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Spokane’s Sandifur Motors Willys Distributor

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Old News Articles

UPDATE: Additional content has been added about Sandifur Motors.

Originally established in 1937, the Sandifur Motor Company out of Spokane, Washington, was operated by Charles and C. Paul Sandifur. Brothers and business partners, by 1938 the two men were involved in taxi cabs, used cars, life Insurance, and other business pursuits in the Spokane region.

The Sandifurs became a Willys distributor in the autumn of 1945 soon after the launch of the CJ-2A. An ad in the October 21, 1945, issue of the Spokesman Review confirms this.

1945-10-21-spokesmanreview-sandifur-ad

October 21, 1945, ad published in the Spokesman Review

As best as I understand it, being a distributor meant Sandifur Motors could both sell jeeps and signup other dealers.

The company seems to have followed the standard line of advertising, as this 1947 farming ad shows:

Clipping from The Spokesman-Review - Newspapers.com

As we’ll see in a moment, Sandifur was successful at selling jeeps, but I can’t imagine CJ-2A was very practical for farming in the Spokane region, in part due to the size of the farms. For example, my maternal grandparents obtained a 160 acre farm 35 miles southeast of Spokane on the small banks of Fighting Creek, Idaho, a place they won in a lottery around 1910, then secured by homesteading. In the 1920s they founded the local Fighting Creek store and operated one of the first phones in the area (we still have some of the books that documented the calls). They also made money logging the local forest and, after WWII, electrifying the area. Had they thought a jeep was practical, I believe they could have afforded to purchase one. Instead, they preferred to use tractors.

My family’s decision to abstain from buying a jeep did little to slow the success of Sandifur Motors. It’s possible the company was doing better selling wagons and trucks versus CJ-2As. I could imagine four wheel drive versions of the trucks and wagons being very handy navigating the endless forests and deserts of the Inland Empire area. This may also explain why both long-wheel base CJ-2As (likely the CJ-2Ls) and CJ-2As with 6ft extended beds were available for sale from both Spokane and Montana dealers (more on this in an upcoming post).

Here’s a 1949 ad promoting the wagon:

Clipping from The Spokesman-Review - Newspapers.com

October 17, 1949, Spokesman Review

Whatever the company was selling, it was selling enough of them to justify new digs. In early 1951, the Willys dealer moved from its original location at W419 3rd Avenue, to W228 2nd Avenue in downtown Spokane:

1951-02-27-the-spokesman-review-sandifur-motors-new-location-lores

February 27, 1951, in The Spokesman Review

In June of 1951, Sandifur Motors announced that it had ranked third in sales volume for all dealers nation-wide for 1950. This success may explain the move to the new location.

1951-06-07-the-spokane-chronicle-sandifur-motors

June 07, 1951, in the Spokane Chronicle

In the company’s role as a distributor, in late 1951 Sandifur Motors inked dealership deals with Thompson Equipment company, out of Moses Lake; Guenther Tractor company, out of Pasco (where I live); and Mert’s Motors, out of Republic, Washington. That brought the total number of dealerships in the region to 35 (November 8, 1951, Spokane Chronicle).

When Kaiser purchased Willys assets in 1953, Sandifur Motors re-signed to become a KW dealer and expanded the business’ facilities:

1953-09-18-spokane-chronicle-sandifur-motors

September 18, 1953, Spokane Chronicle

By 1956, the C. Paul Sandifur family was wealthy enough that the bulk of his family spent a year in Florence Italy, traveling throughout Southern Europe and the Middle East.

Two years later, the Sandifur’s connection with Sandifur Motors ended with the sale of the company to the Portland-based Rancho Rambler, Inc. The Sandifur Brothers chose to pursue the likely more lucrative mortgage industry full-time through their successful Metropolitan Mortage and Securities company, an entity launched in 1953.

1958-06-27-spokane-chronicle-sandifur-motors-sold

June 27, 1958, Spokane Chronicle

The mortgage company would outlast the Sandifur brothers and be handed down to C. Paul Sandifur, Jr. Apparently, the younger Sandifur, a “born rebel”, had a colorful history in Spokane. The mortgage company lasted until 2004 when it landed in bankruptcy, to the chagrin of its investors, thanks in part to a 2003 SEC investigation.

You can learn more about C. Paul Sandifur’s Senior’s thoughts on real estate in his 1991 book, “Just give me real estate: A person history of Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities“.  I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that Sandifur loved real estate, as our place in Pasco sits on land once owned by a Sandifur out of Spokane (which one I don’t know) and the main drag near us is called Sandifur Parkway.

 

 

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