An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

One Stop Firestone Service Station Ann Arbor, Michigan

We have had a run on Firestone service centers recently, and here is yet another one photographed in July of 1946 and located at East Huron and South Division Streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The building has survived and remains as Firestone service center.

Like some of the other Firestone operations we have looked at this location also handled home, farm, and sporting goods supplies and equipment. Parked in front of the shop is an assortment of worn and battle-scarred pre-war cars and the center’s Ford pickup truck visible on the far right.

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

32 responses to “One Stop Firestone Service Station Ann Arbor, Michigan

  1. I’ll say “one stop”. Gym sets, baby strollers, a 3 bottom horse drawn plow? Imagine what a “Firestone” coaster wagon would be worth today. The company truck, looks like a ’41 Ford, and except for the ripped off fender, still not too bad.

  2. I’m intrigued by the convertible sedan at the end of the row.
    The 1940 Ford pickup has had a hard six years. One of my favorites.

    • I too am intrigued by that car parked at the end of the row. I could be wrong, but my guess is that it is a 1938 Chrysler Imperial convertible, which was a mighty fine car for its time.

      • p.s. One thing is definite, and that is the car – which was likely yellow – is a rare “convertible sedan”. I’m not sure if any other company made those type of automobiles back then other than Chrysler. Perhaps someone else can elucidate on that matter better than I can.

    • My guess is the yellow convertible is a 1938 Buick. A search if ‘1938 Buick convertible’ will yield an abundant number of examples resembling the car in question.

  3. Business is good at the Firestone service station.

    We have a 1935 Ford standard Tudor waiting in the “Lubrication” line. Poor little ’35 has seen some rough service.

    Next to it in the “Service” line we have a 1940 or 1939 Ford Fordor sedan. I’m going with a 1939 DeLuxe Fordor. Notice the stainless trim on the hood side and it looks like there is a windshield crank out knob on top center of the dash to roll out the windshield.

    The GMC pickup has some battle wounds too. Folks really used up these cars and trucks back then.

    • Agree, thats back when trucks were trucks, nowadays there’s Navigation, heated steering wheels and sunroofs, and of course a sticker price of $65k !!

  4. Fascinating to read that almost 80 years later it is still a Firestone Service Center. I had to search it to see how it appears today. Perhaps you can show some then and now photos in the future. Keep up the great work.

    • They recently sold the property and will be another new high rise for luxury student apartments for U of M students. That whole block has been built up the last few years. It’ll be sad to see it go but it’s just part of life around here in Ann Arbor.

  5. The ’39 deluxe 4 door has been towed into the shop with some kind of towing lights stuck on the decklid. Next to that is a ’39 Plymouth coupe.

  6. Sells swing sets too.Robert Williams did a hot rod painting of some guys using a swing set for an engine hoist.That makes no sense,its just thin tube.

    • My buddy Chip and I used them to pull the four-banger engines from our sports cars. The weakest part would be the cross beam, so just shorten that or substitute something more substantial. Plus, by virtue of the set screws in the connectors, they are portable. We used them on more than a few occasions to pull engines from derelict Metropolitans which we then sold on as used MGB engines. (Just change the valve cover, which we had plenty of.)

      Hopefully the statute of limitations has run out on that.

      • In about 1968, a buddy and I used a swing set to pull the engine of his Volvo 444. Although we were both engineers so should have known better, we bent the thing so badly his daughter cried. Yes, we fixed it.

  7. The cars beyond the ’39 Plymouth coupe and ’37 Oldsmobile Six sedan are a ’37 Packard 120 touring sedan, a ’40 Studebaker Champion two door sedan and in corner a ’36-’38 Mopar convertible sedan.

    Firestone stores were a good place to buy household needs in smaller towns in the era before the big-box outfits pushed them out of business.

  8. Very cool photo! I wish we could see the convertible sedan better, that is undoubtedly a very cool car. If I could pick, I’d choose the ’35 Ford car and the ’41 Ford truck. I can fix/replace fenders and I’m willing to bet the important areas of these vehicles are still in pretty good shape! I love the shape of those front fenders on that truck!

  9. What’s the late ’30s light colored car in the service area?
    I’m almost tempted to say a Cord with the bustle-back trunk body…but playing the odds considering its rarity, probably not

    • I’m thinking that it is about a 1938 Dodge or possibly even a Chrysler “convertible sedan”, which is a pretty rare car regardless of the make.

