Ever since the automobile was made accessible to the masses, car dealerships have been special places where desires, sweaty palms, and that new-car smell are distilled into an intoxicating elixir of freedom and ownership. From the Art Deco showrooms of the '30s to modern glass-walled superstores, this nostalgic road trip revisits the architecture, marketing, and business practices that have become inextricably associated with American auto retailers.
A fascinating text accompanies an equally compelling collection of archival photography recalling past and present car dealership phenomena like new model previews and grand openings (i.e., soaped showroom windows, veiled cars, search lights); giveaways that are now collectibles (literature, buttons, pens, toy cars, ashtrays, and anything else that helped make a sale); business practices ranging from early-century animal trade-ins to modern Saturn-style service; used car sales; service departments; and nontraditional automotive outlets like Sears-Roebuck and hardware stores. Sidebars highlight innovative dealerships and those that have been in business for decades.
Robert Genat is a prolific author and photographer whose eclectic bibliography includes such MBI titles as Hot Rod Nights, Vintage & Historic Drag Racers, Modern Police Motorcycles, and Police Cars in Action.