The Ford Dealership, Volumes I, II, and III

by Henry L. Dominguez



These volumes are not your average or usual coffee table photo-rich books for, individually and collectively, they have real gravitas—both in content and in presentation. Physically, collectively they contain over 1,000 pages and tip the scale at fourteen pounds.

Those one thousand pages very nearly show the same number of photos for their landscape format permits each to be printed full page with, depending upon image size, captions either outside the photo or printed in a corner—as, yes each of the curated images is captioned.

Ace, on the front of the dust jacket, opened in Woodbury, New Jersey in 1913 and is still doing business there today. This image is circa 1949/50 as indicated by the 1950 station wagon seen prominently in the place of honor in the showroom window. Back cover is Laramie (Wyoming) Auto Company showing what is likely a new owner of this newly-introduced in 1920 center-door body style Model T.

Knowing the identity of that curator is instructive for he is also the one who, over the years amounting to decades, has been finding, obtaining, researching and finding still more of the images and then carefully selecting and organizing those reproduced in each volume and captioning them. Dominguez traces his fascination with Ford to age 15 when he accompanied his dad who was shopping for, and eventually purchased new, a Ford pickup. Today Dominguez is as surprised as anyone that he’s been retired for 14 years yet his enthusiasm and interest in Ford hasn’t subsided one whit. Not to overlook that that interest has resulted in his writing several Ford-related titles, two of which have been reviewed on this site. 

The neon sign tells you the name of the dealership. It was located in South Bend, Indiana and this snap was taken December 1944. Back cover of dust jacket is an image from a FoMoCo dealership design manual.

Photos in these books are as old as 1903 and as recent as the 1970s just as each book’s subtitle delineates. There’s no narrative text but that doesn’t mean there isn’t interesting information offered, including the source of each. Most images are, understandably black and white but, especially in the second volume, there are a couple dozen in color. Illustrating this are six of the images as reproduced on each volume’s dust jacket.

A decidedly “glittered” 1936 coupe photographed in the holiday showroom window December 1935 of Eddie Steep Ford in Detroit, Michigan is on the front of the dust jacket. The color rendering on back is from a FoMoCo dealership design manual.

Some of those captions contain genuine pearls. For instance did you know that during the time Edsel was FoMoCo president (1919 to 1943), as he was extremely interested in aviation, he directed Ford dealers everywhere to paint the name of the town in which each was located on its roof large enough to be easily read from aloft. Then too, as a further service to aid pilots, they were asked to also paint an arrow pointing due north.

Others introduce readers to dealerships such as the one in Wisconsin established in 1912 and still going strong in 2023. What a celebration must have taken place at Schmit Bros in Saukville last year. Another is the first-ever Ford dealer, a man named Billy Hughson who Henry Ford himself appointed and thus Hughson Ford was established in 1903 in San Francisco. 

We’re so used to dealerships (regardless of what brand they sell) claiming to be the largest or biggest or some superlative. So it was refreshing—and elicited a smile—to come across a Ford dealer claiming to be “The world’s smallest volume dealer.” And if that dealership were still in business in the same town today, it very possibly might make a similar claim for the 2010 census determined the town in which it was located had a population of 1,259.

Dominquez writes in his introductory words in one of the volumes that for him “the early years are the most fascinating—the old cars, the old buildings, the old towns. But the later years . . . are becoming just as fascinating.” Looking closely at each image a viewer can learn a lot about the times from the décor inside and architecture out, and the clothing worn by the people in the pictures. All the elements combine to make these volumes very much pictorial histories of the life and times and enable reader/viewers to observe the growth and changes society experienced over the decades. 

Dominguez recently told your commentator that he has so many images that he’s well into assembling a fourth volume which should cover the mid-1930s up to 1980 with likely a fifth volume to follow, visually bringing this pictorial history into even more modern times.

As with these three volumes, the fourth and fifth will be published by the Early Ford V-8 Foundation and are exclusively sold by its Early Ford Foundation Museum located in Auburn, Indiana. Each volume may be purchased individually.

The Ford Dealership, Volumes I, II, and III
by Henry Dominguez
Early Ford V-8 Foundation
List Price: $50 each


–Volume I: 1903–1954
ISBN 13: 978 0 979 7701 20 (2022, 2nd ed)
399 pages, 356 b/w photos, hardcover


–Volume II: 1908–1970
ISBN 13: 978 0 615 4525 55 (2011)
380 pages, 307 b/w & 24 color photos, hardcover


–Volume III: 1903–1940
ISBN 13: 978 0 977 7701 06 (2022)
311 pages, 255 b/w photos, hardcover
  • What explains the overlapping dates covered by the volume? Were they updated with pictures that were acquired between volumes and therefore the book are not precisely sequential?

    Comment | Jack , February 9, 2023
  • Henry Dominguez affirmed that your guess is spot on — as he wrote in his introduction to Volume II, “My intent was to continue this second volume from 1955 through 2009, but I came across more fabulous photographs from these formative years–both in collections zand from charitable Ford dealers–and I was conpelled to include these in this volume. . . so the volumes ended up overlapping.”

    Comment | helen v hutchings , February 14, 2023
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