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Late-1950s Corvette at Kalo Motors Grafton, West Virginia

This mornings post, unfortunately, is late and brief due to a Northeaster that dropped wet and heavy snow followed by rain and high winds. The storm arrived in New England on Thursday evening and ended late on Friday, leaving us without internet service and power much of the time. The weather is now back to normal this Saturday morning, and so is our internet connection.

The lead image appears to a promotional photograph apparently featuring a late-1950s Corvette taken in front of Kalo Motors, located in Grafton, West Virginia; the photo is dated 1959, which may not be accurate. The second picture below was taken in late-1961 to ’62 and could be either a showroom off to the side of the structure visible in the lead photo, or in a more modern facility.

So, we leave you with a glimpse of Kalo Motors’ operation, and hopefully our readers who like to unravel the rest of a story will learn more about this General Motors dealership and share it here. Tell us what you find of interest in the photos via contributor Benjamin Ames.

18 responses to “Late-1950s Corvette at Kalo Motors Grafton, West Virginia

  1. I’m not an expert on early Vette’s, except they are my favorite, but I bet it was a big deal for a small town dealer to get one of these. The guy on the right( with pocket protector) must be the service manager, and they all took turns seeing what this new Corvette could do. Seems like a lot of Ford’s around for a GM dealer.
    Thanks for the internet update. I was wondering what happened to Hemmings. ( still out)

  2. In the 3rd photograph, on the far left is the front corner of the driver’s side of a 1st generation CHEVROLET Corvair; next to it in the front row is a 1962 CHEVROLET Corvair; and behind these two is a 1962 CHEVROLET Corvair. The three cars, on the right in the front row, are 1962 CHEVROLET Chevy II automobiles.

  3. Howard A, it might not have been the same as the pictured dealer above, but in my hometown in East Tennessee “back then”, the Chevy dealer and the Ford dealer both loved to get the other brand on their used car lot then talk about how that owner “traded up” to their brand, ha !

    Thanks for coming back David, stay safe in all that mess up there, hope all is OK.

  4. Between the first photo with the Corvette and the second, it appears as if Kalo Motors either had a major building remodel or got a brand new one. It also took on a Buick-Pontiac franchise. This was in the midst of the era when new car introduction was still a time of anticipation and excitement.

  5. I heard once that it was in the late fifties that manufacturers could no longer legally prohibit their dealers from taking on other brands, particularly imports. If true, that change could be part of the reason that foreign cars were finally able to get a foothold in the US, as dealers were able to act on the opportunity to offer something cheaper and more exotic. Studebaker, of course, began selling Mercedes and even styled their cars to create a resemblance to Mercedes, but that was all done through an agreement between Studebaker and Mercedes, not by individual dealers.
    Can anyone provide some confirmation and details?

    • Studebaker was the sole distributor of Mercedes in the U.S. from 1956 until I believe 1962. As was stated this was a corporate agreement between the two auto makers. During this same time Studebaker and Packard had merged. If you look at the vin-tage of a Mercedes from that era you will see a logo that says distributed by Studebaker-Packard Corp. When the 1953 C-K models came out they used a tri-star badge on hood, trunk and wheel covers (It was upside down compared to the Mercedes tri-star). Mercedes sued to have Studebaker stop displaying the tri-star logo. Thus the later models did not have the tri-star logo. Studebaker was offered an agreement to distribute VW’s in the U.S. but rejected the idea. Too bad maybe that would have helped the bottom line a bit.

      • Thanks, Joe. I had forgotten that Studebaker had a chance to distribute VW. In regard to Mercedes, I remember when our local Mercedes dealer was a former Studebaker dealer that managed to survive the demise of the original corporate parent.

      • Studebaker- Packard Corp. wanted Mercedes sales to fill in when they discontinued the high end Packard line, The company still had quite a few former Packard dealers to placate.

  6. The first building is still standing in Grafton,WV with a Shop N Save grocery store currently occupying the building. The second building was located by the high school in Grafton, WV and was torn down for additional parking. Not sure what happened to the Corvette.

  7. Coggins Motors in Charlottesville, Va handled both Studebaker and Mercedes, always thought that was a bit off… MB being even then a high end car and the Studebakers a “off brand ” to me.

  8. The white Nova hardtop has the optional front bumper guard which was really mostly a grille guard. A rare option. And never seen on modern restorations. As a kid I used to read the brochures from cover to cover and spent too much time dreaming up “my new car” with the options I had to have. My Dad told me you can get a pretty nice car by buying a mid line model. Never needed to buy the “top of the line” or “waste” your money on options that just added cost. Later I found out this philosophy just meant our family was cheap but I didn’t care!

  9. The man standing to the left of the Corvette looks like an old Stock Car driver,I just can’t place him. Be on my mind all day. The guy with the pocket protector reminds me of the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. So I could be way off on the Stock car guy.

  10. Let’s get real here ;SINCE 1999 , I have counted 23 (W.V. registered) Porsches in North Central W.V. (!) Sports Cars are nice, but W. V. “Winter road requirements are not All: Interstate quality (yer four lane), roads and salting and salt slurry is used here, frequently. I keep my Motorcycles with Sidecars & antique s out of that crap, too. and sacrifice my modern car/truck to the necessity of “getting around ” in all seasons! The other three seasons make it worth while!!! Got that? P/S: Fiberglass cars (Corvettes) require a bunch of: “Ground return wires” : These are very susceptible to Salt corrosion & high resistance problems!!! Some”Mechanics”, salt, & electricity are usually not very compatible! as everything is usually: A “craps -shoot” that is challenging for: Manufacturers , quality of repair, and Customer’s pocket-books! Responsible Automotive Electricians learn how to combat these issues, if they do business here!

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