An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Firestone Service Center – Witney’s Oldsmobile-Chevrolet – Lee Bigelow Ford

Today’s feature includes three images of automotive service facilities in the northwestern Washington State, Grays Harbor County cities of Aberdeen and Montesano. The lead image and the expandable version of it (below) dating to November 11, 1953, contains the S & W Firestone Service Center located at Wishkah and M Streets in Aberdeen during its grand opening celebration.

Please share with us what you find of interest in these photographs courtesy of the Jones Photo Historical Collection.

  • Whitney’s Buick-Chevrolet-GMC Dealership in Montesano, WA, was photographed on July 30, 1942.

  • This image dating to the 1928 car model year was taken on the street in front of Lee Bigelow’s Ford Agency in Aberdeen, WA. The car on the left is a 1906 Ford Model “N”, and on the right is a 1928 Model “A” Ford sport coupe purchased by Doctor Chamberlain.

28 responses to “Firestone Service Center – Witney’s Oldsmobile-Chevrolet – Lee Bigelow Ford

    • Russell, If I recall correctly, before I-90 was completed through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, there was a similar corner gas station with a second story above on the route through their city streets.

    • Monochrome photos generally stand the test of time, as even some of those pix done from glass negatives are still with us with original sharpness and contrast. However, many of our color photos are slowly fading away, color slides being our only hope for fidelity and sharpness, I think. There have been improvements in adding longevity to color prints, but over 100 years may be impossible.

      • Actually, scanning and digitizing saves the day. Remember, however even your digital files have to be saved again to another medium after a few years. You can also fix a lot with Photoshop, even tears on prints and missing sections.

  1. In the Lead Photo a ‘51 or ’52 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe Newport hardtop and a ’53 Olds Ninety-Eight sedan. It’s interesting to note that although the Ninety-Eight’s w/b is 4” longer than the 88’s (and overall length is 11” longer), the w/b stretch is apparently all behind the passenger compartment; all Olds 4-door models share the same rear door. To avoid that otherwise useless extension being obvious in a side view, the rear fender skirts extend 4” forward of the rear wheel on the Ninety-Eights, as can be seen in the photo.

    When Pontiac did a similar 4” w/b stretch in the ‘60s and ‘70s on their Bonneville and other models, but retained the same rear doors as used on the Catalina, that 4” “filler” can be seen between the rear door and the rear wheel opening, with no effort made to conceal it.

    • Pat W
      You beat me to it, the ’52-’53 Olds 98’s were the next iteration of Harley Earl’s extended deck models after the success demonstrated by the C-Bodied Cadillac 60 Special and Coupe de Ville. It was a simple idea, take the existing body without mid-ship lengthening to add legroom, in this case, the OB shared with 88 and Buick, mount it on a longer chassis frame. The added length moved the rear axle reward which could be cleverly hidden in longer quarter panels and more length for the fender skirts. The other seven inches was in a longer trunk and quarters for greater luggage capacity and impressive length. The price premium enforced the idea that the 98 was a luxury car worth of respect.

      The next make to receive this treatment was the new 1954 Pontiac Star Chief line, which were based on A-Bodies shared with Chevrolet. It began a series of extended deck Star Chiefs and Bonnevilles that were highly successful all through the 1960’s. Oddly enough, Chevrolet never received an extended deck model.

      Buick Roadmaster shared the C-Body with Cadillac waited until 1958 for its extended deck Limited, which carried on for 1959 as the Electra 225. When it came to selling long sheet metal, GM was the master.

  2. S&W sold more than tires and gas. There were pedal cars, wagons, and bicycles. Imagine having a Firestone bicycle, which I read were made by Murray, even outboard motors, which have an interesting history in themselves. Service trucks are AD Chevy’s. Unlike Whitney’s, pretty much car related. Looks like they sold many makes. Last pic, compared to the Ford on the left, I bet they were mighty proud of the Model A.

  3. In the 2nd expandable picture, parked out front, is a 1942 CHEVROLET Sport Sedan. Whitney’s was also an authorized CHRYSLER PLYMOUTH service location.

  4. Whitney’s may have favored Oldsmobile and Chevrolet, but the small faded sign below shows that they also worked on Chryslers and Plymouths.

  5. What a great looking dealership Whitney’s was! The showroom is stocked with supplies to get the cars through out the duration of WW 2. Nice clean Firestone dealer. The 1906 Model N Ford is as nice as the Model A.

