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The days of more car dealersPosted Wednesday, October 3, 2007, at 8:25 AM
Remember when Shelbyville had more than two new car dealers? (I'm counting the side-by-side GM and Ford franchises as one dealership since they're on one large, co-owned lot.)
I was looking up information in 1949 newspapers the other day and saw ads for Darnell-Benson Buick on Wartrace Pike, which was sold to L.T. Bellar late that spring or early summer. Ads show Bellar moved almost immediately to the Union Street building which housed GM products until a couple of years ago.
The Darnell-Benson ad didn't mention a street address and I can't imagine a new car dealership being on Wartrace Pike.
I've wondered if it was in the large building at the corner of Depot and Thompson, now occupied by a body shop, which was Model Laundry for years. But it seems like it would have had a Depot Street address.
I'm just scratching the surface here, but remember these dealers from later years?
*Cook Motor Sales (before "Ernie Cook & Son") when he sold new Toyotas and AMCs in the late 1960s-early 1970s from the yellow building where the Regions Bank (or whatever name it is this week...) North Main branch parking lot is now.
*Russell Dodge on Madison Street. I remember as a child being fascinated by the wild-colored (examples: purple and lime green) Dodge Challengers in the early 1970s, many of which would be worth $100,000-plus now in restored condition.
*Shelbyville Motor Co., our Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in the 1960s and 1970s. Look at its old location, now a vacant lot, at Madison and Deery streets and it appears too small to have held a dealership. They carried a very small new inventory, some kept inside, and few used cars.
*Lowe Oldsmobile on Madison Street in the 1960s. Bill Lowe lived atop the hill on nearby North Hillcrest Drive and, I think, at one point achieved his stated goal of seeing a new Olds in every driveway between showroom and home. In fact, my parents' neighbors, Benton and Arlene Wheeler, traded two Studebaker Larks (among the last ones made) at one time for white and blue Cutlasses.
*Yearwood Motors, a Plymouth dealer which in 1949 built the building I'm blogging from today -- the Times-Gazette building. Apparently Yearwood didn't last long since old papers show the T-G moved here during 1957. Even 50-plus years later, parts of the building still look like an auto dealership.
You can't buy a new AMC, Oldsmobile or Plymouth anymore -- anywhere. Unfortunately, you can't buy Toyotas, Dodges, Chryslers or Jeeps -- or many other brands -- in Shelbyville anymore, but you sure can in surrounding cities. Surely Shelbyville can support more new car dealers.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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