Bear Manufacturing "Happy Bear" Signs

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These bear signs were produced by Bear Manufacturing, a nationwide chain. Shops used these signs to indicate that they were trained by Bear and used Bear wheel alignment tools. The yellow bear logo has been used by the company since the 1920s. He is often referred to as the laughing bear, the happy bear, or the dancing bear. The Grateful Dead rock band used the bear logo later, without permission. In the 1960s or 1970s, when Bear Manufacturing became part of Automotive Diagnostics, the company stopped producing the signs. However, they are now being produced again. Most of the remaining bear signs have been painted over numerous times. I believe these were all built in the 1960s and that the big ones all had neon. For more, see this website.

Irvine's Wheel Alignment
Harbor City, CA
Vodie's Wheel Alignment
Santa Ana, CA (now Pomona, CA)

Vodie's Alignment & Brakes
Garden Grove, CA
2013: 2015:
The Irvine's Wheel Alignment sign has a small version of the Happy Bear. [map]

There were two Vodie's auto repair shops, both owned by Vodie Clemmons. The first photo of the sign at Vodie's Santa Ana location is from 2008. By the 2013 photo, the business was known as Guero's Auto Repair. In 2014, this sign was removed and is now part of the Museum of Neon Art collection. The sign is currently at the museum's warehouse in Pomona, CA. It will be restored at some point.

Vodie's Alignment & Brakes in Garden Grove has the original Bear-designed service pit. In 2014, the sign was repainted. [map]

Gardena Bear Wheel Alignment
Gardena, CA
Auto Repair
Torrance, CA
Perfect Paint & Body
Los Angeles, CA
Alignment Service
Rosemead, CA
Duran Auto Repair
Downey, CA
The tubing holes in the Gardena Bear Wheel Alignment sign panels indicate that it had neon originally. [map]

Torrance Auto Repair has been at this location since 1948. The shop was previously known as Virgel's Brake & Wheel Alignment Service. [map]

[Perfect Paint map]

[Monterey Alignment map]

Duran Auto Repair was previously known as Boulevard Brake Service. I don't know if that was the original business at this location. [map]

VF Auto Sales
Bellflower, CA
Chet's Auto Repair
Long Beach, CA
B&D Wheel Alignment
Bellflower, CA
VF Auto Sales repainted this pre-existing sign for their car lot. [map]

The Chet's Auto Repair sign has a patchwork of neon tubing holes. [map]

B&D Wheel Alignment opened in 1967. The original Bear alignment pit there is still in use. [map]

Bear Alignment & Brake Service
Corona, CA
Ace 1 Auto Service
Covina, CA
The Bear Alignment & Brake Service sign was restored and repainted in 2015 for about $8,000. This photo is from 2017. [map]

The Ace 1 Auto Service sign appears to be from the 1950s or 1960s. [map]

Bear Safety Center
Oakland, CA
Bolles Alignment Services
Lynwood, CA
This Bear Safety Center sign is a rare rectangular panel sign versus the diecut-like, bear profile panel. [map]

Bolles Alignment Services also has the original alignment pit. The sign was repainted sometime after 2010. These photos are from 2014. There was another bear sign on the lot which is gone now. [map]

Bear Frame & Wheel
Glendora, CA
Bear Frame & Wheel was built in 1962. It was never part of the Vodie's chain. The owner of this building built another location in Duarte, CA but it was a traditional rectangular box shape. This round building has the original sunken work pit and Bear alignment equipment. The last photo shows the upstairs office which has the original paneling. The vintage photos shown in the second row above are framed in the office. [map]

Autocraft Body Shop
Springfield, IL
Clovis Safety Lane
Clovis, NM
Wheel Alignment
Kinston, NC
Barnes Garage
Bedford, PA
Bear Safety Service
Alpha, IL
Autocraft Body Shop features a rather tiny Happy Bear sign. [map]

Clovis Safety Lane is a full service repair garage. The shop opened in 1946. This sign is from around the mid-1950s. It never had neon. The shop uses different equipment now but still features the Bear sign. [map]

Kinston Wheel Alignment features a Bear Manufacturing sign. [map]

Barnes Garage has a Happy Bear sign. I've never seen one in plastic before. [map]

This Bear Safety Service sign hangs in front of Barton's Body Shop. In 1965, the shop made an addition to the building and began offering Bear Alignment service. The sign is from then. [map]

Zorn's Service
Ida, MI
Weldon's Tire Service
Yreka, CA
Bear Manufacturing
Seattle, WA
B&B Frame & Alignment
Yakima, WA
Zorn's Service features a rare, plastic Happy Bear sign. The business had opened by the early 1950s. This sign is probably from the 1960s. [map]

Weldon's Tire Service has the same style sign as the one at Zorn's Service. [map]

This Bear Manufacturing sign is installed in the window at Ball Graphics. This upper part of the sign was purchased at a swap meet and restored at a local sign shop. This sign is six and a half feet wide. [photo thanks Dennis Hicklin] [map]

B&B Frame & Alignment features a Bear Manufacturing sign. [map]

Moe Allen Auto Body Shop
Phoenix, AZ
The Moe Allen Auto Body Shop opened here in 1955. The pole sign and painted signs have been there since then. The pole sign and letters on the building had neon originally. [map]

More Alignment Bear Signs:
Banning, CA
Wolf Point, MT [map]
Holdrege, NE [map]
Brooklyn, NY [gone]
Naples, NY [map]
Philadelphia, PA
Amarillo, TX
Childress, TX [map]
Toronto, ON [gone]

Main Signs Page