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MINNESOTA Dealers
Written by Double Dragon
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 19:21

MINNESOTA Dealers

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

 

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Bigalk Chevrolet, Harmony, MN

Holiday Oldsmobile, Minneapolis, MN (sponsored 1966 Olds 442 drag car)

Jay Kline Chevrolet, Minneapolis, MN (high performance Vette/ Yenko dealer)

Merit Chevrolet, St Paul, MN 888-650-5674 (formerly Wolff Chevrolet Co)

Miller Auto Plaza, St. Cloud, MN (formerly Miller Pontiac)
Miller Chevrolet of Rogers, MN (1988- related to Miller Pontiac)
Miller Pontiac GMC Inc, St. Cloud, MN (1932 became Miller Auto Plaza)

Minnesota Motor Company (Chev Buick), Fergus Falls, MN (877) 300-7551 (1917 Ford/ 1922 Chev)

North Branch Chevrolet, North Branch, MN 866-901-3389 (1920s)

Polar Chevrolet, White Bear Lake, MN (performance dealer/ became Walser Polar Chev)

Red Wing Motors (GM), Mabel, MN

Viking Oldsmobile-Pontiac, N Rochester, MN

White Bear Dodge, Saint Paul, MN (drag sponsor)

Wolff Chevrolet Co, St Paul, MN 888-650-5674 (became Merit Chevrolet)

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BIGALK CHEVROLET, Harmony, MN. Closed

dealer bigalk chevrolet harmony mn

Bigalk Chevrolet was located in the nice small town of Harmony on the main drag, 255 Main Avenue.

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HOLIDAY OLDSMOBILE, Minneapolis, MN (sponsored Conquistador 1966 Olds 442 drag car)

Holiday Oldsmobile was located at Ninth Street and First Ave North in Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to an article in the Dec, 1966 issue of CAR CRAFT Holiday Olds sold more 1965 442s than any other Olds dealer in the nation. Holiday apparently was selling 1966 442s at a similar rate.

It is said that Holiday Oldsmobile had such a performance reputation that the factory gave them 12 of the mere 54 factory built 1966 442 W-30 cars.

The CAR CRAFT article mentioned above provided a profile of a 1966 Olds 442 funny car named "442 Much!" which was campaigned by Jim Lutz and Myron Lundberg.

To further consolidate their performance reputation Holiday Olds sponsored a 1966 Olds 442 drag car named the Conquistador. Jim Mann was a mechanic at the dealership and prepped the car.

Jerry Perkl was president of the dealership by the mid 1960s and his son Father Jim Perkyl clearly remembers his dad bringing home a 442 during this period. Jerry really gave that 442 a workout while he had it. Of course we wonder if it was one of the prepped cars. Jerry had his personal cars worked on by his special mechanics. Jerry went on to establish White Bear Dodge which sponsored Tom Hoover and won the 1971 Nationals Funny Car class.

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JAY KLINE CHEVROLET, Minneapolis, MN (high performance Vette/ Yenko dealer)

Jay Kline Chevrolet was located at 1221 West Lake, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jay Kline specialized in high performance cars and Corvettes at their 'Hi Performance center' (also billed as their 'Sports car center') at 1201 West Lake at Emerson. Kline excelled as a Yenko dealer; at one time having 10 Yenko 427 1967 Camaros in stock at once! In an August, 1967 Kline lists two 427 Yenko Camaros in stock but inadvertently named them 'Stingers'.

In August, 1967 the dealership hosted both Dick Harrell (Mr. Chevrolet of drag racing) with his drag racing car and Don Yenko (Mr. Chevrolet of sportscars) in their showroom for two days. The public was invited to come in meet the two of them.

John Wibbles was the parts man and had a vast inventory of high performance parts in stock which he was knowledgeable about.

The dealership sponsored a C3 Corvette in SCAA competition racing.

Steven Kline took over the dealership in the 1980s and as new owner he continued the performance theme. He recalls selling THE red 1972 Corvette to Prince in 1983 that inspired his famous song. At the time Steven stated that Jay Kline was the biggest Corvette dealers in the Five State area. Steven was a road racer but also owned some muscle cars.

