Home Dealerships CALIFORNIA/ LOS ANGELES County- Western
CALIFORNIA/ LOS ANGELES County- Western
Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 18:13

CALIFORNIA/ LOS ANGELES County- Western / Brentwood, Mar Vista, Ocean Park, Pacific Palisades, Playa Del Rey, Santa Monica, Topanga, Venice.

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown. Much appreciation to Gene Adams for his insightful interview about Albertson Olds.

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Albertson Brothers Oldsmobile, Culver City, CA (performance dealership)

Albertson Brothers Oldsmobile Chevrolet Geo, Culver City, CA

Cummings Buick Inc, Santa Monica, CA (formerly Cummings- Wright Buick)

C H Dimmette Inc. (Chrysler Plymouth Imperial), Santa Monica CA

Martin Motors Cadillac & Oldsmobile Agency, Santa Monica, CA

Martin-Reilly Oldsmobile, Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica Ford Lincoln, Santa Monica, CA 877-542-0782

Claude R Short Inc. (Dodge), Santa Monica, CA

Jim White Pontiac, Santa Monica, CA

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ALBERTSON BROTHERS OLDSMOBILE, Culver City, CA (drag sponsor Lil Red Rocket)

Albertson Brothers Oldsmobile was located at 4114 Sepulveda Blvd at Washington, Culver City, California during the 1950s and 1960s. Dealership paperwork and ads called this dealership 'The home of the famous Red Rocket.' This referred to a large rocketship painted red that sat on their car lot towering above the dealership. Oldsmobile Motor Division used a rocket logo and the Oldsmobile cars were referred to as Rockets in advertising and sales literature. The red rocket on the dealer lot was an inspired bit of association on the part of the Albertson Brothers.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Oldsmobile motors were very popular with hot rodders and drag strip competitors. The Olds engine could be easily hopped up and was plentiful in junkyards. By contrast the Chrysler Hemi was a rarer engine although it was faster 'out of the box'. Leonard Harris was a local racer and Oldsmobile believer. Leonard attended Venice High School and was known for winning some national championships on the rings in gymnastics. Once the drag racing bug bit him he applied his athleticism to racing where he was known as a very smooth expert driver. He could transition from clutch/ braking and acceleration without going up in smoke and was very consistent in his driving. Leonard was friends with the Albertson Bros Oldsmobile parts department guy Don who had a good reputation as a helpful and knowledgeable guy.

At Leonard's urging Don and the General Manager at Albertson 'ganged up' on Lou Albertson to convince him to sponsor a race car. Lou was amenable to sponsoring Leonard's dragster which went on to set many NRHA records in 1960. Gene Adams met Leonard through Don in the parts department and the timing was just right. Gene was a Oldsmobile racer and engine builder had just returned to California from the Army. Gene worked for Hillborn who helped him out with injectors. Gene lived about 1 1/2 miles from the Albertson Olds dealership and bought his factory parts from Albertson. Leonard had a new dragster chassis set up which was owned by Ron Scheerer. Gene happened to have a fresh Olds engine ready to go and teamed up with the guys. Gene put the new Olds engine into Leonard's new dragster. They painted it blue with Albertson Olds lettering.

The Albertson Bros Olds sponsored dragster was named 'Lil' Red Rocket' in reference to the Albertson Bros rocket on the dealer lot. Leonard Harris went on to break NHRA records. Albertson Olds didn't just sign off on sponsorship and forget the racing team. The Albertson Olds General Manager attended most of the local races that Albertson was competing in and brought his kids along. Albertson also supplied the team with new factory heads, blocks and cranks. Gene Adams did a lot of work on the heads of the Olds motors to make them competitive such as installing larger valves and using aftermarket racing parts. Engle and Hillborn helped the team quite a bit as well. When it came time to travel east for competition Albertson Olds came through with traveling expenses for the team.

Leonards' athleticism earned him praise for his calm and coordination. Many drivers noted that Harris' driving talent would have taken him to the big time if not for being killed at the young age of 28. Gene recalled the tragic day at Lion's Dragstrip where a series of mishaps led to Leonard's death. Leonard was originally scheduled to race against a dual engine dragster in a match race that night. One of the dual engines broke in the dragster so that match race was cancelled. With nothing else to do the Albertson team decided to compete in the general racing. The Albertson dragster successfully made a qualifying run but in the pits water came pouring out of one of the spark plug holes. The Albertson dragster was trailered.

Another team had a Chrysler powered dragster that was having handling issues and asked if Leonard was interested in shaking it out for them. Leonard did a qualifying run and noted that the car wanted to pull to the left but no one thought too much of it. When Leonard made a second run with the car it veered off the track at the end and crashed into a chain link fence killing Leonard Oct, 1960. The shocking accident resulted in Albertson Olds pulling out of the sponsorship. Lou Alberston was horrified by the tragic accident. The dealership was also concerned about the possibility of being sued in future if other accidents occurred.

