LA Times, Mar 1966
Holiday Motors was a car dealership that operated in the Los Angeles area. They sold many marques, both foreign and domestic. They first opened their doors in 1951 and remained in business for over three decades. The Holiday empire had many tentacles and offshoot businesses that makes telling their story complicated, so we focused mostly on their import division.
For a brief period in the early 1970’s, they sold Citroëns.
The two original founders of the company were named Dan Schwartz and Ira Kaner.
I could find very little about Ira Kaner, but I read that Dan Schwartz was born in Russia and grew up in New York. He was a graduate of City College in NYC and served in WWII as a pilot. After the war, he moved to California and began his automotive career in 1946. As for hobbies, Dan Schwartz was an avid boater.
LA Times, Feb 1966
A third man named Larry Miller joined Holiday Motors in 1953, a few years after the business started. We found an article indicating that Larry Miller joined Holiday Motors to help with a planned expansion of the business. Larry apparently had several functions at Holiday Motors, but the job of treasurer was cited in several of the early articles about him. Later on, he would be referred to as general manager and even president. Larry Miller was born in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State, class of 1950. He married a woman named Carol Alexander in 1950 and had two kids. His hobbies included golf, boating, swimming.
Holiday Motors got its start in 1951 on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, but by 1952 they had moved to a larger location on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. Initially, it seems that Holiday Motors only sold used cars, but in January of 1953, they were selling new cars; English Ford and the French Simca.
In March of 1954, Holiday Motors announced that they had acquired the Rootes group franchise of cars, including; Hillman, Rover, Sunbeam, Talbot, Humber, and Commer (Commer was a British manufacturer of commercial vehicles and trucks). They also were selling the Swallow Doretti sports car.
In order to perform maintenance on all these cars that they were suddenly selling, they opened service facility in North Hollywood in early 1955.
In July of 1956, they added Jaguar. The addition of Jaguar coincided with the opening of another facility at 5015 Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.
Valley Times, 1956
LARRY MILLER (LEFT) AND DAN SCHWARTZ (SITTING IN A NEW JAGUAR) IN FRONT OF THEIR NEW BUILDING ON VAN NUYS BOULEVARD
Valley Times, 1957
MISS BELGIUM POSING WITH DAN SCHWARTZ (RIGHT) AT THE 5015 VAN NUYS BOULEVARD LOCATION
RENAULT (THREE SEPARATE TIMES!)
The owners of Holiday Motors seemed to like Renault. So much so that they took them on at three different times. The first time was in 1957.
The caption to this photo was:
"The only thing I have ever won in my life was a turkey," said Mrs. Betty Smith as she accepted keys to new Renault Dauphine she had just won from Dan Schwartz, owner of Holiday Motors, Van Nuys.
Valley Times, Aug 1957
DAN SCHWARTZ HANDING THE KEYS OVER TO A LUCKY WOMAN WHO HAD JUST WON A DAUPHINE
But it didn’t last. By the early 1960’s, Renault had somehow faded away from Holiday. Fast forward to 1968 when they officially picked up the Renault marque again.
LA Times, Jan 1968
RENAULT ATTEMPT #2
But yet again, Renault faded away from Holiday Motors, only to return one last time in 1977.
Valley News, Aug 1977
RENAULT ATTEMPT #3
At the dawn of the 1960's, Holiday Motors held a grand opening ceremony of their new facility at 4967 Van Nuys Boulevard. At this time, they were selling Peugeot, Renault, Jaguar, Hillman, Triumph, and English Ford.
Valley Times, Dec 1959
A lot of change for Holiday Motors occurred in the 1960’s. The business started to splinter into various factions and offshoots.
By the mid-1960’s, Holiday Motors had branched out to offer leasing services as well as a rental car services; Holiday Leasing and Holiday Rental Cars, respectively. Dan Schwartz and Larry Miller were also involved in another rental car agency called, Merit Rental Cars in Beverly Hills.
In 1962, the Holiday empire started up a division selling Rambler cars from 1427 Long Beach Boulevard in Long Beach, CA.
In 1965 Dan Schwartz purchased an existing Ford dealer and renamed the business Dan Schwartz’s Holiday Ford, operating from 1720 S. Western in L.A. It is unclear if Larry Miller was part of this venture, but I think not. A year later in 1966, Dan Schwartz moved his Ford dealership to San Fernando (1212 San Fernando Boulevard). Dan Schwartz’s name was associated with this Ford dealer for a few years, but he sold it in the early 1970’s.
By the mid-1960's, Holiday Motors offerings had changed a bit to include; Jaguar, Triumph, Hillman, English Ford, Alfa Romeo, Sunbeam, Renault, Simca, English Ford, and perhaps a few more.
The Holiday Motors service department received quite a bit of press in 1968 when they bought one of the very first computer systems used to diagnose cars. The machine was called the Allen 1280.
TECHNICIAN USING ONE OF THE FIRST COMPUTERIZED ENGINE ANALYZERS, THE ALLEN 1280
Computers and Information, March 1968
By late 1968, they had started a Chevrolet division, called Holiday Chevrolet, located at 315 Pacific Coast Highway, in Huntington Beach. But this venture didn’t last. By 1970, Holiday Chevrolet was gone and the car lot at 315 Pacific Coast Highway was now a Volkswagen dealer, called Wissler Volkswagen.
