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Roar with Gilmore and Casey Ford at the 1935 Pacific International Exposition

At the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition held at the San Diego fairgrounds, a local Ford dealer opened “Casey’s Master Service Station”. While fair goers were taking in the sights they could also drop off their car at the station-dealership and return later on to pickup their car.

Being an authorized Ford dealer, it was more than likely that they were also able to sell a number of cars from the location. A 1935 Ford sedan is visible in the modern showroom window. It appears that the location was also a parking lot as in the left photo (below) just behind a 1934 Ford three-window coupe is an “Auto Park Here” sign.


Another interesting thing the photos show, is that the the Gilmore Oil Company was also involved and in the (top and bottom) photos we see the neon-decorated Gilmore truck. The station was selling Gilmore Gasoline and in the right hand photo (above) you can see the trademark Gilmore Lion sign. The photo just below and above, are courtesy of The Henry Ford, take a moment to visit with the Henry Ford to learn all about the many things the institution has to offer.

What may very well be the same Gilmore gasoline truck was posted here on The Old Motor during March, of 2011. Dan Stroll at Hemmings Daily reposted the Gilmore Gasoline truck photo and had this to say: It’s rather appropriate that Gilmore chose to light up the truck in neon – after all, the Gilmore Oil Company as most auto enthusiasts recognize it was incorporated in California in 1923, the same year that fellow California Earle C. Anthony displayed the first neon sign in America, in his Packard dealership in Los Angeles. Neon signs, however, long outlasted the Gilmore Oil Company; the latter became a subsidiary of Socony in 1940 and was merged into Socony entirely in 1945. 

Two readers there identified it as a 1934 Mack Model BM and a Gilmore enthusiast reported the following details:  It was designed by W. C. James, who was the head of the special effects department at Twentieth Century Pictures Studio. The truck was Illuminated with 600 feet of neon tubing. Blue neon was used for the outline and the side lettering. Gold neon was used on the custom grille shell. Red neon was used for the cab lettering and the Gilmore Lion on the back. Power was generated by four generators powered by the trucks engine via the fan belt and a final voltage of fifteen thousand volts was used to light the neon tubes.

The Body was built by Advance Auto Body Works of Los Angeles, CA. the truck was driven by W. G. Mickey and toured the Pacific Coast states (California, Oregon, Washington) visiting Gilmore gas stations all along the way. According to my research, the truck never actually delivered gasoline, and the tank was unused. After its tour, it was stripped of its neon and I believe, the truck was dismantled.

10 responses to “Roar with Gilmore and Casey Ford at the 1935 Pacific International Exposition

  1. This has to be the coolest gas tanker I’ve ever seen. Pretty clever promotional gig. Seems a waste to dismantle such a cool vehicle. 🙁

  2. RE: The middle picture with the four men standing in front of the dealership; the man to the right looks like W.C. Fields. He is dressed like Mr Fields dressed too. Could it be?

  3. With 15KV floating all around the truck and 1930’s insulation technologies, one can only heave a sigh of relief that the truck was not used for gasoline transport.

  4. Gilmore Oil’s slogan for a long time was, “Gilmore: the Go-Farther Gasoline.” The company was started when A.F. Gilmore was drilling a well for his cows and struck oil. His property eventually became the L.A. Farmer’s Market. He built a race car track there, a stadium for the first pro football team in Los Angeles (the Bulldogs), and Gilmore Field – home of the Hollywood Stars baseball team.

  5. I recently saw a picture of another Gilmore gas truck. It was later model and quite different then the truck shown here. The front of it resembled a VW bus. Do you have been any information on it?

  6. This dealership/service station was built by Walter M. Casey. His main Ford dealership was at 1505 4th Street, San Diego.

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