In Praise of Googie Car Washes

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Gnomus
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In Praise of Googie Car Washes

Postby Gnomus » Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:33 pm

Car washes may well be the unsung heroes of the Googie style. While coffee shops are dropping left and right, these stalwart fellows soldier on. And they're everywhere.

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BelComp Car Wash, 9765 Somerset Blvd, Bellflower

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Lennox Car Wash, 10709 Hawthorne Blvd, Lennox

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Five Points Car Wash, 12604 Whittier Blvd, Whittier (gets my vote for coolest sign)

After a while, you start to see design trends...

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Crown Car Wash, 10399 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles (the chevron-topped beams with holes-of-diminishing-size design is identical to our next car wash...)

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Magnolia Car Wash, 910 West Magnolia Blvd, Burbank (the holes actually make the beams stronger by reducing their weight)

And again, without the holes:
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TriStar Car Wash, 6344 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys

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Premiere Car Wash, 17432 Ventura Blvd, Encino

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Bonus Car Wash, 2800 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica (this spire design is also popular)

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Florence Car Wash, 1662 East Florence, Los Angeles

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Jet Car Wash, 941 West Manchester, Inglewood

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Red Carpet Car Wash, 1620 W Martin Luther King Jr, Los Angeles

And my favorite Googie car wash:

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Toluca Lake Car Wash, 10515 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood

EDIT: had the Five Points in Whittier mixed up with one in Ventura, fixed address.
Last edited by Gnomus on Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Wow!!! What a Collection?

Postby davidk6 » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:23 am

I still prefer restaurants and coffee shops, but this collection is pretty amazing.

Thanks
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Postby Futura Girl » Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:47 pm

fabulous fotos gnomus!

i have always had a fondness for the "sparkles of cleanliness"
I'm gonna keep on the run... I'm gonna have me some fun if it costs me my very last dime.
If I wind up broke up, well, I'll always remember that I had a swingin' time

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Postby roadsidepictures » Sat Jun 21, 2008 3:10 pm

Wow! Great documentation!! Here are a couple of postcards I have in my collection...

In Inglewood...

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Highland Park (located at 5128 N. Figueroa at N. Ave. 52)...

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Postby classic form » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:42 pm

Anyone know if any one of these were used in the movie?

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Postby Gnomus » Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:30 pm

According to IMDB, the 1976 movie Car Wash used the Deluxe Car Wash at 6th St & Rampart Blvd in L.A. as a location. That car wash was torn down in the 1980s...

I've never seen the movie -- is it a Googie car wash?

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Postby classic form » Sun Jun 22, 2008 10:31 am

I don't think it was quite as Googie as these pictures show but I seem to remember some pretty massive iron supports like some of the pics show. You should rent it...hell, I should rent it.

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Postby roadsidepictures » Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:08 pm

I haven't seen it in a few years, but remember that I paid alot more attention to the background than the story.

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Postby nichols » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:16 pm

Charles Phoenix just called in tears to tell me the Compton Car Wash has been destroyed.. it's boomerangs lopped off.

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(roadsidepeek already knew...)
http://www.roadsidepeek.com/roadusa/sou ... /index.htm

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Postby HodadHank » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:22 pm

There's a beauty on Camelback that resembles a series of enourmous skeletal A-frames. Can someone please post?

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Postby HappyBunny » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:10 pm

There is a beauty on Manchester near Western, I will try and snap a pic next time I am over there. Also, check out Garden Grove and Stanton in the OC, lots of awesome car washes there too!

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Postby Gnomus » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:08 pm

I was just watching Death Race (2008) and the final scene is supposed to take place in Mexico. However, in the background you can see the three-boomerang sculpture from the Laurel Canyon car wash in the background, which places it at the Aadlen Brothers Pick-A-Part junk yard in Sun Valley, CA.

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Postby 24x48 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:10 pm

Wow, some great looking washes.

Some designers fantasize about designing a car wash...sometimes you gotta fit the idea, in the abstract, into another type of project...the idea may not be very apparent, but it is there. Picture is from 1992.

