Downingtown's Old Auto Dealerships
Long before the days of large, brightly lit showrooms, and acres of gleaming new cars, Downingtowners who purchased a new or used vehicle probably went to a small, locally-owned dealer located right in town. The first dealership in the Borough was the Downingtown Motor Company, which sold Buicks beginning around 1906 at 206 East Lancaster Avenue, the same building where Colonial Electric is now located. Others followed over the years so that by the late 1940s, six in were in business at the same time, representing most major American brands.
The modern map below shows the locations of the dealers in the Borough. Not all were in business at the same time, and two that we know of (Downingtown Motor Co. and Ray Sheeler) where in two different locations while in business. The pages following show images and vintage advertising of some of the dealerships.
This map shows the location of Downingtown's former auto dealerships.
The Downingtown Motor Company (right) shows off its new Buicks in front of its showroom and garage at 206 East Lancaster Avenue in this image from 1932. Downingtown Motors would later move to 21 East Lancaster Avenue next to the Log House, the same building where Economy Glass is now located.
.Wallace Motors (below and right) was Downingtown’s first Chevrolet dealership and was selling cars out of its small showroom at 35 East Lancaster Avenue, the current location of Creekside Antiques. Ray Sheeler was the manager of Wallace Motors and would go on to buy the company and sell cars under his own name.
The Downingtown Motor Company (below) started off selling Buicks but soon added Lozier automobiles to its lineup as seen in this 1912 advertisement. The Lozier Car Company was in business from 1910 to 1915. Downingtown Motor Company would also sell Waltham and Nash automobiles from its showroom at 208 East Lancaster Ave.
Right, John H. McGowan & Son sold Ford Automobiles out of its showroom at 115 East Lancaster Avenue which is on the west side of where the Coffee Cup is now located. McGowan would eventually move into selling farm machinery and tractors.
The Ford dealership of G.P. McIntire (below, left) was probably the second auto dealership in Downingtown after the Downingtown Motor Company. However, McIntire was no longer in business after 1919.
Motor Service Company on Wallace Avenue (below, right) was the first Pontiac dealer in Downingtown (the Pontiac brand began as Oakland). This ad is from 1932.
Town Motors (right) sold De Sotos and Plymouths at 108 East Lancaster Avenue in a lot next to the old Swan Hotel. The dealership would eventually move to a much larger location at Lincoln Highway and Bell Tavern Road.
Warren Pontiac (below) at 146 West Lancaster Avenue (opposite Stuart Avenue) was owned by Warren Strawsnyder. He purchased the dealership from Anthony Cozzone in 1955. Cozzone had owned it since 1948.
At right is an advertisement for Gatchel Motors from 1948. Gatchel was Downingtown’s Ford dealership after John McGowan at 115 West Lancaster Avenue.
Below is Usher Motors which was Downingtown’s Oldsmobile dealership at 208 East Lancaster Avenue next to the Minquas fire station (this was the original location of the Downingtown Motor Company). They also sold gasoline – notice the red pumps out front.