Home Dealerships ILLINOIS Dealerships (Gibb Chevrolet)
ILLINOIS Dealerships (Gibb Chevrolet)
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 28 November 2011 21:28

ILLINOIS Dealerships


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown. Gibb dealer logo copyright Fred Gibb Chevrolet.


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


Lou Bachrodt Chevrolet Buick GMC, Rockford, IL (Yenko distributor, Vette race sponsor, COPO cars)

Courtesy Dodge, Bloomington, IL (Route 66 dealership)

Fred Gibb Chevrolet Inc, La Harpe, IL (Creator of COPO Nova & Camaro ZL-1/ Racing sponsor/ High performance parts)

Heritage Lincoln Mercury, Collinsville, IL

Hine Pontiac, Alton, IL (1942- 50/ moved to Dallas, TX)

Humphrey Cadillac & Olds Co., Rockford, Illinois

J & J Dodge City, Princeton, Illinois (815) 879-5661

Laughlin Miles Mercury Lincoln, Alton, IL (sponsored drag 64 Comet 427)

Laura Buick Pontiac GMC Inc, Collinsville, IL (618) 623-4768

Mecum Pontiac Buick, Marengo, IL (inspiration for Dana Mecum Pontiac collection)

Jack Schmitt Cadillac Olds, Collinsville, IL

Jack Schmidt Ford Lincoln, Collinsville, IL


LOU BACHRODT CHEVROLET BUICK GMC, Rockford, IL (Yenko distributor, Vette race sponsor, COPO cars)

Lou Bachrodt Chevrolet Buick GMC is located at 7070 Cherryvale North Blvd, Rockford, Illinois. Back in the 1960s this was a well known performance dealership that was not only a Yenko distributor and Vette race sponsor, but also ordered in some COPO cars. Todd Oseid was a salesman at Bachrodt as well as racing Corvettes under the dealership sponsorship. Todd was a top Corvette and supercar salesman in charge of the performance sales for the dealership.

Bachrodt also sponsored the drag racing team of Joe and Marty Pirello, and Steve Sandine in a 1950 Austin. Bachrodt's dealership drag car was called the "Invader Corvette" which was a super fuel funny car they campaigned in 1970.

Lou Bachrodt started out as the manager of Paul Manning Chevrolet in Des Moines in the 1940s.

In March, 1963 Lou and three Des Moines colleagues bought in as partners to a Chevy franchise in Roselle, Illinois. Lou teamed up with Dick Wickstrom who was his brother and a former chevy zone manager, and Harry O'Boyle to open Dick Wickstrom Chevrolet in spring, 1963. By this time Lou had 26 years experience in the car business. Dick eventually bought out his interest in the dealership.

In Oct 1975 Bachrodt hosted the Northern Illinois Corvette Club indoor concours at the dealership location on 2600 Christina Street, Rockford, il.

A 1979 ad for the Rockport dealership stated that they had 20 Corvettes in stock.

Lou Bachrodt III carried on in his father's footsteps after starting work in the Rockport dealership in 1961. Lou bought the Freeport city Rich Zimmerman Chevrolet dealership on leased land at Spring Street and Van Buren Ave in Freeport. He bought the dealership from Robert Zimmerman in 1969 and renamed it. In 1972 he built a new dealership building on 801 E. South Street. Employees Paul Tormohlen and Virgil Bocker bought the dealership at the end of 1976.

The elder Lou had a blow out sale Dec 31, 1981 at the Rockport dealership. He said must sell 12 Corvettes and 3 DeLoreans.


COURTESY DODGE, Bloomington, IL/ Closed.

Courtesy Dodge sold quite a few Mopars in the 1960s in Bloomington, Illinois. To see a story of a 1966 Dodge Charger bought from this dealership, see the story in the ONE OWNER section of the CAR STORIES on this website.



dealer fred gibb chev la harpe il logo

Fred Gibb Chevrolet Inc. was located in La Harpe, Illinois. The dealership was opened in 1948 by Fred Gibb, Jr. and his wife Helen L. Gibb. Fred was born June 4, 1919 in Media, Illinois to Fred Gibb, Sr and Grace Gibb. Fred, Sr. was a farmer. Helen was born June 17, 1922 in Stronghurst, IL to Edgar and Jessie Roberts Hartquist. Fred Gibb was the first born son (his younger brother Bryant John Gibb died in 1939 at age 16).

For a few decades Fred Gibb Chevy was indistinguishable from any other small town Chevrolet dealer. In 1961 changes came to Fred Gibb Chevrolet. A new building was constructed and a new salesman entered employment at Gibb. New salesman Herb Fox was young and a drag racer. Gibb was against drag racing. Within his organization however performance was percolating. Fred was harboring two speed freaks: Herb Fox and service manager Ben Wright. Ben and Herb collaborated on a racecar. When Fox became Gibb's best salesman this may have contributed to an erosion of Fred Gibb's negative attitude towards racing.