Jay Kline died in the 1990s. Ray Eliot owned the business from spring, 1989 until February, 1991 when the dealership closed down.

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MERIT CHEVROLET, St Paul, MN 888-650-5674

dealer merit chev st paul mn logo

Merit Chevrolet is located at 2695 Brookview Dr E, St Paul, Minnesota. The dealership was purchased from Wolff Chevrolet in 1949 by R C Rinkel. His son Bruce Rinkel is the current president and his son Chris Rinkel is the general manager.

In spring, 2015 Merit had 387 new vehicles in stock, 122 of which were cars. Merit had 9 new Camaros and 2 new Corvettes.

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MILLER AUTO PLAZA, St. Cloud, MN/ 866-326-4178

(formerly MILLER PONTIAC-GMC INC, St. Cloud, MN)

Miller Pontiac GMC Inc. traces back to a family owned body and repair shop that began in 1932. One year later John Miller established the first family owned car dealership in Minnesota. He soon became the number one Packard dealer in the country. In 1966 John's son, Tom Miller became a second generation member of the dealership. Pontiac was added to the dealership roster as was Fiat and GMC.

By 1971, Fiat was gone and Miller Pontiac GMC Inc. was located at 1214 St. Germain, St. Cloud, Minnesota. Their car dealership code was 315 573. Miller Pontiac took delivery of one of the highly collectible seventeen 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge convertibles built in late 1970 and early 1971. The only Castillion Bronze 1971 Judge convertible car with Sienna and Sandalwood was VIN 242671P110366. It was shipped Dec 29, 1970 to Miller Pontiac. It is currently owned by Tom Stutzman. To see a story about the rest of the 17 Judge convertibles go to DESTINATIONS in the TRAVEL STORIES section of this website. The OOCC CORVETTE TRIP PART 3 details the known history of these cars.

In 1988 Tom Miller branched out on his own with a Chevrolet dealership in Rogers, MN. See the story below. The 1990s saw the original Pontiac dealership renamed Miller Pontiac Buick GMC to reflect the addition of Buick to the lineup. They were now located at 2900 2nd Street S, St. Cloud, MN. Lincoln Mercury and Nissan were added to the mix, too and at this point with all these brands, it made sense to rename the complex Miller Auto Plaza. Marine and snowmobile lines were also added to the inventory. As of spring 2013 the dealership had 227 new vehicles in stock, 49 of which were Buick cars.

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MILLER CHEVROLET OF ROGERS, MN (1988-)/ 763-515-4511

Miller Chevrolet of Rogers is located at 21150 John Milless Drive, Rogers, Minnesota. The dealership was started in 1988 at Country Road 81 by Tom Miller. Tom is the son of John Miller, founder of Miller Pontiac GMC Inc which expanded into Miller Auto Plaza. Tom is back in charge of the auto plaza while his son Mike Miller took over Miller Chevrolet in 1993 making him a third generation dealer.

As of spring 2013, Miller Chevrolet had 367 new vehicles in stock, 145 of which are cars. 9 of them are Camaros, including a black 2013 Camaro ZL1 VIN 2G1FL1EP9D9806193 
with MSRP of $61,035.00. The 580 HP supercharged 6.2 L engine runs through a six speed automatic. As if that isn't enough, Miller also has a 2013 ZL1 convertible in white, VIN 2G1FL3DPXD9805406. At $66,420.00 MSRP it would be hard to pass this one up if you were lookng at the coupe. That is one hot convertible. The three new Corvettes in stock are all Grand Sports and two are convertibles.

After all these years the Miller famliy is still stocking hot convertibles: Miller Pontiac GMC took delivery of one of the seventeen 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge convertibles ever built.

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MINNESOTA MOTOR CO (Chev Buick), Fergus Falls, MN (877) 300-7551 (1917 Ford/ 1922 Chev)

Minnesota Motor Company is located at 1108 Pebble Lake Rd, Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The dealership was established in 1917 as a Ford dealer by A. A. Trovaten. In 1922 the dealership switched to Chevrolet. At this time Marsden 'Mars' G. Brimhall acquired one third of the capital stock and became the Dealer Manager of the company. In 1924 expansion included Buick and Cadillac franchises.

