1903 De Dietrich

1903 De Dietrich sold to John J. Ryan (jockey) - (photo credit: Automobile Topics, July, 1903)

If you were a person of means living in New York City at the dawn of the automobile age and favored European makes (as many did), you would most likely order you car straight from the manufacturer (or through the authorized US agent; or you might simply travel abroad and make your purchase in person). However, once you became the proud owner, you would need a place to keep your car and have it serviced. That's where the automobile exchange came it. There were many automobile exchanges in the early days (pre-1910) in major cities across America. The exchange typically sold parts, made repairs, brokered used cars sales, and sometimes represented new cars as well.

I came across these pictures of the Automobile Exchange & Storage Company of New York City (located on West 38th Street). Run by the Robertson brothers (John was president and George was manager) and their partner E.J. Vass, the company dealt in second-hand foreign and American cars. Additionally, they provided storage and service to New York City automobile owners. The garage was said to manage over 70 cars and specialized in Mercedes, Renault, C.G.V. and Panhard cars. Automobile Topics of July, 1903 reported "The Automobile Exchange and Storage Co., of 38th street, has been one of the busiest corners of automobile row, despite the prohibitive weather of June. The station has been full of cars in storage and  the second story repair shop has been equally stocked with machines in process of being made fit for the return of automobile weather." The brief article goes on to say "... two De Dietrich cars have found purchasers, John J. Ryan, the famous turfman (jockey), being the owner of one. A picture of this car just before delivery, with Mr. Robertson in the driver seat, is shown in this issue."

1903 De Dietrich advertised for sale (photo credit: Automobile Topics, July, 1903)

The Automobile Exchange & Storage Co. (photo credit: Automobile Topics, July, 1903)

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