Ford Dealership Part 2
We introduced you to W.E. “Bill” Lovelady a few months back when we were exploring the businesses on Middle Street (see the entry on the Shell Station). He had returned to Montevallo in 1945 at the conclusion of World War II, and like so many soldiers with ties to family and home, he needed to find a way to make a living. Not long after his return he took over the management of the Middle Street Shell service station and also got involved in an auto parts business. As last week’s “Ford Dealership Part 1” concluded, Mr. L.W. Wooten, owner of Montevallo’s Ford dealership, Wooten Motor Co., had sold the business and Authorized Ford Motor Co. dealership to Mr. Lovelady in September of 1949. The result of this transaction was the creation of Lovelady Motor Co. which, over its 18 years in business, became one of Montevallo’s most vibrant and energetic economic enterprises.
Bill Lovelady was nothing if not a gifted salesman who exhibited to the citizens of Montevallo and Shelby County endless showmanship and charisma during his career in the car business. Lovelady turned his showroom into a showcase for the current models of Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln automobiles as well as Ford trucks and ran a lucrative used car operation and service department.
Each fall, he put on a two day extravaganza for the upcoming year’s new models that became one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the season among local children, college students, and adults. He gave away free popcorn, cotton candy, and soft drinks as a way of attracting visitors to his annual shindig, and all kinds of free Ford branded items, such as drinking glasses, salt and pepper shakers, yard sticks, ash trays, and similar items were given out as long as they lasted.
Mr. Lovelady was also able to attract crowds several times each day with drawings for door prizes. And then the climax each night was live musical entertainment performing on a stage set up in his Used Car lot next door to his brother Don’s hardware and auto parts store on Main Street. Experiencing the intoxicating aroma of the interior of a new Ford became an iconic memory for every boy and girl who visited the dealership’s yearly jubilee.
Mr. Lovelady’s main competitor, the local Chevrolet dealer, Victor Scott, was compelled by the annual Ford celebration to match Lovelady’s effort and put on a similar new model party for his Chevys, usually the following weekend. To build excitement, both dealerships would cover their showroom display windows with paper so that the curious could not get a glimpse of the new cars before the designated date for the unveiling.
Bill Lovelady enjoyed much success with his Ford dealership and by the mid-1950’s was able to buy several acres of land just off Pineview Road in the Arden Subdivision where he raised horses and built a fine brick ranch-style home for his growing family on a rise overlooking a handsome new barn. This property today is where University Baptist Church is located and the house remains as part of the church’s campus.
Mr. Lovelady sold his dealership in 1967 to Mr. Sherman Holland. He passed away at age 51 in 1969 and is buried in the Montevallo City Cemetery.
Sherman Holland Ford picked up where Lovelady left off and continued to offer Montevallo and Shelby County a modern and well run dealership in the same location on Main Street through the 1970’s. Around 1980, Sherman Holland decided to tap into the newly growing and developing Alabaster/Pelham area and moved his dealership and used car business to a large lot on Highway 31 just north of the hospital in Alabaster. When Mr. Holland decided to retire, he sold the dealership to Ernest McCarty, and the name was changed at that time to Ernest McCarty Ford. The McCarty Ford dealership didn’t miss a beat with the transfer and has remained in business at the same location to this day.
Thank you Clay Nordan, Vice President of Montevallo Historical Society, for this information!