Exclusive Plymouth Dealers

tallzag

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That vertical sign in the background? How did you get hold of that?

View attachment 553490

I like the way they advertised back in 1960:

"Zumwalt Plymouth De Soto Valiant Headquarters"
No you can't see it in the picture, it's the round porcelain one. Buddy worked at the dealer in the 80's and it was up in the attic. They spent a lot on signs!
 

68 4spd Fury

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I think you are right about Dell using Pepper's building. I kept thinking it was the other side of Geddes towards the downtown area, around where Lowery Jeep is now, but I googled the address and now I remember it was between Goodman's and Dell's.

Aldi's and a Dollar store there now.
I found this on FB, it says from 2014, after it closed obviously.

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68 4spd Fury

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This was on S.Salina St. in Syracuse, NY. I can't make out the lettering on the other side, the dealers name or it could say Chrysler. I have no memory of it but the building is still there. I do remember it had many lives after, commercial laundry, Ambulance HQ among others.

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10507092_10204655468452520_4418611211151841490_o.jpeg
 

Big_John

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This was on S.Salina St. in Syracuse, NY. I can't make out the lettering on the other side, the dealers name or it could say Chrysler. I have no memory of it but the building is still there. I do remember it had many lives after, commercial laundry, Ambulance HQ among others.

View attachment 554157

View attachment 554158
I remember the building after riding by it many times as a kid.

@PeugFra beat me to the pic of the back of the post card.
1661346891145.png
 

PeugFra

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At the introduction of Valiant, a stand-alone car line for 1960, Chrysler was very careful in awarding franchises: "no over-dealering!" Mason was there, right from the beginning.

Why this obsession with over-dealering? Because with Valiant they didn't want to get into the same situation Plymouth had been in for a long time. It was felt that in the traditional set-up, with Chrysler-Plymouth, DeSoto-Plymouth and Dodge-Plymouth duals, Plymouth had far too many outlets aka was over-dealered. That was the practical reason for starting with exclusive Plymouth dealers. Duals would have to shed their Plymouth franchise, or, according to market conditions, split their Plymouth franchise off in a separate business entity. In order to maintain and grow sales figures, the new Plymouth-only dealerships would have to become volume sellers.

So the drive for exclusive Plymouth dealers had two interconnected objectives:
- bring down the overall number of Plymouth outlets;
- raise the number of cars sold per dealership.
 
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PeugFra

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True to my data-driven approach, some figures on how and when these objectives were realised. A listing for the years 1956-1960 shows:

Plymouth franchise total --- exclusives --- sales-per-dealer

1 January, 1956: 8,957 --- 000 --- 055
1 January, 1957: 8,752 --- 077 --- 077
1 January, 1958: 7,695 --- 195 --- 057
1 January, 1959: 6,843 --- 176 --- 066
1 January, 1960: 4,007 --- 252 --- 118
"franchise total" includes both duals and exclusives.

The real change as regards sales-per-dealer occurred in 1959, the year Dodge-Plymouth dealers were presented with the Dart as a sweetener to give up the Plymouth franchise. Of course, this is also the year Valiant was introduced, upping sales for Plymouth in the last months of the calendar year. Although officially a stand-alone car line, in accounting the Valiant was already treated as a Plymouth.

Says Chrysler President L.L. Colbert in September, 1959:

“This regrouping of our dealers was made possible ... only because we were taking the unusual step of bringing to market simultaneously two new, highly attractive cars in the low-price field. In other words, these two cars—the Valiant and the Dart—have enabled us to accomplish what no amount of talk and reasoning could ever have done.”

The volume-selling Plymouth-only dealerships established in the years leading up to 1959 do not seem to have had a substantial impact on the sales-per-dealer number.
 
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PeugFra

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The real change as regards sales-per-dealer occurred in 1959, the year Dodge-Plymouth dealers were presented with the Dart as a sweetener to give up the Plymouth franchise.

The Dodge dealers that also handled Plymouth did have a choice, however. In that sense it was different to what would happen to the DeSoto-Plymouth dealers the following year, who had no choice whatsoever, except for quitting. In fact, Dodge-Plymouth duals had three alternatives to simply shedding Plymouth:
- set up a separate Plymouth outlet (eg. S.L. Savidge, Seattle, WA, see the Old Dealer Codes thread);
- shed the Dodge franchise (eg. Ken Brown, Detroit, MI, although keeping his Dodge Truck franchise).

These two choices were certainly not frowned upon at the corporate level and a goodly part of the Plymouth-only increase during 1959 (+76) will have come from these quarters.

However, some dealers went down still another path:
- refuse the Dart bait and continue as a Dodge-Plymouth dual.

