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Chargin’s Automart: “Where Better Cars are Sold”

The lot at Chargin’s Automart located at 16th Street and 1531 K Street in Sacramento, California, is packed with cars for sale in this circa-1949 image. To gain more attention from motorists passing by and to raise more income out of the used car lot Chargin’s had a billboard at the far side of the property advertising Lyons Root Beer, which had its headquarters in San Francisco.

The front row of Chargin’s is filled with late model used cars ending with its pre-war Ford pickup parked on an angle on K Street to gain attention. The older cars offered on the lot at the time dated back to about the mid-1930s.

Tell us what you find of interest in this photo courtesy of the Sacramento Public Library.

  • Enlargeable views of Chargin’s above and the traffic passing by on 16th Street below.

30 responses to “Chargin’s Automart: “Where Better Cars are Sold”

  1. The standout on Chargin’s lot is the 1940 Buick convertible sedan with sidemounts, either a Special or Century at the right side of the first photo.

    They certainly spent considerable money on signage, the neon sign is a great example of the Streamlined Moderne style.

    The small delivery truck seen front on in the second photo is a White, though don’t recall what model.

  2. In the lead photograph, behind the lady walking, is a 1946 CHEVTOLET.

    In the 2nd picture, on the far left, is a front fender of a 1941 OLDSMOBILE.

  3. Looks like Chargin’s specialized in the low-priced three. In the bottom photo, I see a 1941 Oldsmobile parking light peeking out from behind that Chevrolet grille .

    And that’s a White Horse step van heading toward the camera. They were built between 1939 and 1942 by the White Motor Company (White trucks) and featured an unusual underfloor flat-opposed, air-cooled four cylinder engine mounted just ahead of the rear wheels.

  4. In the first photograph there is a Buick Convertible sedan vintage 1937 to 1940.
    Does anyone have a source for a photograph of the Howard Automobile Company dealership that was on South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles in the 1930″s and 40″s. My 1938 Buick Special was sold there new by salesman George McCool. I would really like to find a photograph of the dealership, I have not had any luck in finding a photo.
    Thanks for the great photos of Sacramento area. I live in the Elk Grove CA area any vintage photos of cars in Northern CA are greatly appreciated.

  5. In the second photo of the White step van coming straight at the camera to left behind the chevy grill is an auto that has a latch on the front fender. What is that car and what is the latch? I don’t see head lights.

    • It’s a 1941 Oldsmobile, either B-Body (Series 70) or C-Body (Series 90). The only difference I know of between the two is tire size, which isn’t discernible in the image.

      The fanciness on the fender is decorative chromework around a light, not a latch. The headlights are in tight against the front grille, just inside where the other car’s grille cuts off the view.

  6. You can tell the Chevrolet parked at the corner is very new, just by the shiny paint. It’s funny how you never see that kind of shine on these cars at car shows, even when they’ve been “restored”.

  7. The rack bodied truck in the second photo is a International of the 1934-1937 vintage. C-line of trucks. These were well made and very handsome in my opinion. One could buy a wooden station wagon on the C-1 chassis with this grille.

  8. Howard Automobile Co. was probably owned by Charles Howard, the owner of Seabiscuit. He was very early to the auto sales game and got the rights to distribute Buicks on the West Coast.

  9. Just one comment this morning, Those Fleetline
    Aero Sedans are, in my opinion, the best looking
    post-war Chevys ever built. One particular color
    stands out for ’48 is a light green lower with a
    great shade of brown above and brown wheels
    also. (anyone else remember this color)? Very
    impressive to a car-struck 9 year old. (The 42’s
    are included, but was too young to know much
    about them)

    • Hi Dave, I think it is actually a ’47 or ’48 Ford judging from the more rounded shape of the front bumper guards and “smooth” hood side belt stainless trim which was ’47/’48 “facelift” for those years. All ’46s have more upright guards with pronounced vertical edges and their side trim stainess was all grooved. It is hard to clearly make out the parking lamps or hood ornament to make definitive I.D. The grille bars do not have the pronounced grooves of the 1946 models, but are again the “smooth” type used only on the ’47 and ’48s.

      The second photo has a 1940 Ford in the little market parking lot (seen between all those highway signs!). That street has a really bad case of sign clutter. Sacramento still has the huge and overly populated street parkway trees. They need the shade in the summertime there!

  10. Jim, I do remember that green/ brown color combo, rather ugly I thought. Never owned an Aero, but they were great looking cars and a lot of them got customized in the 50’s. I did have 2 ’41 Club coupes, a ’42 brown convertible (with factory painted bumpers) and a ’46 convertible. Yes, I would love to have them back!

  11. This intersection of California’s Capitol City has something magical: All of those memorable highway numbers that lead to adventure in most directions of the compass !!! Sacramento , being on the Delta — is a good place to travel From!!! (Especially on a Summer’s day! )

  12. The White Horse Delivery Truck was developed by Franklin engineers, and had a flat-four air-cooled Franklin engine. There i at least one extant. Where is it?

    • Some years back I visited the car museum in Norwich, New York, which primarily features Franklins and other made in New York vehicles. You may find one there.

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