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[Mgs] British car dealerships in the area

Subject: [Mgs] British car dealerships in the area
From: don <>
Date: Wed, 02 Dec 2009 14:03:11 -0800
This is an abbreviated thread from the NoBBC (North Bay British Car 
Club) email list about British car dealers in the SF Bay 
Area.  Robin's comments were especially interesting, and a fellow 
with the Mini club found Bob Danielson's website with a British 
Leyland document that lists all the US dealers in 1974.  There were a 
lot of postings, all interesting, but I was reluctant to repost them 
without getting permission.
Don Scott
Calistoga CA USA

The Dealer string seems to have flamed out; was fun while it lasted, but
there were only that many dealers to talk about.

Just a couple of final comments from me of interest to Morgan folk. I
mentioned Frank Henry on Telegraph in Berkeley. I bought two 1958 Mogs from
him, the first one I had a terrible wreck with, but survived with cuts and
bruises. The second he sold me for a very decent price, $2,500 as I
remember. I raced that one. Frank was a fine gentleman. He always wore a
three piece tweed suit, gold chain and watch in the vest pocket. He kept his
cars on an open lot but had a small sales office where he had poetry books
to read. Where else but Berkel;ey?

Lou Spencer had the Worldwide business on Sepulvada. He was the one to beat
in his line of "Baby Dolls", that's what he named his cars. He had a French
mechanic, Claude, who could change out a clutch in a half hour. He had cut
away the firewall and pulled the tran out through the cabin. Ahh, those were
the days!

Cheers, Rj

What a little search on the internet does... this should interest a lot of
you.  Google "danielson family triumph website", click on first 
entry, then under "Other Cool Stuff,"
click on "74 Dealer Sales & Svc. for a list of all the BL 
dealers.  Bob has put together a great website!

>From: Robin Jackson <>
>Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2009 17:10:23
>To: North Bay British Car Club<>
>Subject: Re: [Nobbc] British car dealerships in the area
>E.F. Sweeney British Cars was in San Anselmo, on the hub; they moved to San
>Rafael on the road near Bermuda Palms. Both businesses are long gone.
>There was Shamrock Motors in Mill Valley that dealt Citroen, Peugeot and
>Morgans. I was quite friendly with the Hannon brothers who ran it.
>Also in San Rafael was Bud Oden's Marin Motorsports. He was a dealer for
>Triumph and English Ford. Frank Henry had a Morgan dealership in Berkeley on
>Telegraph. He kept the Mogs on an open lot as he had no showroom.
>Bill Breeze sold Lotus 11's from his shop in Sausalito, near where the
>seaplanes are now. Bob Winkelmann had four Winkelmann Formula Ford
>dealerships across the country, the home one being in Sausaleto. He imported
>@250 of these open wheelers.
>Larry Albedi (some may know his voice as he still announces at Sears Point -
>it will always be Sears, to me) had various dealerships around the bay area,
>notably Vallejo British Cars. Bob Cole was down on the Peninsula with has
>dealership and there was also a Morgan dealer there, Frank Crane, who I
>raced with. We had quite a Morgan contingent in those days, late 50's early
>60's, who got welcome support from dealers. Rusty Hyde sold Triumphs in San
>Fran, as I recall. Some of this is a little foggy as you have jolted
>memories of quite a long time ago. For that I thank you, Don.  By the way, I
>bought my MGA from EF Sweeney in 1957 when I was released from active duty
>with USMC. I traded it soon therafter and bought my first Plus 4 Moggie from
>Frank Henry.
>Phil Washburn, as I recall, had a dealership on Santa Rosa Ave. where the
>motor home lot is. I remember him racing at Cotati Raceways when it was
>open.  The power behind Brit Mtrs. in San Fran was Schell Quavale (I know my
>spelling is off, but close phonetically!) While I still had my shop in Santa
>Rosa he visited. Well in his 80's he still went to work. I believe Carlson
>was exclusevely VW Porsche. Your A, Ron may have been a trade in.
> >
> > don wrote:
> >
> > Back in the late '50s through early '70s, British car dealerships could be
> >> found in most US cities of any size, especially in 
> California.  Even before
> >> I got my first British car in 1965, I loved visiting the 
> showrooms to admire
> >> the MGs, Triumphs and other British cars.  Of course, I would 
> always pilfer
> >> as many sales brochures as I could hoping to not upset the salespeople too
> >> much.
> >>
> >> I remember the BMC/Jaguar  dealer in Napa on Soscol Avenue, which was to
> >> become Napa Valley Datsun when they dropped the British car line around
> >> 1967.  There was a BMC dealer that tried again in Napa shortly after but
> >> didn't last long.  I remember taking my MGA there for repairs in 
> 1968, but I
> >> don't remember the name of the place.  I do remember that it was very
> >> expensive to pay someone to repair my car, and after that, did most of my
> >> repairs myself.  The name of it might have been Washborn Imports.
> >>
> >> In Santa Rosa, there was Ralph Vesper Motors on Santa Rosa Avenue which
> >> sold Triumphs and British Fords.  I remember that dealership, 
> because, as I
> >> bought parts for my old Anglia and Zodiac (c. 1966, '67), I was distracted
> >> by the siren's call of the sleek TR4s and Spitfires on display in the
> >> showroom.  I still have a few pieces of the Triumph literature I took on
> >> visits to Vesper.  Car dealers usually left their identification 
> by irubber
> >> stamping their names and addresses onto the front or back of the sales
> >> literature.  Vesper's name and address sill adorn my old Triumph 
> brochures.
> >>
> >> The most interesting dealership to visit was always British Motors on Van
> >> Ness Avenue in San Francisco.  They had Jaguar, Rolls Royce and the whole
> >> BMC line, and the cars they had on display were always of a high calibre.
> >>  This was such a classy place that I always felt underdressed because I
> >> wasn't wearing a suit and tie.  As an extreme British car nut, I was
> >> thrilled just to purchase parts there. I do have several license plate
> >> frames from there, which I think are a cool period accessory.
> >>
> >> Other dealerships that come to mind are Union Jack (BMC) in Hayward and
> >> British Motors in San Jose.
> >>
> >> Anyone else have any recollections of the British car dealer world in the
> >> area?
> >>
> >> Don Scott
> >> 1962 MGA Mk II
> >> 1991 Miata BRG
> >> 1973 MGB GT
> >> 1962 TR4 (seeking)


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