An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Gas Station Series: Maxwell Oil Company Super Service Station

The lead photo in today’s feature was taken on October 7, 1941, exactly two months before the US entered World War II after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. At the time the image was taken, the Boeing Company of Seattle, Washington, was already gearing up to produce airplanes needed for the upcoming War effort.

Boeing would eventually have seventy-thousand workers on the payroll and built many B-17 and B-29 bombers during the War years. With a significant amount of the men in the greater Seattle area either working at the Boeing plant, in other local defense industries or one of the armed services, women entered the workforce in large numbers, and many were employed in service jobs.

This set of publicity photos by the Richards Studio show nine women who were hired by the Maxwell Petroleum Company to work at it’s Maxwell Super Service filling station located at 910 Puyallup Avenue in Tacoma during the hostilities.

Tell us all you know about this DeSota convertible and share with us what you find of interest in these photographs courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library.

View over two-hundred and fifty other images in the Gasoline Station Series here.

26 responses to “Gas Station Series: Maxwell Oil Company Super Service Station

  1. Talk about your rarities! Not only is this a `42 model DeSoto, it has whitewalls! I bet you could count all those models built before the cut-off of 1/1/42 on one hand! I imagine there’s a chance the car was simply on loan from a DeSoto dealer, being a ‘current year’ model.

    • And it is a convertible. Perhaps the DeSoto club has some production numbers. They are indeed rare. The only one I’ve seen during 40 years of car shows was at Hershey a few years ago.

  2. If the photo date is correct then it was 10 months after the Pearl Harbor attack, and that could explain why women were being employed in greater numbers at home front gas stations.

  3. The 1942 DeSoto was beautiful. Maybe the best looking of the Chrysler products of that era. It was one of the first with hidden headlights ala the Cord. Chrysler products also had beautiful interiors, even optional with the Plymouth.
    Those young women look alike with their fashionable hair style and blouses, a style that lasted through the war years.

  4. Desoto’s new for 1942 Airfoil Lamps are getting a cleaning in the top picture.

    “Out of Sight Except at Night!”

    A one year only for Desoto IIRC.

  5. Always loved the disappearing headlights ….too bad Desoto didn’t continue to have them after the war.
    What’s the small container laying in front of the left front tire in first photo…and is being handed to one of the ladies in the second photo? Just curious.

  6. Hard to determine if this ’42 DeSOTO is a Deluxe or Custom. The emblem would be on the back-side of the hood, where the lady is standing, behind the lady adding air to the tire. One thing the car does not have is the “Fifth Avenue Ensemble,” as there aren’t “rear-wheel shields.”

    • In all probability this is a Custom. According to the 1942 DeSoto sales literature, there was no DeLuxe convertible offered but production figures indicate 79 DeLuxe Convertibles built. The Custom Convertible was a catalog item and they built 489 of them. Odds are, this is a Custom.

  7. I’m always taken a little by surprise to see the beautiful shine on older cars in photos such as this. As a kid (Fifties) I mainly saw them with dull finishes. I remember that someChrysler products from the Forties came in a beautiful dark metallic blue. If not cared for, it would “craze” into a spectrum of colours before finally becoming dull.

  8. Is there anybody out there who can show a proper photo of a 1942 DeSoto TOWN Sedan?? In contrast to the regular and far more seen six-window sedan with suicide doors, this is the four door sedan with 4 side windows (with vent windows integrated in the rear ones) and all doors front-hinged, . This body-style was also available on Chryslers, Plymouths and Dodges, and returned after the war only at Dodge. I only can find folder or advertising images, which are seriously deformed or exaggerated and far from realistic. Of course, any 1942 DeSoto is quite rare, but you’ll find pictures of a convertible or even a business coupé, but NEVER a town sedan… I regulary check this site full of contemporary pictures; so far no luck. Makes me wonder if they ever made the thing, even if there are statistics available which prove they did.
    And now the ‘really-though-mopar-holy-grail’ question: did DeSoto ever produce a Plymouth-based export version named ‘Diplomat’ for the short-lived 1942 model year?

  9. I noticed the lady on the front left of the pic. She is leaning against the R/F fender and the battery care kit is touching the car. Scratch? NO WORRIES! I well remember those – made out of hard rubber! Obviously a great posed photo: the kit that she is holding is empty. If I remember, you had a hydrometer to measure the battery acid state. You had a “turkey baster” battery filler to fill batteries with needed water. (Distilled, of course!) and the kit had a fair sized tank in it for the “distilled” water. Am I forgetting anything from said kit? Anybody? In one place where I worked, customers often asked if that was distilled water we were putting in batteries. The boss would say, “No, but we have a tank on the roof that catches rain water that is as pure as you can get.” Baloney! Good thing no one ever wanted to see this imaginary tank.
    Most enjoyable pic! Thanks Dave!

  10. The hidden headlights we’re apparently taken from two Chrysler concept cars from the 1941 model year: the Newport and Thunderbolt. Of course Gordon Buhrig had the jump on Chrysler by Six years.

  11. As a kid in the forties I remember seeing a DeSoto of this era and being enamored by the hidden headlights. Always loved the chromed waterfall grill also. Guessing they, like most other makes from ’42, had painted grills before the end of a shortened run.

  12. My neighbor (Long Beach CA). Had a brand new DeSoto Sedan. – He’d the distinctive hidden headlights – I remember the trim model name on the side – it was a Fifth Avenue…

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