CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

AUTOMOBILE DEALERS

   Camden NJ was the economic center of South Jersey for much of the first part of the 20th century. Besides the many factories that called Camden home, there were many other interesting businesses that people from all over the Delaware Valley patronized. Camden was the home of new car dealers up until the 1980s, when the last of the original family-owned new car dealers either shut down or moved out.

   Today, the only physical remembrances of the many auto-dealerships are in buildings that have found other uses, and in the names of new car dealerships who have moved out, but have remained in business elsewhere.

   Camden's new car dealerships included these listed below

  

           Car dealerships came to Camden before 1910. By 1908 J.R. Mick and Hugh Morgan Hatch founded N.J. Auto & Supply Buick, originally at Delaware Avenue and Market Street, across from the Pennsylvania Railroad Ferry Terminal, later at Wright and Federal Streets. In 1908 this business was the exclusive Camden County dealer for Buick, Cadillac, Hupmobile, and Ford automobiles, and they sold Pontiacs as well in later years. The MacFulton Studebaker dealership was established in 1909, and Samuel Mackintosh sold Willys-Knight and Overland automobiles for nine years in Camden, beginning in 1914. There was a Chevrolet franchise in town before 1920 that was to become Rohrer Chevrolet. By 1926 a car dealership had been established at 1388 Haddon Avenue selling Hupmobile and Stutz automobiles. Another dealership active in 1920 was Edward Roberts Garage at 323 Main Street in North Camden, selling the National Sextet brand, built by the National Motor Car & Vehicle Company of Indianapolis IN. 

Camden Motors sold Chevrolets from 525 Market Street- it's hard to imagine a car dealership there today..

1926 Advertisement
for a

Stutz & Hupmobile
New Car Dealership

1388-1390 Haddon Avenue

This building would house many other agencies over the next 50 years

Click on Image to Enlarge

     By 1930 the Cramer & Myers Ford dealership was located at Federal Street and Bridge Boulevard. This building later housed Rohrer Chevrolet. Walter Viegel was operating a Chrysler-Plymouth Agency near Federal Street and Bridge Boulevard by 1935, this dealership had become Harley Motors  by 1941. L.L. Schroedel also sold Fords at 2201-07 Federal Street in the early 1920s. This building became Walter's Auto Body, and remained in that capacity into the 1989s. 

Camden Courier-Post Ad - March 12, 1930


Camden High School

Purple & Gold Yearbook Ad
January 1928


1926 Advertisements for Camden Nash and Barton S. Muir Pontiac,
both on Federal Street in East Camden

Click on Image to Enlarge

        Camden Nash was located next door at 2115 Federal Street. Barton Muir operated a Pontiac and Oakland dealership at 2010 Federal Street in East Camden, the site became the home of Ingram Oldsmobile in the 1930s. 

Haddon Motor Company sold Fords and Lincolns in 1931 at the White Horse Pike and Haddon Avenue. This location would later host Haddon Motors, a dealer in the DeSoto line of automobiles produced by Chrysler.


In 1934 Jersey Motors Chrysler-Plymouth was located at 2008 Federal, this dealership would soon move across the street to 2041 Federal Street, into the building that had been used as Tom Shallcross Ford, and would be known for many years as Garden State Motors. Also active in Camden in 1934 was the Williams Motors Inc. at Admiral Wilson Boulevard and Federal Street, a dealer of Hudson-Terraplane automobiles. The Terraplane was a preferred ride of famous bank robber John Dillinger, who was then at his peak of notoriety.

        Tom Shallcross' father, Watson Shallcross, sold "Dodge Brothers Motor Cars" and "Plymouth Automobiles" at 1721 Haddon Avenue, and operated a used car lot at Federal Street and State Streets, this location is still a used car lot in 2002. 

Camden Courier-Post
September 12, 1929
Watson Shallcross
Dodge-Plymouth
J.R. Spiegle Marmon

Click on Images to Enlarge

Mori Brothers
Hudson-Essex

The Watson Shallcross dealership was later sold to Morris Puro, who operated under the name Haddon Motors, selling DeSoto automobiles. Camden Cadillac was selling Pontiacs,  Cadillacs and LaSalle automobile is the early 1930s at 1861 Haddon Avenue. The Federal Motor Company was also an "Authorized Dodge & Plymouth dealer", and operated at 4111 Federal Street beginning in the 1930s . 

