Home Dealerships MICHIGAN/ DETROIT Area- Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac
MICHIGAN/ DETROIT Area- Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac
Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 20:04

MICHIGAN/ DETROIT SUBURBS Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown except for Fernwood Dodge graphics copyright Fernwood Dodge, Royal Oak artwork and vintage photo copyright Ace Wilson's Royal Oak Pontiac. Royal Pontiac business card and Royal Pontiac booklet courtesy of Milt Schornack.

 

**** A big Thank You to my readers who contributed to my book LOST MUSCLECAR DEALERSHIPS which is now available from CAR TECH BOOKS INC. *****

 

Barnett Pontiac, Dearborn, MI (became Superior Buick GMC)

Belcastro Pontiac, Ferndale, MI (1972 see Higgins)
Jack Cauley Chevrolet, Ferndale, MI/ West Bloomfield (see Foren)

Charron Chrysler Plymouth, New Baltimore Mi

Edmond Oldsmobile, Hamtramck, MI (Racing Research 442 drag race car)

Fairlane Ford, Dearborn, MI (1983- formerly Bob Ford Inc)
Mel Farr Ford, Oak Park, MI/ Waterford, MI (1975-2002)
Fernwood Dodge, Ferndale, MI (Sponsor Don Carlton's Motown Missile 71 Challenger drag racer)
Fern-Wood Chevrolet, Ferndale, MI (see Foren)
Bob Ford Inc., Dearborn, MI (formerly R.W.Ford 1923-83)/ became Fairlane Ford
Floyd Foren Chevrolet Inc, Ferndale, MI (see Cauley, Fern-Wood)
Fresard Buick GMC, Ferndale, MI (see Gage/ Suburban) (see Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac)
Gage Oldsmobile, Ferndale, MI (see Fresard) 1957-2002
Galeana's Van Dyke Dodge, Warren, MI

Grosse Pointe Plymouth Inc, Grosse Pointe, MI
Higgins Pontiac, Ferndale, MI
Hodges Auto Sales Inc (Dodge Plymouth), Ferndale, MI (now Subaru NASCAR sponsor)

Hunter Dodge, Birmingham, MI

Jerome Motor Sales (Pontiac Oldsmobile), Pontiac, MI

Key Oldsmobile, Warren, MI (Performance dealership) Closed

Krajenke Buick Sales, Hamtramck, MI (2nd largest Buick dealer in 1966)

Matthews Hargreaves Chevrolet, Royal Oak, MI

McMullen Pontiac Ltd, Pontiac, MI (Sold one of the 17 1971 Judge convertibles)

Merollis Chevrolet, Eastpointe MI 586-279-2318 (COPO dealership)

Ray North Ford, Ferndale, MI
Race Motor Sales, Ferndale, MI (194*-) Closed
Roy O'Brien Ford, St. Clair Shores, MI (1946)
Ed Rinke Chevrolet, Center Line, MI (Warren, MI)
Royal Oak Ford, Royal Oak, MI
Royal Pontiac, Royal Oak, MI (became Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac)

Bob Schaffo Pontiac (formerly Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac/ became Jim Fresard Pontiac)
Ed Schmid Ford, Ferndale, MI
Stark Hickey Ford, Royal Oak, MI/ became Royal Oak Ford
Suburban Buick GMC, Ferndale, MI (2011-) (Formerly Fresard Pontiac Buick GMC)

Superior Buick GMC, Dearborn, MI 877-848-0052 (formerly Barnett Pontiac)
Wallace-Hartman Inc, Ferndale, MI
Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac, Royal Oak, MI/ Performance dealer, drag sponsor (see Bob Schaffo)

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BARNETT PONTIAC, Dearborn, MI (became Superior Buick GMC)

Barnett Pontiac was located at 14505 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, Michigan during the 1960s. This lot beacme the location of Superior Buick GMC

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BELCASTRO PONTIAC INC, Ferndale, MI/ 1972-

Harry Belcastro took over the Higgins Pontiac dealership to create Belcastro Pontiac Inc at 23225 Woodward Avenue which is part of "Motor Mile" a famous dealer row in Ferndale, Michigan which is a suburb of Detroit. Woodward Avenue generated some notoriety in the 1960s as the unofficial dragstrip of choice for legions of street racers during the musclecar era. Paperwork from a 1975 T/A delivered to Belcastro confirms they were still on Woodward as of summer, 1975.