  10. I’m going to throw a monkey wrench in here. These were post depression and war years. Kid’s swing, little table and chairs, fancy stroller, these were luxury items. I think maybe a customer fell on hard times and couldn’t pay his repair bill but needed the car to get to work, so the owner of the station took these items off his bill and is now trying to peddle them. I don’t see any signs advertising farm implements or kid’s toys, just sporting goods. Sure looks as if a kid jumped on the swing that he’s go throw the picture window. My heart goes out to that poor pickup truck. Looks like it had a rough life. I think it started out all painted up nice, with “Firestone” on the back of the cab, Exide on the tailgate, and other advertising on the tailgate and doors. I also wonder what the big blank sign above the pedestrian door once said. Seem the be painted white now. In the third pic next to the Ignition sign, there is a cement base with what? air, water, kerosene?? Also on the far left, I see a woman in a white skirt going up a path, but I can’t figure out what she is doing. Boy I’m nosey. Any ideas? Great pics thanks Dave.

    • Hi Joann, nope, Firestone really did have it all. If you google “1940’s Firestone stores”, they carried everything, from waffle irons to radios. The sign over the door says “open a charge account”, and that hose on the cement base was a water hose. Cars overheated on a regular basis then.

  11. The Vulcanizing sign near the sporting good clothing sign speaks of “Star Trek” clothing in today’s world of different rubber.

  12. David..thank you so much for these pictures…I enjoy your site every day especially the Kodachrome pics.
    Best Regards…..

  13. I forwarded this to a lifelong friend that grew up in Ann Arbor . He was very glad to see it as his family drove by this store every Sunday on their way to church. Thanks for posting a photo that brought back a childhood memory for him.

  14. If you search Google images using “Firestone Service Ann Arbor”, there are additional photos of this service station from this time and more recent photos from press reports related to a proposed replacement building at that site.

  15. I don’t have the luxury of reading The Old Motor/Hemmings/etc. daily (let alone waiting for the e-mailman so I can be first to post) and by the time I do read, the cars are named, the locations are noted and the tall tales are told (which is good because something new might be learned), but at this late date, I do have something on the Firestone photo of forgotten America. “Budget Plan Bicycles” and “Tire Re-capping” and “Bell Telephone” [inside] and free tire air under a shade tree and two pre-war closed cars with fabric-insert tops. America has changed. From a nation seeking equal opportunities to a nation demanding equal outcomes. From a nation saving for $1000 cars to a nation borrowing (24-month leases/7-year loans) for $60k trucks or $90k CEVs. And from the nation that led the automotive world to the nation that too oft is playing “catch up.”

    Do I see a Cord? Don’t think so. Do I see a Buick? Dunno. Let’s look a little closer.

    What 4-door convertible was beyond that 116.5” WB/188.75” OL Studebaker?

    What car was it that looks to be painted pale yellow or white or beige or gray?

    Is a fully integrated trunk rather than a trunk-backed rear a give-away clue?

    Can the shape of its canvas top and its inset rear window reveal its maker?

    Was it a Buick Convertible Phaeton?
    Was it built in the Buick City plant?
    Is Ann Arbor 55 miles from Flint?

    ’38 126” Century [$1713; 219 built]?
    ’38 122” Special [$1406; 946 built]?

    Or, in this ‘46 photo, was it newer?

    Was it a ’40 Buick Sport Phaeton?
    126” 80 [$1952; 007 built]?
    126” 80 [$1952; 250 built]?
    126” 60 [$1620; 203 built]?
    121” 50 {$1549; 534 built]?
    121” 40 [$1355; 597 built]?

    Or a ’41 Convertible Phaeton?
    128” 70 [$1775; 326 built]?
    121” 50 [$1555; 508 built]?

    Or did Buick build any ’42s?

    The last Buick my grandfather bought before WWII was a ’42 sedan, not a phaeton.

    It was either a 91 [$2245; 215 built] or a 90 [$2445; 150 built] and it had a 139” WB.

    It was painted “Rainier Blue.” Which was apt for a car that was delivered to Seattle.

    He never had a driver’s license (born/raised in Manhattan) but bought many Buicks.

    He would never buy Cadillacs (he said Cadillacs were for actors, gangsters, and politicians), so when LWB Buicks were no longer built after the war, he decided that he would buy a Packard.

    Even with war-time/post-war inflation, he wasn’t happy it cost 2X as much.

    His Packard [148”; 165-hp] cost $4500.
    A Cadillac [136”; 150-hp] also cost $4500.
    A Chrysler [145.5”; 135-hp] cost just $4200.
    Why didn’t he switch to Mopar at that point?
    That’s a car mystery I’ll never be able to solve!

