email: roadarch@outlook.com

Car Signs

(hit "refresh" to get the most recent version of this page; click on photos for larger images)

The photos on this page were moved here from my Signs section to accompany an article which I'm writing for the Society for Commercial Archeology's Journal magazine. This page and the upcoming article will provide information about vintage signs depictions of cars. I have just begun working on this page. I'll be updating the descriptions with more info as I make calls and do the research for the article.

Like-Nu Auto Paint & Body Works
Dallas, TX
2011: 2017:
Like-Nu Auto Paint & Body Works was established in 1947. This sign was built then and was attached to the building as a projecting sign. When the business moved to its current location in 1997, the sign was installed on a pole. The panels are about seven feet wide. The sign has been continuously lit with red and white neon. The radiating neon surrounding the car suggests shining, new paint. What's under the tacked-on piece of metal on the side of the car is anyone's guess. It might be the original owner's name or a phone number. [map]

Bliss Auto Sales
El Paso, TX

2012:

2017:
Bliss Auto Sales opened in 1947. This sign appears to be from the 1950s. The "Bliss" name and details were painted over sometime after 2013. Much of the neon was also removed then. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Parsons Mobile Homes
Endwell, NY
Acapulco Drive Inn [gone]
San Antonio, TX
Parsons Mobile Homes is now known as Parsons Recreational Vehicle. The sign was repainted shortly before this photo was taken in 2010. [map]

I believe the Acapulco Drive Inn opened in the early 1970s. This sign is probably from the 1940s or 1950s when the restaurant went by another name. In 2011, the Acapulco Drive Inn closed and the sign was removed.

Sandman Motel
Reno, NV
Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill
Austin, TX
The Sandman Motel was built in 1949 as the Travel Lodge. This nearly 40-foot-tall sign was erected then. Some of the painted "MOTEL" letters still reveal the shapes used when those sign panels read "LODGE." That text was changed in 1955 when the business was renamed the Travis Motel. Some say the name change took place because of pressure from TraveLodge which was founded in San Diego in 1940 and was already an established budget motel chain by the early 1950s. In 1966, the name was changed to the Sandman Motel and the sign's top panel was altered again. The car on the sign has been there since the beginning. At one time, the neon wheels flashed to simulate motion. While the motel is still open, the sign has been dark for many years. The car was lit in red neon, the letters in green and blue and the bullnoses wrapping around the side of the sign were yellow. Three 1960s era, backlit plastic credit card signs attached to the pole are still intact. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill opened in 2005 in a former auto repair shop. The sign was built by Todd Sanders who owns the Roadhouse Relics studio and gallery in Austin. Sanders has created many other vintage inspired signs for businesses in Texas and elsewhere. His pieces feature classic shapes and faded-looking paint that fools many people into thinking that the signs are far older than they are. The car for the Doc's sign was modeled after the one on the Sandman Motel sign in Reno (see below). The sign is seven feet wide. The panel attached to the bottom of the message board was painted to read "Body and Garage" with "Bar and Grill" in neon overlaying it. The car was outlined with turquoise neon but one side was later changed to green. The bullnose accents are gold while the text is red. Doc's Motorworks now has four locations. Two of them have reproductions of the sign created by Sanders. In 2016, it was announced that this original location was closing. The original sign will be moved to a new location in town. For more, see this website. [map]

Dana Forgy Motors [gone]
Lawton, OK
Yakima Grinding Company
Yakima, WA
This Dana Forgy Motors sign might have advertised for another car dealership originally. This photo is from 2011. By 2013, the sign was gone.

The Yakima Grinding Company was established by the 1930s. This sign is probably from the 1940s or 1950s. [map]

Trotta's Pizza
Cincinnati, OH
Hawkes Motors
Boise, ID
Daytona Motor Inn
Wildwood, NJ
This Trotta's Pizza sign is from the 1950s. It originally advertised for a Ferguson Car Wash. After the car wash closed, a Sight In Sound audio store opened on the property. The sign was repainted and the neon "FERGI" text was replaced with a neon sound wave pattern. Since 1996, the building has housed Trotta's Pizza. The owner maintains this sign since he believes it is appropriate for his drive-thru business. [map]

There were several Ferguson Car Washes in the Cincinnati area. It is not known how many of these Fergi signs were produced. The only other one known to exist is at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH. It came from the Norwood, OH location and features the original flashing stars and spinning wheels. It is about six feet wide. In the late 1980s, Terry Carter noticed the sign being taken down. It was headed to the scrapyard but Carter made a $50 offer and took the sign home. He had the sign restored and installed on top of his Neon's Cigar Bar & Tavern. When the bar closed in 2003, the sign changed hands a couple of times until it was donated to the museum in 2005.

