"OK" has been called the most common expression in the world. While English in origin, it is understood across most languages.
In modern usage, OK has come to mean merely sufficient. But in the 1940s it still carried the connotation of excellence.
The former OK Used Cars store at 1204 Broad St. — which was attached to the Hailey Chevrolet dealership — was a name that signaled to customers that its cars and trucks were top quality, perhaps even A-OK.
This photo was taken in 1948 by Chattanooga Free Press photographer Delmont Wilson and is part of the newspaper's collection of images at the ChattanoogaHistory.com website, curated by local history buff Sam Hall.
An OK Used Cars newspaper advertisement from the period included a range of vehicles: from a 1939 Plymouth two-door sedan ($145) to a 1947 Plymouth station wagon ($955).
A 2011 newspaper obituary notes that Wilburn "Buddy" Hailey Jr., was a former president of Hailey Chevrolet and later Hailey Porsche-Audi here. "Buddy" Hailey was a graduate of The Baylor School and the University of Chattanooga.
The Broad Street address in the photo is now a part of the Tennessee Valley Authority complex in downtown Chattanooga, but in 1948 it sat on the edge of massive rail yards that cut through the city.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.
If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non-digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
In the first half of the 20th century, as many as eight auto dealerships called Broad Street home. A 1939 article in the Chattanooga Daily Times about new cars introduced that year included mentions of such Broad Street establishments as Valley Motors, Cadillac-Oldsmobile Co., Hamilton Motor Co., Citizens Motor Co., Austin Motors (Hudson), D. S. Etheridge Co. (Ford-Mercury), Broad Street Garage (Packard), and Crescent Motors (Studebaker).
The address in the photo, 1204 Broad St., was the home of a series of car stores over time. A few years before this photo was made, it was the location of the Hamilton Motor Company, according to newspaper records.
Before that, a Chattanooga Times ad notes the address was home to Community Motors Co., which carried Pontiac automobiles.
In 1936, a new Pontiac 8 sedan at Community Motors Co. sold for $615 and was touted as "the most beautiful thing on wheels," according to a newspaper advertisement. The ad noted that "83 percent of all Pontiacs ever built are still in use, many with over 200,000 miles."
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