The original buildings at 117 & 123 South Court Street in Fergus Falls was replaced in 1949 with a modern rebuild. Mars Brimhall passed away in 1959. The business was run by his two sons, Richard (Dick) and Bradford Brimhall. In 1975 the dealership moved to South Pebble Lake Road.

Richard and Bradford retired and left their sons, Steve and Tom Brimhall to manage the business. operations. Steve Brimhall is the current CEO. Steve's sons are now involved. Matthew Brimhall is used car sales manager. Ben Brimhall is the internet sales manager.

In winter of 2014 the lot had 191 new vehicles in stock, 55 of which are cars. 10 of these were new Buicks, the remainder Chevy.

In stock they have a new Victory Red 2012 Camaro 2SS convertible VIN 2G1FK3DJXC9109576. being blown out $8,071.00 below MSRP. This is partly a commentary on the difficulty in selling any ponycar anywhere nowadays which is exacerbated in the Midwest where trucks and SUVs comprise the majority of sales. The unsold Camaro is also partly a reflection of how tricky it is for dealers to sell the top dog special versions of the ponycars. In winter of 2014 many dealer lots are full of 2013 ZL1s. Chrysler dealers are blowing out 2012 or 2013 model year SRT8 Challengers. Only Ford dealers seem to be sold out of 2013 Shelby GT500s, but in Midwest locations where dealers won't even stock a Shelby they are sitting on one year old GTs. The six cylinder versions comprise the majority of stock and seem to move out much more quickly.

Another interesting car on the lot is a new 2014 Phantom Black Metallic Chevrolet SS. The car doesn't even call itself an Impala SS, just plain SS. This car is a revival of the Pontiac G8 concept and is an Australian built rear wheel drive thumper packing a 6.2 L V8 engine with SFI that pounds out 415 hp @ 5900 RPM and 415 lb-ft of torque @ 4600 RPM. It has paddle shifters called TAPshift for the 6-speed automatic which runs through a limited slip 3.27 rear axle. The SS has an engine oil cooler and a transmission oil cooler. The beast of an engine manages 14 City and 21 Hwy in the EPA tests.

Although it is a RWD it breaks with the old school with an independent rear suspension. Like the old 1990s Impala SS revival this black sedan is a 4 door and has mags. The new SS has 19" x 8.5" front and 19" x 9" rear polished forged aluminum mags. The SS has no spare and comes with high performance tires: 245/40R19 front and 275/35R19 rear. These are summer tires, so owners wanting to drive year round will likely spring for a set of steel rims to mount all seasons or snowtires.

The MSRP for this one, VIN 6G3F15RWXEL940133 is $47,170.00 which is what Minnesota Motor Co has it listed for.

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NORTH BRANCH CHEVROLET, North Branch, MN 866-901-3389 (1920s)

North Branch Chevrolet is located at 38420 Tanger Dr, North Branch, Minnesota. The original location was in downtown North Branch under the name Central Garage. In winter 2014 North Branch Chevy had 216 new vehicles in stock, 67 of which are cars. They have 4 Camaros including a new 2013 Black Camaro ZL1 convertible VIN 2G1FL3DP6D9804849 which has been marked down.

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POLAR CHEVROLET, White Bear Lake, MN (performance dealer/ became Walser Polar Chev)

Polar Chevrolet was located at 1801 County Road F E, White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Polar placed an ad for a dealer conversion 1968 Chevelle 396 now packing a 425 HP 427 engine, 4 speed, 3.31:1 Positraction axle, performance instrumentation. The ad also promises that there are other high performance cars on display in the dealership. Polar Chevrolet became Walser Polar Chev)

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RED WING MOTORS, Mabel, MN - Closed

Red Wing Motors was located in Mabel, Minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s selling GM cars. To read a story about a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo bought new from this dealership see the story in the ONE OWNER section of this website.

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VIKING OLDSMOBILE PONTIAC, N Rochester, MN

Viking Oldsmobile-Pontiac was located at 4646 Highway 52 N Rochester, MN. This may be the same dealership which sponsored a drag racing 442.