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CAULEY PERFORMANCE AUTOMOTIVE, West Bloomfield, MI/ 866-353-8629

formerly JACK CAULEY CHEVROLET, Ferndale, MI- West Bloomfield, MI/

In 1969 Jack Cauley Chevrolet took over the Floyd Floren Chevrolet Inc location at 22346 Woodward Avenue along "Motor Mile" a dealership row located in Ferndale which is a suburb of Detroit.

In 1978 the dealership moved to 7020 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield, Michigan. The dealership was reinvented as Cauley Performance Automotive with the sales team led by Joe Cauley. The dealership now carries exotic supercars such as Ferrari, classic collector cars such as a 1967 Corvette and current musclecars from Challengers to Camaros.

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CHARRON CHRYSLER PLYMOUTH, New Baltimore MI

Charron Chrysler Plymouth was located in New Baltimore Michigan. An OOCC reader, Eric is hoping to find out some information about this dealership. He owns a Limelite Green 1970 AAR Cuda 4 speed. The original owner was dating the daughter of Edward Charron who was the Charron dealership owner at the time. Anyone who recalls the car or dealership is asked to drop a line to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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EDMOND OLDSMOBILE, Hamtramck, MI (Racing Research 442 drag race car)

Edmond Oldsmobile was located at 12101 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, Michigan. Service Manager Frank Redikir headed a group named Racing Research which included Win Brown in the staff. Both Frank and Win were heavily involved in the racing program at famous Royal Pontiac before developing their Oldsmobile program. See the story on Royal Pontiac further down this page. Racing Research managed to coax incredible performance out of a 1965 442 drag race car 2 door post without ps, pb, radio and heater delete and buckets out. The high beams were pulled to provide space for air induction (the W-30 riffed off this innovation). Self adjusters were removed from brakes to assist free turning of wheels.

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FAIRLANE FORD, Dearborn, MI (formerly Bob Ford Inc./ 1983) 888-496-3864

Fairlane Ford is located at 14585 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, Michigan. The dealership took over the long established Bob Ford Inc. dealership. At the start of 2013 the dealership had 199 new vehicles on hand with slightly over 50% of them cars. Of the 102 new cars, six are Mustangs. One new 2014 is on the lot with five 2013s.

Fairlane has a 2013 Race Red Boss 302 VIN 1ZVBP8CU3D5274543. Like many dealerships, they have been careful to keep test miles off this car. The showroom photos show that the factory plastic is still on the steering wheel and seats. Typical of most Boss 302s it has the Recaro Seat and Helical differential option and the Boss car cover option taking the base Boss price from $42,200.00 to $44,670.00. Delivery by rail March 11, 2013 adds $795.00 for MSRP of $45,465.00.

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MEL FARR FORD (1975-2002), Oak Park, MI (1975-2002)

Mel Farr was a football star who channeled his fame into a dealership on the outskirts of Royal Oak in a suburb of Detroit named Oak Park. Mel Farr Ford did very well selling to the large black population of Detroit. Mel Farr was president of The Black Auto Dealers Association. The Mel Farr Auto Group had franchises in Oak Park and Waterford and was the top grossing African American business in USA for awhile. Mel Farr Auto Group placed 33 in ranking of largest car dealerships. Mel Farr came up with a unique way to ensure that leased cars were paid for promptly each month but it backfired on him. A remote device turned off the engine if the payment was late! Outraged customers claimed the engine turned off while moving and the legal actions signaled the beginning of the end for Mel Farr Ford. In 2002 the dealerships were closed.

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FERNWOOD DODGE, Ferndale, MI/ Closed (sponsored Don Carlton & Ted Spehar's Motown Missile 71 Challenger Hemi drag car)

dealer fernwood dodge motown missile ferndale mi

Fernwood Dodge was located in Ferndale, Michigan and garnered some attention as sponsor of drag racer Don Carlton's Dodge Challenger Motown Missile. The image above is taken from a scale model kit of the decals from the 1971 Dodge Challenger Carlton used. When he acquired a Chryler sponsorship he named his cars Mopar Missile and entered a phase of heavy technical experimentation to perfect every aspect of the cars. Carlton went on to race a 1972 Cuda and a 396 Hemi (derived from a 426) powered 73 Duster and later a 75 Duster. He switched the car name to Macomb Missile for a 1976 Aspen.