This choice was clearly met with irritation at the top, as expressed in this December 7, 1959 news bite: "A Dodge spokesman said, however, that his division would not sit still for Dodge-Plymouth duals much longer and that signoff decisions by the remaining holdouts should be forthcoming soon."

The demise of the Dodge-Plymouth duals in numbers:
Jan. 1959: 2,331
Jan. 1960: 81
Jan. 1961: 13

During the course of 1960 those hold-outs were put under pressure once more, now with the menace of withholding the Lancer from them. "No Dart, no Lancer; now be happy with your Plymouth line". They hadn't received the Valiant either. That must have worked.

After that, no new measures were enacted to convince the remaining 13 Dodge-Plymouth duals, mostly situated in rural areas.
 

furious70

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Ram was broken out at a point when the ownership was thinking about the value of the Jeep and dodge truck brands and perhaps little value in everything else. May have been shopping them around
 

PeugFra

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In that sense it was different to what would happen to the DeSoto-Plymouth dealers the following year, who had no choice whatsoever, except for quitting.

So what did the dealers that were stripped of DeSoto do?
- the default action was to carry on with what was left to them, ie. Plymouth, now consisting of two lines, standard Plymouth and compact Valiant. Therefore the big increase in Plymouth-only dealerships (+1,344) between Jan 1, 1960 and Jan. 1, 1961. Besides, between the announcement on Nov. 18, 1960 and Jan. 1, 1961 there was little time left for an alternative move.
- also Chrysler-Plymouth duals registered an increase during the same period, estimated at +167. That could at least in part be due to some ex DeSoto-Plymouth duals obtaining a Chrysler franchise.
- that would still leave 129 DeSoto-Plymouth duals out of their Nov 18, 1960 total of 1,640 unaccounted for. Maybe resignations, like in the case of C.F. Smith Motor Co., Louisville, KY?

Apart from the What Happened To DeSoto thread we should also have a thread like What Happened To DeSoto Dealers.
 
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PeugFra

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Maybe somebody on the internet has already tackled this all-important question and so I googled up What Happened To DeSoto Dealers.

The first result that comes up is the Wikipedia page on DeSoto, with a separate paragraph "Dealer Networks" offering this thought:
"However, as Chrysler attempted to spin Plymouth off into standalone dealerships, existing dealers typically chose to become higher-volume Plymouth dealerships rather than taking on the slower-selling DeSoto brand, leaving the marque with a weakened dealer network and fewer outlets selling its cars."

So there should be a correlation between the diminishing number of DeSoto franchises and the growing number of Plymouth-only dealerships. Let's see!

DeSoto total franchises vs. Plymouth exclusives
1 January, 1956: 2,610 vs. 000
1 January, 1957: 2,454 [-156] vs. 077 [+77]
1 January, 1958: 2,256 [-198] vs. 195 [+118]
1 January, 1959: 2,053 [-203] vs. 176 [-19]
1 January, 1960: 1,846 [-207] vs. 252 [+76]

Do you see it? I don't! The loss of DeSoto franchises follows a steady course of its own, accelerating somewhat toward the end. We have already seen that the +76 Ply-only during 1959 is largely due to the Dodge-Plymouth divorce.
Especially the development during 1958 shows the discrepancy between the two number series. The loss of 19 Ply-only dealerships in no way reflects in an interruption in the decline of DeSoto franchises.

That's not to say that there haven't been DeSoto-Plymouth duals that shed DeSoto in order to become Plymouth-only, but it had little impact on the total number of DeSoto franchises.

Whereas the quotes in the first post underrate the importance of Ply-only outlets, the Wikipedia quote attaches far too much importance to them.
 
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PeugFra

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After Plymouth exclusives hit an all-time high on Jan. 1, 1961, a steady decline sets in. With so many Ply-only outlets at hand, Chrysler took the opportunity to grow the number of Chrysler franchises, that had been falling for several years now, by creating more Chrysler-Plymouth duals. The drive to create big and modern dealerships in the suburbs aimed at enhancing Chrysler's market penetration also helped. That was part of the 5-year Market Representation Program that got underway in September, 1961. New President (by now Lynn Townsend, not the Colbert of the single-line dealerships), new project! It's still about increasing volume, but now with a different set-up.

Chrysler total franchises vs. Plymouth exclusives
1 January, 1961: 2,439 vs. 1,596
1 January, 1962: 2,647 [+208] vs. 1,099 [-497]
1 January, 1963: 2,792 [+145] vs. 741 [-358]

The gains of Chrysler total franchises were smaller than the losses of Plymouth-only franchises. The difference consists of Plymouth exclusives (ex DeSoto and others) that went out of business without being replaced.
 