24x48
Image

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Postby nichols » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:43 pm

24, is the above building your design?

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Postby 24x48 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:32 pm

nichols wrote:24, is the above building your design?
Yes Nichols, it is.

I could not help myself...as I really dig car washes.

I'll refrain from wearing the architectural hat and try to celebrate as a design aficionado...it is much more fun that way.

The structure looked like it was beginning to go "Blade Runner" when I last did a drive by...some very strange repairs, remodels and a heavy emphasis on security going on...even the green accent color was candy coated by another green...no respect!

Oh well, you can only try your best. I was still under 30 when the project began...and the boss left me alone.

Thanks,

24x48

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Postby Gnomus » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:42 pm

Time for another round of Googie Car Wash worship...

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Celebrity Car Wash, 901 Vine St, Hollywood

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Century Car Wash, 4700 Century Blvd, Inglewood

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Magic Minute Car Wash, 1923 W Manchester Ave, LA -- This is a beauty!

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Manchester Car Wash, 1111 W Manchester Ave, LA -- Is this the one you were talking about, Happy Bunny?

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Olympic Car Wash, 3554 W Olympic Blvd, LA

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Rosecrans Car Wash, 2420 W Rosecrans Ave, Gardena

Hodad Hank mentioned an A-Frame on Camelback. I don't know where that is, but here are some A-Frames.
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Trojan Car Wash, 2302 E PCH, Long Beach
Expert Car Wash, 900 S La Brea, LA
Simms Car Wash, 3312 W Florence Ave, LA

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Slauson Car Wash, 3615 W Slauson Ave, LA

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South Gate Car Wash, 3900 Firestone Blvd, South Gate

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Postby deanna b » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:35 pm

Would roadsidepicture's vintage postcard of Imperial Car Wash
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/37/98087 ... 4365_o.jpg
be the same location as Crown Car Wash
http://i274.photobucket.com/albums/jj26 ... sh1922.jpg
http://i274.photobucket.com/albums/jj26 ... sh1932.jpg
or was there more than one identical car wash and sign built?

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Postby Gnomus » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:20 pm

"Would roadsidepicture's vintage postcard of Imperial Car Wash be the same location as Crown Car Wash or was there more than one identical car wash and sign built?"

Imperial is a different car wash than Crown. And yes, there are duplicates of these designs, with minor variations. The Magnolia in Burbank is the same as Imperial and Crown (without the crown part of the sign), and the Tri-Star in Van Nuys is almost the same.

Once you start looking at these places, you'll see certain elements repeated. The spires, in particular. Maybe we should name them, to make it easier to talk about. "Nice bent spires in Rosecrans!"

I have no idea of these were all owned by the same person, and that's why they're the same, or if an architect sold the design to anyone who wanted to run a car wash, or...

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Postby Gnomus » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:55 pm

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Mission Car Wash - 1601 San Fernando Rd, San Fernando

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Sherman Way Car Wash - 13310 Sherman Way, N Hollywood
This is presently closed; a sign promises that it will reopen with new management.

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Valley Car Wash - 7530 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys
The exterior has been remodeled, completely erasing its Googie appearance. All that remains are the lower portions of the perforated beams.

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Silverlake Car Wash - 3595 Beverly Blvd, LA
This has been modified to a lesser extent and is still recognizable. The tops of the beams have been shorn off and the front beams covered in fake stonework.

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Imperial Car Wash - 3245 W Imperial Hwy, Inglewood
Note the postcard above by Roadsidepictures. This too has been streamlined to a boring appearance. Even the sign, painted to all one color, is less attractive.

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La Cienega Car Wash - 1907 S La Cienega Blvd, LA

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Lankershim Car Wash - 6622 Lankershim Blvd, N Hollywood
AKA "The Smile." This photo doesn't show it, but this wash is in terrible shape.

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Norwalk Car Wash - 11565 Firestone Blvd, Norwalk

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Woodman Car Wash - 8720 Woodman Ave, Arleta

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Studio Car Wash - 10150 Venice Blvd, Culver City
Formerly the Jasmine.

