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Arcure Motors: Studebaker Sales and Service

In last week’s post titled “Arcure Motors: Studebaker-Mercedes-Benz Sales and Service” we took a look at photos taken in 1960 when the Ann Arbor Studebaker dealership was handling Mercedes-Benz cars.

A second search has turned up this set of photos taken earlier in August of 1954 when Arcure Motors owned by Steve Arcure, located on 617 Detroit St. in Ann Arbor took on the Studebaker franchise. Arcure began selling new cars and trucks in the City in 1941 when he opened a Willys dealership.

Apparently, Arcure must have had some sort of a relationship with a Lincoln-Mercury dealer because on the far left of the lead image is a rare 1954 Mercury “Sun Valley” hardtop. This car features a tinted Plexiglas front roof insert and the second picture below contains three more late-model Mercury cars on display.

Share with us what you find of interest in these photos courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library.

  • Note the 1954 “Sun Valley” and three other Mercury’s next to it on the far left of the photo.

  • This image was taken in September of 1960 a couple of months later then the photos in the first post covering Arcure Motors.

26 responses to “Arcure Motors: Studebaker Sales and Service

  1. In the 4th picture [3rd expandable photograph], has a 1960 STUDEBAKER Champ out front among a few Larks. Of interest, it appears the service building, seen in the earlier pictures on the right, is gone by 1960.

    • Although the service building itself was gone, the servicing of cars was moved to the back area so to speak as was seen in the previous post last week on Arcure Motors. So why did they do that? My guess is that flat section was developed so that they could sell more cars as there was no a whole lot of room for too many cars on the dealership lot.

      • The original drawing for the addition included a showroom on top and a service area below. The service areas were completed but the showroom was not done until the mid 80’s when BMW demanded a separate showroom. I have the original drawing so where showing the very jet aged looking concept. It was designed to have Studebaker in one side and Mercedes in the other but Studebaker was in trouble so it was never completed.

  2. In Item 1 of 3, a ’54 Mercury Monterey hardtop, a Sun Valley as David noted, with the bullets removed from the bumper, and based on the Lead Photo, a dark over light ’54 Ford Crestline Victoria behind it. Also a ’48 Studebaker Champion Deluxe convertible, a ’54 Studebaker Coupe an early 50s Jeepster with at least one a ’54 Studebaker in the showroom.

    In Item 2 of 3 we can add another ’54 Monterey on the extreme left and a ’53 Mercury Sedan…and to the right a ’50 Studebaker sedan and likely a ’53 Plymouth Cambridge.

    In Item 3 of 3, on the far left a ‘55 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan, a ’55 Chevy wagon in the lot and several Larks and a Champ pickup

  3. In the 1st pic, I wonder if “Pa” is getting the older Studebaker pickup serviced or he’s there for some work. Looks like he got his use out of the truck. 2nd and 3rd pics, seems like a lot of Mercs for Studebaker dealer, and what looks like a new Ford panel truck next to what appears to be an old military Jeep, with aftermarket cab. A new Packard(?) on the lift and a Harley( or Indian?) outside. I imagine that’s $375 bucks for that 1st Studebaker, Jeepster, a tough sell, and the last pic, looks like the they took the Champ pickup off the roof,,,still unsold. The Caddy is clearly the bosses.

    • Yea, I agree that Willys Jeepster would have been a rather hard sell at a Studebaker dealership, and especially one up in Michigan as they didn’t offer much protection from the cold weather. I also read once that they didn’t have much power in their engines and as a result didn’t sell very well. Definitely an impressive looking vehicle though. In the lead article it mentions that the proprietor of the dealership Steve Arcure had started selling Willys cars back in 1941 and had just taken over the Studebaker franchise that year, and I notice that there is another Jeep vehicle parked just around the corner of the building so I guess he had a few used ones left over. I’m not sure why all those Mercury cars are there as it is hard to imagine anyone giving up a good Mercury franchise for lowly Studebaker. They had a terrible year in ’54 selling only 68,000 units and lost 29 million dollars, so perhaps he had contacted a Lincoln-Mercury dealer and made an arrangement with them to sell their cars until sales picked up which never really did until they started selling Mercedes cars a few years later.

