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Truckloads of 1936 Fords Arrive at Holzbaugh’s Detroit Ford Dealership

According to the source of today’s lead photo, it was taken in January of 1936 when truckloads of new 1936 Ford cars were being unloaded at George Holzbaugh’s Dealership. The operation was open 24-hours a day and located at West Grand Boulevard and West Fort St. in Detroit, MI, and included a billiards parlor.

Holzbaugh was an experienced Ford salesman who earlier worked at Peter J. Platte Motor Sales also located in Detroit. James O’ Connell reported in the 2017 Spring “Lincoln Link” that in “March 1924, Peter J. Platte Motor Sales was recognized by Ford Motor Company for employing the “Champion Ford Salesman” (Holzbaugh) in the United States. There he had a total monthly sales of 202 cars and trucks and beat the nearest salesman by 28 units.”

In 1934 Peter J. Platte moved to selling DeSotos and Plymouths and apparently Holzbaugh then opened this dealership. He and his salesmen’s ability to sell large numbers of cars and trucks probably accounts for the three-car transporters unloading new Fords at the Dealership. The second photo below also dated to January 1936 shows some kind of a sales event held at Holzbaughs.  

Share with us what you find of interest in these photos courtesy of The Henry Ford.

26 responses to “Truckloads of 1936 Fords Arrive at Holzbaugh’s Detroit Ford Dealership

  1. Amazing that ANY car dealer could sell so many when the depression wasn’t even over yet! Perhaps that region wasn’t hit as hard as others, but I have to wonder who had the dough for a new Ford V8? Apparently quite a few in Detroit!
    To offer 24 hour service had to be unheard of in most cities back then, let alone a billiards room for customers to pass time while waiting for their cars in the service dept.! (Gee, did they have a bar, too?!)

  2. Remarkably the building is still there as is the one behind it in the photograph. There is an addition and it is an auto parts store.

    3885 W Fort St Detroit, Michigan on google street view.

  3. Who was still buying cars in the middle
    of the depression?
    Probably people who were still employed at the Ford Motor Co.
    And in remember by 1938 Ford would be in serious trouble.Very interesting.

  4. Some interesting observations, most of the new ’36 sedans are of the “trunk back” or touring sedans body style. There are also quite a few model A’s parked out side of the building.

    Note the circular liquid storage behind the warehouse. I believe the sidewalls would raise up and down depending on how full it was.

    The ’35 Fordor touring sedan in the lower left of the first photo looks to be in good condition despite the harsh Detroit winter.

    • That is actually what is known as a gas holder. The tank which held natural gas would raise or lower depending on the amount of gas pressure in the system. I idea behind the design was to stabilize or maintain constant pressure for the area that it serviced. The tank was sealed from leaks at it’s base as it sat in a hole with water to act as a sealer.

      • thanks so much for identifying this tank. it jumped out of the photo at me and reminded me of something i’d seen as a young child though i had no idea of it’s name or purpose. glad to know it!

  5. The $25 a month in January 1936 would be between $450 and $475 today.

    For the mounted pictures of the different models, I wonder how it was decided which ones would face left and which would face right?

    • Remember that Lee Iococca made his name at Ford by coming up with a 1956 sales promotion “‘ A ’56 for $56”.
      So $25 s month 20 years before wasn’t chump change.

      • Unlike today, auto salesmen didn’t have to wait for their “up” turn at a dealership and could entertain a prospective customer at a nearby bar or coffee shop. Also, clearly, auto financing (GMAC- Ford Credit etc.) changed everything. Personally, leasing has made the big difference for me in today’s world.

  6. Possibly with the resurgence of car sales by ’34 (Ford’s was nearly triple that of its low point of ’32) there was now multiple shift work at Ford, so opening a dealership 24 hours and offering a recreation and billiard facility was a savvy move by Holzbaugh.

    Unfortunately, by 1937-38 when FDR responded to pressure to try balance the budget and cut back substantially on government programs, the economy rapidly collapsed…car sales falling to half their 1935-36 levels.

    In Item 2 of 2, it’s impressive to see evidence of a fairly integrated gathering of customers at the dealership in 1936

  7. Looks like a lot going on, on that gray, cold Detroit morn. It looks like 3 car haulers, all seemingly delivering the same type of car. Police cars, maybe? The truck to the right, appears to be a a BB Ford, has delivered his load and the drivers are chatting about it. Only 3 cars at a time and many times, those trailers had no brakes. And while the V8 Ford seems cheap at 2 bits a month, it’s almost $470/month today, PLUS interest. That was still a lot of cash in the 30’s, yet it didn’t seem to deter these folks any.

    • Here it is 2019 Howard, and the $470/month payments are STILL out of my reach, so if I were around back in `36, all I could do is look at that $25./mo. payment, and wish. LOL

  8. Perhaps the “Low Down Payment” and “$25 a Month” was the reason for the high
    monthly sales figures. Although my Dad said of the depression, “Bread was only 5
    cents a loaf, but nobody had a nickel”

  9. In the lead picture, parked on the street in the lower left corner, is a 1935 FORD Fordor Touring Sedan. The owner paid a little extra for twin windshield wipers.

  10. Considering that he sold 202 cars in a month, which translates to about 10 cars per working day, he probably enjoyed some good fleet sales, especially to government agencies in those dreary days.

    • Do you think there may have been some under the Billiard Table deals made, during those long cold Detroit nights, over some un-taxed liquor and pool hall ladies as incentives to sign on that dotted line?

  11. I like the view of the gasometer in the first photo. We used to see them around the railyards in the Bay Area when I was a kid. I always found them fascinating.

  12. At the beginning of the FDR administration the 18th amendment was overturned with the 21st amendment. It became obvious that men might be developing Milwaukee tumors. Ford was aware of this and redesigned the seat of the Ford truck cab. The back of the seat was pushed back and a bump was pressed in the sheet metal above the belt line. The BB truck in above photo received this upgrade, qv. The ” New Ford truck” arrived in March 1934 with the full floating rear end. The above example predates this. The rear wheels are aftermarket. Today we call the cab with the bump in the back a 1934 cab, but it was a “running change”.

  13. That 1935 Ford is a twin to the one my Dad bought new, and he paid cash for it. I’ve always thought that was impressive, he was 19 years old and a carpenters helper at the time. Bob

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