Day and Night Service, Los Angeles Style


The Pellissier Square Garage located at 828 South Western Avenue in Los Angeles was more that just a common gas station and repair shop. It offered the kind of service that is rare, if not unheard of today, but was not uncommon in big cities in 1931. A customer could also keep their car in the large parking garage behind the station.

Employees of the garage provided a wide array of services for which a driver would receive a monthly bill. Basic maintenance was performed. Oil was changed and, in a day when chassis lubrication was required every thousand miles or so, it was also attended to. If you had a problem on the road, you could be hauled back in by the Lincoln tow-car seen on the right below.

Pel2      Pel3      Pel4

Mechanical brakes needed frequent adjustment that was attended to on the Johns-Manville Brake-O-Meter seen in the left hand bay in the center photo above. A car’s cosmetic needs were not neglected, either. Washing, polishing and waxing were also available as was cleaning and vacuuming the interior.

Lastly, the tank could be filled right on the premises so the car would be ready to go at any time of the day or night the customer might need it. You can find many more photos of old time service stations here on The Old Motor. Photos by the Dick Whittington Studio courtesy of USC Libraries.

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Gasoline stations | Tagged , , , , , , |

The Innovative Dan La Lee Retractable Streamliner


About four years ago this set of press photos was added to our archives and they just came back to the light of the day this week. At the time, it was known that Dan La Lee built the car when Dan Strohl posted them at HMN Daily with some other streamliner photos that came with this set. He found that the car was in the film The World of Tomorrow – a documentary about the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, and Robert Cunningham also reported the following at the time:

La Lee built his ultra-streamlined retractable in 1937 on an 112-inch Ford chassis. He claimed the rakish hand-hammered aluminum body reduced wind resistance by up to 50% due to its advanced streamlining (i.e. “pants” over all four wheels, smooth retractable headlights, rudder-type tail fin, and disappearing convertible steel top).” 

Lee2      Lee3      Lee4

“Electric controls operated the doors and a chain-driven airplane landing gear mechanism was mounted behind the seat to raise and lower the two-piece turret top. The dashboard resembled an airplane cockpit with no fewer than 30 dials, gauges and knobs scattered from one end to the other — even the brakes were actuated from the dash. La Lee claimed his supercharged Ford V8 engine provided fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon at 60 miles per hour and the car could reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour”.

You can view the car in a video showing a short segment of the 1941 movie “Nice Girl” staring Deanna Durbin. The article below was found at Modern Mechanix that tells us a bit more information about it. It has also been discovered recently that it ended up in Egyptian King Farouk’s collection of cars in the forties. Can any of our readers add any more to this interesting story?


Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942 | Tagged , , , , , , |

The American – An Impressive and Stylish Automobile

  • Am5 Prize-winning Americans at the recent Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

The underslung car was featured at the recent Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which makes for a perfect time for all of us to learn a little more about this unique form of car. The two most widely known vehicles of this type are the American, built in Indianapolis, Indiana and the Regal that was built in Detroit, Michigan. The two companies offered  conventional and underslung models at different times while they were in production.


The subject of today’s post is the 1910 American that was covered in a feature article in the April 21, 1910 issue, of The Automobile, which has been reproduced here. The American Motors Company (1906-1914) that built the cars, claimed two advantages for its Underslung model: they stated the average car would “turn turtle”on a 43 degree angle, while their model would not overturn until 55 degrees; with its large forty-inch tires, on average it had one-inch more ground clearance than conventional cars.

  •                AM2                             Am3
  •                   Full details in “The Automobile” covering both models

The Underslung chassis was designed by Fred I. Tone, and the standard chassis by Harry C. Stutz, who left the company by 1907. The first cars used 35-40 HP four cylinder engines, but by 1910 and 1911, 50 and 60 HP models with up to a 124-inch WB were available. The engines were produced by Teeter-Hartley and other builders.

In 1912 and 1913 a smaller 20-30 HP model named the “Scout” was built on a 102 and 105-inch WB chassis’. In 1914, fifty Scouts were left unsold, and that model was dropped from the lineup. Only the larger cars were to be built in 1914, the last year of production that was cut short by bankruptcy and the end on the company.


All photos below were taken at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance courtesy of Richard Michael Owen of

Ap1      Ap2      Ap3

Ap4      Ap5      Ap6

Ap7      Ap8      Ap10

Ap11      Ap12      AP13

Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Pre-War Contemporary Photos | Tagged , , , , , |