By the 1970’s, the Holiday Motors empire splintered into even more factions.
A 1972 LA Times article indicated that Holiday now had two main divisions; one was called Holiday Motors – American (sometimes called Holiday American Motors, or Holiday AMC) and the other division was still called Holiday Motors, selling imports. The American division was selling American Motors cars (and Jeeps) and the import division was selling Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Triumph, Rover, Land Rover, Renault, Citroën.
Larry Miller indicated in a newspaper interview that he was very excited to start selling the Levis Gremlin!
Also, in the 1970’s, Dan Schwartz branched off with other businesses, including Inglewood Toyota and Desert VW, Porsche, and Audi. Even though he had other ventures going on, he was still was involved in the original Holiday Motors with Larry Miller.
In the middle of 1971, Dan Schwartz and Larry Miller opened a new facility just for motor homes. the new facility was located at 17461 Ventura Boulevard in Encino. It looks like this location had multiple uses since they also advertised foreign cars at this address. But this venture and location didnt last. It was over by 1973.
SHORT-LIVED LOCATION IN ENCINO
Valley News, Jun 1971
Holiday Motors first shows up in the 1972 edition of the Citroën dealer directory, but I found that they were selling Citroëns a bit earlier. The very first indication that there were Citroëns at Holiday Motors was in the fall of 1970 when they ran a few advertisements for the Mehari.
Later on, in 1972 and 1973, there were a few advertisements for SM’s, but only a few. It seems that Holiday Motors foray into the world of Citroën was brief and half-hearted.
But notice from the SM ad below that a benefit of buying a car from Holiday Motors was that they added a 5 year/50000 mile warranty to the cars they sold. With the SM, this probably cost them dearly!
Holiday Motors is not remembered having much of a dedication to Citroën, but since they are listed in the dealer directory, we are profiling them.
RARE SM ADVERTISEMENT FROM HOLIDAY MOTORS
LA Times, Sep 1970
MEHARI, THE CAR YOU COULDNT CARE LESS ABOUT (NO KIDDING)
LA Times, Oct 1972
CITROEN DS19 DRIVING IN FRONT OF HOLIDAY MOTORS,
5015 VAN NUYS BOULEVARD, SHERMAN OAKS, CA
FIAT AND LANCIA
Holiday Motors (import location) started selling Fiat and Lancia (Lancia in 1979, Fiat in 1982). This proved to be a curious decision since Fiat and Lancia’s sales in the USA had a rather spectacular decline in this time frame (Wikipedia notes that Fiat’s sales in the USA dropped 85% between 1975 and 1982). Fiat and Lancia pulled out of North America at the end of the 1982 model year which basically killed Holiday Motors. I am having trouble understanding why Holiday Motors took on these two marques when they did.
LA Times, Oct 1979
LA Times, Jan 1982
Holiday American, also known as Holiday AMC or Holiday American Motors, was bought out in 1977, thus bringing an end this branch of the Holiday Empire.
It looks like the import division, Holiday Motors, ended by about 1983. Their last offerings were Fiat, Lancia, Renault, and Jaguar – most of which had disastrous sales by the early 1980’s, with Fiat and Lancia pulling out of the market in 1983.
Ira Kaner remained in the auto business in the LA area until the late 1970’s. His last venture seemed to be associated with a Buick dealer in LA. But after the late 1970’s, I think he retired. He died in 1987.
Dan Schwartz retired from the automobile business in 1987 and died in 1997 at the age of 77.
Larry Miller died in March of 1999. His obituary indicates he was an associate VP at Morgan Stanley / Dean Witter after his car dealership days. I was unable to figure out when he bowed out of the car business and entered banking, but it must have been in the early 1980’s, probably in 1983 after Holiday Motors closed their doors.
Holiday Motors, and all of the offshoot businesses, occupied a dizzying number of buildings and locations in the Los Angeles area over the 30+ years they were in business. However, a few of the more interesting locations are provided below. Date ranges of each location are approximate.
912 S. La Brea, Los Angeles (1951 only)
This was Holiday Motors' original location that was used for only a year. The location is now a car wash.
11647 Ventura Blvd, Studio City (1952-1958)
This was Holiday Motors' second location that was a result of an expansion effort. It looks like the original building might still be there.
Google Maps, 2023
HOLIDAY'S SECOND LOCATION ON VENTURA BOULEVARD
5015 Van Nuys Boulevard, Sherman Oaks (1956-1983)
Holiday Motors held their grand opening in May of 1956. This location was described as having 25000 square feet of sales and service area and represented a $150000 investment on th part of Holiday's owners. This is the address shown in the Citroën dealer directories. By early 1983, a different business was operating out of this building.
The building is still there, still in the automotive trade.
Google Maps, 2023
4967 Van Nuys Boulevard, Sherman Oaks (1959-1978)
Grand opening was held in December of 1959. This location was used for a variety of purposes, including for their "American" division in 1972 as well as for imports at other times.
1212 San Fernando, San Fernando, CA (1966-1974)
This was Dan Schwartz's second location for Holiday Ford.
LA Times, May 1966
5000 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks (1972-1976)
This was Holiday AMC for the approximate year range shown. There is no trace of this building remaining.
Google Maps, 2024