Hawkes Motors opened in 1969 and this sign appears to be from then. For more, see this website. [map]

The Daytona Motor Inn sign is from 2000. It originally read "Pulaski Motor Inn". The name and sign were changed to Daytona in 2003. For more, see this website. [map]

Sam's Auto Parts [gone]
Hazel Park, MI
Erie-LaSalle Body Shop
Chicago, IL
Sam's Auto Parts opened here in 1931. The sign looked like it was from the 1950s. It was removed around 2008 and sold at an auction. For more, see this website.

The Erie-LaSalle Body Shop opened in 1934 and the sign was built in 1957. The car depicted is a "Forward Look" Chrysler. The sign is about ten feet wide. The car is outlined with green neon while the text is lit in red and pink. These photos are from 2009 and 2012. The shop moved down the street in 2016. In 2017, the sign was restored and moved to the new location. [map]

Hiway House Motel
Albuquerque, NM
The Hiway House Motel was part of a Southwest chain. It was established in 1956 in Phoenix, AZ. This location opened in 1958 and I believe it is the only one left. This sign is the original. Initially, it was painted blue. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. [map]

Jenkins Motor Shop
Bedford, IN
Auto Electric and Speedometer [gone]
Long Beach, CA
United Motors Service was a car parts and accessories company. These signs were mass-produced and hung at garages all across the country.

This sign hung above Jenkins Motor Shop when this photo was taken in 2009. The sign now hangs inside the shop. [map]

This sign hung in front of Auto Electric and Speedometer. This photo is from 2008. By 2011, this sign was gone. These signs were once displayed nationwide.

There are a few other signs like this on display in Abbeville, AL and Kearney, NE.

D&M Auto Body
Dover, OH
Shope's Tires [gone]
Columbus, OH
Coachbuilt Motors
Columbus, OH
The D&M Auto Body sign appears to be vintage with new neon added to reflect the current business name. [map]

Shope's Tires adapted this vintage sign with a plastic box. The sign was probably from the 1950s. The neon under the plastic box read "Drive-in". Does anyone know what business this sign was originally associated with? This sign disappeared around 2015. The building now houses Total Auto Repair.

The Coachbuilt Motors sign features a neon Rolls Royce. Coachbuilt has been around since the early 1970s. I don't know if this sign was adapted from a previous business or created at that time. It's possible that this sign was inspired by the one that was at Shope's Tires. [map]

Earl Scheib
Beverly Hills, CA
Earl Scheib opened his first auto body and paint shop in Los Angeles in 1937. By the 1950s, the company had become a nationwide chain. Scheib appeared in the company's television commercials touting that he would paint any car, any color for $19.95. The company folded in 2010 but there are still many former locations still using the Earl Scheib name. During the 1950s, the company developed this globe sign with revolving neon cars. It's not known how many were produced or if they were used outside of the Los Angeles area. There are only two known to exist: this one in Beverly Hills and one from Compton, CA which is now at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH.

The globe part of the sign was installed above a steel panel sign with text and neon reading "Earl Scheib Auto Painting." The globe is about six and a half feet wide. The ring around the globe supports six cars outlined in alternating yellow, blue, and green neon. When the museum got its sign, the ring and cars were missing. Those were refabricated. The globe which was nearly bare metal, had to be repainted.

