Book Release: “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer” Third Edition

In September 2012, I created a self-published book version of this blog, entitled “Portrait of An Automobile Dealer”. In short, it’s an updated and chronologically ordered version of this blog. A second edition was published in place of the first edition, which was released in 2013. Now, after five years, the third, and final edition, is available through print-on-demand bookstore. Overall, since the second edition, “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer” Third Edition has expanded to 224 pages and is enhanced by over 600 photographs, some of them more than 100 years old, taken by Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. The third edition again has loads of small updates, including a new chapter: “Celebrating a Legacy”.

In this book, readers will find an historic timeline that showcases the company’s 95-year history, how Reed Brothers Dodge came into being, and how the company overcame the inevitable changes and challenges throughout almost a decade of being in business. “This book is of interest not only to those of us who remember Reed Brothers Dodge, but to others who wish to get to know Rockville as it was before they arrived”, said Jane C. Sween, former librarian at the Montgomery County Historical Society.

The author puts the former Dodge dealership in perspective by demonstrating that the dealerships influence continues to this day on the site of its former location, now the Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments. “Honoring the rich historical legacy of this site was extremely important to us,” said Tom Keady, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Bainbridge Companies. “With the sculpture and the floor plan names, our residents and visitors feel a real connection to the site’s past, and we pay tribute to Reed Brothers Dodge’s role in creating a vibrant Rockville.”

Blog creator and book author, Jeanne Gartner, received the 2016 Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development. The book is an “exemplary effort to inform, establishing a virtual commemoration of a landmark, which lacks surviving tangible form”, noted Peerless Rockville.

The book “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer, Third Edition” is available through print-on-demand bookstore. If you would like to check out the hard copy book or purchase a copy, please visit:

As a special thank you to all the readers of this blog, this book has been placed online for everyone to enjoy for free. A complimentary eBook available for Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iPad, Android devices, and Mac or PC computers is also available through Blurb:

Note: It’s worth noting that Print-On-Demand (POD) books, are usually more expensive per copy than a book printed via offset printing. That’s because offset printing (the method used for most mass-produced books found in bookstores) requires a minimum order of 500-1,000 copies. Print on demand, on the other hand, needs only a minimum order of one copy. The smaller scale and different workflow results in a higher cost per book, since the books are only printed when they are ordered. This book is not marked up for profit; but sold at base price.

Tent Sales: What 90 Years of Change Looks Like

Pictured below are Reed Brothers tent sales 90 years apart, in 1918 and 2008. The black and white photograph below was taken by Lewis Reed in 1918 showing Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds. The annual County Fair used to be held for four days in the month of August at the old Fairgrounds of Rockville, Maryland. Families came from every section of the Montgomery County in wagons and carriages, and stayed for the duration of the Fair. The Fair gave automobile dealers the opportunity to display their new models.

1918 – Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds

1918 Rockville Garage tent displaying Hudson Super Six, Oldsmobile, and Dodge Brothers Motor Cars at the Rockville Fair Grounds

The color photo below was taken some 90 years later in 2008, “Let’s Refuel America!” Tent Promo at Reed Brothers Dodge that let consumers lock in gas prices at $2.99 for three years. The novel Chrysler incentive offer was introduced at a time when high gas prices hammered sales of SUVs and trucks that dominated Chrysler’s line-up and was a way to help move the 2008 model gas guzzlers off the lot.

Tent Promo at Reed Brothers Dodge

2008 Tent Promo at Reed Brothers Dodge

Featured Photo: 1914 Indian Motorcycle With Sidecar

1914 Indian motorcycle with Sidecar

Photo by Lewis Reed

This is a photograph taken by Lewis Reed of an Indian motorcycle with his brother, Edgar, seated in the sidecar next to Uncle Bernie Hanshew. From what I’ve been able to research, I believe it’s a 1914 Indian. The handle bars on a 1913 had no cross bar, the 1914 model had a cross bar that can be seen on this one.  The tool box was mounted on the rear of the carrier in 1913 and moved to the top of the fuel tank in 1914. If anyone can help to date or confirm the identity of this machine please leave a comment.

In the early days, motorcycles were a staple of transportation, and both Lewis and Edgar Reed rode them.

Motorcyclists in the 1920s were more likely to wear a tie, goggles, and a sporty little cap than the leather of today.

1915 advertisement for the Indian Motocycle

A 1915 advertisement for the Indian Motocycle (spelling motocycle without the “r”)

Plymouth Automobile First Introduced July 7, 1928

Plymouth logo

The logo featured a rear view of the ship Mayflower which landed at Plymouth Rock. However, the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth Binder Twine, chosen by Joe Frazer (a 20th-century American automobile company executive employed in succession by Chrysler, Willys-Overland, Graham-Paige and Kaiser-Frazer Corporation).

The first Plymouth automobile debuted on July 7, 1928, to help Chrysler Corporation compete with Chevrolet and Ford in the entry-level market. The name was inspired by Plymouth Rock and the first Pilgrim colony in the United States, and the Mayflower ship was stamped on the radiator.

In 1928, Walter P. Chrysler took over after Horace and John Dodge died and Lewis Reed became an original member of the Chrysler family.

Plymouth went on to become Chrysler’s top-selling brand from 1930 to 1978.

