Saturday, April 11, 2020

Sepia Saturday: Granddaddy Bought a Car

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

Even though I have quite a few photos that are a better match to this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt, I am going with this one.
Orvin and Lucille Davis 5 June 1940
Orvin and Lucille Davis
5 June 1940 Shenandoah, VA
It is a picture of my maternal grandparents Orvin and Lucille Davis sitting in their car on 5 June 1940.

I betcha anything that this is the same car Granddaddy purchased from Graves Motor Company in February that year.

And it was a NEW car too – a Chevrolet Master 85 KB.
from Google Images
Granddaddy traded in SOMETHING worth $200. He kicked in $50 in cash and financed the rest through GMAC.

The car cost $740!
That's hardly one car payment today.

The final cost  was $825.28.

For 18 months straight, Granddaddy recorded his monthly payment of $31.96 in a little coupon book. Remember those?

I have this strange collection of papers only because my grandparents did not bother to throw them away, instead leaving them in a box that they stuffed into an attic. The current owner of their house is installing new insulation. When she pushed open that little door under an eave, it must have been like opening King Tut’s tomb, but with the deflating result of Geraldo Rivera’s opening of Al Capone’s vault.

There is nothing of great value in those boxes, only personal tidbits that shed a light on my family’s life. For example, my grandparents apparently could not afford the top of the line or they were more practical. The KB version was at the low end of the Master series. It lacked running board moldings and had plain upholstery and slightly less standard equipment.

Just like today’s cars, there were some options. My reaction to some of them is “What?? That’s an OPTION?” Options like a Clock. Heater. Hood ornament (plastic). Radio antenna. Rear view mirror. Cigar lighter.

The sales receipt and finance contract do not indicate whether Granddaddy got any of the options. I’m pretty sure he would have wanted that cigar lighter though.
Cigar of Orvin Davis no later than 1963
Granddaddy's cigar
from no later than 1963
found in the attic
Hop in your car and drive on over to Sepia Saturday. Shotgun!

© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Yeah, a new car! I remember when my parents bought a sport car when I was very young, a very fast car, so great! great memories ;)
    J is for Jewelry

  2. Wow Wendy, I cannot believe you have one of your grandda's cigars. That's just too cool, I think, maybe, LOL!

  3. Can you imagine how excited they were when they got this car? It is so neat that you have the receipts for payments for it.

  4. I remember when my dad got a red Plymouth instead of the regular blue Studebakers that he'd had throughout my childhood. He thought it was a sports car. The cigar is absolutely awful, but of course uniquely awful. It was part of his life. Just my own reaction.

  5. Amazing the price of that car! It's cool you have the records to show how much it cost!


  6. Great post! I have also inherited car purchase documents and expect to post one soon. And those add-ons made all the difference. My Italian immigrant great-grandfather had a top-of-the-line Packard and he opted for a bud vase in the passenger compartment -- something my mother, who had seen it as a little girl, still talked about in her late 80s.

  7. Great post! When I got married I was into a whole new world regarding cars. In my growing-up-family we always bought used cars when the 'old' one had to be replaced. We also only had one car. In my married life we've had two cars and replace outgoing cars with NEW cars and then make sure to take good care of them. Consequently they've lasted many useful years and miles and make good trade-ins - all except for the station wagon that got into an accident in the snow (not my fault). Then there's the one that hit deer twice, got backed out of our driveway at the same time the neighbor across the street was backing out of her driveway and, well, 'crunch', and was finally T-boned by a 16 year old girl driving on a learner's permit. Other than that . . .

  8. Call me a nerd, but those sales contracts are neat. Beautiful in their own way.

  9. You need to frame these, glass box for the cigar? :D

  10. Oooh! More treasures! I bet your grandkids will be thrilled one day to discover the PDF files of your car loan receipts. Maybe if you print them and bury it all in a hole in the backyard with the old tire warranties it can become a real legacy.

  11. I swear my father had a car that looked almost exactly like the car in your post. His was a Pontiac, though. I think he paid about the same price, too!

  12. I remember in the 80's seeing cars with automatic windshield wipers and thinking how cool that was. And now they are on every car. Wonder what will be standard in another 50 years?

  13. Amazing what you can deduce from little bits of paper. I love such ephemera.