Editor’s Note: This is the 340th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
UNTINGTON — Jacob Cowee “Jack” Rardin III, who died in 2003 at age 87, was a longtime Huntington auto dealer.
Jack Rardin was born in Huntington in 1915. He attended schools in Huntington and the University of Virginia. A veteran of World War II, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater for three years. After the war, he was the president of Galigher Ford and Colonial Motors.
Colonial Motors was a Lincoln-Mercury dealership organized in 1947, with Rardin as president, Henry N. Pace as vice president and Paul Hardy Jr. as secretary and treasurer. Like Rardin, Pace and Hardy served as U.S. Navy officers during the war.
The three men purchased a site on 5th Avenue at 28th Street for $19,500 and awarded a $60,000 contract to E.D. Lambert, a general contractor, to construct a two-unit structure. The first unit, containing the display floor and offices, was built of brick with a distinctive glass front. The second unit, a cinder block, brick and steel structure, housed the dealership’s garage.
Auto manufacturing had been halted during the war so car makers could devote their production exclusively to military needs. When the war ended, Americans were eager to buy new cars, and Lincolns and Mercurys were big sellers.
In 1955, E.W. Earnhardt bought Colonial Motors. When he died in in 1972, he son Don took over.
In 1980, the younger Earnhardt announced he was closing and selling the dealership. “At this particular time, the automobile industry nationally is not in good shape. I just found a chance to sell out, and that’s what I’m doing,” he said.