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Four L-29 Cords at the Auburn-Bernett Motor Co. and the Bob Cates Automobile Service, in OKC

This is a very interesting photo from Oklahoma City, and it is the second time we have  posted a view of this scene here. The first time it was posted, the four L29 Cords were photographed in a front view of the four cars. This time we can see more details of the parade float behind them and the clear signage on it, which identifys this as the Auburn-Bernett Motor Co.


Off to the left side of the photo we can also see the Bob Cates Automobile Service station, which sold Kelly Tires, Quaker State Motor Oil and Willard batteries along with gasoline. If you can tell us any more about the Cords, this scene or the dealer, please be sure to let us know. Photo courtesy of the Donald Ellis Collection.

2 responses to “Four L-29 Cords at the Auburn-Bernett Motor Co. and the Bob Cates Automobile Service, in OKC

  1. Based on the signage for the movie “Mamba” playing at the Liberty Theatre, this photo is from sometime in the spring of 1930. “Mamba” was released on March 10, 1930, but, since the trees in the background are completely full of leaves, the photo must be after that date.

    This Auburn dealership appears to have only existed for about two years: 1929 – 1930, but it possibly opened in 1928, and it may have continued into 1931. In 1929 it was Auburn Motor Cars managed by Ellis-Young Motor Company Distributors which advertised the Auburn as, “The best and most car for the money.” Their service building was around the corner at 1017 – 1019 N. Harvey Avenue. An advertisement for the company shows that they also provided Chandler parts and service. Chandler would be discontinued as a marque in December 1929.

    “Young” was Frederick H. Young who had been a mechanic at least as far back as 1920 working at the the Williamson Motor Company which sold Republic Trucks, Monarch Tractors, trailers, and farm equipment. By sometime in 1921 he had moved on to the Waddell-O’Brien Motor Company (Grant cars, Master trucks). The next year he was employed by the Markham Motor Company (Chandler and Cleveland cars).

    “Ellis” was Clyde Ellis who was a salesman at the dealership of L. E. Foster (make unknown) in 1921, but by 1922 he had joined the staff of Markham Motor Company, as a mechanic, where Young was also employed.

    Ellis & Young soon became partners and opened the Sixteenth Street Garage at 25 W 16th Street. Whether they opened their business in 1922 or 1923 is unknown, but they remained partners at least until 1929. The Sixteenth Street Garage had taken on the name of Ellis & Young Garage by 1927, and the address also changed to 21 W. 16th Street.

    It appears that Ellis & Young Motor Car Distributors opened “Auburn Motors Cars” sometime in 1928 or 1929, but the company’s duration was only about a year. The Oklahoma City Directory for 1930 shows the dealership as “Auburn Motors, Inc. with John W. Blackwell, President; Henry L. Holt, VP; and Dorothy Blackwell Holt, Secretary-Treasurer. They sold Auburn Sixes and Eights along with the Cord Front Drive cars.

    This new dealership lasted just a short time – possibly less than a year. The name disappeared from the city directory of 1931. Either in 1930 or 1931 the building at 308-10 NW 10th became the Reeser Motor Company. Whether or not this was related to the Reeser Motor Company that sold Auburn’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma is not known, but it seems likely. Reeser Motor Company is only shown in the 1931 Oklahoma City directory. No Auburn dealership appears to have existed after this time in the city.

    Clyde Ellis’ name disappears from the city directory in 1930, and the Blackwell and Holt names likewise vanish from the 1931 Oklahoma City Directory.

    Frederick Young opened up an auto repair business after he and Ellis left the Auburn dealership. He opened Young & King, after he partnered with Gail F. King, in the former Auburn service building at 1017 – 1019 N. Harvey Avenue. King must have left as the 1931 city directory no longer shows Young in partnership with anyone.

    The building that once housed the Auburn businesses had by 1932 become a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership which remained at the site until at least 1942. By 1944 it had moved to 612 N. Western Avenue.

    I did not find any listing for the Auburn-Bernett Company in any city directory.

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