|The 1960 Buick|
|The Mystery of the Backward-Slanting Dealer Script|
|Notice how the "Stephens" dealership emblem on this 1959 Buick harmonizes perfectly with the factory 1959 "Buick" emblem. Both exhibit the identical backward-slanting script. (Stephens Buick, Minneapolis, Minnesota)|
|(This may be the only time you'll see a 1959 Buick on this website!)|
|LEFT: Markl Buick was located in Kansas City, Kansas.|
|ABOVE & RIGHT: Dealer logo from my own 1960 LeSabre convertible. Ehlers had two locations in Wisconsin; this car came from the Milwaukee store. More on Ehlers below.|
|NOT SHOWN: The 1960 Buick LeSabre featured in the Jimmy Stewart TV-movie, RIGHT OF WAY, had a backward-slanting script from Butler Buick of suburban Los Angeles. (It can be seen during the garage scenes late in the movie.)|
|Lou Ehlers Buick|
After acquiring my 1960 LeSabre, I became interested in learning more about Lou Ehlers Buick. Some detective work put me in contact with Lou Ehlers’ son Greg. The text below is a summary of a phone conversation I had with Greg Ehlers in December 2002:
Greg revealed that there were actually two different Lou Ehlers Buick dealerships: the original store in Milwaukee, and a smaller dealership in Madison.
Lou Ehlers, himself, worked at the Milwaukee location, and son Greg joined him there in 1964, at the age of 16. The younger Ehlers stated that the Milwaukee store was always among the top selling dealers nationally. In fact, he claims that during the late fifties, it was the largest Buick dealership in the nation for retail sales. [period literature also makes this claim]
By 1965, Lou Ehlers was looking to move to sunny California. As a courtesy, and in order to retain one of their leading dealers, General Motors offered Lou a choice of any GM franchise he wanted. The senior Ehlers chose Cadillac, and opened a dealership in Los Angeles. When he passed away, son Greg became the owner. That Cadillac dealership still operates under the Lou Ehlers name.
When the Ehlers family left Wisconsin in 1965, the Milwaukee Buick dealership was sold to Wally Rank (now deceased). The dealership has since moved, and is today run by Wally’s son John. In a twist of fate, Greg Ehlers went to high school with Wally Rank’s son John, and knows him well.
Greg told me that the Milwaukee dealership’s original building is still standing and is in use as a retail paint store. Despite the high sales volume, it was a very small building by current standards.
The Madison store was bought out by Zimbrick. In 1969, it was moved from the original downtown location (at Park and Regent, across from University of Wisconsin campus) to the suburbs. Today, Zimbrick remains a major Buick dealer in the Madison area.
|This dealer emblem is on the tailpanel of my unrestored 1960 LeSabre convertible. It shows no city name, but all reports from family and friends of the car's original owners indicate it was purchased in Milwaukee.|
|This unrestored 1964 Opel sports a backward-slanting "Lou Ehlers" script identical to the one on my 1960 Buick. The Opel's documentation shows it came from Ehlers’ Madison location, not the Milwaukee store.|
RIGHT: This 'Golf Tips' book, sponsored by Lou Ehlers, is from 1959. Note the claim of being "The Nation's Largest Buick Dealer."
This statement supports Greg Ehlers' recollection that his fathers' dealership was the largest in the country during this era.
|COPYRIGHT 2005 by Gregory L. Cockerill. All text contained herein, including interviews/recollections of other parties, is my original work and is owned by me. This also applies to all images of my white 1960 LeSabre convertible. As such, the aforementioned material may not be used without express written permission. Other images presented herein are either from the public domain or used with permission of the owner(s).|