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Rice and Holman: The Largest Ford Organization in the East

Rice and Holman Ford which is still in business today began operations ninety-four years ago in 1924 offering the Model “T.” The pair of experienced car dealers opened the dealership in Merchantville, New Jersey, located about six miles east of Philadelphia. The Ford agency survived through the depression by selling the Model “A,” “B,” and V-8 powered models and in 1939 opened a Lincoln-Mercury dealership.

Postwar in 1946 Rice and Holman opened a Ford Parts Rebuilding operation similar to the Titus Manufacturing Company’s operation in Tacoma, Washington. In 1948 the sales organization began a truck leasing and rental business after being asked by the Ford Motor Company to service a part of the RCA truck fleet.

Today’s feature image taken in 1958 contains the Rice and Holman Ford sales and service property located in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey; the town surrounds Merchantville the site of the firm’s first Dealership. The localities are just east of Camden, New Jersey, that is across Delaware River the from the City of Philadelphia.

Share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable photographs below found via Mase Mason. Information for this post is via an article in Automotive Fleet.

22 responses to “Rice and Holman: The Largest Ford Organization in the East

  1. It looks like all brands of cars were serviced at this dealership. You don’t see that very often these days.
    Interesting as well that the Austin Healey is so prominently displayed on the used car lot of a Ford dealer.
    I recall that imported, and in particular sport cars were still pretty unique at that time.

  2. In the lead photograph, in the lower right corner, is a dark 1949 PACKARD. Also in the lead picture, parked out front of the Parts & Accessories Service section of the building, is a dark CONTINENTAL Mark II.

    • That ’49 Packard must have been a desirable model in unusually good, low-mileage condition to merit a front line spot on the used car lot in 1958. Resale value of Packards were very low then particularly the ‘bathtubs’. At nearly ten years old, the July 1958 NADA Used Car Guide handbook retail list all ’48’s at $35-$85; ’49’s at $85-$120 and ’50’s at $120-$150.

      The Continental Mark II listed ’56 at $5100; ’57 at $6050.

      • 58L8134,

        Thanks for the information concerning the NADA used car price guide for the ’49 PACKARD and the CONTINENTAL Mark II. You’ve added a lot of insight into the car market. Hope you can continue to supply this information.

        Again, thanks,

        AML

        • AML

          Glad to supply this information as perspective, folks need only ask. I bought a selection of used car guides covering 1948 to 1969 at Hershey thirty years ago. Perusing them reveals how specific makes and models were perceived once they entered the secondary market. Quite surprising at times.

          58L8134

    • Maybe the man eying it is the owner of the ’57 DeVille parked facing diagonally to the building, behind them!

  3. Out front, there’s guy bending over, looking at a Lincoln Mark II. That was a rare and really expensive car and ’58 would have been used. There’s a dark ’48-’50 Packard in the front row 4th from the right, last photo.

    … so many station wagons

    • … and only one Mopar, the ’57-8 Plymouth cross the street, tucked into the back corner of the house!

  4. Today, car dealerships are built in high-traffic, auto dealer areas. This sprawling complex is surrounded by houses. The activity would have been a lot to deal with in a residential neighborhood

    • This would be considered a lot to deal with today but back then it was taken for granted. Before the suburbs began to boom, just a little before this time, large dealerships, small shopping centers and even manufacturing were surrounded by houses. The Ford Piquette, birthplace of the Model T, was built in a residential neighborhood at Piquette and Beaubien. When Ford needed a larger factory, they built right on Woodward Avenue, considered Main Street of Detroit. Gas stations too–look at the many pictures on The Old Motor and you will frequently see houses right next door. There wasn’t as much traffic, public transit was more frequently used and more people walked to the corner store or local church . Most inner-city streets were considered major arteries it it was four lanes wide.
      The suburbs then the interstates changed the layouts of cities forever.
      It is hard to recall the time before interstates. But when they came, entire neighborhoods were either destroyed or cut in half inside the city. Beyond the city limits, they created completely new venues to shop, live and work. The regional malls, mega-dealers (like this) and big box stores located along these high-traffic thoroughfares or pooled at major interchanges. When the second and third ring suburbs were developed just off the freeways they certainly did not include anything as large or commercial as this to be built in the middle of them.

  5. Although the b/w photos are quite grainy, I like the impressive load of ’57 and ’58 Fords being delivered on the Ford F8 Cab-Over-Engine car hauling rig. The COE design tractor can handle tighter maneuvering than the longer coventional tractor with the engine way out front. The large F7-F8 series mostly were equipped with the huge flathead V8, 331 cu. in. also used in all the 1949-1951 Lincolns. This one looks like it might be 1952 or so model before the major cabin redesigns of 1953 (start of the F-100 roomier cabin design, squared off fenders, withh curved windshields). Wish we had better closeups of the big trucks doing their work.

    There are two other Ford trucks at work rolling down the boulevard. One is a later 1950’s perhaps F-150 short box truck and the other is a big Ford F-700 or F-800 C.O.E. tractor trailer pulling a long unmarked white trailer with a refrigeration unit on the front of the trailer. Both were undoubtedly powered by the newer OHV engines (6 cyl in starting 1952, Y-Block 8’s starting in 1954).

    There must have been quite a tall building in this neighborhood from which these great aerial effect photos were taken. Amazing facility!

    Thank you David.

  6. There is another large Ford F series C.O.E. tractor waiting in the lot next to the building. This one looks like it might have a large intake or exhaust stack for a diesel engine.

    Yet another Ford conventional cab big truck with a more modern tiltable flat bed service retrieval vehicle is in the yard entry area.

    A standard dealership tow truck is parked alongside the building near the large door where there is catering truck with at least one customer. I bet feeding everyone was a big deal at this facility.

    The company gasoline pump is way back on the corner of the building just in front of a “bone yard” area.

    The wash bay area seems to have a primative water runoff system draining out into the huge car lot.

    Several more various Ford trucks are way in the back area. Perhaps regular service customers or trade-ins needing some work before being put out for re-sale.

    There are many light colored Ford 1958 sedans and other models (a few with black wall tires and no wheel covers?) in the lot rear, hmmmm, waiting for service or new pre-delivery checkouts perhaps?

    This was a very busy place in 1958! Oh, to see the shops inside!

    Obviously, Rice & Holman was a major employer and asset in this New Jersey community. I bet the Ford factory reps (sales, service, techs) had their own desks inside for their convenience to support such a valuable dealer.

  7. Evidently, the dealer didn’t pay by the letter for that roof sign. He choose “Organization” instead of “Dealer”

    • And the “ORGANIZATION” lettering being interrupted by an added larger “taller” roll up bay door to accommodate all those new larger trucks being mentioned in above posts.

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