A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

History: Downes Pontiac, Matawan (1958)

The 27 Mar 1958 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 2 col 4) contained this large ad for Downes Pontiac, 62-66 Lower Main Street in Matawan. Phone was MAtawan1-2299.

Wish you could afford this beauty? You can -- It's America's No 1 Value! If you've had your eye on this big, bold action car -- well, just stop dreaming and price it! You're in for a very happy surprise. . . a surprise matched only by the thrill of your first exciting turn behind the wheel. And when you see all that Pontiac gives you as standard equipment you'll agree that it's today's biggest money's worth.
  • Road-leveling 124" wheelbase on Super Chief and Star Chief.
  • Industry's most advanced V-8 Tempest 395 on every model at no extra cost.
  • Industry's widest selection of long-lasting Lucite lacquer on Star Chief and Bonneville models at no extra cost.
  • Smoother riding oversize tires on every model at no extra cost.
  • Genuine top grade leather on Star Chief and Bonneville models at no extra cost.
Get the facts and you'll get a Pontiac.

The 11 Oct 1951 edition of The Matawan Journal carried the ad below for Downes Pontiac. Little Chief Pontiac and his horse are prominently featured in this piece, which encouraged customers to winterize their cars by showing the horse outfitted in ear muffs, scarf and boots. The address appeared as 62-6 Lower Main Street in Matawan. Phone was MA1-2299.

The 29 Jan 1942 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the ad below for the Downes Pontiac service shop. They used Wolf's Head Oil. The address appeared as 62 Lower Main Street. Phone was 2299.

 The 10 Apr 1936 edition of The Matawan Journal includes an article reporting a regional sales award given to George "Goldie" Downes, the senior salesman at Robert G Thixton Chevrolet of Matawan. Downes sold over a hundred Chevrolets in a year, so he was presented a $75 award from Chevrolet's 100 Car Club festivities at the New York Athletic Club.

Harold Strickland operated the local Pontiac dealership in Matawan, according to 24 Feb 1938 edition of The Matawan Journal. Strickland's Pontiac was located at 114 Main Street in Matawan and had telephone 1688, according to the 10 May 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal. Strickland's was pushing the idea of a car as a Christmas gift in the ad below from the 20 Dec 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal.

George G Downes was born 5 Jun 1904, the son of Hiram and Sarah Downes. He lived in his parents' home in Marlboro in the 1920 Federal Census, with his widowed mother in Freehold in the 1930 Federal Census, and with his wife Irene (34 NJ), son George A (3 NJ), and niece Ellen R Mills (15 NJ) at 48 Chandler Street in Keyport in the 1940 Federal Census. He died 23 May 1988 in Red Bank. 

I hope to update this article at a later date with more details about the history of this firm.
If you happen to know something about its origins, owners, etc, send me a note.


  1. Look in this month's High Performance Pontiac, there's a car featured there that was originally sold by Downes Pontiac in 1973.

  2. My dad was a mechanic for Downes Pontiac for over 30 years it's history goes back to the days when it was a hotel the original showroom on maple place was the office the rest was added on later mrs downes is a Detrich very well known family in town.

  3. I traced Downes Pontiac to about 1940. It was on Lower Main Street at Washington Street as far back as I could go in the newspaper. When was there an original Downes Pontiac showroom on Maple Place and what was the name of the hotel that it replaced? Downes was a senior salesman at Thixton Chevrolet in the mid-1930s and Strickland's was the local Pontiac dealer into the late 1930s. The Library's archive is missing the 1940-41 editions of The Matawan Journal, so I'm missing the information I need to sort out the details of the opening of Downes'. If anyone has those details, I can add more to the story.