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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The oldest automobile dealership in the US

A while back, it occurred to me that the oldest continuously operating automobile dealership in the US should have reached 100 years in business. But I did nothing about trying to identify what or where that dealership might be. Now I know.

According to Terry Horvath, the oldest dealership in the US is in Noblesville, Indiana, Hare Chevrolet. According to Horvath, the company got its start in 1847 building wagons, carriages, and buggies, and has been selling cars since shortly before the turn of the 20th century (its initial offerings included Hupmobiles, Studebakers, and Cadillacs). Here's the list of the ten oldest dealerships, dated by their date of original operation, which in most cases was probably not as a car dealership:

1847, W. Hare & Son, Inc., Noblesville, Indiana
1852, Schaefer & Bierlein, Inc., Frankenmuth, Michigan
Reynolds' Garage & Marine, Inc., Lyme, Connecticut
1875, Kemmann Chevrolet, Inc., Lowden, Iowa (no website that I could find)
Normandin Chrysler/Jeep, San Jose, California
Moser Motor Sales, Inc., Berne, Indiana
Ferman Motor Car Co., Inc., Tampa, Florida
Hill International Trucks, LLC, East Liverpool, Ohio
1898, Eich Motor Co., St. Cloud, Minnesota
Diehl Ford, Inc., Bellingham, Washington

This confirms something I have long believed--that Indiana was car-crazy from the beginning: Two of the 10 oldest are in Indiana. And a location in Noblesville makes some sense; it's essentially a suburb of Indianapolis (and has been for a long time). But Berne? It's about half-way between Muncie and Ft. Wayne, in the northeastern part of the state. on U.S. 27. About 4,400 population, income below the Indiana state average (which is itself below the US average). I am somewhat surprised by a car dealership surviving in Berne for more than 100 years.


Blogger Chad Azeltine said...

I work for a dealer group that is tied for #7. Byers Automotive ( was founded in 1897. We started as a horse livery and Blue Ribbon Stables. We began selling automobiles in the early 1900's. That makes 2 Ohio companies on the list. Byers also had the first air-conditioned showroom in the united states and the first internet sales department in the state of Ohio.

8:44 PM

Anonymous Asc said...

Yes very helpful. Thanks to sharing this blog.

8:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's also Glockner's out of Portsmouth, Ohio who started in 1847 selling carriages and bicycles.

11:23 AM


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