  6. By July of 1942 Whitney’s probably had no new cars left to sell. Production ceased in January 15, 1942 because of wartime restrictions. The 1942 Chevy in front of the dealership with all the chrome accessories was obviously built before December, 1941 when “blackout” models were mandated with minimal use of chrome and stainless steel.

  7. In the lead photograph is a nice looking two toned circa ’53 Oldsmobile four door sedan. Not sure if it is a Rocket 88 or not as I do not see the emblem on the trunk, so it might be a 98 instead. Next to it is what looks to be a Chrysler, probably a ’54. Both makes would soon be in for a major makeover and look totally different – a result of the new mid 50’s styling.

      • p.p.s. I was off on the Chrysler. As Pat W has identified it as a ’51-52 model which it most certainly is. I should have been more observant as Clark Kent periodically drove a ’51 convertible on the old Superman show but I didn’t give it much attention as it was the Olds that had interested me.

  8. The model “N” appears to have the base of a 3rd (mother-in-law) seat . I saw one circa 1970 at a Massachusetts gas station. I stopped to admire it; the attendant said casually it was brought in for a lube job. It had the standard rear section. It was all black, probably wrong but in excellent shape.

    • As TerryM mentions below, maroon was the original factory color for a Model N. The other two cars based on the N were the green Model R and the “fleet red” Model S. The contemporaneous Model K was blue, so nothing coming out of Ford in the 1906-08 period was black from the factory. Even the Model T wasn’t available in black until 1914 (the last year of the flat firewall at the rear of the cowl).

  9. The Whitney’s Chevrolet building at the corner of Pioneer Ave. W and 1st St. S has survived somewhat remodeled and is still occupied by Whitney’s Chevrolet! “Serving you since 1922”

  10. The bicycles inside the Firestone shop were most likely rebadged Schwinns. Probably a DX model, which was the “budget friendly” line at Schwinn with a distinctive curved lower top tube (not to be confused with their cantilever frame models). Badge engineering was very common among bicycles at the time and many hardware and department stores had their own “line” of bicycles which were typically build by either Schwinn, Columbia, or the Davis Sewing Machine Company (Huffmann – aka Huffy), or Rollfast with a different headbadge created specially. Firestone had large enough orders that they even had a distinctive paint job where the two colors of paint met.

  11. The faded Chrysler-Plymouth Service sign on the Whitney’s Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership may explain why the rather dirty delivery truck is parked under the pump bay. I think it’s a 1936-38 Plymouth, a rare truck today indeed.

    The photo of a Model N was a real treat. I’ve never seen one or even a good photo of one – just advertising drawings. I’m amazed at the condition of the 22 year-old Ford. I suspect it’s in original condition since I don’t think folks were restoring old cars then. I think the engine and transmission in the Model N were very similar to the Model T. I understand you could get the Model N with any body color you wanted so long as it was maroon.

    • Speaking of Model A’s, i just watched a very good Russian movie, subtitled of course, called Tankers, about a KV-1 tank crew, a vehicle prone to breakdown, but impervious to most German tanks at the time. There were a number of running T-34’s, a few KV-1’s and what seemed to be running Panzer IV’s, but there were also a few license built Model A pickups and some lend lease trucks in the film as well. I wonder how many old Fords can still be found in Russia (I know some of the lend lease gear such as all manner of trucks and jeeps (oh yeah, there were a couple of those in the movie as well). Movie well worth the watch and the more than passable subtitles and the lack of Russian propaganda (the Political Commissar was an anti-hero) helped.

  12. The photographic technique used in the image of the ’06 & ’28 Fords where the main subjects are retained as clear and sharp while the background is faded into a haze is interesting. It seems to have been popular in those years.

  13. A friend of mine in South Africa owned a Model N and a Model T but soon disposed of the N as there was no protection from the elements, either the rain or sun.

  14. Noticed in the Whitney’s photo that the side shop repairs both the body and fenders. I suppose one could just detach the fender and leave it there for to be repaired…..huh? vin

  15. My father managed a company owned Firestone store, corner East Avenue and Union Street in Rochester, N.Y. (only job he ever had). I would give anything to have a photo of that store that sold tires, serviced cars, sold auto supplies, bicycles, appliances, TV’s etc.

Leave a Reply

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