.

    In the 2nd photograph, 2nd car from the left, is a 1948 STUDEBAKER Commander Regal DeLuxe Coupé.

    • In the lead picture, on the left side, behind the post WW II two-door PLYMOUTH with missing front hub-cap, is what looks like a four-door 1948 to ’50 PACKARD missing its grille. and cloths covering its windshield and both front fenders. Behind this PACKARD looks is a 1940 BUICK Coupé, model unknown. To the right of the post WW II PLYMOUTH is a 1947 to ’49 [if a Special] BUICK. The poor maintenance of this lot may be indicative of the vehicles for sale !!

  2. In the second photo, a `49 Olds 88 sedanette next to a `49 Studebaker Starlite coupe. Further down, looks like a rare re-war `42 Mercury nestled in between late 40s Pontiac & Chevy sedans.

  3. In the Thein’s pic, it’s pretty clear what cars are stick shift ( the emergency “brick” under the front wheels). “Enter with confidence” , can’t go wrong here. (cough)
    And the Agnew lot,( no relation, I checked, Spiro’s father was fruit peddler, and later a restaurant owner) “we sell good old cars”, would never fly today. “Pre-owned” is much more appealing. Oh, to have those 2 door coupes today.

    • As a teenager I worked at a “down stream” used car lot , on Michigan Avenue between Detroit and Ypsilanti (The Chicago Road) doing odd reconditioning jobs. I remember the time when the operator of the place had a front row beater towed through the shallow ditch onto Michigan Avenue so a prospective buyer could test drive it. The man was told that the battery was low and so the tow was “just to get it running”. Actually the car had no reverse! He bought it and was back soon after in a rage. One of my first lessons on the “subtleties” the car business.

  4. When I got my license, at 16, in 1952, my uncle Bernie Nellis, a used car dealer in Beltzhoover, in Pgh. would take
    me to the dealer auctions, he and I driving cars to the auction. At the auctions, there were ,two or three close to
    Pgh. , I would drive cars through the ring. Stop the car, get out, open hood, than trunk, than close hood and trunk and drive out of Ring. I got paid .25 cents ( twenty five cents) for each car I drove thru ring. Can you image driving 20 or 25 different cars at 16 years old. Hell, I would have paid them to drive thru the ring. Sometimes I rode back on the rear of a three wheel motorcycle that we would tow to auction.

  5. Newest car in the 1st foto: the ’51 Pontiac extreme left facing the street? 2nd foto: oldest car in the picture nosing in at the right on the curb a prewar ’40 or ’39 Hudson or Studebaker? Anybody?

  6. AML is pretty good to pick out a Packard and another Buick in that
    assortment behind the front row. How about the ’51 Pontiac ahead
    of the Plymouth. In the front row are a ’50 Buick Super Riviera next
    is a ’49 Buick Super (not a ’48) sedan, a ’46-’47 Pontiac, ’49 Ford and
    a ’49 Pontiac. Meanwhile over at Agnew’s lot how about the early
    post war Hudson on the right side (upon studying it again, it may be
    an early ’40s) and the Olds 2-dr. I think is a ’48 98 not an 88. It’s too
    big for an 88. Me, I’d be happy with the ’47 Chevy. These are the kind
    of photos that I love about this site. Many Thanks David

  7. These two pictures are so quaint and charming… so American. Back in the Good Old Days. Call that period in our history what you want — Simpler, Kinder, Gentler, whatever. But they were nicer times. Nicer looking cars too.

  8. Happened onto this site by chance via Pinterest link. As a W PA native now in Arizona, I’m really enjoying the mid-208th Century “‘Burgh” pics. My extended family had a Buick-GMC dealership and a motor express contract carrier in Washington (PA). A grandfather and identical twin great uncle had a transfer business, with original-issue ICC rights to operate anywhere East of the Mississippi. The ” ‘Burgh” and W PA were always central to everything, including the vehicle dealerships association’s.

  9. On Google Street view, the SHOE SERVICE SHOP sign seen in the first picture still exists, it’s faded but still very readable.

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