And Now You Know: New cars in Orange, American Motors comes to town

Published 12:48 pm Saturday, June 9, 2018

By Mike Louviere

Two major events happened in Orange in November 1960. The new $523,000 post office and federal building opened on Fourth Street. The post office is still in use today.

The second event was the oening of the new American Motors dealership selling Ramblers which opened at 707 Simmons Drive. The brand was new to Orange, but the owner of the dealership was not. The dealer was Paul Gasow who had previously owned the local Ford dealership for over 20 years.

The opening spanned two days Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. It was a grand opening featuring over 30 models of the new 1961 Ramblers. The Ramblers were the two-door Rambler American, the American Beauty four-door sedan, and the Rambler Classic, a four-door station wagon available in either a six-cylinder engine or a V-8 with more horsepower.

The business was in a new brick building with a plate glass façade. There was a 5,000 square foot showroom, a complete parts and service department and an adjacent paved automobile display lot.

“Last July I liquidated my holdings in the dealership bearing my name. I had no plans short of taking it easy for several months before turning to another line of endeavor……..However it took but a few days to realize how lost one can become without something to occupy one’s time and nowhere to go. Thus, within a period of 72 hours I succumbed to the optimism of the younger generation who are sure that the Rambler is the best opportunity in the retail automotive field,” said Gasow.

All Gasow knew, at the time, was that the stock values of the “Big Three” auto companies had stayed at about the same price as the prior four years. American Motors stock prices had gone from $7 to $91 in the same period.

“I noted that the man on the street knows that George Romney is the head of American Motors but does not know who the heads of the “Big Three” are, there must be a reason for this—–A quality product with the greatest economy.

I have been in the auto business for 22 years and Orange is my permanent home. I know of no other community remotely approaching my adopted city of Orange.

Let me personal express my personal thanks as well as those of my family for the kind consideration shown us over the years. We will always be grateful.”, said Gasow.

In what these days would be called a Mission Statement, Gasow related that the business philosophy was just “old fashioned fair dealing” with the owners of the business on a highly personalized basis. Customers have the first and last say about financing preference and insurance will be placed with their choice of agencies, we feel that insurance rightfully belongs to our local insurance outlets.

“We will not aspire to sell the most new cars in Orange, but our ambition will be to merit the support of folks on the lowest outlay for a car that will be the most trouble-free car on the road today. To that end we dedicate ourselves,” said Gasow.

Personnel at the new dealership, including Gasow, were John Paul Gasow, James R. Painter, and Wendell Snelson, in sales and Jimmy Holleman as the service department head.

Gasow’s dealership and several other dealerships are now a part of Orange history. American Motors is history also. Many people have fond memories of the somewhat boxy Ramblers. Some people may even remember the innovative reclining seats of the Rambler.

“And now you know”