Camden Courier-Post - June 23, 1933

Economy Test Trip Starts In Camden 

Above shows the start of an economy test for a new model Ford V-8 at City Hall Plaza on an Inter-city trip. Left to right, are: Benjamin Coley, Ford salesman; J. W. Zwicker, of the Ford Motor Company, 
Detroit; Edgar F. Myers, sales manager of Camden Motor Company; John B. Welsh, Jr., state motor vehicle agent; De Motte Eggie, Ford dealer, and Commissioner Clay W. Reesman

NEW FORD STARTS ECONOMY TEST RUN 
Stock Model Leaves Camden for Up-state Jaunt; Official Log to Be Kept

A demonstration of the economy features of the new Ford V-8 began yesterday when a stock model was started on an intercity trip from City Hall Plaza.

Commissioner Clay W. Reesman was the official starter and signed and sealed the starting time. The car, a regular De Luxe model, was set in motion at 10.30 a. m. and headed for Atlantic City for the first lap. From there the car will, proceed to Asbury Park, Trenton and return to Camden. 

Brief ceremonies marked the departure of the car. The purpose of the run is to emphasize the economy features of the new car. A log will he kept, recording hourly mileage and gasoline and oil consumption. 

Among those attending the starting ceremonies were John B. Welsh Jr., state motor vehicle agent; De Motte Eggie, Ford dealer; Edgar F. Myers, sales manager of Camden Motor Company; T. B. Matthews, Camden office manager for the Keystone Automobile Club; J. W. Zwicker, Ford Motor Company representative, and Police Lieutenant Herbert Anderson



Above: May 1934 Courier-Post Advertisement
Right: August 1935 Courier-Post Advertisement

Click on Images to Enlarge

        William J. McKenna sold Hupmobile cars at 745 Market Street in the mid 1930s. The Keats and Alexander Studebaker dealership opened up on Crescent Boulevard by Central Airport in neighboring Pennsauken.

Camden
Courier-Post

June 7, 1938

Left: NJ AUTO
Used Car Ad
Right:
 Cooper Chevrolet Used Car Ad

Click on Image to Enlarge

The
Keats and Alexander
Service Department

Camden
Courier-Post

June 14, 1938

Click on Image to Enlarge

 

        Barnes & Frutchey saw the potential of the traffic on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard, and opened a Pierce-Arrow franchise on the newly opened Boulevard by the spring of 1934 at Waldorf Avenue. Cooper Chevrolet, a Pennsauken-based dealership, later set up a used-car outlet just west of the Airport Circle.

Click Here for full-size 1934 Pierce-Arrow Advertisement

        By the 1940s there were several dealerships along and just off Haddon Avenue,  including Airport Pontiac, which had occupied the building previously the home of Camden Cadillac, Haddon Motors DeSoto-Plymouth, Gomery-Schwartz Hudson, Colonial Motors Chrysler-Plymouth, Randolph Chevrolet (established 1931), and Henry J. Vollmer Packard, originally at 1621 Haddon and later on Atlantic Avenue    

Camden
Courier-Post

January 1938Ja

        MacFulton Inc. sold Studebakers at 1490 Haddon Avenue as late as 1939, Druck Motors sold Studebakers at 1601 Haddon Avenue during the war years, and afterwards. Another Studebaker dealership was operated by Keats and Alexander on Crescent Boulevard near Central Airport. 

        In East Camden, Ingram Oldsmobile located itself at 2008 Federal Street in East Camden. Garden State Motors, which sold Chrysler products, was across the road at Federal and State Streets. In the 1940s Dave Kerr and Nathan Potts operated as the CAW Corporation, originally at 1490 Broadway, selling Willys Jeeps, cars, and trucks, and later at 2101 Federal Street. There was the Needles Packard dealership at 22nd and Federal Street, in the building which once housed Camden Nash.

Ingram Oldsmobile
New Showroom

January 1938 

Click on Image to Enlarge

Camden Courier-Post * February 10, 1938

Camden Courier-Post * July 25, 1941

MERLIN MOTORS - 1940

Merlin Motor Company, of Camden New Jersey, as it appeared in the fall of 1940. Note that large service facility at rear and left of the property had not been built yet, and that there are very few buildings evident behind the dealership.

The photo was taken soon after the introduction of the 1941 models. Inside the showroom (above) can be seen a 1941 Mercury Station wagon and a Lincoln Continental coupe. On the lot is a 1940 Ford Convertible, 1939 Ford Station Wagon, 1940 Mercury Town Sedan, and a pair of new 1940  Mercury Coupes, among others. 

