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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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February 2004 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Ed Whitt
By Ed Whitt
 
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This 1991 Ferrari 348 folder, one of my favorites, opens to a huge 10-foot width!

Dad would bring me to have our 1967 Dodge Coronet serviced at Ethington Brother's in Nicholasville, Kentucky. While waiting, I would look at the new models. Their showroom held two cars, desks and chairs. A nice lady who worked at one of the desks, would see me gazing at the literature stand and welcomed me to "help myself to the brochures."

Next year, I contracted mumps and missed school. I ran a fever and lay on the couch, watching television. Mom felt sorry and asked if she could get me anything at the store. "Could you bring home some brochures from Ethington's?" I asked. That afternoon, I studied new Plymouth catalogs. I returned to Ethington's for other visits, discovering the Chevrolet and Ford-Mercury dealerships. When riding in the back seat, I would pretend I was ordering a new car as I looked over the options. During high school, I categorized my collection into model year and marque, carrying them all of them in a gym bag.

I began reading the classifieds in magazines to see if anyone sold or collected old brochures. In 1978 I ordered a 1968 Barracuda catalog from Walter Miller - for $8.00. That summer I ordered a 1968 Charger catalog from Auto West Advertising - for $8.00!

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Marnie, my fiancee, being introduced to "The Collection"

Obtaining my driver's license, I drove to dealerships in Ashland, Charleston, Huntington and Lexington to add to my collection. My favorite dealerships were Don Jacobs Oldsmoble-Honda-Jaguar, Lagrew Motors (Alfa Romeo, AMC and Mercedes-Benz) and Quantrell Cadillac-Volvo. "Road & Track" magazine began printing the addresses to importers in their test articles. Rolls-Royce was especially generous to me. I also began keeping motorcycle and truck literature.

Later, I called the coastal importers to ask for exotic literature. "Road & Track" ran an article on the Detomaso Longchamp. I dialed the number for the importer. The man told me the very car that "R&T" photographed was in his showroom, three feet from his desk! About a week later, I received a package from him containing the Longchamp brochure.

I tried to reach Bob Grossman of West Nyack, New York for Maserati brochures. The receptionist said he was in a meeting, but she sent me catalogs on the Bora, Khamsin and Merak.

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I was thrilled to receive this Ferrari factory reprint of a 1948 Ferrari brochure!

When I enlisted in the army, I chose Fort Ord, California because it was close to Pebble Beach. The training schedule never permitted me to attend the Concours D'Elegance. I was in the field the year the Bugatti Royales came! There was a Ferrari dealership in Seaside at that time. Every month I would buy a new brochure from the parts counter. One day the counter person exclaimed, "I sell more brochures to you than anyone else!" Every Thanksgiving I attended the San Fransisco Auto Show in the Moscone Center.

Obscure pieces enthrall me as much as the mainstream. Some of my obscure pieces include: Apollo, Bianchi, Clenet, Cumberford, DeLorean, Excalibur, Forza, Lancia, Monte Carlo and the Panther.

Collecting auto sales brochures brings me a happiness that no other hobby can match. I have over a hundred plastic cases filled with literature. I prefer pieces from the 1960s, but my tastes have shifted from 1960s American cars to English, German, Italian and Swedish makes.

I'm not sure why dealerships have decreased the supply of brochures - isn't this the industry that allowed Oldsmobile and others to falter? Collecting brochures has given me a confidence about the industry that the automakers lack. My point is, I'm not embarrassed to collect their literature... why should the automakers be stingy in providing it? If I were in management at General Motors I would have developed Oldsmobile products and marketing to the point that Lexus would be building "Final Editions" now. If I were chairman of Chrysler, Chrysler would still be an independent automaker — not a subsidiary of a German firm. And if I worked at an independent, AMC, Checker and Studebaker would still be manufacturing cars and trucks!

Including the manufacturers, there are several sources for sales literature. McLellan's Automotive History is the most collector friendly. Most impressive are the personal attention, packaging and that web site!

I would recommend sales literature to curious and entrepreneurial teenagers as motivation guidance toward a career or as a hobby. Many a dealership is launched as a lifetime dream! I know I'm working on launching mine.

 
Literature that Ed has recently purchased
from McLellan's Automotive History

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We hope you enjoyed this collector's story. Would you like to tell yours? We hope so and so do our readers. Let us hear from you.

 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, February 2004
 
 
 
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