When Fred Gibb surprisingly showed interest in backing a racing car he initially wanted to run the dealership's 1967 Camaro demo car. Herb Fox's 1967 Camaro Z-28 became the basis for a dealership prepped and sponsored racecar named 'Little Hoss'. The Z-28 had a cross ram intake manifold that carried dual 4 barrels.

In May or June, 1967 Herb's chance encounter with Dick Harrell in East St. Louis changed everything. He looked over two 1967 Camaros on the lot that had been treated to the Dick Harrell conversion process and soon enough Fred Gibb came back with Herb to buy both the Camaros. Both cars were 427s with dual quad carburetion.

Dick Harrell was a racer and tuner known as 'Mr. Chevrolet'. Dick Harrell was born Oct 4, 1932  Harrell's legend as a racer gave his name great credibility. Dick created some very potent street musclecars during his association first with Nickey Chevrolet (see chapter in this book) and later Yenko Chevrolet (see the chapter in this book).

Dick Harrell worked his magic on the Fred Gibb drag car named "Little Hoss" which didn't lose any races. Herb did the driving. In 1968 "Little Hoss" lost 3 races but it won 30. Herb Fox won the 1968 AHRA Championship stock trophy. Dick also did 427 engine conversions at his shop which were then offered for sale on the Gibb lot.

Gibb really scored when Dick Harrell who was a top driver agreed to race under Gibb sponsorship. One area of potential that Dick spotted was only exploitable by a well connected dealership head like Fred Gibb. Harrell felt the Nova with 396-375 HP hooked up to an automatic transmission would be a real combo at the strip. In order to race in NHRA the rules stated that GM had to build 50 copies to make it legal for racing.

Fred Gibb came through via his friendship with Vince Piggens. Vince was performance director at Chevrolet and worked out the details of getting the Novas built through the COPO system. Central Office Production Order was designed to facilitate fleet sales where many of the same vehicle were pumped out to certain specs. Instead of taxis or police cars it was also possible for a dealer such as Fred Gibb to order out 50 375 HP automatic Novas.

The Novas came with 396-375 engines, heavy-duty radiator, 4.10:1 Posi-traction axles and console shifters for the automatics. Interiors weren't that spartan. Instead of econo bench seat column shifts the Novas came and console shift automatics; but no radios. In anticipation of mag wheel installation the cars were delivered with plain steel wheels. Power drum brakes create less drag which is slightly better for racing.

As if these Novas weren't potent enough Dick Harrell took a few to his shop in summer 1968 and dropped in 427 engines. Those Gibb/ Harrell special Novas were sold through various dealerships. Harrell raced one of the 396 Novas under Gibb sponsorship.

Gibb Chevrolet sponsored racers and also had its own dealer racing team. Given this background it wasn't surprising when Gibb made a move in 1969 that would eclipse other conversion dealership Camaro engine swaps. Gibb used the COPO (Central Office Production Order) process to skip the process of transplanting 427 engines and get them direct from the factory. Instead of iron block 427s, Gibb went for the top of the mountain: the all aluminum ZL-1 427. In one stroke, the ultimate Camaro was delivered direct from the factory. This car out-muscled all the other supercars while retaining excellent handling due to lack of enormous amounts of big block iron weight on the front wheels. Gibb ordered 50 ZL-1 Camaros and it seemed like it would be another straight forward situation like the prior Nova run which sold easily.

The Gibb Camaros weren't easy sells. They were far more expensive than anticipated. A new GM rule incorporated the research cost of specialized and obscure options into the purchaser's cost. This sent the price tag of the ZL-1 into the stratosphere. Gibb had to send some of his fifty COPO cars back to the GM factory. They were dispersed among other dealers. Gibb sold 13 of the ZL-1 Camaros, but they were slow moving. It took him until 1972 to sell off the last one. These cars are legendary to this day.

Gibb Chevrolet had performance mechanics on staff and did many engine conversions for customers. The small town dealership attracted a lot of out of town action by maintaining a healthy stock of 427 crate motors and heavy inventory of high performance cars.

One of the Gibb automatic transmission ZL-1 COPO Camaros was prepped by Dick Harrell in his shop for racing. The Blue car was repainted with Dick's red paint scheme but most importantly it was worked over by Harrell mechanically. By this time Herb Fox was handling most of the race driving for Gibb again. Jim Hayter drove the car later in the 1969 season. For the 1970 season Gibb sponsored Dick Harrell once again. This time Harrell was campaigning a 1970 Camaro funnycar. For the 1971 season Gibb revived the 1969 COPO Camaro with Jim Hayter behind the driver's wheel.

