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Queens Chronicle

More than 100 years of car sales

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Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:30 am

Almost since the invention of the automobile, the corner of Queens Boulevard and Hillside Avenue has been a valued spot for selling new cars.

John P. Disbrow started selling them here in 1900. He lived a short distance away in Richmond Hill.

By 1920, if not before, Disbrow was selling Cadillacs, known as large, luxurious vehicles almost from their start in 1902. Cadillac was described in print ads as the “World’s Most Wanted Car.”

Also selling Caddies were the Nachman Brothers, in business since 1919 at 94-15 Merrick Road in Jamaica. Moving to the high-profile corner of Hillside Avenue and Queens Boulevard, where Jamaica meets Briarwood, would boost their sales. They partnered with Disbrow in 1932, selling Cadillacs and a related make, the LaSalle.

But it was the Depression, and the 1932 Cadillac did not do well. Few were made and even fewer were sold. Survivors can command six figures today.

In 1933 Cadillac sales were so poor that Disbrow and the Nachmans switched to a line of cheaper cars, the Essex-Terraplane.

John E. (Jack) and Robert (Bob) Nachman eventually bought out Disbrow and took over the dealership. Jack lived in Forest Hills and Bob at 25 Kew Gardens Road in Kew Gardens, where a bank now stands.

Nachman Cadillac gave up its franchise in 1974, and the dealership became Goldsmith Cadillac. But by the 1980s the reign of Cadillac as a top-of-the-line make had ended. It was later reinvented with a new focus on performance, in response to competition from Europe and Japan.

The old dealership has since become Lee’s Toyota. I wonder what Disbrow and the Nachmans would say about the imports being sold on their old corner.

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