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FERN-WOOD CHEVROLET, Ferndale, MI/ became Floyd Foren Chev

Fernwood Chevrolet lasted from 1938 until the 1950s at 22346 Woodward Avenue in the Detroit suburb Ferndale. This section of Woodward is famous as a dealer row named "Motor Mile" as well as part of the unofficial dragstrip of the 1960s when musclecars ruled the streets. The location was taken over by Floyd Foren Chevrolet which lasted into the 1970s.

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BOB FORD INC., Dearborn, MI (1923-1983)- Became Fairlane Ford

Bob Ford Inc. was located in Dearborn, Michigan. Opened in 1923 it was formerly known as the R.W. Ford Agency. The dealership was named for Robert W. Ford who as nephew of Henry Ford had some good connections to establish a car dealership. Robert Ford chose Dearborn as his location to capitalize on the proximity to Ford Headquarters and the factories.

The formal name of the dealership gave way to simply 'Bob Ford Inc.' which is how the dealership was known when Robert Ford's son John Ford took over in 1953. The dealership had moved down the street from the original location and stayed at 14585 Michigan Ave during the performance years.

Paul Harvey began as the Bob Ford Sales Manager. Paul had plenty of drag racing experience which would eventually prove useful in the 1960s. Paul left Bob Ford Inc to return to his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana where he put in a stint at Jerry Alderman Ford. Paul returned to Bob Ford in 1961 as General Manager and teamed up with salesman Jack Gray who was promoting a Bob Ford demo car by racing it on weekends. Dave Lyall was added as mechanic/ driver. A Holman-Moody blueprinted NASCAR 390 engine, transmission, 4.86:1 gears and NASCAR slicks helped this car win the final S/S meet at Central Michigan Drag way.

Paul arranged for a Bob Ford sponsored 1962 406 Galaxy to replace the earlier demo. It had a good season before losing at the finals to Frank Sander's 409 Chevrolet. Next year Bob Ford Inc received one of the factory lightweight 1963 427 Galaxie Fastbacks which had fiberglass and aluminum parts to improve E.T. Bob Ford Inc sponsored other drag cars in the 1960's, including the legendary 1964 Thunderbolt 427 #2 car. The Bob Ford Thunderbolt was driven by Len Richter.

Paul Harvey helped Dave Lyall launch his own drag race team in 1964 with a BFX 427 F-100 in 1964 and then an AFX 427 Falcon in 1965. Paul left Bob Ford in 1966 to open his own Ford dealership in Indianapolis. Jack Gray retired in 1972, and died in 1999.

In 1983 the dealership became Fairlane Ford.

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FLOYD FOREN CHEVROLET INC., Ferndale, MI/ (195*-197*)

Floyd Foren Chevrolet Inc. was located at 22346 Woodward Avenue during the 1960s. Yes, this is THE Woodward Avenue which has lasting fame as the location of intense street racing during the musclecar era. Ferndale is a suburb of Detroit and the strip of Woodward that passes through this town is named "Motor Mile" starting at the intersection of 9 Mile Road. A perpetual dealer row presence here traces back to the 1920s. In the early 1950s Floyd Foren took over the Fern-Wood Chevrolet location which originated in the 1930s. In 1969 the location was sold and renamed Jack Cauley Chevrolet which vacated the Woodward location in 1978 and moved to prestigious West Bloomfield.

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FRESARD BUICK GMC, Ferndale, MI/ (2002-2010) (see Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac)

On June 4, 2002 Fresard Buick GMC officially began business. Douglas Fresard owner and manager of Fresard took over the long standing Gage Oldsmobile location at 21800 Woodward Avenue in the suburb of Detroit named Ferndale. This dealership location traces back to the 1950s and the dealer row called "Motor Mile" was established all the way back at the start of the 1920s. Fresard has been known variously as Jim Fresard Buick GMC as well as just plain Fresard Buick GMC. Jim Fresard GM parts is located at 601 E Marshall also in Ferndale, MI. The 21800 Woodward Avenue location was taken over by Suburban Buick GMC in 2012.

Jim Fresard Pontiac has lineage tracing back to the famous performance dealership Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac. The Royal Pontiac dealership was located at 400 North Main Street in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Michigan midway between the cities of Pontiac and Detroit. Royal became Bob Shaffo in 1970. Bob Shaffo was a Denver, Colorado Chevrolet dealer who operated the dealership in Royal Oak for a brief period of time before selling Jim Fresard. Jim Fresard operated the dealer as Jim Fresard Pontiac, then added Buick and GMC. Fresard moved from the former Royal location to merge with the 21800 Woodward location in 2008.

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GAGE OLDSMOBILE, Ferndale, MI (1957-2002)

Gage Oldsmobile flourished in the Ferndale suburb of Detroit during the 1960s right on famous Woodward Avenue on a dealer row nicknamed "Motor Mile". Owner Tony Gage operated the Olds dealership at 21710 Woodward Ave until June 4, 2002 when the location was sold and renamed Jim Fresard Buick GMC. The better business bureau claims that Gage Olds began business in 1948 under Edward A. Gage, Sr. The Ferndale Historical Society traces the dealer debut to 1957.

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GALEANA'S VAN DYKE DODGE, Warren, MI/ 877-578-9591

Galeana's Van Dyke Dodge is located at 28400 Van Dyke Avenue, Warren, Michigan. Formerly known as Van Dyke Dodge, the dealership has been around since the 1960s.

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GROSSE POINTE PLYMOUTH INC, Grosse Pointe, MI

Grosse Pointe Plymouth Inc was located at 15401 E Jefferson at Nottingham, Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The dealership advertised its grand opening for Jan 14, 1965 with a synopsis of the years of experience the staff came on board with. For instance General Manager John Fitzsimons had 18 years experience.

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HIGGINS PONTIAC, Ferndale, MI (1931-1972)

Higgins Pontiac became one of largest dealerships in Michigan located at 23225 Woodward Avenue which is part of "Motor Mile", a section of Woodward Avenue that passes through Ferndale, a suburb of Detroit. Woodward Avenue isn't just famous for "Motor Row", but it is also widely known as an unofficial dragstrip used for street racing during the musclecar era.

George Higgins was a top salesman at Wallace-Hartman Chevrolet. He bought the dealership in 1931 which lasted until the 1970s. The location was sold and renamed Belcastro Pontiac April 18, 1972. Belcastro was still there at least till the mid 1970s before relocating. George Higgins served as a State congressman and senator.

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HODGES SUBARU 888-527-5630 (formerly Hodges Dodges NASCAR sponsor)

HODGES AUTO SALES INC, (Dodge Plymouth closed)/ Ferndale, MI

Giles E. Hodges formed Hodges Auto Sales Inc. in 1925 selling Hudsons. His adverts coined a famous slogan when he switched to selling Dodges in 1932: "Hodges for Dodges". This dealership stayed on the Ferndale dealership row section of Woodward Ave nicknamed "Motor Mile" right through the 1960s when it was popularly known as 'Hodges Dodges'.

In 1953 Hodges sponsored a 1953 Red Ram Dodge Hemi driven by Bob Sampson in the Detroit stock car race. Sampson wore the car out early and flipped it. The car reappeared in some NASCAR events. Through the 1960s Hodges sponsored Ramcharger drag cars including a 1964 Hemi and a 1966 altered wheelbase Dart.

Hodges is currently still at the same address at 23100 Woodward Avenue. The business has switched brands a few times over the decades. In the early 1970s it was Hodges Renault and Triumph. By the 1980s it had switched into an all Subaru dealership which it remains to this day.

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RED HOLMAN BUICK GMC, Detroit, MI (was Red Holman Pontiac) 734-423-1007

Red Holman Buick GMC is located at 35100 Ford Rd, Westland, Michigan. The dealership began as Red Holman Pontiac located in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Many dealers were forced to relocate into the suburbs as downtown Detroit deteriorated into a slum. Red Holman didn't go too far. Westland is 25 miles west of Chicago. In the 1960s Holman Pontiac was a drag racing sponsor at a time when Pontiac was king of the dragstrip. Once Chrysler got the 413s and Hemis in order, Pontiac was edged out.

Aside from a necessary relocation into the suburbs, Red Holman Buick GMC has also expanded into Toyota with a lot next door at 35300 Ford Rd. On the General Motors lot Red Holman had 381 new vehicles in fall of 2013. 89 were cars and of those cars, 20 were new Buick Regals. The dealer principle is Leonard Malinowski.

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HUNTER DODGE, Birmingham, MI

Hunter Dodge was located at 499 South Hunter Boulevard, Birmingham, Michigan. The dealership was still in business in 1970.

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JEROME MOTOR SALES INC (Pontiac Oldsmobile), Pontiac, MI

Ben Jerome Motor Sales Inc. began as an Oldsmobile dealership located at 280 S Saginaw Street in Pontiac, Michigan. Jerome added Pontiac to the dealership during the 1930s. By the 1950s the dealership was carrying the Cadillac franchise and had dropped Pontiac.

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KEY OLDSMOBILE, Warren, MI (Performance dealership) Closed

Key Oldsmobile was located at 2446 East 12 Mile Road, Warren, Michigan. This dealership was famous as a high performance dealership which sponsored some drag racing. Key Olds sold the 'holy grail' of Oldsmobile performance cars a Matador Red 1970 442 W-30 4 speed convertible owned by Stefano Bimbi (famous for owning Nickey Performance).

Leo Jerome ran Key Oldsmobile until he was caught flat footed when GM killed the Oldsmobile brand in Dec, 2000. The dealership eventually closed when the other support brands at the dealership Nissan- Isuzu failed to keep the business alive. Jerome also owned two dealerships in Lansing, Michigan which were primarily centered around Oldsmobile.

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KRAJENKE BUICK SALES, Hamtramck, MI (2nd largest Buick dealer in 1966)

Krajenke Buick Sales was the first car dealership in Hamtramck, Michigan. Krajenke was established in 1913 and located on Joseph Campeau 2 blocks south of Davison.

Krajenke was still going strong in the 1960s when a newspaper ad placed by Krajenke stated they were the 2nd largest Buick dealer in USA. The ad says: "We'll give you a #1 deal on a 1966 Buick if you'll help us be #1 again." That implies that at some point they were the largest Buick dealer in USA. Sometime before the end of the century the business closed down and the building was re purposed as a mosque.

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MATTHEWS-HARGREACHEVROLET. Royal Oak, MI 877-628-5220

Matthews- Hargreaves Chevrolet is located at 1616 South Main Street in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, most famously known for Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac which is also profiled in this section. Back in the 1960s Matthews-Hargreaves also had a location in Pontiac, Michigan. The dealership moved to 2000 East 12 Mile Road, Royal Oak in 1989.

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MCMULLEN PONTIAC LTD, Pontiac, MI/ Closed (Sold one of the 17 1971 Judge convertibles)

McMullen Pontiac Ltd was located right in Pontiac, Michigan.

One of the highly collectible 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge convertibles was sold through this dealership. The Judge was one of two Cardinal Red and VIN 242671P104128. It had a white top and black interior according to the window sticker, but a period photo shows black top. Prior to 1976 it already had a new top (changed to black) when purchased by the fourth owners Tom and Mary Frank of Cedarburg, Wisconsin. In 1991 with less than 80,000 miles on the rare Judge it was sold to Steve Ames. To see a story on the rest of the 1971 Judge convertibles look in the DESTINATIONS part of the TRAVEL STORIES section in this website. The convertibles are detailed in the OOCC CORVETTE TRIP Part 3.

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MEROLLIS CHEVROLET, Eastpointe MI 586-279-2318 (COPO dealership)

Merollis Chevrolet is located at 21800 Gratiot Ave Eastpointe Michigan. In the 1960s they sold COPO performance cars.

In Summer, 2017 Merollis had 1,240 new vehicles in stock, 85 of which were cars. They had 11 Corvettes and 16 Camaros.

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RAY NORTH FORD, Ferndale, MI

Ray North Ford opened up on Woodward Avenue in dealer's row called "Motor Mile" in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale in 1957. Ray North Ford quickly folded with Ed Schmid Ford taking over the location in 1962.

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NORTHLAND CHRYSLER PLYMOUTH IMPERIAL, Oak Park, MI

 

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ROY O'BRIEN FORD, St. Clair Shores, MI (1946) / 586-776-7600

Roy O'Brien Ford is located at 22201 East 9 Mile Road at the corner of Mack in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The radio ads from the 1950s told you how to get there: "Stay on the right track to Nine Mile and Mack." The dealership opened in 1946 when Roy O'Brien bought an old firehouse which he refurbished as a dealership. His son Roy, Jr. ran the dealership until his death in May, 2010. His son Mark O'Brien was general manager until Jan 1, 2011 and is now the current chairman. His younger brother Roy Patrick O'Brien is now GM of the dealership. O'Brien is one of the top 100 volume Ford dealers in USA. Ford Motor Company's Mustang Alley is held in conjunction with the annual Woodward Dream Cruise and is situated close to Roy O'Brien Ford at Woodward and 9 Mile Road. In step with the Ford management move towards green technology, the dealership is converting to solar and wind power and other technological advances. O'Brien Ford sold 1,896 new cars in 2010 with 106 employees.

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RACE MOTOR SALES (Plymouth Dodge), Ferndale, MI

Race Motor Sales was established as a Plymouth Dodge dealer in 1942 at 22525 Woodward Avenue in the Detroit suburb Ferndale. A 1958 postcard shows the dealership with 'Edsel' incorporated into the signage. The Edsel wasn't that bad a car, but its front end styling and other factors conspired to make it a disaster for Ford. The lot is now the site of a McDonald's fast food restaurant.

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ED RINKE CHEVROLET, Center Line, MI (Warren, MI).

Ed Rinke Chevrolet has its roots in a hardware store begun in 1905 by Joseph Rinke. Joseph expanded from selling gasoline to opening a dealership at his Van Dyke store location in 1917. Joseph's son Ed carried on the tradition. According to his obituary, Edgar B Rinke who was born in 1900 already had his own dealer selling Buicks and Oaklands. This is probably a reference to father Joseph's newly opened dealership Rinke Motors.

The dealership was relocated in 1948 to 26125 Van Dyke at Busch which is where it stayed through the 1970s. Edgar, Sr. died Nov 7, 1985 but his sons Ed, jr and Fred had already followed in his footsteps.

Fred Rinke owned the second 1953 Corvette built which is shown in a 1976 advertisement along with a red 1976 Corvette. Other family GM dealers included Rinke Cadillac-Pontiac Co at 25420 Van Dyke at Harding,  Roger Rinke Cadillac Co at 8333 11 Mile Road, Rinke Pontiac GMC at 1 Mile and Van Dyke. There was also a Clem Rinke Ford Inc. 31331 Van Dyke Avenue, Warren, MI.

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ED SCHMID FORD, Ferndale, MI/ 888-376-5482

Ed Schmid Ford took over the short lived dealership Ray North Ford in 1962. Ed Schmid Ford is still in the same building at 21600 Woodward Avenue, Ferndale which is a Detroit suburb. This area is a dealer row known as "Motor Mile". Woodward also has a long standing reputation as a street racing paradise during the 1960s. The Woodward Dream Cruise is now held along this road with the support of the community. Ed Schmid Ford won the Ford President's Award in 2011. They also took part in the Woodward Dream Cruise as one of the official installers of aftermarket Ford performance parts in conjunction with a program on 9 Mile Road called 'Mustang Garage'.

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BOB SHAFFO PONTIAC (formerly Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac/ became Jim Fresard Pontiac)

Bob Shaffo Pontiac was located at 400 North Main Street in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Michigan midway between the cities of Pontiac and Detroit.

This dealership was located on the former premises of Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac. Excitement seeking Asa 'Ace' Wilson, Jr embraced an opportunity to become a performance arm of Pontiac Motor Division and became one of the most famous Pontiac dealerships of the 1960s because of it. In 1969 Royal Pontiac passed into the hands of George DeLorean (PMD manager John DeLorean's younger brother) for about a year.

George sold out to Bob Shaffo in 1970. Bob Shaffo was a Denver, Colorado Chevrolet dealer who operated the dealership in Royal Oak for a brief period of time before selling Jim Fresard.

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SIMPSON PONTIAC, Pontiac, MI

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STARK HICKEY FORD, Royal Oak, MI/ became Royal Oak Ford

Stark Hickey Ford was located at 550 North Woodward Ave, Royal Oak, Michigan. Stark Hickey sponsored race cars during the 1960s and was eventually sold and renamed Royal Oak Ford. A satellite location opened in Detroit during prosperity closed down in 2008.

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SUBURBAN BUICK GMC, Ferndale, MI 866-622-0587

Suburban Buick GMC is located at 21800 Woodward Avenue which passes through Ferndale, Michigan. This section of Woodward is known as "Motor Mile" because of its long history as a dealer row dating back to the 1920s. This dealership location was the site of Gage Oldsmobile and later Fresard Buick GMC. Suburban Collection Auto Group runs other dealerships aside from this one. Fresard Pontiac Buick GMC enjoys some fame as the final dealership to occupy the former location of Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac which was a famous performance dealership in the 1960s.

In fall, 2014 Suburban had 88 new Buicks in stock and 85 new GMC vehicles in stock. 71 of the Buicks were cars, and 14 were SUVs which is a refreshing reversal of the normal trend towards SUVs instead of cars.