    Was the Firestone photo car painted pale yellow?

    paintref.com/paintref/model/yellow_Buick.shtml

    forums.aaca.org/topic/325545-1939-buick-41-c-4dr-phaeton/

    carscoms.com/one-of-724-aaca-national-award-winner-1939-buick-special-phaeton-convertible-225159.html

    mecum.com/lots/SC0512-126267/1938-buick-century-convertible/

    Bingo.

    BUT…

    If a shorter Buick 4-door convertible was 200.06” OL, isn’t it a foot longer than the Studebaker?

    And if a Buick 4-door convertible is signaling to us, isn’t it missing something from the trunk lid?

    forums.aaca.org/topic/338194-prewar-buick-trunk-emblem-differences/

    ebay.com/itm/1939-1940-BUICK-SPECIAL-SUPER-CENTURY-ROADMASTER-TRUNK-CENTER-TAIL-LIGHT-EMBLEM/401942529012?epid=25026043162&hash=item5d95a443f4:g:xj4AAOSwC3Zdsh-4

    Let’s turn.

    To Mopar.

    While most of the all-new ’37 bodies that were engineered by Chrysler (because they had been dissatisfied with the Briggs-engineered ’36-’36 bodies) were still built by Briggs, the convertible sedan bodies were built by Murray. And it was “body” — as they were identical aft of the cowl.

    Could the mystery car be a ’38 Chrysler Imperial Eight [125” WB; 113 built] Convertible Sedan?
    A ’37 on 121” WB? A ’38 Chrysler C-18 [$1425; 119”]? ’38 DeSoto S-5 [$1375; 88 built; 119’]? A ‘38 Dodge D-8 [218 CI; 87-hp] on 115” WB? Or a ’39 Plymouth P-8 DeLuxe [$1150; 387 built] on a 117” WB? Which Mopar convertible do YOU see — beside that 116.5” WB Studebaker?

    rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/hf17/hershey/lots/r130-1937-chrysler-royal-convertible-sedan/430682

    mecum.com/lots/RC0215-207108/1937-desoto-s3-airstream-convertible-sedan/

    commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1938_Dodge_Convertible_Sedan_rear.JPG

    Which color?

    paintref.com/cgi-bin/colorcodedisplay.cgi?manuf=Chrysler&con=m&gncl=yellow&rows=50

    imperialclub.com/Yr/1937/37paintcode/4-reg.jpg
    imperialclub.com/Yr/1938/38paintcode/4-reg.jpg

    Whichever you see, it was rare then and it is rarer now.

    Do you remember that America had a recession in ‘38?
    Do you remember the very heavy ’39 Chrysler facelifts?
    Do you remember many saw the ’39 Mopars as all-new?

    Are there Popes, Peerless, Pierces, Packards, and Plymouths today?
    Can you recall how varied (“diverse”) American cars used to be?
    You still like to see new cars, but are they still “interesting”?
    Can you buy a 2020 American car painted pale yellow?

    If you remember the priciest pre-war Plymouth, do you see a 1-year-only ’39 P-8 DeLuxe?

    Do you see “fender-flush” headlights and car-widening “grillettes” and the return to IFS?

    flickr.com/photos/carphotosbyrichard/6319850200/
    flickr.com/photos/carphotosbyrichard/6319324771/

    youtu.be/guYtthkZ9_g

    Do you see one of the last 4-door convertibles Chrysler would build until the 128.5” ’40-‘41 Newport Dual-Cowl and 145.5-149.5” ‘52/’54-’56 Imperial Parade Phaetons? Or one 1990s
    Chrysler show car? From a later era of forgotten America? What will America forget next?

    allpar.com/cars/concepts/1997-phaeton.html

    Do you see a once- affordable car that’s as much fun to see as a ’39 Chrysler Imperial Eight Special Derham 4-door convertible sedan [on a 144” WB] that is worth $100k-150k today?

    Do you see some of the last 4-door convertibles America built until its brief “Camelot” era?

    In my 50+ years of seeing, I have seen very few.
    What if “few” are not rare enough for you?
    You need to see a one-off ’38 DeSoto.
    Your DKW, Horch, or Wanderer.

    swisscarregister.ch/site/carrosserien/tuescher.html

    tuescherag.ch/

    PS – Buick claimed a “first” with Flash-Way in ’38.
    Which “first” had Buick incorrectly claimed in ‘37?
    And which make asked about in this photo could?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *