These Are the Oldest Car Dealerships in America

Don’t even go there, friend, because once you open this can of worms, the claimants spill out all over the ground and begin to muddy up the argument.
Tenvoorde Ford 8 photos
Photo: Tenvoorde
Schaefer & BierleinCar LotW Hare and SonsW Hare and SonsFord DealershipWayne Glenn CollectionTenvoorde Ford
But I suppose that’s what arguments are all about, so feel free to add your contestants as you see fit.

The economic crisis attached to the Covid plague has led more than a few businesses, car dealerships among them, to shutter their doors for good. But a few dealerships have weathered more than 100 years of changing fortunes and shocks to financial markets.

One of those, family-owned vehicle retailer W. Hare & Son, lasted from the age of horse-drawn wagons to this, the era of hybrid and electric cars. An Indiana dealership, W. Hare & Son, is coming in at more than one and a half centuries and stayed in continuous operation.

Car Lot
Photo: GM
Founder Wesley Hare began building a variety of wheeled conveyances in 1847 from a humble log cabin in Noblesville, Indiana, and from that location, he serviced a constant stream of Americans heading west to California to pan for gold. Hare also offered a one-year warranty on the axles, wheels, and springs he built - though it would be interesting to know how many times he had to honor that warranty.

At the end of the Civil War, Hare's took over the business, and the latest operation moved to a four-story building that featured an elevator. As the turn of the century neared, E.M. Hare foresaw that the "horseless carriage" would be more than the flavor of the month, and despite the protestations of his employees, Hare inked deals with Hupmobile, Studebaker, and Cadillac to sell their latest wares. By 1912, automobiles were the focus of the family business.

Since then, six generations of the Hare family have managed the dealership, and each of them faced brutal challenges such as the Great Depression and a cessation of all automobile production due to World War II. During the three and half years, the Hares had no cars for the lot. During the three and half years the Hares had no cars for the lot, they kept buy taking care of customers with oil changes, tune-ups and various other elements of maintenance.

But sadly, the Hare family got out of the car business in 2017 when the great-great-great granddaughters of Wesley Hare shuttered the dealership. That last year, Hare Chevrolet sold some 460 new and used cars each month.

Ford Dealership
Photo: Ford Motor Company
While the era of Hares as car dealers ends, the era of Hares as advertising gurus is still on. Peck and Cole, the last Hares in the business, have become known to local radio listeners as the "Sisters of Savings" through commercials.

Since the Hares no longer top the list compiled by the National Automobile Dealers Association who has been in continuous operation for 100 years or more, the remaining top nine include: Schaefer & Bierlein, Inc., Frankenmuth, Michigan (1852), Reynolds' Garage & Marine, Inc., Lyme, Connecticut (1859), Kemmann Chevrolet, Inc., Lowden, Iowa (1875), Normandin Chrysler/Jeep, San Jose, California (1875), Moser Motor Sales, Inc., Berne, Indiana (1885), Ferman Motor Car Co., Inc., Tampa, Florida (1885), Hill International Trucks, LLC, East Liverpool, Ohio (1897), Eich Motor Co., St. Cloud, Minnesota (1898) and Diehl Ford, Inc., Bellingham, Washington (1900)

To stretch the argument out further, Tenvoorde Ford says they hold the title. The Tenvoorde Ford dealership says they were the second Ford franchisee, and that deal was inked by Steve Tenvoorde of St. Cloud, Minnesota, in March 1903.So as of 2021, this company is officially the oldest dealership in the United States,.

So let the argument begin...


So much history in Los Angeles! #vintagelosangeles #felixthecat

? It's All Forgotten Now - Al Bowlly
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