  4. In last week’s article on Arcure Motors, I wrote a rather lengthy post about how as a cabdriver in San Pedro back in the early 90’s I saw when turning around in an alley an old sign that just read “STUD” with the rest of it being blocked out by a newer building, and believed that the sign had once read Studebaker. So I asked a cab driver who had been driving a cab in that town for about 40 years who told me that there had indeed been a dealership on that street but that it was on the opposite side of the road and a few blocks down from it. So last week I decided to investigate the matter and discovered that the dealership that he was referring to had been located at 1st & Pacific and was in business in the early 1950’s, but that there had been a dealership at 3rd & Pacific back in the late 30’s, which was right where I had seen the old sign, and that there had also been a Studebaker service station right next to it at the same time.
    Well lo and behold one can see the exact same arrangement in the third photo (item 2 of 3) which has a Studebaker service station right next to the dealership. Was this just a coincidence or was that a common set up for Studebaker dealers back then in order to make them look more conspicuous? Did other car dealers also use that format at times? I guess that I will have to keep my eyes open for other occurrences of that happening in American car dealerships of the past and might even see another appearance of one sometime in The Old Motor Newsletter.

    • Wayne, It’s funny you mention that. My father restored his ’50 Jeepster in the early ’90’s and enjoyed it until his passing in 2006. My brother owns an early (column shift) CJ-2A with a hardtop. His hardtop is as old as the one in the picture, was made of aluminum by Car Craft (or was it Kar Kraft?) and is a little different in shape to this one. His is horizontal along the top until above the front doors where it pitches down slightly to the windshield frame. That gives it somewhat of a cool looking rake, kind of like a fabric roof you see on some T-buckets.

  5. As a former member of the Studebaker Drivers Club, and current long time (25 year) member of the Mercedes Benz Club of America, I’ve read a great deal in club magazines about the Studebaker – Mercedes arrangement.

    There are a few big time MB dealers out there (including a major one in the Washington DC area) that started out as Studebaker dealers…they are the smart ones who kept their MB affiliation and had Mercedes to fall back on when Studebaker quit building cars.

    In the mid-60s, in most places (away from major cities) a MB store wouldn’t have been that big of deal (I think they were seen as a bit quirky…and aside from the few SL and luxury models sold…known for building cars for folks who would keep them forever…a bit like Volvos of the period), but come the 70s when they became better known as a luxury brand, they started to take off.

  6. Note the round sign on pole above the Mercury. It says “Safe Buy” used cars. This was the Lincoln Mercury dealer brand for used cars (like Chevy’s “OK” used cars). The lot on the left must have been a L-M dealer’s at the time. A used car lot remote from the main dealership would not have been unusual in those days.

    • In the first picture, there is a 1954 Lincoln hardtop behind the 1954 Mercury Monterey Sun Valley. Wonder if Arcure also owned a Lincoln-Mercury dealership or it was just a coincidence the lot backed up to the Arcure showroom. Since the lot sloped away, it made sense to raze the old two bay service garage and set a new four bay garage into the embankment, plus have car display area on the roof. By 1960, looks like Arcure had acquired the L-M lot as well.

      • That’s interesting that you should identify that car behind the beautiful Sun Valley as a 1954 Lincoln hardtop as I assumed that it was a Mercury since all the other cars in that lot were. Pat W. who by and large is very accurate in identifying cars thought that it was a ’54 Ford Crestline Victoria but the front grill doesn’t match that of a Ford. I guess it could be a Lincoln, although from my perspective it’s just impossible to tell which of the two makes it actually is – so maybe we will never know.

        • The identifier that it is a Lincoln is the quarter window shape and the C-pillar trim with three speed lines. Also, although difficult to see, the trim runs straight through above the gravel guard on the vestigial rear fender sculpting, a 1954 only configuration.

          • I’ll take your word for it, as your descriptive points is definitely above my level of expertise!
            Both the ’54 Mercury and Lincoln are high on my list of really great looking cars. Thanks for the clarification.

    • The lot belonged to Frank Jordan and was the used car lot for Fitzgerald Jordan Lincoln Mercury. The original Mercedes dealership was a gas station that my Grandfather, Steve Arcure bought and built around. He and my father purchased the lot sometime in the early 60’s in order to expand the dealership. My grandfather, being the expert scavenger he was, saved the sign.

  7. Google Earth shows that much of the 1960s version of this building survives. The front of the building has been remodeled beyond recognition but the rear shows the service bays from last weeks post. The house at the left of the photo also survived.

  8. Now THATS a dealership I would have been comfortable dealing with.Not these new stadium sized dealers with their revolving door sales force.

    • There is a lot good to be said of dealing with the owner of a small dealership or one where the sales force is small enough to be long-term employees who know they will deal with your again if they treat you well and fairly. Mega-dealership plan on enough satisfied customers plus a rotation of the dissatisfied from other dealers to keep their volume high. Better to deal with those who get to know you and depend upon your repeat business.

  9. it was so good to see the early champion convertible ,I just bought a 1947 one from ventura CA to Australia, it is so original & drivable & will be a collectible as only 1500odd were made in 47 I look forward to restoring it to new condition as only 2 of these came to Australia it will be rare here.

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