Below: Merlin Motors' service men detail a pair of new Mercurys- a 1941 Sedan {on the lube rack to the left} and a 1941 mercury Station Wagon. The mechanic {center} is adjusting a V-8 distributor on a Ford laboratory test car.

The Admiral Wilson Boulevard, fed after 1926 by the Delaware River (Ben Franklin) Bridge, was rapidly becoming Camden's "Dealers Row". Rohrer Chevrolet was located on the Boulevard opposite the Sears-Roebuck department store.

Rohrer Chevrolet
1941
Harley-Davidson Servi-car

Click on Images to Enlarge

World War II Era
Advertisement

New car production was stopped during World War II. The car dealers depended on used car sales to remain in business.

Rohrer Chevrolet, October 31, 1947

        Further east on the Boulevard, Merlin Motors (established in 1937, selling Lincoln-Mercury & Studebaker), and Blanton Dunn DeSoto-Plymouth all set up shop. The International Harvester Company opened up a truck dealership on the north side of the Airport Circle. 

June 1938
Advertisement
for
International Harvester
Company
Dealership
on the
Airport Circle

Click on Image to Enlarge.

January 1938
Advertisement
for
EDSTAN MOTORS
Ford Dealership
at
330 North 7th Street

Click on Image to Enlarge

 

        Sometime after January of 1938 Ed Berglund, owner of Community Motors Ford dealership at Haddon Avenue and Crescent Boulevard in Collingswood, took over Stanley Bleakly's Edstan Motors Ford Dealership at 330 North 7th Street, at the Bridge Plaza in Camden.


EDSTAN MOTORS
Ford Dealership
at
330 North 7th Street

January 1938

Click on Image to Enlarge

 

         By 1942 Berglund Ford relocated to 17th and Admiral Wilson Boulevard. Berglund Ford built a new facility after World War II at 17th and Admiral Wilson Boulevard, which was its home until the 1980s. Also in early 1942 N.J. Auto & Supply Buick built a new showroom at Wright Avenue and Federal Street

Berglund Ford 1942 N.J. Auto Buick- February 1942
Click on Images to Enlarge

Scott Smith Cadillac was operating at 1105 Linden Street by the late 1940s. In East Camden, Federal Motors sold Dodge and Plymouth Automobiles at 4111 Federal Street.

Harley Motors
Chrysler-Plymouth

March 1942

Click on Images to Enlarge

During World War II, new car production ceased, and the dealerships were forced to survive on used car sales and service work. 

Left: March 1942 ad for Haddon Motors service department. Right: Mach 1942 photo of same.

Some of the dealerships did not survive, others changed hands. The end of the war saw new buildings being constructed, and new cars being produced, and the introduction o imported cars into the market.

Rohrer Chevrolet, October 31, 1947

Camden Car Dealerships - 1949

Rohrer Chevrolet Federal Motors
Jack A. Dunn Motor Company Druck Motor Company
Airport Pontiac Merlin Motor Company
Templin Motors Henry J. Vollmer Packard 

           As  time went by, N.J. Auto & Supply became Masson Buick, and with Airport Pontiac moved to the Boulevard.  Gomery-Schwartz became Templin Motors. Templin sold a car called the Crosley, but eventually got Hudson back when Hudson and Nash merged to form American Motors, the parent corporation of Rambler. Jack Dunn opened a Hudson dealership at 1671 Haddon Avenue. Haddon Motors closed, and Admiral Motors emerged a few doors down, at 1789 Haddon Avenue, selling Plymouth automobiles. Vollmer Packard moved off of Haddon Avenue to a building on Atlantic Avenue.

Camden Courier-Post - July 25, 1941

Henry S. Vollmer Packard Matchbook - 1948

        The Vollmer dealership remained on Atlantic Avenue into the middle 1950s. Packard ceased operations in the summer of 1956.  

      The Blanton Dunn Company, which had operated a body shop and sold used cars on Admiral Wilson Boulevard and in Haddonfield built a new showroom in 1948 and sold the Kaiser-Frazer line of automobiles. 

