The Lost Art of Selling Auto Parts.

Back when Los Angeles was younger, at the dawn of the automobile age after World War I, tires, gasoline and cars were sold in buildings and displayed in a manner befitting a jewelry store.

Among the rich archives of the USC Digital Library, are photographs of local businesses, who put extraordinary artistry into their signage and architecture to draw in customers, while projecting an image of modernity attractive to the growing city.

Many of these photos come from the Dick Whittington Studio.

Lovely 24 Hours in the San Fernando Valley…,0,1155543.story

Hanging Out: 1972








The Wild Bunch Blog has some interesting photos (supplied courtesy of Richard McCloskey) of the cars, guys and girls who cruised along Van Nuys Boulevard some 41 summers ago.

These young people and their gas guzzling muscle cars were enjoying their last summer of cheaper oil.

In 1973, after the Arab-Israeli War, OPEC got together and helped create the first “Energy Crisis”… and a gallon of gas went from 33 cents a gallon to as high as 60 cents.

1972 was also the summer of “American Graffiti”, a film which nostalgically looked back 10 years earlier to 1962, a time of greasers, cars, hanging out, and being young.

Now we look at these photos, themselves archival relics, and wonder how Van Nuys was ever so young, so thin and so very white.

The DePauk Family in Van Nuys.




Gilmore studio


Phil DePauk, who now lives in Virginia, has been a follower of this blog for a few years
and he graciously sent me some new (old) photos from his family archives. He is the young boy in these photos.

Phil DePauk and his extended family lived in Van Nuys in the 1940s and 50s and operated a well-known local photo studio located at Gilmore and Van Nuys Bl. It closed in the early 1960s.


One of the other addresses that pops up is: 14204 Haynes St. a block located just west of Hazeltine. Phil either lived or spent time here.

A recent Google Maps view shows that the neighborhood is still single-family residential, but now many of the once plain and friendly houses are sheathed in ironwork and other embellishments of modern paranoia.


There are many cars in these photos. Phil’s father worked at Wray Brothers Ford which was located near the intersection of Calvert and VNB, two blocks n. of Oxnard.

I wrote to Phil this morning to clarify some family facts and here are his words:

“My Dad worked as a mechanic at Wray Brothers Ford from 1948 to 1958.

After Ford, my Dad worked at Pacific Tire and Battery Co. on Sylvan St. across from the old library.

My Uncle Ed (now age 83, sharp as a tack and living in Canoga Park) started working at California Bank (Sylvan and VN Blvd) after his discharge from the Army.

He subsequently worked at numerous other banks before retiring as a Vice President. My Uncle Dan was the manager of the McMahans used furniture store before his transfer to Marysville. My Uncle Bill started his own photo studio in North Hollywood. My Uncle Ed lives in Canoga Park and always enjoys reliving memories and making new friends if you have an interest.”

Friday Night Chrome.

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The chrome, metal, motor and wheels crowd gathered at Bob’s Big Boy, as they do every Friday night, to partake of a parking lot full of old restored cars.

One old man had an old crank shaft Model T and was showing a crowd how to turn the engine on.

There was a very long purple Cadillac, and more than the usual collection of mid 1960s Chevys.

Fifty-two Fridays a year, vintage autos and their lovers gather here; even as we fall deeper into the 21st Century, our hearts are stuck in place in a country and century that no longer exists.

Shopping for a New Car with an Old Lady.

I went shopping for a new car with an old lady. My mother.

Our first stop was Honda on Santa Monica Blvd. A kindly, older salesman, who couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, approached us. We asked him about the Civic and he let us go for a test drive.

With my mom at the wheel, and me in the passenger seat, the old salesman sat in back and said little or nothing about the car. His only words were, “Turn left” and “Turn right on 11th”.

When we got back to his office, he made a feeble attempt to negotiate. We were not going to put down more than $2000 and wanted payments under $180.

The negotiations ended, quite cordially, right there and we walked out.

We went over to Hyundai in Van Nuys where the salesman stand around a lot and my Mom has significant trouble pronouncing the brand name. A nice guy named Steve said he had more cars for us to see in a lot up the road. We took a ride with him and when we got to the storage lot, it was padlocked, so we drove back to the dealership and he let us out and we said good-bye and thanks.

At Galpin Mazda, we were scheduled for a 1pm appointment, but upon our arrival the salesman was not there. The receptionist said, “He has family trouble today”. So someone else, with a barely audible name, showed us the Mazda 3: sedan and hatchback.

Here is where I, a Mazda 3 owner, stepped in and started pointing out the various features to my mom. The salesman didn’t say much of anything. I showed her the Bluetooth, the storage, the seats, the great cup holders. The salesman smiled.

We wanted to know about the advertised internet deal of $169 a month with $1700 down. “Oh, that is for the iSport not the iSport3. With Bluetooth, the payments will be around $190, not including tax.”

He wrote down some figures and we put it into a bag and walked out.

No salesman seemed to really care about his cars or his prospective buyer. Maybe selling cars is like having sex. The salesman needs to get excited. He must anticipate a climax.

Why else does the sight of an elderly car buyer completely cause otherwise aggressive, eager and hard-driving salesman to lose interest?