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South Tacoma Motor Company Introduction of the All New Post-War Chevrolet

Today’s feature images (below) taken at the South Tacoma Motor Company located at 5602 South Tacoma Way in Tacoma, WA, highlight the introduction of the first all new post-war car from Chevrolet for the 1949 model year. The lead image taken a year later at the 1950 model unveiling contains a view of the outside of the showroom.

The light-colored “Deluxe” convertible pictured (above and below) in the show room received the lion’s share of the attention in these press photos taken by the Richards Studio. Note the small caricatures of a service department manager with note cards next to them sitting on the convertible. The building has survived and is still being used today as an auto sales and repair business. 

Included (below) are two pages from a 1949 fold out sale brochure courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project, the rest of the publication can be viewed here. Also of interest is the 1949 Chevrolet specifications manual which give all of the details of the new offering.

Share with us what you find if interest in the black and white photos courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library.

28 responses to “South Tacoma Motor Company Introduction of the All New Post-War Chevrolet

  1. As a little kid, one of the first cars I was able to identify from the back were the 1949/50 CHEVROLET automobiles by their tail-lights which looked to me like the bottom of shoes.

  2. In the 2nd picture [1st expandable photograph], in the background center, looks like a CHEVROLET 6100 truck, with a tri-roll front bumper.

  3. Wow, do I miss all the fanfair when the new cars were introduced. It certainly was of a different time. I love the fact that there is a convertible with white walls front and center to entice a buyer to come in and wind up purching a new 4 door for the family.

  4. To me, the post WWII years were the best for new car introductions in showrooms. Look at all the fresh flowers adorning the place–that expense would be astronomical to do in today’s world! Big comfy sofas for customers to use, and posters galore touting the advancement in the new models. Even in the first image of the building exterior, a couple guys actually stop to gawk at the new models–when was the last time you saw that? The search lights are a nice touch too. I can only remember one dealer using those at new-car intro time in the 60’s; O’Daniel Oldsmobile here in Omaha. This is the “romance” of a new car purchase we don’t see any more. It built excitement and the whole family came down to view what’s new!

    • Hi Will, I’ll say the romance is gone. Last year, I rented a car, and the Hertz was in a Ford dealer. There had to be half a dozen cars in the showroom, while I looked at the lousy paint job on a new Lincoln, nobody else was looking at a car, and the people that were there, were all there for service.

      • Howard, a sad but very true testimonial to the times we live in alright. And that Lincoln with the lousy paint job? Probably stickered for what—over $45K?

    • I was in a car dealership, awhile back, they turned the showroom into cubicles for salesmen, not a car in sight.

      Having said that, there is a nice Ford dealer nearby, I look at the cars while my trucks oil is changed, and a Toyota dealership in the next town over has a large showroom with a waiting area with a see through fireplace and coffee, but it is always packed with people.

      • The simple truth is that most folks today walk into the dealership knowing exactly what they want. Credit the internet for that. The salesman’s job is simply to make them a deal that’s better than the same brand dealer 20 miles down the road or at the competition across the street.

        I know that’s the way it was the last time I bought a new car. Had the model and trim level picked out, just a question of which of two colors – white or silver. Same deal with the couple that was in there at the same time except they knew they wanted dark gray metallic. Driving home I thought to myself, you know I never even looked under the hood!

    • After the deprivations of the war and the rehashing of ’42 models for a few years afterwards, the introduction of new car designs would have meant a lot more. They were harbingers of a brighter future, a future filled with convenience and luxury. This is what the soldiers in WWII were fighting for. Of course there was a romance to it.

      Now that you can build out the car of your dreams on the internet, then look at it from all angles, you no longer need to visit the dealer to marvel at new models. But I don’t think these shifts represents the death of romance. Times are different now, that’s all.

  5. The searchlights are more than likely surplus WW2 Sperry 60 inch mounted on the back of a GMC CCKW 6×6. 1st car I remember my grandfather had was ’51 Chevy. The caricatures in the last photo look an awful lot like the early McDonalds “Speedee Service” guy. In case that spiffy Chevy convertible seems like a bargain at $2386 dollars, today, that’s over $26,000 dollars.

  6. The building is still there in Tacoma, and it is still auto-related. They deal in street rods, muscle cars, and performance parts.

