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The Don Lee Cadillac Agency Service Department

This 1932 photo shows us the service department interior along with its deluxe lube rack in the lubrication bay, at Don Lee Cadillac, which was located at 655 East Green Street in Pasadena, California. It was one of the most famous Cadillac dealers in the world at the time and, because of it’s close proximity to Hollywood, was at the forefront of providing luxury cars in the area.

You can learn more about the operation, the custom bodies built by Don Lee under the direction of Harley Earl and about Tommy Lee, Don Lee’s son and his road and racing cars here on The Old Motor (scroll down).


The lube station appears to be quite deluxe. Left to right (above) we see: the chassis grease dispenser along with the plated pull-out draining system and funnel, the V-12 Sedan on the latest in hydraulic lifts and the tank and controls for the lift, just behind the service man. Behind them are the various different types of oils used. Photo courtesy of the Huntington Library.

The showroom building appears to have survived. It is presently a florist and can be seen here. Photo above courtesy of Hometown Pasadena.

16 responses to “The Don Lee Cadillac Agency Service Department

  1. I believe the Don Lee Cadillac building in Pasadena was a satellite Don Lee Cadillac Dealership. The main Don Lee Cadillac Dealership was located in downtown Los Angeles, and was a multi-storied building with elevators. It later became Thomas Cadillac. LaRue Thomas had an extensive car collection & shop on one of the upper floors. The building is no longer standing. There is also a Don Lee satellite dealership building still standing in Monrovia, on Myrtle Ave. just North of Foothill Blvd. The Don Lee Cadillac Building in Pasadena, later became Symes Cadillac and then an upscale florist shop. Symes Cadillac is still in business at another location in Pasadena.

    • Don Lee was not only a pioneering automobile dealer in Los Angeles, he was a pioneer broadcaster as well. Don Lee brought mechanical television to Los Angeles. His company bought land in the early 1930s and built a broadcast operation and transmission tower on the mountain above the original “HOLLYWOODLAND” sign. The mountain was then named “Mt. Lee”. Lee’s son Thomas S. Lee upgraded the Lee radio and TV holdings after Don Lee died in 1934, and inaugurated the first experimental electronic television service in Los Angeles. When the station first got its commercial license the call letters were KTSL (Thomas S. Lee) . The station evolved into what is now KCBS-TV Los Angeles.

  2. My grandfather worked at Don Lee in Pasadena selling cars for several years starting in 1934.

    Thanks for the post and photos

  3. We own a 1933 Cadillac 370C 7P Limo which was shipped to Don Lee in Beverly Hills. We are trying to rebuild the ownership of the vehicle. Finding the original owner would be awesome. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Becky Thomas

  4. I also own a special order 1941 Cadillac Series 75 Limo originally shipped to and sold by Don Lee Cadillac. I would love to find the ownership history from 1941 to 1968. Any suggestions?

  5. My great grandfather worked for Don Lee as, I guess what one would call, his Man Friday, taking care of errands and miscellaneous things at both his home and at least one of the dealerships. He also played on the company’s baseball team.

  6. My Father had worked in the Downtown L.A. Cadillac Dealership from 1946 to 1975. He had started work at the Cadillac Factory in Detroit at the age of 19.
    I had worked there also from 1969-1974.

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