When most people think about the history of the U.S. auto industry, they think about the people who designed and built the cars. But the people who sold the cars also played an important role in the industry’s growth. It all started with William Metzger, who opened what’s considered to be the country’s first independent automotive showroom in 1897 or 1898. That was in Detroit, of course, where Metzger began by selling Mobile steam cars, Waverley electrics, and gas-powered Wintons. Coincidentally, Winton was the first automaker to launch a franchise dealership, too. H.O. Koller of Reading, Pennsylvania, opened that Winton store in 1898.
More than 120 years later, nearly 40,000 independent and franchise dealerships stand ready to meet your car-shopping needs. Yet while both types of dealerships can sell you a high-quality ride, they do have their own unique benefits — which we’ll explain here.