Some notable Plymouths:

• Barracuda: The muscle car had a decadelong run from 1964 to 1974, though the last generation, 1970-74, is considered the true Mustang and Camaro competitor and remains a popular collector car today.

• Road Runner: Dubbed Plymouth’s “muscle car icon” by FCA, the Road Runner was introduced in 1968. It was based on the Plymouth Belvedere. Plymouth paid Warner Brothers $50,000 for the rights to use the Road Runner and Coyote characters throughout the car’s run, according to Chrysler’s engineering department modified the car’s horn to sound like the cartoon bird’s “beep-beep” as well.

• Superbird: Created to entice stock car racing’s Richard Petty back to Plymouth for NASCAR, the Superbird was a modified Road Runner hardtop with an iconic large wing and nose for aerodynamics.

• Voyager: Plymouth was also at center stage when Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca introduced a new product in November 1983: front-wheel-drive minivans in the form of the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan.

Plymouth went defunct at the end of the 1999 model year in Canada and consequently, DaimlerChrysler decided to drop the make after a limited run of 2001 models. This was announced on November 3, 1999. Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers until 1969, when the Plymouth brand was given to the Chrysler dealers.

Plymouth production ended on June 28, 2001, when the last car, a silver Neon, rolled off the line at a plant in Belvidere, Illinois.

Anyone grow up with a Plymouth in their driveway?

Last Plymouth Neon

The last Plymouth Neon — and the last Plymouth — was built on June 28, 2001.

July 4, 1922: First MCPD Posing in Front of Reed Brothers Dodge

Montgomery County Police 1922

This photograph is the first known photograph of the entire MCPD. Pictured left to right: Earl Burdine, Lawrence Clagett, Guy Jones, Chief Charles Cooley, Leroy Rodgers, and Oscar Gaither. Photo by Lewis Reed

This blog entry is posted today to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery County Police Department. It was 95 years ago on July 4, 1922 that the MCPD was first established. In those days, Montgomery County was farm country, sparsely populated, automobiles sharing dirt roads with horse-drawn wagons. But it was changing into a proper suburb, and there needed to be a police department.

Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. For several years, since there was no police station, the officers would meet for “roll call” on the steps of the red brick courthouse at 2:00 p.m. every day to let each other know they were alive and well. Chief Cooley was given the privilege of a Model T Ford. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle. Jones patrolled Silver Spring, Rodgers the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and Burdine, Clagett and Gaither the Upper County areas.

Source: Montgomery County, Two Centuries of Change by Jane C. Sween

Dodge Hamtramck Plant 106 Years Ago

Dodge Hamtramck Plant (Dodge Main) circa 1920

Dodge Hamtramck Plant (Dodge Main) circa 1920

Lewis Reed received his mechanical training at the Dodge Main Hamtramck Plant, in addition to the Hudson Motor Car factory in Detroit, Michigan, the Pierce-Arrow factory in Buffalo, New York, and the Washington Auto College. In 1910, Horace and John Dodge contracted with Albert Kahn to build the 5.1-million-square-foot Dodge Main complex with the idea of building their own automobile. This dream came true in 1915 with the introduction of the Dodge Brothers motorcar.

Lewis Reed was just 27 years old when he started selling cars built by brothers Horace and John Dodge in Detroit. Few people jumped onto the Dodge Brothers bandwagon earlier than Lewis Reed, and not many have lasted longer. Reed Brothers was franchised as a Dodge dealership and service facility in 1915 – less than one year after the first Dodge automobile rolled off the assembly line. He founded what would become the oldest Dodge dealership under the same family ownership in the state of Maryland, and one of the oldest in the entire nation.

Lewis Reed was the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County, Maryland and his company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area. During the early years, Reed Brothers represented several franchise nameplates along with Dodge, including Oldsmobile, Hudson and Essex. The Hudson and Oldsmobile were sold at Reed Brothers from roughly 1917 through 1921.

A mechanical aptitude was necessary to be a car dealer in the early 1900′s. When the cars were shipped to the dealer from the manufacturer they were only partially complete and they needed final assembly, so the new dealer quickly became skilled at repair. It was the dealer’s responsibility to assemble the cars at the rail yard and drive them back to the showroom. Mechanics were often needed to repair the new cars if they broke down along the way.

First Shop Force Reed Brothers Dodge 1916

1916 – The first shop force of Rockville Garage (from left: Lewis Reed, (first name unknown) Long and Philip Reed.

The photos below are a caravan of circa 1920s cars all with Maryland Dealer license plates slowly making their way along a snowbound Goshen Road in rural Gaithersburg. The radiator badge on the front of the car in the below image identifies it as a Hudson. The only indication of where these photos were taken was a small piece of paper tucked behind one of the photos that was labeled “Goshen Road – outside Gaithersburg”.

1920 MD Dodge Dealers

Line of MD dealer cars making their way along Goshen Road. The car at the rear appears to be getting a helping hand to change a flat tire. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920 MD Dealers

Dealer car stopped (stuck?) on snowbound Goshen Road. Note the trailing cars slowly making their way up the hill. Although no tire chains are in evidence, they might have been useful coming up that hill. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920 Maryland Dodge Dealers

Maryland dealer car in a circa 1920 Oldsmobile stopped along Goshen Road outside Gaithersburg. Photo by Lewis Reed

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