Last week we solved the mystery behind an abandoned Ohio car dealership caught on Flickr. Our story set off a flurry of responses from readers about similarly abandoned sales relics. Here's a ghostly gallery of America's lost car dealerships.
Photographed by Ed Schipul
Before the Carpocalypse, America's new-car dealers had the most recession-proof business outside a funeral parlor. In boom times, new cars and trucks sold themselves; when times turned tough, people bought parts and service. But the real estate bust drained the river of money that kept places like the University GM Superstore in Durham, N.C. afloat. Photographed by MK30
A few years ago, Americans bought 17 million new vehicles a year; this year, automakers will struggle to sell 12 million. Among the biggest losers has been high-volume outfits like Landmark Chevrolet in Houston. Former owner Bill Heard used to boast of running the world's largest Chevy dealership, while some shoppers thought the more apt title was "Landshark." Photographed by MeltedPlastic
Some 1,500 dealerships closed last year, leaving large tracts of land and buildings which other businesses can't easily convert in a bad economy. Commenter Rmenia noted that McNamara Pontiac-Isuzu has been closed for several years, yet has remained intact enough to be captured in Google Streetview....
...and, just like the Ohio dealership, the owner has apparently used the empty building to store old cars, in this case a lone 2002 Pontiac Trans Am.
Much of the carnage has come from Detroit-branded dealers, but even those who took on a foreign brand, such as Phelps Chevrolet Nissan in Yucca Valley, Calif., could stumble - especially with an ill-timed move to a new showroom, as commenter 62ImperialCrown noted.
And a few dealerships have lasted for decades beyond the end of their heyday. AMC sold its last new car in 1987, but Collier Motors in Pikesville, N.C., has soldiered on, with owner Robert Collier selling used vehicles and parts slowly returning to the soil. Photographed by AMC Rambler Club