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J&S Auto Hand Wash - 13716 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys

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Rob's Car Wash - 5300 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys
This was the first wash in this "spiderlegs" style that I'd seen, but it's not unique.

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Canoga Park Car Wash - 21004 Sherman Way, Canoga Park
Later the same day I shot this.

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National Car Wash - 5950 Laurel Canyon Blvd, N Hollywood
Similarly, this was the first of this type I'd seen, but I already have 3 more on my "to shoot" list. Unfortunately, two of those are up in Northern California...

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Postby rockland » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:27 pm

Wow. Not much like that in NY.
We do have 'Hand Job', a topless wash in Queens.
(i think i should take a pic)
it's a bit pricey...
But worth it if i have the right passenger.

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Postby nichols » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:25 am

This is really great, Gnomus. Thanks for doing this.

By the way, I have the "N Gas" letters from the Silver Lake car wash. It once said "Wash N Gas"

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Postby nichols » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:35 am

How did you generate your list? That Belcomp model has a cousin in Monrovia.
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Nu-Way Car Wash‎
123 W Duarte Rd, Monrovia, CA

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Postby Gnomus » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:03 pm

Chris, I started with the "Guided Tour of Googie" in the back of Googie Redux, and added to that through a search for "googie car wash" on Flickr, and looting websites such as agilitynut.com, roadsidepeek.com, suggestions made here, etc. I also Googled various city names with "car wash" and ran the results through street view to see what they looked like. Some have been so modified (like the Imperial) that you can't tell they were Googie until you walk up and look inside, so I've probably missed some.

Presently I've shot 48 SoCal car washes, 41 of which are Googie (a few I wonder about, like the Celebrity in Hollywood or the Euclid in Anaheim; their bright color schemes match the others, but the carriage lanterns seem more to embrace the past than the future. Perhaps they were built as the style petered out? The big car wash on Lincoln at Venice would seem to be the fulfillment of that retro direction).

Yesterday I shot another five washes down in Orange County. I have a list of 14 more to check out locally (including Monrovia), plus a handful up in Northern Cal should I happen to travel up that way. I've also started making a list of demolished washes, so I don't end up chasing my tail. Nevertheless, any new leads are welcome.

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Postby nichols » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:52 pm

A man after my own heart.
:wink:
The only things I might suggest are checking historic phone book listings and maybe "Auto Laundry News" and "Car Wash Journal" magazines. Impressed that you found so many in good shape. Years ago we had a debate in ModCom over which would be the most appropriate one to landmark should we choose to go that direction and I remember the Toluca Lake and Whittier locations rose to the top. I might add the one on Magnolia as well. It seems to be the only one remaining that's completely open and exposed like they all originally were. Let's keep building the list. Great job.
Last edited by nichols on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby nichols » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:39 pm

Here's a nice rendering from my collection:
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And a great photo from Car Wash Journal:
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I love how free and open they are, it really shows off how sculptural those fins are and how light the whole composition is.
So, it looks like a company called Rheem manufactured the buildings. I imagine it was a design/build operation. Here are their model numbers for the various lines in the "W" series
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And here's a neat timeline on Rheem. I think the next step is to contact them and see if any records made it through their many corporate takeovers...
http://www.ashraemadison.org/company_hi ... istory.pdf
http://www.rheem.com/about/

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Postby Gnomus » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:06 pm

Chris, what would you suggest in terms of a year to check phone book listings? 1970? Do you think they were all built by then?

I'm going downtown on Tuesday, so I'll stop by the library and try pull the info together.

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Postby nichols » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:08 pm

How could we not include this?
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0TYI5b-Lmo

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Postby nichols » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:11 pm

I think the one on 6th St. that was in the movie was this model
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Postby Gnomus » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:36 pm

I have the "Car Wash" movie location as Deluxe Car Wash, 6th at Rampart. Demolished in the 80s.

Or is that "Dee-luxe" as in the trailer?

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Postby Nathan » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:49 pm

Hope this helps the collective endeavor. Greater 213, August '76.

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