And now it’s time for beaver county memories presented by St. Barnabas Beaver Meadows. As follow up to the last segment about “drive ins”, In this presentation, you will get to take a “test drive”, as we take a look back at car dealers and brands that have become memories in Beaver County.
No discussion about car dealers in Beaver County Can be complete with mentioning Ed Sahli, Sr. and Frank Morrow, patriarchs of the automotive business in Beaver County. Both men were innovative leaders, military veterans and savvy businessmen that developed successful dealerships in Beaver Falls and still operate today as Ron Lewis Ford, Chevrolet and Kia.
Reportedly, against the wishes of his family, Ed Sahli Sr. bought a Chevrolet franchise for twenty five hundred dollars in nineteen thirty two. This really was a bundle of cash, considering, by comparison, That Art Rooney bought an NFL franchise that became the Steelers around the same same for just five hundred dollars more. One of the earlier locations for the Sahli Chevrolet dealership was in a building that would later be home to Cory Olds Cadillac, and McElwain Cadillac at the northern end of downtown Beaver Falls on the main street of town. Reportedly in those early days, Ed Sahli Sr. had his mechanics disassemble some of the new cars that arrived and sold off the parts, as cars didn’t change much from year to year back then, and there was more profit to be made in parting out the cars.
After being honorably discharged and receiving military benefits for being injured by an artillery shell in world war two, Frank Morrow returned to Beaver County and opened up a used car dealership on the same site at the current Ford dealership at the southern gateway entrance of Beaver Falls in 1946. Morrow did well at selling used cars and just two years later, bought an existing Ford dealership on Seventh Avenue called O.P. McBest Ford, which was located across from Sahli Chevrolet in a building that is now home to Dollar Tree. Both dealerships enjoyed success and eventually Sahli and Morrow each developed new locations at the southern entrance of town in the early sixties. Sewickley resident, Ron Lewis, bought Morrow Ford, which by that time also offered Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, in 1986 and then purchased Sahli Chevrolet in 1992. Since then Kia has been added, The Lincoln Franchise has been consolidated into another Ron lewis Dealership in Cranberry, and the Mercury name plate no longer exists.
The old Sahli Chevrolet location uptown became home to an Oldsmobile Cadillac dealership, Known as Cory Olds Cadillac and later on was run by Scheidemantel Olds Cadillac, and finally was operated by the McElwain family before moving the Cadillac franchise and merging it their Chevrolet dealership location in Ellwood City.
Wanting to take care of his daughter Phyllis, Ed Sahli, Sr. helped arrange for her husband, Dick Snedden, to acquire Pontiac and G.M.C. franchises, and set up shop on twentieth street in downtown Beaver falls. General Motors discontinued production of the Oldsmobile and Pontiac lines about ten years ago and the G.M.C. franchise was taken over by LeRoy Friend, who had a dealership in Bridgewater and ultimately was sold the place to the Wright Auto Group from Wexford, who then it moved to another Chevrolet dealership that they owned in Ambridge and later on was moved to a brand new dealership in Baden a couple years ago. It still operates today as Wright Chevrolet Buick G.M.C.
Right around the corner from Dick Snedden Pontiac G.M.C., one could shop the Mopar line up at Pavone Chrysler Plymouth on Ninth Avenue. Later on it became Jones Chrysler Plymouth and was owned and operated by Chuck Jones. After Jones’ passing, his wife, Linda, took over running the dealership and renamed it Linda Jones Chrysler Plymouth. In the mid nineties, a couple businessmen from New Castle including P.J. Latsko and Bob Preston bought the Chrysler Plymouth store and operated it as Preston Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Eventually they moved it out to Chippewa and built a new facility, on the former site of Harold’s Ice Cream, also known as the headless cow, where Latsko now owns it entirely and operates at Beaver County Dodge Chrysler Jeep and Ram. A Nissan franchise that was originally brought to town by Ron Lewis was acquired by P.J. Latsko and a new stand alone Nissan Dealership was added across the street from the Chrysler showroom. The old Beaver Falls new car showroom on ninth avenue is still busy with activity as it serves as the collision and detail center for Latsko’s enterprise.
Two of Beaver County’s first car dealerships were Beglin Ford in Bridgewater and Vollmer Nash Rambler in Rochester. The Vollmer enterprise is still in existence on Junction Stretch as a used car sales lot and service center and Begin Ford became part of the Nick Crivelli organization before being consolidated into other dealerships about ten years ago. Fleet Service of America is now in the Beglin building.
In Ambridge, buying a Cadillac meant a visit to Jim Dowdy Olds, Cadillac on Ohio River Boulevard. A Pontiac Shopper would head to Duss avenue and browse through the Deane Pontiac showroom, and Chevrolets could be test driven at a little farther north on Duss Avenue at Gillner Chevrolet Dodge. The Chevrolet franchise still exists as Wright Chevrolet Buick G.M.C. in Baden, along route Sixty Five.
Another classic place to buy a car, many of which have become classics, too simply by their age, nowadays, was the multi storied showroom of Daquilla Buick in Beaver Falls. One could shop three stories of cars kept indoors in a grand historic building on seventh avenue in Beaver Falls. Later on, the dealership was bought by Bob Williams, and took on the A.M.C. Jeep and Renault line of cars as well. Today the building is home to a classic car restoration company. American Motors was sold to Chrysler in 1987 with the popular Jeep brand being the only surviving line. Non Jeep vehicles offered by American Motors were renamed and sold for a brief period of time as Eagle.
This “Test Drive” of Beaver County Memories has been presented by St. Barnabas Beaver Meadows. Tune in everyday at this time for another Beaver County Memory. You can also visit beaver county radio dot com for a complete transcript of this segment, and archived versions of previous Beaver County memories aired right here on Beaver County Radio, 1230 WBVP and 1460 WMBA.