There was an Earl Scheib shop on the site of the present-day strip mall in Beverly Hills. It is not known who owns the sign but the neon continues to be lit at night. The metal cars appear to be original but they no longer spin. The neon on both the Beverly Hills and Cincinnati cars are simpler replacements. The originl neon outline included round roofs, front and rear bumpers, and round wheels. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3. [map]

ABC Autos
Tampa, FL
Spokane Auto Auction
Spokane, WA
Clackamas Auto Parts
Oregon City, OR
Everett Used Cars
Everett, WA
This photo of the ABC Autos sign is from 2009 when it was animated and lit at night. The neon was removed sometime in or after 2011. By 2015, there were two similar, updated, non-neon signs. The smaller one might be this one with new panels. For more, see this website. [map]

This cute car detail is on top of the Spokane Auto Auction's reworked plastic sign. [map]

The Clackamas Auto Parts store was founded in 1934. The business moved to its current location in 1945. The store's sign is about 11 feet wide and was built in 1966. It was restored in 1996 after obtaining a temporary permit for its removal. The Model T is outlined with white neon and has animated, red neon wheels. The sign's neon arrow flashes on and off. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

The Everett Used Cars sign is probably from the 1960s. For more, see this website. [map]

H&B Kustoms
Rockport, IN
Smitty's Body & Glass
Parsons, TN
Walt's Allstate
Transmission Service
Bowling Green, KY
Midwest Collision Center
Fargo, ND
The H&B Kustoms sign appears to have been adapted from a previous business. I assume there was a used car dealership here at one time. The building below the sign now houses Bogo Fireworks. [map]

Smitty's Body & Glass was established in 1921, making it the oldest business in town. The shop's neon sign was built in the late 1970s as a surprise birthday present for the owner, Ralph Leon Smith, aka Smitty. Den-Ray Sign of Jackson, Tennessee produced the sign from a drawing created by the owner's son. It features a depiction of Smitty spray painting a car. The man and car are outlined with white neon. Red neon is used for the text and the spray which flashes on and off. The sign is about five feet wide. For more, see this website. [map]

Walt's Allstate Transmission Service features a muscleman hoisting a Renault Dauphine outlined with neon. For more, see this website. [map]

The Midwest Collision Center was established in 1981. This appears to be an adapted sign. [map]

Lone Star Motor Company
El Paso, TX
The Lone Star Motor Company is long gone but this sign remains on the vacant lot. It was probably built in the 1960s. [map]

Bonfe's Auto Collision Center
St. Paul, MN
The Bonfe's Auto Collision Center has a flashing sign depicting a crashed car being painted. Bonfe's has been around since 1951. This sign looks like it might have been a window sign originally. For more, see this website. [map]

More Car Signs:
Good Used Cars (North Little Rock, AR)
Hart's Used Cars (San Bruno, CA) [vintage; gone]
Carriage House Inn (South Lake Tahoe, CA) [gone]
Hayes Garage (Stockton, CA) [gone]
Fabricare Services (Grand Junction, CO)
City of Cars (Orlando, FL) [gone]
Sieber (LaSalle, IL)
Star Auto Sales (Lawrence, KS) [gone]
Parkette Drive In (Lexington, KY)
Ko-Ko-Mo Drive In (Bossier City, LA)
Athol Glass (Athol, MA)
Karl J. Mattheiss Insurance (Baltimore, MD)
Douglas Auto Theatre (Dearborn, MI)
Dependable Used Cars (Grand Rapids, MI) [vintage; gone]
Used Cars (Camdenton, MO)
College St. Body Shop (Springfield, MO)
Used Cars (Rocky Mount, NC) [gone]
Sun Auto Sales (Sharpsburg, NC)
Charlie Graham Body and Service (Omaha, NE)
M&P Auto Sales (Omaha, NE)
Tri City Body Shop (Newark, NJ) [gone]
Wilsey Auto Sales (Grants, NM)
Auto Parts & Service Center (Las Cruces, NM)
Hunt's Motel & Racecar (Las Vegas, NV)
Nevills Bros. (Carthage, NY)
Russ' Value Cars (Lansing, OH)
Tulsa Auto Court (Tulsa, OK) [vintage; gone]
Kennywood (West Mifflin, PA)
J-Mac Radiator (Ogden, UT) [gone]
New & Used (location known)
Used Cars (private collection)


Neon Transportation Flickr group

If you know of any car signs that are missing from this page, I'd love to hear from you.

Main SCA Article
Companion Page
Main Signs Page