A long-forgotten photo of a big American coupe parked in front of a dealership was recently brought back to life.
The nugget of Casper’s past is one of thousands of images buried in the Chuck Morrison collection of film negatives now stored at the Casper College Western History Museum.
Museum archivist Vince Crolla has been digitizing many of Morrison’s images, which the photographer shot during his long career at the Casper Star-Tribune and its predecessors.
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The image shows a 1964 Ford Custom coupe parked in front of Spaniol Motors. The car appears factory fresh, complete with dealer sticker still on the window.
It’s unknown why the picture was taken, though it was not uncommon for smaller newspapers at the time to require their photographers to shoot both editorial and ad assignments.
Spaniol Motors was a Ford dealership based at 230 West Yellowstone that started business in 1957. They also operated a used car lot a couple blocks south on the corner of David and Midwest.
Spaniol Motors called themselves “the working man’s friend” in a 1957 newspaper ad for their used car lot. Among the deals in the listing are a 1952 Hudson Wasp for $395, and a Ford V8 Club Coupe for $85.
In today’s dollars that translates to roughly $3,600 and $775, respectively.
In a 1962 ad they claim to accept anything for a trade in, including “livestock of any kind” and mineral leases.
“No reasonable offer refused; unreasonable offers considered,” said the ad (which can be seen following this article).
Spaniol Motors operated through Sept. 1970 when it closed abruptly. At the time it was the largest Ford dealership in the state, according to newspaper reports, with 92 people being put on furlough.
Shortly after closing, the owners filed a $2.2 million lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company and its finance arm claiming the company conspired to force them out of business.
In a Nov. 11, 1972 Casper Star-Tribune article, the Spaniols claimed they were pressured by Ford into investing in “larger facilities at the outskirts of the city.” They took out a $300,000 loan from Ford Credit and lost the dealership in 1970 when they couldn’t pay it back.
In 1972 Cheyenne jury awarded Spaniol $621,000, but U.S. District Judge Ewing T. Kerr found it “excessive” and slashed it to $125,000.
The dealership’s new car West Yellowstone location went through various uses over the years. In the early 2000s it was purchased by Movie Palaces and converted into the 8-screen Iris Stadium theater. Movie Palace closed the theater in 2015 and it’s now The Lyric, a rentable events space.
The David Street Station public plaza replaced a hodgepodge of service stations and buildings across the street, and looks nothing like what the Spaniols saw when they ran their Ford dealership over a half-century ago.