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Fred Bryant Motor Company – Oldsmobile Sales and Service

Earlier we covered Fred Bryant’s used car lot in Lexington, Kentucky, and today we return to the City for a view of Bryant’s Storage Garage where he operated a repair garage and serviced and sold Oldsmobile cars. This facility was located near the Union Station Viaduct and could store up to two-hundred and sixty five automobiles.

  • University of Kentucky football game program ad dated October 29, 1938.

The lead image and the enlargeable version of it below contain a 1939 Oldsmobile that appears to be a standard model two-door sedan in service for the City Cab Co. in and around Lexington. Behind the car are Bryant’s gasoline station and the entrance to the service garage. The Olds dealer was in business until at least 1955 and possibly later.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photograph courtesy of the University of Kentucky along with any information about this Oldsmobile.

23 responses to “Fred Bryant Motor Company – Oldsmobile Sales and Service

  1. I find 2dr. taxis as unusual as I do the 2dr. highway patrol vehicles so many states ran in the 50s! For a taxi, seems to me a 4dr. is more practical, since you don’t have to continuously fold the seat back with every passenger entry. A nice 39 trunk-back sedan. One of my faves of that era are the 41’s; GM did an excellent job on the styling of those! (Yes, even better than the `41 Cadillacs, IMHO)

    • Two door cabs were not allowed in any town I ever lived in, for safety of both fares and drivers. As for police cars, apart from lower cost of 2 door sedans, it was a more secure to stuff prisoners in the back seat of a 2 door. No possibility of unauthorized party opening back door from the outside in those days before power door locks. Two door police cars were used well into the l960s, like that ’67 Chevy IN State Police car was posted last Friday.

        • The idea behind the 2 door police cruisers was that you didn’t want the back seat passenger ( a suspect) to escape.
          I never saw a 2 door taxi until that photo.

    • In the ’70s Alabama had several AMXs for state police cars (better for pursuits) and the California Highway Patrol used Mustangs and Camaros for the same reason starting in the ’70s or ’80s….

  2. The car shows a three-digit phone number; the sign shows a four-digit number. It seems impossible that a city that size could have gotten by with only three or four digits. Anybody know what’s going on?

    • I suppose if the residential lines were party lines (I remember back in the 40s our number was 417J, indicating 10 or 12 served by one number?) that might have been possible, but just barely, one would think.

    • This may have been before direct dial phones in that area, and that would be the phone number that you would tell the local operator when she said “number please”. That reminds me of a conversation I heard years back between two women who had both worked as operators, but in different states. They both said that they would sometimes say “rubber knees” instead of “number please”, and then try not to laugh, while the adjacent operators stifled their giggles.

  3. The cab name is a front, the driver is the wheel man, and the guy on the right may or may not have a tommy gun under his suit,,,

  4. IMHO the 1939 Olds was the least attractive GM vehicle of that model year. The Buick was handsome though, despite is bobtail, also was the first with turn signals, I believe. but only on the trunk.. The 1938 Olds was handsome, and was unique in having its stop lights mounted above the rear fenders and on the body. A safety feature mandated in the US years later.

  5. Looks like this cab is equipped with truck tires. Not familiar with the neighborhood tho’, was that a necessity in the day out thata’ way? How about some lights to indicate ‘available’ or not?

  6. Until fairly recently most of the cabs in Mexico City were VW Beetles, which of course have two doors. The typical practice was to remove the front passenger’s seat which provided reasonably good access to the back seat. I made a couple of work trips there in the oughts and the Beetle taxis were thick on the ground then. From what I understand they have been phased out in favor of more “normal” vehicles.

    • Joseph; I had forgotten those VW cabs in Mexico City…..they had a leather strap that they pulled to close the door after you had opened it and crawled into the back seat…they did not have to get out of the seat.

  7. Back in the late sixties we even had 2 door SIMCA 1100 cc taxis in Durban, South Africa. When a person phoned for a taxi they were asked if it were for transporting one ore more passengers. If it was for one ,then a Simca was despatched, and if for more than one then a Chrysler Valiant was sent to the pick up point. I think it was for operating cost reasons.

  8. A variety of telephone systems existed in many cities & rural areas, in the earliest days. One of the last hold-outs for an earlier phone system was: Catalina Island, — in Southern California, — in Los Angeles County. When companies consolidated, several large national companies were formed . Another car related fact was “Radio Telephone”. It required a “Special Mobile Operator” to connect a car to the “regular” phone system. Now, look: my Car “Answers the phone” for me !!! (safely! )

  9. Oldsmobile came out very early with the hydramatic transmission. I believe as early as 1938. I once drove one – it had a clutch – driver had to sellect a gear then let out the clutch. I believe it was called a safety clutch. It wasn’t until 1940 that the hydramatic became fully automatic

  10. The cab pictured is a 1939 Olds, probably a 76 model. Had it been a year later, a 1940, it could have had the optional fully automatic 4-speed hydromantic transmission – Actually, a semi-automatic tranny was available in 1939 – think GM called it the “Safety” transmission. It had a clutch that the driver had to engage – Once the drive gear was selected the driver could disengage the clutch – The clutch would not have to be used again until the a different gear was wanted such as neutral or reverse. This is my recollection from driving one over 60-yrs ago.

    Is my recollection correct?

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