Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Love Stuff Like This!

#1 Blogdaughter sends in a very interesting story.

The dealership that time forgot
Roanoke, Alabama, is a small former mill town 60 miles southwest of Atlanta. Main Street has a scrubbed look, but many of the stores are empty. And although Roanoke once boasted four automobile dealerships, all that remains are an empty Ford store and the ghost of Dunn Chevrolet/Oldsmobile, with peeling paint and thousands of square feet packed with almost 70 years of memories.

In 2007, James Dunn closed the General Motors Dealership his father opened in 1940. Though he retained the sad-looking building that had been built as a livery stable in the 1920s and later served as a bus station, he sold the contents to Keith Rowell and his brother-in-law, O.W. Taylor.
There's a picture at the link:

And a whole bunch more pictures here.

It's kind of a weird snapshot, a dealership frozen in time. It shut down in 2007, with inventory dating back some 50+ years. It would be very interesting to see how much the inventory is worth - OEM parts for cars from the 1950s are few and far between, and this may be one of the very last opportunities to find actual, honest-to-goodness GM replacements.

I know the libertarian side of me should shrug off the loss of the dealership. One of the things that led to GM's downfall - or at least the need for them to be bailed out - was that they seriously overpopulated the landscape with dealerships. Heck, in the city of ~ 60K next to the town I grew up in up north, there was a Cadillac dealership, a Chevy dealership, a Buick/GMC dealership, and an Oldsmobile dealership all in the same small city. With, mind you, more dealerships in the city next to it, and even more in the larger city two towns over.

I can't help thinking, though, of the hundreds or thousands of stories those dealerships could tell. Having many friends in the business, from mechanics to sales guys to detailers, as well as having installed stereos and tinted windows for years, I know how some dealerships can become almost familial. It's kind of sad how sterile and corporate most have become today, but again, Libertarian Jay knows that's what they have to do to survive...

But damn, that '57 Bel Air convertible damn near makes me weep...

That is all.


Anonymous said...

Too bad it's on the other side of the country from me. The cost of buying all of that stuff and then shipping it would be spendy to say the least.

libertyman said...

When you are Dunn, you're done, I guess.

LCB said...

I "think" American Pickers went there in one of their episodes recently.

Will said...

My '57 Chevy ragtop was the next-to-last tri-five I owned. Bought it in '68 or '69. Paid maybe $125. Straight 6, three on the tree. (I was paying $75 for 2dr sedans) About a year later, I dropped a very much breathed on big block in it, still with the 3 spd, as I hadn't found a good 4spd yet. It would yank the front wheels off the ground shifting second. That trans was good for maybe 10 hard launches before I had to replace it, due to something unremembered that wore enough to cause severe vibration. Went through several of them, before finding a good Muncie 4spd.

The distributor cap was too close to the firewall, and would hit and break the rotor sometimes. When I pulled the engine to add the blowproof bellhousing, 4 spd, and Hooker headers, my father clearanced the firewall by standing on the cowling and swinging a sledgehammer to re-shape it.

Sold the car to a buddy, and I helped him yank all the goodies and install them in his '55 2dr sedan. He just called the junkyard to come pick up the '57.

I got the 4spd by buying a friend's '56 2dr hardtop. I stuck a 3spd in it and sold it, but the guy tried to pull a scam on me, so I repo'd it. Engine was worn out. When you turned it off, it took a while to stop unwinding. It's why I had sold it cheap. The idiot had put a large dent in the dashboard, so I had the guy I originally bought it from help me tow it to a junkyard. They were closed (Sunday), so we left it out front, with the title in the glovebox. That was the last of my tri-fives.

My friend sold it to me because he bought a very nice tri-power '65 GTO, and a '56 Nomad. Still has the Nomad, I think.