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Follow the Spotlight to Mitchell Motors Oldsmobile New Model Introduction

This series of images was taken in November of 1955 at Mitchell Motors located on West Peach Tree St. (auto row) in Atlanta, Georgia, during the introduction of the new 1956 Oldsmobile models. Further on down the sidewalk a sign for “Hudgin’s Motors Cars and Trucks” is visible and across the street a partial “Packard” sign can be seen.

It was fashionable at the time to use a spotlight at special events and grand openings to attract attention and the Dealership had one positioned out in front of the showroom; for fun motorists would drive from miles around to track down the source and every one of them was a potential car buyer. Anderson’s Septic Tank Service apparently was moonlighting (no pun intended) at the time setting up a spotlight on location and used the Company IHC pickup truck to tow the lighting rig to Mitchell Motors.

Share with us what you find of interest both in the showroom and out in front of Mitchell Motors in this set of photographs courtesy of the Georgia State University Library. 


20 responses to “Follow the Spotlight to Mitchell Motors Oldsmobile New Model Introduction

  1. In Item 1 of 3 it’s amazing they have a body-off chassis in their showroom as they were rarely seen outside of city-wide auto shows. Mitchell Motors evidently had some influence within the Olds Division.

    In Item 2 of 2 looks like a ’50-’52 IH L-110 pickup with the searchlight followed by a ’55 Olds 88 or Super 88 2-door sedan. That Mitchell Motors neon sign is spectacular.

    Item 3 of 3, on display a ’54 Olds 98 , possibly a Starfire convertible and a Holiday Coupe to the right of the entry…I can’t tell if the rear quarter emblem is enclosed by the side trim (Super 88) or just ahead of it (88).

    • There wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference among the ’54, ’55, and ’56 Oldsmobiles, unless you think trimwork is worth a lot more than I do.

          • Chevrolet’s first 4-door hardtops were offered in 1956. There are a few customizers who converted 1956 4-door hardtops into 1955 4-door hardtops.

      • Unless you think sales (#5 in ’54;#4 in ’55) or horses (170/180 in ’54; 185/202 in ’55; 230/240 in ’56.)

        The most Ambassador could count were 140 in ’54 and 208 in ’55. One via LeMans Powerpack 6 and one via Packard 320 V8.

        And in truth, Oldsmobile styling in ’54-’56 was what Pontiac styling was in ’63-’65: truly trend-setting.

  2. Great photos once again, Dave. Another dealership filled with cars, POS, and a chassis front and center. 1956 Oldsmobiles were good looking cars. I remember the spot lights, and all of the hoopla that went along with selling new cars. Thanks always, John

  3. This Olds dealership looks alot like a dealership I worked in years back. Built in `52, it was originally an Olds-Cadillac dealer called “Bernard Bros.” and then about `56 was purchased by the Novaks, who dropped the Olds franchise. Inside the ground level of the shop was a ramp going to the second floor with more service bays. Body Shop was on the third, serviced by 2 freight elevators to get wrecks up/downstairs. One mechanic we had was original to the place, and was in his 70’s by the time I started working there. The stories he told me of the old days were amazing; numerous celebrities that knew the Novaks came there to buy Caddys; even a mobster or two. Unfortunately, that building is long gone now; replace with a Salvation Army Depot.

  4. Pat identified the IH truck, but didn’t mention the odd combination, Anderson Septic Tank Service/ spotlight rental. The searchlight looks like a 42 inch Sperry on what looks like a WW2 chassis.

    • Thanks Howard, we always called them searchlights as opposed to spotlight. I’m guessing they were army surplus from WW2 probably bought pretty cheap. Very popular in the late 40s, 50s,60s. Any given night you might see a half dozen around town. They could be seen for 20 or 30 miles on a clear night. We also called them “arc lights”, many of the generators were used for portable welders.

      • Hi Woody, yes, they were very popular. I remember, as a kid, we’d see them light the sky, and we’d have to hop on our bikes to see what all the hub-bub was about ( sometimes pretty far away, usually a car dealer) I believe the “official” use was for aircraft sightings and most were powered by Chrysler flathead 6’s . We were told to never look at the light itself, but for a second, we did anyway, like looking at a welder.

  5. I wonder what became of the display chassis. I once went to the Packard Proving Grounds in Utica, MI (around 2006) and met a member of the Packard club who showed me a 1956 display chassis that had survived. It was rusty but still great looking.

  6. Very unusual to see a IHC with an external visor. Although I suppose more likely to see one on a company truck than a privately owned one.

  7. Saw searchlight in to the early 70’s as a kid. We lived rural, so rarely went to see them. The beam always looked to me like it was traveling back and forth in an arc, like a windshield wiper. But Dad told me they were circling around. Once in a great while we’d go see one. Sure enough, they were just rotating in a circle. But back home, my mind still saw at as back-and-forth.

  8. What we all wouldn’t give to have that neon sign housed in a museum somewhere! What a wonderful piece of art,,,as were so many of those signs!

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