Camden International at the Airport Circle
1953
courtesy N.J. Department of Transportation 
(formerly the N.J. State Highway Department)

click on image to enlarge

       In June of 1949, the Rohrer Chevrolet building opposite Sears was obtained by the state of New Jersey in order to complete the "Camden Connection" overpass project. William G. Rohrer purchased a 500,000 square foot tract from the United Petroleum Co. and the transit company, Public Service, on Admiral Wilson Boulevard between 16th Street and the Cooper River. The property included the bus maintenance garage owned by Public Service. The dealership completed its move to the new location in the summer of 1950. 

Ingram
Oldsmobile

1950s

        Dealerships faded away as their franchise vehicles went out of production in the 1950s and 1960s, and a few new dealerships appeared as imports entered the market. As times got hard in Camden, the dealerships closed or moved to greener pastures. For instance, Airport Pontiac sponsored a Little League team, but team was in Delaware Township, NOT in Camden. Eventually the only new car dealer left on Haddon avenue was Randolph Chevrolet, at Haddon Avenue and the Old White Horse Pike. Things ran a similar pattern in East Camden, Garden State Motors left 2041 Federal Street in East Camden to relocate at the intersection of Crescent Boulevard (Route 130 South) and the Black Horse Pike.

Berglund Ford Letterhead, 1962
Actual written quote on a 1962 Ford F-350 Chassis & Cab with Dump Body Truck

       Dealerships crowded Admiral Wilson Boulevard, to the extent that in the 1950s and early to mid 1960s the "new car zone" as it were extended a mile or so north on 130 into Pennsauken as far as Federal street,. The former Federal Motors became Merchantville Motors (Dodge & Rambler), Adam Pyzwara operated Pryzwara Motors, later known as Adam Motors, selling at various times Studebaker, Mercedes-Benz, English Ford, & D.K.W. automobiles at Route 130 and Drexel Avenue. Larry's Borgward-Checker was located on Route 130 just south of Marlton Pike. 

Left: 1959 Yellow Pages Ad for Larry's Borgward-Checker

Below Left : 
The same building
in 2002, 
the home of 
Discount Fence

Right:
1960 Checker Ad

Below Right:
Borgward Logo

           In the 1960s and 1970s Admiral Wilson Boulevard was still the place to buy a new car. On the Boulevard were Dave Cole Pontiac (which was actually in Pennsauken, but who knew!), Masson Buick, Merlin Motors, Rohrer Chevrolet, & Berglund Ford. Also well remembered was Art Sharp's used car lot, with the sign "B Sharp, C Sharp". The Rohrer Chevrolet dealership was owned by Rohrer Chevrolet, who also controlled a bank in nearby Haddon Township, with branches throughout the state. Merlin Motors became part of the Holman Ford organization. Drexel Motors had Volkswagen and Simca import cars on the Boulevard, the Berglund group also had Renault & Simca on the Boulevard for a time. 

        Scott Smith Cadillac had become DeSimone Cadillac, and they still were on Linden Street as late as 1966. Change came to the boulevard in the late 60s and early 70s. DeSimone Cadillac moved to Pennsauken, Dave Cole Pontiac and Merlin Motors simply closed their doors. 

      On Federal Street Ingram Oldsmobile became Hale Oldsmobile in 1965. Hale Oldsmobile only stayed in business for about a year before going into trust. In June of 1966, Larry Chatzadakis took over the franchise and opened up as Dakis Olds, and operated successfully at this location until June of 1972, when he moved the business to a new location on Route 130 North in Cinnaminson, New Jersey where it was a fixture until 1999. The new Dakis building replaced the old Olds-Community Inc. dealership which had been at 10 Broad Street in Riverton since 1914. The Oldsmobile dealership on Federal Street became Lenihan Oldsmobile, and Randolph Chevrolet, still on Haddon Avenue, became Distasio Chevrolet in the late 1970s. 

             As Camden went into economic decline, and as the suburbs grew, the fortunes of the new car dealerships declined. As best I remember, this is what became of Camden's new car dealers. 

            Berglund Ford closed shop in the 1980s. One of the last to leave, the building was operated as a maintenance facility by the Trailways Bus corporation a while. After Trailways went bankrupt, the building was  was razed. There still was a presence in Camden, as the Ford Motors engine business that was a part of the Berglund enterprise remained in in business into the 2000s in East Camden, just off of Admiral Wilson Boulevard. By 2011 they too had left the city.

Berglund Ford

1959 Yellow Pages
Clipart

           

 Berglund Ford
Postcard from 1966

Click on Images
to Enlarge

              

        

            With Dave Cole Pontiac closing, Pontiac franchises existed in Haddon Township and Lindenwold in the 70s and 80s, but by the 1990s you would have to go to Burlington or Gloucester Counties to buy a Pontiac.

