First car sold at Marley Gross in Spring Grove: Traded it back from the original owner

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Spring Grove, Pa.’s, Ford dealership – then owned by Pierce Stambaugh – was a mainstay in its downtown in this 1934 photograph. Marley Gross Ford, which occupied that site for decades, just recently closed its doors. Also of interest: Spring Grove museum displays horse gas mask and more and A leading York County name: ‘Keeping it in family is the Glatfelter way’ and Is this a York County farm truck or is it just a wagon with a motor?.

There goes another small-town or old-time automobile dealership.
This time, it’s Marley Gross Ford in Spring Grove.
The passing of these dealerships is corresponding with the growth of businesses that handle numerous brands in several towns or even across state lines. Apple Automotive Group is an example of that.
This change is not necessarily bad. It’s just different… .


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A 1940s-era cash register served Marley Gross until it closed its doors recenty. York Daily Record/Sunday News photos.
Marley Gross is, in part, a victim of the dimming American automotive scene. A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (11/2/09)reported that the dealership was facing limitations in shipments from Ford, which was closing plants. It could either sell the dealership or carry a thin inventory.
According to “The Spring Grove Years, 1882-1982:
At one time, Spring Grove played host to George Elicker’s Chevrolet, Scripps-Booth and Nash dealership. Ralph L. Kemper’s Spring Grove garage sold Buick, Dodge, and Peerless automobiles. Those garages opened at a time of immense growth in the American auto industry – in the years immediately before World War I.
P. Stambaugh and Son, a forerunner of Marley Gross, was the earliest, setting up service in 1910. Actually, it was located between Dover and East Berlin before building a Spring Grove garage and dealership in 1921 – Marley Gross’s current building at the corner of Jackson and Market streets.
A noteworthy part of Stambaugh’s business in those years was that it also sold Allis Chalmers and New Holland agricultural implements.
The dealership passed on to Carl Beasley in 1945, then to Peter Peterson and later Snyder and Gross in 1972.
The Daily Record/Sunday News story reports that the first car Gross sold as an owner, a 1972 Ford Galaxie Country Sedan, now sits in the basement of the dealership awaiting restoration.
“Some years later,” he said, “I traded it back from the original owner.”
That’s how those small-town dealerships did business for so long – selling cars to generations of faithful, family members.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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