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SUPERIOR BUICK GMC, Dearborn, MI 877-848-0052 (formerly Barnett Pontiac)

Superior Buick GMC is located at 14505 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, Michigan.  This lot was formerly the location of Barnett Pontiac.

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WALLACE-HARTMAN INC, Ferndale, MI/ closed

Wallace-Hartman Inc. was a Chevrolet dealer at 255 Nine Mile Road, just off the Woodward Avenue dealer row area dubbed "Motor Mile". The location was taken over by a former salesman in the dealership, George Higgins. Higgins Pontiac lasted until 1972.

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ACE WILSON'S ROYAL OAK PONTIAC, Royal Oak, MI (Closed)

dealer ace wilsons royal pontiac license frame

Royal Pontiac was located at 400 North Main Street in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Michigan. Among the Royal Pontiac literature reproduced in this article you will see a map placing Royal Pontiac midway between the cities of Pontiac and Detroit.

Excitement seeking Asa 'Ace' Wilson, Jr. wasn't admitted into the dairy business that his father had established. His father bought a small Pontiac dealership for Ace in the late 1950s which Ace renamed Royal Pontiac.

As sales boomed Ace changed the dealer name to Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac. Below is a period photo of the dealership.

dealer-royal-pontiac-vintage-pic-of-building

In Sept, 1959 Pontiac advertising account hotshot Jim Wangers took his performance campaign to the next level. Wangers had unofficial factory support behind his plan to create an experimental dealership that would package performance as the basis for sales. The factory sponsored racing and performance parts counter translated directly to increased sales at Royal Pontiac. Ace Wilson, Jr. enthusiastically embraced Wanger's plan.

Drag racing raised the Pontiac profile and Royal's visibility in the bargain. The Royal racing team created a lot of buzz around Royal Pontiac. Once the racing exploits led performance hungry kids to the dealership, Royal had parts and knowledgeable staff on hand to cater to them. dealer-royal-pontiac

When selling to a youth market you can also expect some youthful folly to encroach into things. Jim Wangers confided to me that the little cartoon guy carrying the 'Royal' sign was unofficially known as 'Philo the F***-up". The name may have been inspired by the antics of various hormone ruled youths that flooded musclecar dealerships.

Jim Wangers had to clean up one huge disaster involving his youthful driver Bill Sidwell. Sidwell was Royal's number one drag strip driver. Bill had an accident on public roads showing off the Royal drag car to friends. Royal cleared up the publicity and the legal aspects of the situation but fired Sidwell.

Because of the loss of their main driver Jim Wangers stepped forward to try his hand. This worked well for publicity. Wangers himself actually won the NHRA Top Stock Eliminator in Sep, 1960 at Detroit Dragway driving 'Hot Chief #1' which was a red 1960 Pontiac Catalina stick shift tuned by Frank Rediker and Wynn Brown. Hot Chief #2 was a white 1960 Catalina automatic driven by Royal salesman Dick Jesse.

For 1961 Royal had two Super Duty Catalinas (one automatic and one manual shift) with lightweight front end parts and 421 engines.

A 1961 Catalina Tri-Power 389 served as the basis of the first "Royal Bobcat". This car set a precedent for performance dealership special editions. High performance tweaks, 8 lug wheels, heavy duty suspension and performance axle was wrapped in a package with unique paint and a Royal Bobcat plaque. The Bobcat name resulted in a complete package.

Two of Jim's inside racing prep guys Frank Rediker and Win Brown essentially invented the Bobcat innovations. Frank's group "Racing Research" eventually left Royal racing and Bobcat work to prep a 1965 442 that was killer on the track running almost flat 13s. See the story on Edmond Oldsmobile further up this page for the history of Frank Redikir and Wymn Brown developing their Oldsmobile program using a 1965 442 drag race car.

At Royal Pontiac the Bobcat name soon came to denote a kit which was an add-on option. Unlike the first car which had the Catalina nameplate completely removed to emphasize the new Bobcat identity, later cars were 'Bobcatted' versions of a GTO or a Catalina or a Grand Prix. A 'Royal Bobcat' badge was added to the rear roof pillar resulting in a 'GTO Bobcat' or a 'Grand Prix Bobcat'.