  7. If only I had the power of Samantha the witch…twitch, twitch and I could go back to a kinder, gentler time.
    I love these pictures even if I was not yet born, they make me want to be there.

    • The NEW car that impressed me was the 1948 Davis. Gobsmacked. A new ’51 Crosley convertible was memorable, but the ’52 Muntz was so-so. As a kid having the advantage of extensive travel and living on both sides of the tracks, i suggest you opt for Dr WHO’s Tardis and look to the future. Utopian myths and 100mpg carbs are conjured with smoke and mirrors – in the case of the 100mpg carb and Davis car they were con jobs. Neither the first nor last in automotive history. Have you ever seen a Dolo?

      Post war, The Big One (and WWI too) was neither a kind nor gentle time. The Superman radio show aired a 16 episode series in 1946 titled Superman and the “Clan of the Fiery Cross” which had the highest ratings for the program and was applauded far and near. “Unexampled Courage” tells of men and women who risked everything to improve the lives of all in the immediate postwar period and deserves a read along with “Devil in the Grove” based on life in postwar Florida. There’s a 49 Kaiser, a fast Chevy and a couple of Olds belonging to one sheriff that are prominently front and center in “the Grove”.

  8. Will Fox, very well said.
    I remember in the fifties and sixties in my town the car dealers would cover the showroom windows so folks would get no early previews. That only made the anticipation greater.
    On the big day there would almost be a traffic jam when the cars were displayed. There was something magical then , it seems the cars had personalities and character. They were certainly identifiable, unlike today’s offerings of cookie-cutter same-color reruns. If I can’t see the nametag I don’t know what they are. I would spend hours in the showrooms, too young for the salesman to try for a sale. I remember how amazed I was the first time I saw power windows, power seats, wonder-bar radios, auto-dimmers, etc.
    I think there will never be a time as wonderful as the 50’s and 60’s.

  9. Wow what a treat to see these pics- thank you! I have an all original 50 Grecian Grey Fleetline deluxe 2 door like the black one in the 2nd pic. A beautifully designed, reliable and comfortable car. Safety aside, to think that this Chevy was the 1950 equivalent of today’s Toyota Camry….what would you rather open the garage door and find?

  10. In 1949 as a 7 year old I remember my father buying a new black ’49 Chevy sedan with absolutely no trim. I loved cars even at that age and was embarrassed by his choice. Next was a new plain gray ’51 Chevy 4 door sedan. He had the money, just no interest in anything but cars to get you from here to there.

  11. My Dad in Australia had a brand new 1949 Chevrolet utility, something you guys unfortunately missed out on.

  12. Oh for those days when the dealership Windows were covered with paper so we couldn’t get s peak at the new models. Luckily for those of us in high school in the ’50’s the man that owned the local Chevy dealership lived right behind the school and would “hide” some of the new cars in his garage right behind the school. The cars were always delivered to him at night for further security. That garage did have Windows so we could sneak peaks at what was new. Imagine our surprise in ’59 when we saw two cars in his one car garage and one was parked sideways! That was of course a Corvair. Great memories indeed.

    • Tom, peeking in that garage window, you must’ve wondered, “What IS that little flat-roofed sedan. Some import?!”

  13. My first “decent” car was a ’50 Bel Aire in 1955. Put a 261 cu.in. truck engine in it. A great street racer sleeper until the factory came out with the V8.

  14. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, when those gigantic spotlights would appear in the night sky, dad would say, “get in the car and we’ll see what’s up”. It was fun chasing those lights in the sky.

  15. My route from home to high school 1956-58 included a bus stop wait on Foothill Boulevard, in Oakland, CA. Which, it turned out, was the route car deliveries from the Chevy plant a few miles farther down Foothill took, on their way to several showrooms in the business district of Oakland. The front and rear portions of the cars were covered with some
    kind of canvas contraption, with air holes, but which completely broke up the lines of the cars. But still, it was fascinating to see one go by.

  16. Street rods and muscle cars are still being sold at same spot at 56th and So. Tacoma Way.
    We used to drive it in the late ’60’s in John Kellers’ Cherry Red ’56 Chev. Convertible 327 4 spd that he bought at one of those So. Tacoma Way car lots. We got our hands on some WWII USAAF flight helmets and white scarfs went cruising So. Tacoma Way and 6th Ave. to the Point (Point Defiance). I was Eddie Rickenbacker and of course he was The Red Baron.

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