Over at the Hemmings Blog, one of the more inspired forms of journalism to emanate from southern Vermont, they’ve been obsessing of late about the fate of abandoned AMC dealerships. You may think this is the ultimate fetish on a famous forgotten marque, but it’s an important part of an underappreciated sub-culture, automotive archeology, the industrial and commercial remnants of our favorite industry.
The blog has featured numerous sightings of ex-AM stores by readers and staffers, and the call has gone out for further examples from a lengthy list compiled by Eddie Stakes. Our area has its own AMC history, more convoluted than most and thus an apt topic for intensive CarPort investigative reporting.
Our American Motors dealer in the 1950s and ’60s was C&S Motors in New London, Connecticut. Operated by Constantine Patterson and Sam Ptashew, C&S had been in operation at 128 Huntington Street since at least the 1940s, and when I first knew it still had a Nash wrecker that all the local enthusiasts tried to buy at one time or other – to no avail. In the 1970s, Constantine and Sam sold out to the Falvey family.
The Falveys had a service and used car business on Ocean Avenue. A bit earlier than their buyout of C&S they had acquired the Golart Motor Company, a Renault-Peugeot dealer formerly of Ledyard Street, and moved it to their Ocean Avenue location. After the C&S takeover they continued to sell AMCs and Jeeps at Huntington Street, but eventually moved that business, too, over to Ocean.
The odd thing was that across town there was another Jeep dealer, Linder Motors, which also sold Dodge (and Simca!). This was decades before the AMC-Chrysler hookup, and for years I puzzled over how it came about. One day while browsing through some old New London City Directories I found the answer. In 1955, Linder Motors was the Kaiser-Jeep dealer. When Kaiser ceased to build cars, they took over the Dodge franchise of Schaller Motors, formerly of 155 Montauk Avenue, and kept Kaiser’s Jeep line. Falvey’s Car Sales sold AMC-Jeep-Renault-Peugeot on the south end of the city, and Linder did fine with Dodges and Jeeps at the north. After 1987, Renault petered out in the US, and since there were already Chrysler-Plymouth and Dodge stores in New London, Falvey’s concentrated on Jeeps and Peugeots.
Fast forward to 2008. The Linders are still selling Dodges and Jeeps on Broad Street in a 1926 building originally a service location for the Southern New England Telephone Company. The Falvey dealership on Ocean Avenue is now devoted to Chrysler-Jeep, since the former Chrysler dealer has defected to Kia. The C&S location at the corner of Huntington and Federal Streets is still in the car business but selling low-end used iron. The Ledyard Street lot is also still in play, with slightly more prestigious pre-owned imports. The building at 155 Montauk, later a Lincoln-Mercury-Triumph store, now houses medical offices.
The only historic sign I found on my archeological tour was the Peugeot standard that still hangs over Falveys, though they haven’t sold a new one in 15 years. The Rambler Used Car sign that heads this item is from my own collection, where it keeps company with my long-slumbering Rambler convertible.