            Garden State Motors moved to Collingswood NJ, where they were in business selling Chrysler and Plymouth automobiles at the intersection of the Black Horse Pike and Crescent Boulevard, Routes 168 and 130.

            Distasio Chevrolet and Lenihan Oldsmobile moved almost simultaneously to side-by-side properties on Route 73, just south of Route 70, in Evesham Township NJ. Distasio Chevrolet was sold to another ownership group in the late 1990s. As of 2002, Lenihan Oldsmobile had become Lenihan Oldsmobile-AMC and later Lenihan Oldsmobile-Jeep. The Lenihan group bought out Garden State Motors in the late 1990s before selling the Collingswood dealership in 2001. The Chevrolet building on Haddon Avenue was for the most part vacant since the Distasios left Camden, and was razed in 2002. The Oldsmobile Building on Federal Street has housed a 55 gallon drum business since the early 1980, and was razed around 2006 to make way for the new Thomas Dudley Elementary School.

        Merlin Motors sold Lincoln, Mercury, and Studebaker automobiles as part of the Holman Enterprises organization. Its descendant, as it were, is Holman Lincoln-Mercury in Maple Shade NJ. The Merlin Motors building has had a number of occupants, most recently housing a furniture store.

            Masson Buick moved to Route 70 in Cherry Hill NJ around 1980. The Masson family later sold the business to the Classic Auto Group, owned by race car driver Thomas Hessert. The Masson's briefly operated a used car business on Chapel Avenue in Cherry Hill. The building now houses a liquor store. 

            N.J. Auto, the Buick dealership of Camden's early years, was housed in a building at 12th and Federal Street. This building was the home of Blackshear Trucking for many years. In 2006 it was vacant, and is still vacant in 2014.  

            Rohrer Chevrolet dated back to 1919, when the Rohrer family purchased the dealership. closed its doors in 1983. The building still stands, and has been subdivided into warehouse space. A tractor-trailer driving school was sited there during the 1980s and 1990s.

            The Templin Motors building at 1388 Haddon Avenue is now a retail store.

            Vollmer Packard was located at 1139 Atlantic Avenue. Established by Henry Vollmer in 1923, the dealership in the mid 1940s advertised new Packards for sale in the sports section of the Camden Courier-Post. Vollmer Packard was still in business on Atlantic Avenue in the early 1950s. This building is also still standing, and is utilized by an engineering firm.

ROHRER CHEVROLET

MERLIN MOTORCAR COMPANY

POST CARD PRINTED JULY 1, 1950 1960s
 B Sharp C Sharp - ART SHARP'S USED CAR DEALERSHIP

Airport Motors Used Cars
1940s- 1950s
Airport Motors Used Cars
1940s- 1950s

Airport Pontiac
circa 1956

If you have pictures or graphics related to any of Camden's auto dealers, and you would like to see it on this website, please contact Phil Cohen at phil552@comcast.net

CAMDEN CAR DEALERSHIPS
In 2002, some of the buildings that once housed Camden's new car dealerships remain.
All of these buildings once were new car showrooms.

The original Airport Pontiac at 1861 Haddon Avenue,
this building had also been the home of Camden Cadillac in the 1930s.

Haddon Motors DeSoto-Plymouth at 1761 Haddon Avenue

Gomery & Schwartz Hudson,
later
Templin Motors
(Crosley, Rambler, AMC)

1388 Haddon Avenue

N.J. Auto Buick at Federal Street and Wright Avenue

Garden State Motors at 2041 Federal  Streets

Ingram Oldsmobile at 2008 Federal Street
Also known as Hale Oldsmobile (1960s), Lenihan Oldsmobile (1960s-1980s)
This site was the location of Barton Muir Oakland & Pontiac in the 1920s 

Vollmer Packard at 1139 Atlantic Avenue
2115 Federal Street was the home of Camden Nash in 1926 and Needles Packard in the 1940s and 1950s. This building has been the home of REM Auto Parts & Muffler Shop since the 1950s
2201-07 Federal Street was the home of the L.L. Schroedel Ford Dealership in 1920.
The building was later acquired by Walter Saline who operated Walter's Auto Body from 1923 on.
The business survived into the 1980s.

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The National Sextet - 1922 Indy 500 Pace Car
Legendary race car Driver Barney Oldfield at the wheel