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WHITE BEAR DODGE, Saint Paul, MN (drag sponsor)

White Bear Dodge was located at 3430 Hwy 61 N, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Jerry Perkl established the dealership in the 1960s. Jerry was born Gerald L. Perkl July 18, 1934 in Minnesota and was exposed to cars from an early age.

Jerry's father Bert A. Perkl had a used car dealership on 600 W. Lake Ave, Minneapolis, MN. By the late 1970s Bert was running Mid Lake Motors at 1401 E. Lake. Bert died April 26, 1980 aged 72. Bert was a laid back guy. One time while waiting for his breakfast in a restaurant he witnessed someone stealing his Cadillac from the lot. Bert said, "I'll deal with it after breakfast." His son Jerry on the other hand was a dynamo who diversified his energy into multiple schemes and innovations. Jerry began his working life doing architectural drawings but soon burst out of that confining situation eager to express his outgoing personality.

Jerry worked his way up to president of Holiday Oldsmobile before he was 30 years old. Holiday had a strong performance image and sponsored drag racing. Once Jerry established White Bear Dodge in 1967 he would take that high performance success formula further. Jerry built White Bear on a tract of farmland along Highway 61 just outside the city. Jerry felt this stretch of Highway 61 could become a hub for auto dealerships. His success and example soon led to many dealers setting up in proximity to him in the following years.

 


Jerry's other creative strategies included bringing in the real Batmobile to the dealership for display during the mania for the popular TV show Batman. Jerry commissioned an artist who did car caricatures to create a coloring book for kids with all the popular performance vehicles from Dodge represented in the book.

Jerry's enthusiasm for performance also led him to bring in a Lotus franchise. Another foreign franchise he added to the mix was Rolls Royce. When hockey star Bobby Hull signed a $1,000,000.00 deal on June 27, 1972 with the WHA Jerry drove him from Twin Cities Airport to the signing in St. Paul in one of the dealership's Rolls Royces. Jerry also managed to get his dealership name on park bench backs built during the 1976 Centennial Celebration across USA. During part of 1977 White Bear Dodge was the largest Dodge dealership in USA. At that time February sales were about 270 vehicles and this is the slowest time of the year for car sales. It is likely that White Bear was averaging over 300 cars a month in the hot selling periods.

A big part of the success story traced back to the dealership's High Performance Headquarters. White Bear Dodge was the only dealership in the area with an in house dyno for performance tuning cars. White Bear attracted a lot of racers with a well stocked performance parts department. Jerry had some savvy, talented mechanics who looked after his personal cars (Duesenberg open racer, Dodge Daytona etc) as well as catering to the performance minded customers.

White Bear sponsored Tom Hoover driving a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Hoover won the Nationals the next year driving a 1971 Dodge Charger funny car. The new aerodynamic bodystyle boosted E.T.s. A Keith Black Hemi helped matters, too! Although the dealership had some great mechanics Tom Hoover relied on his father George Hoover who was a racer as well to prep his cars.

After wining the Nationals a 1/32nd size model of the winning Charger was produced which further enhanced the White Bear reputation.

In the later 1970s Jerry was able to get in on the van craze, too. Mr. Norm's Grand Spaulding Dodge was another high performance dealership was also savvy about stocking vans in time to respond to the new fad. The type of person who recognizes the trends and gets in on it was quick to adapt to the new developments. Unfortunately Jerry wasn't able to anticipate a confluence of changes that hit his large dealership harder than a smaller place would. A giant has difficulty responding to sudden downturns in the business climate.

On March 3, 1980 a newspaper article reported that the dealership was forced to close due to the massive overhead of a huge lot combined with a 20% drop in Chrysler sales in the zone. Jerry was paying 16.75% interest on his massive new car inventory which wasn't selling. Unable to sustain $50,000.00 a month in interest charges on top of other operating costs that were soaring he had no choice but to close down.

Jerry was disappointed but undaunted and continued to work on other business concepts until his death June 30, 1991 at age 56.

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WOLFF CHEVROLET CO, St Paul, MN 888-650-5674 (became Merit Chevrolet)

Wolff Chevrolet Co was located in St Paul, Minnesota. In 1949 R. C. Rinkel purchased this dealership. In 1951 the name was changed to Merit Chevrolet.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 October 2019 09:51 )