PeugFra

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So the corporation was not in the business of writing Chrysler franchises just to compensate ex DeSoto dealers for their loss. Only where market conditions and dealer qualification justified the placement of a new Chrysler dealer this could be done. The rest of the ex-DeSoto-turned-Ply-only dealers were at the corporate level seen as undesired competitors for Chrysler-Plymouth duals (E.C. Quinn, 19 March 1962).

February, 1962 a group of 11 Northern New Jersey ex DeSoto dealers, none of whom had been awarded a Chrysler franchise at the time, was so infuriated with this lack of compensation that they initiated a law suit that dragged on until the early Seventies (Buono Sales vs. Chrysler).
Interesting is this line: "... [the dealer's] own financial statements show that the overall business lost a total of nearly $6000 between 1955 and 1959, as compared with a total loss of less than $1000 in the five years following the [termination of DeSoto] in which [the dealer] sold only the Plymouth and Valiant."
The termination (in Chrysler speak "phaseout") of DeSoto after all was a sensible decision business-wise.

Some of the dealerships involved in the law suit eventually added Chrysler, but at the pace decided by the corporation. Liccardi Motors, Inc., Plainfield, later Green Brook, NJ, added it already in 1963, Main Auto Sales, Summit, later Madison, NJ, only in 1979. How did Main Auto Sales cope until then? By selling Jaguars as well!

(For the complete list of the dealerships participating in the law suit, see post #76 in the Old Dealer Codes thread.)
 
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PeugFra

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Around the same time, in the first months of 1962, a group of Plymouth-only dealers from Detroit vented their frustration at the Dealer Enterprise dealerships. Organizer of the group was one Sam Goldfarb, owner of a Plymouth dealership at 13840 W Warren Ave, Dearborn, MI. The group ran ads in Automotive News to unite as many DE opponents as possible:

SurvivalCommitte196203.png


Because heavily financed by the corporation the DE dealership could sell at rock-bottom prices, which was seen as unfair competition for smaller, privately financed dealerships. Such dealerships couldn't afford themselves to absorb temporary losses in exchange for growing market share, whereas factory-supported outlets could.

This kind of pain was most acutely felt by the Ply-only outlets that had to make do with just one franchise. It was especially bitter to see that the newly-established DE dealerships mostly did include the Chrysler line, whereas many smaller Plymouth exclusives were not given that opportunity.

Northland Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 13800 W Seven Mile Rd, Detroit, MI, established in early 1962 was such a DE dealership. Earlier in his life, president Ray Fuhrman had been a Parts Department manager for a Lincoln-Mercury deal on the East Side. In order to pave the way for the DE outlet another privately-owned Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in the same sales area, Krause Bros. Sales & Service, 16100 Schaefer Hwy, Detroit, MI, had been bought out and closed by Chrysler Corp. That's just an example of the financial power applied to establishing and maintaining DE dealerships, just like Northland's move around 1965/1966 to a location further northwest (14100 W Eight Mile Rd, Oak Park, MI; courtesy @amazinblue82):

NorthlandOakPark.jpg


To add to the woes of the Ply-only dealers, because of styling problems the 1962 Plymouth, now an intermediate, didn't sell very well. Dodge dealers had been given the larger Custom 880 besides their intermediate Dart and Polara; nothing of the kind for Plymouth dealers! The corporation could only console them by projecting growth for the intermediate class in the coming years: "68 percent market share by 1965."
 

PeugFra

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To sum up, the ex Desoto dealerships either:
- got lucky and managed to add a Chrysler franchise;
- had to carry on as Plymouth-only dealerships, sometimes selling imports as well;
- had seen enough of it and resigned as outlets for Chrysler Corp. products.

On 1 January, 1961 ex DeSoto outlets made up about 84% of the total of Ply-only dealerships. If I apply that proportion without further adjustment to the development of the two following years, for 1 January, 1963 I get this:
297 had become Chrysler-Plymouth duals;
624 remained as Plymouth exclusives;
422 had resigned.

Admittedly a lot of assumptions went into this estimate, but probably up to a third of the ex DeSoto dealers had resigned after two years.
 

68 4spd Fury

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This was a Desoto dealer on West Genesee St, Syracuse, 1950's. I have no memory of it but the building is still there.
943 W.Genesee St_1950's.jpeg
943 W.Genesee St_2022.jpg
 

PeugFra

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The last ads I could find for E.J. Arnstine Co., Inc., as DeSoto-Plymouth dealer are from 1958. I wonder whether he made it to the DeSoto demise.
 
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