Eventually, the "Royal Bobcat" badges and performance kit could be bought from the dealership by mail order. The kit was very popular because it was an inexpensive straightforward proven way to significantly improve performance. Below is an ad placed in the July, 1965 issue of CAR CRAFT magazine.

dealer royal pontiac ad car craft jul 1965

Most press cars were Royal Bobcat cars. John DeLorean, head of Pontiac made certain that Jim Wangers had carte blanche when it came to the test cars released by Pontiac to enthusiast magazines. Wangers made sure that those cars were tuned within an inch of their lives.

In his memoirs Wangers admits that they even went further than just a Bobcat package with a famous test car. The 1964 GTO test that 'made' the Pontiac GTO appeared in CAR AND DRIVER at a time when the editors of the magazine were looking for a way to change their image from elite foreign sports cars to being a general enthusiast magazine.

The fact that CAR AND DRIVER dared compare the 'legitimate racer' Ferrari GTO with a Pontiac sparked off a great deal of controversy. The purists hated the fact that Pontiac used the GTO name without having any intention or apparent credentials as a GTO racer. For every purist reader who dropped CAR AND DRIVER they probably picked up more than one domestic car fan.

The controversy goes further: the Pontiac GTO produced stunning performance figures. Decades later Jim Wangers admitted that the red GTO used for acceleration tests was a 'ringer'. The 389 engine was replaced with a 421 H.O. which is externally identical. As if that wasn't enough, the 421 was also Bobcatted.

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The Royal Pontiac business card above is signed by Milt Schornack who was one of the Royal mechanics. Milt coincidentally began at Royal in October, 1963 which was the same month the GTO option was announced.

Milt improved upon on the Royal Bobcat package which is generally credited as being pioneered by mechanics Chuck Brumfield and Bud Conrad. Milt also raced the cars on behalf of Royal Pontiac on weekends showcasing the Royal Bobcats at drag strips.

Milt was drawn into the Royal Racing program and was soon spending weekends at the track and eventually became the primary driver for the test cars and racing cars.

Below are some pages from one of the annual Royal Pontiac booklets. Note the signatures on the cover.

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Here are some more pages from another of the annual Royal Pontiac booklets.

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Royal continued to be involved in racing and peformance sales as the 1960s unwound. Royal was one of the participants in Pontiac Motor Division's Drag Race Dealer Program. Dealers who sponsored and raced a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge received free drivetrains. Dealers could run Ram Air III 400 engines, Ram Air IV 400 engines and a choice of 4 speed or automatic. The one condition Pontiac required was that the Judges had to be painted Carousel Red. This was the Pontiac name for a Chevrolet paint that Chevy called Hugger Orange. The first 2,000 of the new 1969 Pontiac GTO Judges were painted Carousel Red to create a strong impact. By insisting that all the drag strip Judges were the same color Pontiac created a visual continuity anytime one was spotted at a drag strip. The 1969 Judge was available in many colors but because of the strength of the original Carousel Red campaign many dealerships ordered this color to ensure product identification when parked on their lots. At the end of the Judge model run for 1969 it was estimated 80% of the Judges were painted this color.

Royal was also heavily active in cutting edge Pontiac engineering testing. The legendary Ram Air V tunnel port 400 was prepped at Royal Pontiac for magazine tests. See more about this car in the 20 YEARS PLUS section of CAR STORIES in this website.

Pontiac Motors Division manager John DeLorean departed for Chevrolet in Feb, 1969. John wanted to take Jim Wangers with him despite Wangers being employed at a freelance advertising agency. Once in Chevrolet DeLorean was submerged in bureaucracy and unable to exert his independence so easily. As soon as the maverick DeLorean was out of Pontiac the press cars and experimental factory cars ceased to flow into Royal from Pontiac Motor Division.

A ray of hope appeared when Asa Wilson, Sr and Ace Wilson, Jr sold the dealership to George DeLorean in May, 1969. George was John Delorean's brother and had developed a reputation as a drag racer with his excellent Leader Performance business but couldn't adapt to the softer prep work desired by street racers.

Royal was sold and renamed Bob Schaffo Pontiac in 1970. The dealership quickly changed hands once more and became Jim Fresard Pontiac, expanding to include Buick and GMC. Fresard occupied the old Royal location until 2008.

Ace Wilson, Jr died of throat cancer March 18, 1984 but his father Asa Wilson, Sr survived to see a nostalgia for Royal Pontiac. Despite his peripheral involvement in the dealership back in the 1960s and lack of performance interest, he was still willing to attend Pontiac car shows and share memories with fans of the dealership. Asa Wilson, Sr died Sept 3, 1995. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Monday, 27 April 2020 18:28 )