An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Grand Rapids Michigan: Row Motor Sales and Mulvihill Motor Company

We start out today with a late-1930s image of Row Motor Sales, an Oldsmobile dealer located at  sixty-six Sheldon Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Research has turned up that the sales agency was in business as early as 1931 at 1121 Hall Street in the City. The latest reference to be found was from 1959 when the dealership had moved to 150 Jefferson Ave. SE and had also taken on a Rambler franchise.

Today’s second photo (below) taken in March of 1940 contains a view of the Mulvihill Motor Company which handled Dodge cars and trucks and the Plymouth at 1233 Chicago St. in Grand Rapids. References found about the Company date to 1947 when it was located at 1100 South Division Ave. in the City and to 1962 when it was still in operation.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photographs courtesy of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

16 responses to “Grand Rapids Michigan: Row Motor Sales and Mulvihill Motor Company

  1. In the 4th picture [3rd expandable photograph], in the center foreground, is a 1938 PACKARD Coupé, unsure of the model.

  2. The four dark sedans in the first image bring to mind the theme music from “The Untouchables.” I’ll take the Buick, thanks.

  3. I love the style of these olld neighborhood dealerships , as opposed to the super stores of today. Surprised that there is no advertising in the windows of both car dealers. Great photos .

    • Yeah. I’m in my 60s and remember the mom and pop new car dealers in town. It’s not even super stores these days, it’s super chains. In New England, there’s Herb Chambers, Lia , Balise, Hoffman .

      We had Ford, VW, Chevy, Toyota, Chrysler, Pontiac/Buick, AMC in town. Now we have just Chrysler/Ram/Jeep. It’s not a big deal to drive another 10 minutes down the road but where I live it’s down to one.

      Herb Chambers is a billionaire (1.5). I thought I had heard, but can’t find anything online, that the condo Jack Nickelson lived in, in the movie “The Departed” might have been owned by Herb Chambers at one time.

    • I asked my old boss about this .He said that you got two bites at the cherry.Someone with make X would see your one and think…Ooh I like this lets try a newer{? } one ..or.. ah he takes these as part ex and I fancy something else.

  4. The first photo is a reminder that in northern climes a snow that arrives in November is there until March. I spent nearly 20 years in the retail business in PA and cleaned a lot of snow off a lot of cars in my time.

    Therefore; “If it’s not snow and ice, it’s nice”.

    • Agree it’s a ’36 Oldsmobile 4-door “non-touring” sedan (i.e., no built-in trunk). But your eyes, or your computer’s screen, or your intimate knowledge of the make is better than mine — all likely to be true — ’cause from the picture I can’t tell if it’s an F36 six-cylinder or an L36 eight-cylinder.

    • The Buick could be a 1930 or an early 1931. The ’31s came out in April, 1930 using 1930 parts but with an 8 cylinder engine. On January 1, 1931 the 2 bar bumper was replaced by a wider, single bar bumper, the open driveshaft was replaced by an enclosed drive shaft, the crash box transmission ( on the lower priced series) was replaced by syncros on 2nd and 3rd gears and the soldered together 3 piece brass oil cooler was replaced by a 2 piece stamped steel oil cooler that was held together with screws. The ’31 radiator cap was a vertical wing with an 8 at the front. That’s all the changes from 1930 that I am aware of. The picture above looks like it has the 1931 radiator cap.

  5. Interesting that both of these are built to the same “L” plan: showroom up front, with the service department at 90 degrees in the rear, with the parts department, offices, and probably access from the service department to the showroom to move cars in and out in the connector between the showroom and service wing, giving you a corner used car lot in the bargain. The Ford dealership my great grandfather built in 1919 had the same set up, except the service department was straight and had an elevator to three upper floors.

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