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1930s Ford Super-Service Stations

In Part I of 1930s Ford Super-Service Stations we reported: “In an effort to capture a larger market share in 1935 the Ford Motor Company was promoting “Ford Super Service Stations” which were service garages that also sold gasoline, parts, accessories, and new cars. The concept was not a new one as the Automaker sold franchises for similar operations as early as 1914.”

“In 1931 the “Ford News,” a Ford Motor Company dealers publication reported about a Ford dealer that operated a “Super Service Station” which may have been the beginning of a sales campaign to promote a new name for the facilities.”

Today we return with five new images and begin with the lead photo containing a 1935 Ford taken at a “Ford Super Service Station” that was probably located in the greater Detroit area. In addition to offering Shell gasoline, Ford Benzol (Benzene) was also available. Benzol is refined from coal tar and made up primarily of benzene and toluene. The Ford Motor Company produced Benzol from coal tar, a by-product of the production of coke and coal gas from coal at the River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, MI.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photographs courtesy of the Henry Ford.

  • “Ford Approved” Lubrication Service at a Ford Super Service Station in 1939. Note the elaborate grease and gear oil dispenser on the far right and the “Clarifier” (a bypass oil filter) display on the far left.

  • Super Service Station mockup at a Ford Service Clinic in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1936.

  • Super Service Station mechanic carrying a Ford battery service kit in 1936 out to a customers 1932 Ford Tudor.

  • McCombe Motors Inc. Ford Super Service Station Ravenna, Ohio, 1934.

23 responses to “1930s Ford Super-Service Stations

  1. In the lead picture, the ’35 FORD Deluxe Tudor Sedan, appears to have a number of extras, like twin windshield wipers.

  2. According to the book Rouge: Pictured in Its Prime, Ford Benzol was one-quarter “light oil” (the benzene-toluene mix) and three-quarters gasoline. The factory produced 42,000 gallons per day. An issue of the Ford Car Trade Journal notes that it would dissolve the shellac on cork floats in carburetors, so drivers who wanted to use Benzol should either use a metal float or coat the cork float in collodion.

    • Despite my advanced age and many decades of fooling around with cars, I had never heard of Benzol, so had to google it. I was wondering if it was a cheap (and low octane) replacement for real gas, but no – like tetraethyl lead, benzene is an octane booster. It is also very toxic, and today the total amount of benzene in automotive gasoline is capped at .62% – i.e., less than 1%.

  3. I’d like to know, in the second photo, what “oil plating” refers to. Perhaps the internet can offer a clue.

    • “Oil Plating” is the act of spraying oil at the underside of a car to rust proof it. At the time of the photo many places simply sprayed used engine oil on the underside of vehicles. It really had limited effectiveness.
      Currently there are special oil products available to do this, and to be effective it should be done every year.
      I’m kinda 50/50 on this.

      • Oil undercoating it very effective if done yearly until the coating builds up some thickness. It was very popular here in VT ad NH, but has now been replaced by the use of Fluid Film which for the most part is Lanolin which is non-toxic.

      • Hi Junkman George, years ago, with the beaters we drove, the underside was coated with oil anyway, why would we pay twice for that feature. Just look at all the oil spots on some of these pictures, can you imagine the horror of oil in the roadway today? My apt. complex has a strict rule, no oil leakers, so my ’77 GMC gets parked on the street.

      • The ‘oil plating’ refers to the Conoco oil to the right of the sign. It was their way of selling the lubrication qualities of their oil. Google ‘oil plating Conoco’ and you’ll see tons of pre-war ads with this slogan.

    • “Neat and clean” is usually a company policy. I have worked at two exceptionally “neat and clean” shops over the years. One a foreign car importer, where you wore white coveralls, worked in a shop where the walls, ceiling, and floor were painted white, and full time cleaning staff were employed. The other, a truck shop, where again a full time cleaning staff was employed, you could eat off of the floors.
      Shops, working, or otherwise, don’t need to be dirty.

  4. These are certainly wonderful images Dave. Crisp and great depth of field. Obviously professional . The history of the Collodian product itself bears checking out as it dates back to the very earliest days of photography.

    • Plus the photographer seems to have been reasonably well versed in getting his subjects to pose “as if you were walking,” something that – in real life – is not all that easy to achieve.

  5. I’ve heard the name but know nothing about it.
    So Benzene was an oil-rich gas-like product?
    Would drives use it all the time or just periodically to coat (or clean?) the engine and carb?

    Did other forsake a similar product?
    The name reminds me of Oilzum motor oil and lubricants.

  6. Note the 25 louvre hood on the 1932 V8 Tudor. This was a running change to correct overheating. I doubt they used this hood on the model B. The standard hood had less louvres .

  7. I always wondered, but just fond out, that Ford dropped their Model A 4 cyl in 1935 and put V8’s in all their products at that time. I also noted that windshield wipers were an option along with an oil pressure gauge. Was this twin wipers as an option vs a single one as standard? Also, was 1935 the last year for the outside horn? Nice looking car, but wonder why Chevy by passed Ford in 1936, i.e. what was their magic for boosting sales.

    • Hi Mad Dog. In the ’50s we had a neighbor had a 2DR Ford looked like that one. Had only one wiper and being a little boy, I was puzzled he had to move it with a shiny knob on top of the windshield. Maybe there was no room for a vacuum wiper motor there.

  8. The third (interior) photo appears to have been shot with a wide-angle lens, rather uncommon in those days. The last photo has dirt in the image, as if the photographer failed to clean the negative before printing. It is also very contrasty, which could mean that it was copied from a print.

  9. Wasn’t the Art Deco period styling beautiful, from buildings to gas pumps to lowly grease dispensers. Sure beats the sterile era we are living in now. The “Clarifier” looks like a modern Luberfiner, a bit much for a passenger car, and I’m sorry, I never remember oil change bays looking like that. And “Benzol”? Sounds like nice stuff. And the motto, “watch us do it”, heck, today, you can’t even use their bathroom.

  10. Does anyone have any info on the unique light located where the drivers side horn should be on the 35 Ford? Never seen anything like it

  11. It’s not a fog light (usually “amber” and usually “paired” — and usually low-mounted) and it’s not a spotlight. You can see both in the 1935 Ford Accessories catalogs. The spotlight that cost $15.75 installed (which was pricey back then) is styled somewhat like the light in this photo, but it’s larger (and it’s installed in the usual spotlight position), so this is a “driving light.” Learn more here:

    hemmings/article/accessory-driving-lamps/

    Catalogs ($194.95 for 20-page or $44.95 for 4-page — plus shipping) are pricey, too, but now you can see them for free. Search “autopaper.”

    To answer the “What do you find of interest?” question, I find the $4.05 sign on the stack of Firestone tires interesting. I am shopping for 235/40-19 fronts and 275-35/19 rears. The OEMs are Bridgestone Potenzas. $300 each! (Michelin Pilots are even pricier!!) Goodyear Eagles or Hanook Ventus are “only” $200 per.

    Whatever happened to $4.05 tires?

    8 decades of inflation, unfortunately.

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