Henry Ford introduced his model T passenger car, in 1908 the same year that 26-year old Walter Dix Dunham arrived in Los Angeles. In 1916 Dunham became one of the first Authorized Ford dealers. In the fall of 1925 he moved to a new larger home where the Angel City got its first look at the new and improved 1926 model T in colors other than black. Dunham sold the first one to a local dance hall operator who paid for it in pennies.
In September 1925, Dunham bought the former home of retiring Ford dealer J.E. Coberly. Located at 122 E. Washington Blvd at the southwest corner of Los Angeles St., it was double the size of the old location. He also took over Coberly’s used car department at 1918 Main St.
Dunham’s new showrooms displayed the 1926 model year model T. The closed body styles came in a variety of colors like Channel Green and Windsor Maroon. There were a number of other improvements as well as new safety features, which Ford played up by gearing his advertising toward lady drivers.
Los Angeles got its first look at the 1926 Channel Green coupe at Dunham’s showroom in early October 1925. The purchaser was Fred H. Soloman, proprietor of Solomon’s Penny Dance De Luxe at Ninth & Grand.
Solomon had arrived in Los Angeles in 1900 as a penniless Spanish-American war veteran and soon built up his 1-cent dance hall empire. He hosted an annual banquet at the hall on Christmas Day for the L.A. newsboys, having once sold papers himself in his youth in San Francisco.
Only a few months into the new year, Ford would stop production of the model T. The last one came off the line on May 27, 1927, the same day that Lindy landed in Paris.
W.D. Dunham was there to sell Ford’s next big thing, the new Model A, and the V8 Ford after that. He rode out WWII when Ford and other American auto manufacturers quit making passenger cars to concentrate on the war effort. In 1953, Dumham Ford merged with Frank Taylor and became Frank Taylor Ford.