More than a few people come into Dependable Motors at 319 Lincoln Way and say "Groucho Sent Me." For Dependable is the Ames headquarters for DeSoto and Plymouth, advertised on the Groucho Marx comedy-quiz show. Co-owner Paul Baumgartner gets a smile out of this -- in fact toward the end of the first year in business in Ames (he and his partner, Roy Ellis, took over Smith Motors on May 1, 1955) he's of the opinion that it's a nice town in which to do business. Baumgartner manages the garage, and his partner, Ellis, continues to maintain his Des Moines electrical business, making periodic visits to the Ames agency. This is Ellis' first experience in the car business, but Baumgartner has been at it for 30 years -- doing sales, parts and service work during most of that time.
Increased horsepower has been one of the impressive changes this dealer has noted in cars through the years. DeSoto now has 255 h. p., and the Adventurer model has 320. More significant to him, however, are the ever-increasing safety features and power equipment which he believes are great helps to drivers. Power steering, power brakes, power windows and power seats all make driving more effortless. This year the push button shift has attracted lots of attention. "It's just a matter of time until all makes have it," he predicted, adding that the need for a gear shift lever will pass just as the clutch went out on cars having automatic transmissions.
Baumgartner thinks there is absolutely no comparison between the engineering and designs of cars today and those in the so-called good old days. Cars now, particularly those of V-8 design, go further and faster with no major repair, he said. He thinks the people who maintain cars are not so well built these days would find modern vehicles would run for 30 years if they were driven 40 miles an hour like the old ones were. Baumgartner's year of being in business for himself has convinced him that making the customer realize you must have a profit to stay in business and gimmick advertising used by a few big city dealers are the biggest headaches.
Although Lincoln Way once was dotted with homes, by the mid 1940s the 300 block of Lincoln Way contained numerous service stations and two car dealerships. Smith Motors occupied 319 Lincoln Way in the 1940s until 1954, followed by Dependable Motors through 1958, and Orning Glass through the 1960s. The modern office park located today at 317-319 Lincoln Way is occupied by Alliance General Insurance, Bridges Chiropractic Clinic, Heart to Heart Communications, and Central Iowa Psychological Services.