The guys carried on with the dragster. Tom McEwan bought the chassis from Ron to become part owner of the dragster and began the learning curve of piloting a finicky dragster. McEwen went onto fame as 'The Mongoose' in later years. Gene and Tom hung on with Oldsmobile power until 1962 when they conceded the need to run a Chrysler Hemi engine and made the switch. Gene recalls some top dragsters still remained competitive with Olds power as late as 1964 but it was harder and harder to keep up. Chevy small blocks made it until 1965 or 1966 before vanishing as well. Tom convinced Gene to run fuel in the dragster for a run or two but Gene preferred to run gasoline. Tom needed to switch to fuel dragsters to reach the next level and the two went their separate ways after 1 1/2 years of working together.

In later years the dealership added new franchises and renamed themselves Albertson Brothers Oldsmobile Chevrolet Geo. The dealership closed roughly 1980s- 1990s.

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CUMMINGS BUICK INC, Santa Monica, CA (formerly Cummings- Wright Buick)

Cummings Buick Inc was located at 1501 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, California. Cummings traces back to Sep 21, 1937 when Cummings- Wright Buick opened in the former Claude Short Dodge building. In 1941 Willard Lyman Cummings, Sr. became sole owner and the name was changed to Cummings Buick. Willard Cummings, Sr. got his start with the worlds biggest Buick dealer, C.S. Howard.

Willard Lyman Cummings, Jr. was born Dec 11, 1932 in Los Angeles, CA and started working in his father's dealership at age 14. After graduation from Harvard School, North Hollywood he attended GM Leadership Management School for Dealers, Flint, MI and then Santa Monica College.

Willard L. Cummings, Jr. took over the Cummings dealership in 1958 aged 26. In the 1960s and 1970s Cummings was large enough to bill themselves as 'The Buick Block at Santa Monica and 15th'. When the economy car craze came to USA it hit California earlier and harder than other parts of the USA. Cummings signed up to become a franchisee of Opel which was a GM import built in Germany.

Drag racer Marv Ripes credited an Opel part from the Cummings inventory for his 1970 NHRA Springnationals win in a 1957 Chevrolet sedan. Marv's friend Bob Lambeck worked in the Cummings parts department and saw the potential in the German made 8 inch Opel torque converters in stock. Marv used it in a Chevy 348 application Powerglide and was able to make 4,000 RPM launches once the transmission was beefed up.

Willard Cummings retired in 1991 and leased the former Cummings building to other auto related businesses. Willard died Jan 4, 2008 after enjoying a lot of golf during his retirement years.

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C H DIMMETTE INC (Chrysler Plymouth Imperial), Santa Monica, CA

C H Dimmette Inc. was a Chrysler Plymouth Imperial dealer located at 900 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica California during the 1960s.

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MARTIN MOTORS CADILLAC & OLDSMOBILE AGENCY, Santa Monica, CA (became Martin Cadillac Co)

Martin Motors Cadillac & Oldsmobile Agency was located at 1115 Wilshire, Santa Monica, California from 1926 until the 1970s. The franchise was pared down and the dealership renamed Martin Cadillac Company.

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MARTIN-REILLY OLDSMOBILE, Santa Monica, CA

Martin-Reilly Oldsmobile was located at 2610 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, California in 1966.

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SANTA MONICA FORD LINCOLN, Santa Monica, CA 877-542-0782

dealer santa monica ford linc

Santa Monica Ford Lincoln is located at 1230 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, California. In spring, 2017 they had 364 new vehicles in stock, 204 of which were cars.

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CLAUDE R SHORT INC (Dodge), Santa Monica, CA

Claude R Short Inc. was a Dodge dealer located at 3127 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, California. Claude Short was formerly located at 1501 Santa Monica Blvd in a purpose built dealership from 1928 until 1937. Cummings Buick took over the location.

A 1971 426 Hemi R/T Challenger 4-Speed Shaker Convertible that came from this dealer came up for sale with an unusual history. The car had a scheduled production date of Wednesday, May 26, 1971 and was shipped out of Hamtramck, Michigan final assembly plant with a 383 4-Bbl Engine. The original purchaser ordered a 426 Hemi engine. Chrysler Corporation shipped a Hemi which was installed by Claude R Short Dodge, Inc. An addendum to the original Dodge window sticker for the 426 Hemi Engine was authorized by Chrysler Corporation and added by the dealership. The Hemi Challenger Convertible underwent a complete rotisserie restoration in 2003.

The 1971 383-4 bbl Dodge Challenger Convertible VIN JH27N1B405248 is now in the Chrysler Registry and is number 29 of only 31 built in sequence of 1971 383-4 bbl Challenger Convertibles registered and sold new in the USA.

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JIM WHITE PONTIAC, Santa Monica, CA

Jim White Pontiac was located at 1908 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, California during the 1960s and 70s. An OOCC reader Noel Richardson reports that he still owns his 1970 Pontiac Firebird Esprit ordered and purchased from the Jim White lot in late August, 1970.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 March 2018 14:28 )