For 1972 the Gibb dealership allowed the musclecar movement to slide into memory and ceased their racing activities and high performance angle to the dealership. This coincided with the crash of the musclecar era but may also be related to the tragic death of Dick Harrell who died young in a racing crash Sep 12, 1971. Although he wasn't sponsored by Gibb when it happened the event may have affected Gibb's attitude towards racing particularly in light of his initial dislike of racing. When Albertson Oldsmobile's star racer died in a drag strip accident the owner withdrew from all racing activity.

Herb Fox worked at the Gibb dealership until 1982. The dealership had returned to a small town dealership catering to standard car buyers.  Fred Gibb, Jr retired in 1984 and died July 13, 1993 at age 74. His wife Helen carried his memory forth by attending car shows and contributing to research on the supercars that passed through the dealership. Helen bought back some of the historic vehicles from the dealership and traveled the country displaying the cars until her death age 91 on April 20, 2014.



HERITAGE LINCOLN MERCURY, Collinsville, IL (became Jack Schmitt Ford Lincoln)

dealer heritage linc merc collinsville il logo

Heritage Lincoln Mercury was located at 1811 Vandalia St, Collinsville, Illinois. When Heritage closed Jack Schmitt Ford Ltd took on the Lincoln franchise.


JOHN HINE PONTIAC, Alton, IL (1942-50) Moved to Dallas, TX

John Hine Pontiac was established by John Hine, Sr in 1942 in Alton, Illinois. In 1950 John relocated the dealership to Dallas, Texas. In 1957 a second location was opened in San Diego, California. The Dallas location closed in 1969 but the San Diego dealership carried on until the Pontiac brand was killed off in 2010. John Hine, Sr died in 1996 aged 91. His son John Hine, Jr continues to run the dealership which is now a Mazda franchise.


HUMPHREY CADILLAC & OLDS CO., Rockford, Illinois (sponsored W-31 drag car)

Humphrey Cadillac & Olds Co was located at 223 N. Second in Rockford, Illinois.


J & J DODGE CITY, Princeton, Illinois (815) 879-5661

dealer j and j dodge princeton il logo

J & J Dodge City was located in Princeton, Illinois. This car dealership later became an RV dealership.


LAUGHLIN MILES MERCURY LINCOLN, Alton, IL (sponsored drag 64 Comet 427 'Countdown 3')

Laughlin Miles Mercury Lincoln was located at 1201 E. Broadway in, Alton, Illinois. The dealership sponsored one of the 21 factory special AF/X drag race 1964 Mercury Comet  lightweight 427 cars. The Laughlin Miles car was named  'Countdown 3' in reference to the Christmas tree countdown lights used on drag strips. Detroit Steel Tubing originally built the Ford Thunderbolts which made them well prepared to build the Comets. This Comet was built for Laughlin Miles on Dec 31, 1963 using fibreglass hood, front fenders, doors and bumper. The radio and heater were deleted and lightweight bucket seats were used. The car was driven by Jess Woodman in AF/X

One of the best known of the 21 cars went to Dyno Don Nicholson who had just recently switched to Mercury. The


LAURA BUICK PONTIAC GMC Inc, Collinsville, IL (618) 623-4768

Laura Buick Pontiac GMC Inc is located at 903 N Bluff Rd, Collinsville, Illinois. The dealer principle is Laura Beuckman. In spring, 2017 the dealership had 27 new Buick cars in stock and a mindboggling number of trucks and SUVs for a total of 3111 new vehicles.


LEARNERS CHRYSLER PLYMOUTH SALES & SERVICE, Rock Island, IL (sponsored 65 Hemi altered wheelbase drag car)

400 9th St

Rock Island, Illinois


MECUM PONTIAC BUICK, Marengo, IL (inspiration for Dana Mecum Pontiac collection)

Edward Mecum started in the car business with Studebaker and Packard and then purchased his franchise Mecum Pontiac Buick in Marengo, Illinois, during the 1950s. His son Dana Mecum began work at the dealership and was bitten by the Pontiac bug. Dana went on to assemble one of the greatest Pontiac collections known. He sold off the core of the collection in May, 2010 at one of his Mecum auctions in May, 2010.



Jack Schmitt Cadillac Olds is located at 123 W Clay St, Collinsville, Illinois.



Jack Schmidt Ford Lincoln is located at 1820 Vandalia St, Collinsville, Illinois. Formerly a Ford dealer, when the Heritage Lincoln Mercury dealer next door closed down Schmitt bought the Lincoln franchise.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2021 23:17 )