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Centurion

Part III -- Architecture and Signage, Historic Buick Dealerships

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Those of you who tracked my posts in Part II of this series read my musings about Tacoma's 1948 Buick dealership structure. Part II

The structure now houses a vintage auto consignment business, but my fantasy would be to purchase the building and outfit it again as a 1948 Buick dealership -- the perfect repository for a collection of Buicks and Buick memorabilia.

Mr. Earl alerted us awhile back about a catalog offered on Ebay. This catalog, dating also from 1948, shows in detail the various signs that could be purchased for your Buick dealership, and it makes the perfect tool for planning the restoration of a vintage dealership. I'm not the guy who forked out $200 for the brochure, but I did make certain that I kept copies of the scans.

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The catalog includes many illustrations of the signs and the recommended placement of the signs on your building. I've not included all of this great information here, but I was struck by the fact that several of the sign styles depicted were also recently available -- for major dollars! -- on Ebay. So, it's fun to think about having the resources to purchase the building, then follow up with a shopping spree to purchase and install these signs.

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This sign would be one of the crown jewels of the collection, and here we see it depicted in the catalog:

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The catalog shows a similar, single-sided sign with the Buick script centered. One of my friends in the North Cascade Chapter displays one of these beautiful signs on the outside of his garage. Those of you who come to the 2006 1953-54 Skylark Nationals will have opportunity to see this style in beautiful, functional condition:

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Here's another great style for the dealership exterior. Interestingly, Gary Klecka ("AK Buickman") has sent photos of an old Buick dealership on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. The structure is now an apartment building, and is known as the "Buick Apartments". A sign like this remains on the corner of the building.

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Here's the corresponding entry from the 1948 catalog, which makes me suspect that the Ebay sign had lost its lower Buick script section:

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Here's a non-illuminated sign that would certainly find a place at my dealership:

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The catalog includes a similar sign, but the details are different:

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The entrance to my service area would certainly require one of the large, 42-inch diameter signs:

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And the catalog shows me how I need to mount it to the side of the building:

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Finally, I'd be looking for a spot near the service counter to mount this beautiful Buick Lubricare sign:

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Meanwhile, I'd be busily making arrangements with one of my friends to display his majestic 1948 Roadmaster on the turntable in my showroom. Heck, I'd probably want to move the family in to the offices to safeguard all of this cool Buick stuff!

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Okay Centurian. Now you?ve opened a bigger can of Buick ?worms!? I took photos of my own Lubricare sign and two Buick shop coats I have and want to post them. I also have scans of two different Buick uniform catalogs. How do I post the photos within the message part like you do instead of as an attachment? Steve

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Steve, we'll be excited to see your vintage Buick items!

I've posted "how to" information about inserting photos into the text on the "Me and My Buicks" forum:

Inserting Photos into the Text of Your Post

Steve, if you find that this doesn't work, please send me a private message and I'll try to help.

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Okay Brian. I uploaded the photos to the AACA site. How long does it take for them to be approved? In the meantime I cruised through the other Buick gallery photos and spotted the three '65 Wildcat glossies you had posted some time back.

Is there any way to get the larger size (200kb) emailed to me? I have quite a few other 65 glossies I've bought and digitized I can send you as a swap!

Thanks! Steve

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NEVERMIND! I just went back to the gallery, did a right-click and saved them into my glossies folder. Duh! More later when my upload get approved.

Steve

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Here are some photos of pages from my Buick sign catalog which seems to be very similar to Centurian's. Also a photo of my Lubricare sign. Its a 7 footer and two Buick shop coats. Both were bought on ebay. The Beauty Glaze coat is fairly clean and I've posed in it holding a bottle of Buick Beauty Glaze. The other coat belonged to EJ Crouse whom you've read about in a recent Bugle story authored by retired BMD employee Jim Crouse, his son. At the time I won the coat on ebay from Jim's auction he told me his father wore the coat while servicing the Capone mob's car at a Buick dealer in Chicago in the wee hours of the night.

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897BuickUniformCat-med.jpg897BuickUniformCat2.jpg897100_7235.jpg

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Steve, this is great stuff. Your Lubricare sign is fantastic. Wish we could pick up one of these great old dealership buildings to collect and display items like this. It's a significant part of Buick history that we seldom see or hear about.

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That is absolutely great stuff and thanks for posting those photos. I've never bought or even priced one, but I imagine those signs by now have appreciated by a much greater percentage than the Buick cars that were current when the signs were erected at Buick dealerships.

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My sign came from a former Buick dealer building in Muskogee, OK about 10 years ago. A friend in the club worked there during his teen years in the summer with his dad who was the parts mgr. On a nostalgic trip back to his hometown he discovered the sign inside the building which was then a law firm. He arranged for me to buy it and for that I'm very grateful. I paid a fraction of what they are going for now. It was complete except for a broken B and it worked after that was made new. I have two price sheets in my Buick sign catalog which I mentioned must be very similar to the one Centurian posted. In 1954 the 7ft sign was 154.00 and the 13ft 342.00. In 1955, 163.00 and 362.00 respectively.

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I asked my wife (nicely, even) and she said "No". I would LOVE to have this sign in my garage... eBay Link

I swear... I'd be a much richer man today if it wasn't for the likes of AutoLit and his auctions of rare Buick items.

Budd

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Guest my3buicks

Auto-lit should be put on some kind of warning list - "look only if you want to be poor" - I could probably had a car repainted for what I have spent there.

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Steve, your Lubricare sign was a terrific find -- the kind that most of us dream about.

Given the 1954 and 1955 price lists included with your sign catalog, it appears that yours was probably issued a few years later than the 1948 version that was the source of my scans. Have the sign styles remained consistent through the mid-1950's?

It's interesting to note from old dealership postcards that many dealers utilized some of the early post-WWII signs well into the mid-1960's and probably beyond. The vertical-type sign shown in my initial post must have been very popular; one friend reports that he has postcards from three dealerships dating from about 1966. All three still display this sign that appears in the 1948 catalog.

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Here's another sign that recently appeared on Ebay, and it's a style I had not previously seen. I'm guessing that this two-sided sign would have mounted on top of a pole, which might have been installed at the edge of the dealer's lot. I would date this one sometime in the early to mid-1950's. This sign, like the others above, would be a great addition to my "dream" Buick dealership.

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I know that many of you have seen the Ebay auctions for the 1960's era Wildcat signage, which was intended for use inside the showroom. I figured we needed to trap the Wildcat sign for this thread, and I would certainly find a spot for one of these:

203wildcat_sign.jpg

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Centurion, I also saw the upper sign on ebay. I've only seen it once in 30 years. It was at the front of a friends garage and he wouldn't sell it. I don't know if he still has it or not. I have owned one of the Wildcat signs for many years. I swapped a friend a black and white photo of an old airplane (he was a pilot and FAA controller) for the sign which he removed from his little brothers wall without his knowledge. I'm fortunate to have it.

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Steve, you are indeed fortunate to have one of those Wildcat signs. What a deal you made! I'm really thankful that you appreciate these great treasures.

You know, I keep thinking that if one of these old Buick dealerships were converted to use as a car-themed restaurant, the perfect name would be "The Lubricare Lounge".

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Brian, if you open the lounge by that name with some Buick-themed displays me and my Buick buddies will be there to down a few! Dynaflow cocktail anyone?

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