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Back To The Future Series #1: Clem Ruh Chevrolet

Back To The Future Series #1: Clem Ruh Chevrolet 21100 Sherman Way Canoga Park
Welcome to the first Back to the Future Series (not the movie). The goal of this series like you may have seen in Then And Now books is to show how a location, site, place, etc from the past has changed when compared to today. This should be a lot of fun as this may get those faded memory cells thinking again about a location that might have had an effect on your life way back then(obviously this isnt for the children).

So for the first BTTF series, I picked something random that was sitting in front of me at the time (the old picture that is) so there is nothing special about this one being the first. Check back often for more exciting BTTF series updates. 

[Paragraph edited on 12/22/2011 based on comment below from Anonymous]
Clem who? How many remember Clem Ruh Chevrolet on Sherman Way in Canoga Park. It was started by Ruh in the early 60's through the 70's. This dealership was later transferred to Jim Bess sometime after Ruh's death in the mid 70's. I visited this dealership with my Dad in the late 80's which was presumably under the ownership of Jim Bess. I cant recall exactly what happened but my Dad walked away without a car purchase. However, my Dad did eventually purchase from Galpin Ford. I have no idea how many lost deals similar to my Father's took place at the former Clem Ruh/Jim Bess Chevy dealership but I can imagine that the changes in the auto industry, foreign competition, and changing demographics of the West Valley might explain why they are no longer present as a Chevy dealership. This is also symbolic of the demise of the Big 3 automakers as the market share has been dwindling for decades to foreign competitors due to lack of cost control (Big Unions with Big Demands) and reduction in quality. Dont get me wrong, Chevy makes good cars and trucks and their Corvettes are real bargains compared to European counterparts. At any rate, this is what happens when you get complacent and fail to keep up industry changes.


So back to Clem Ruh, one of the notable attractions of the dealership was the sign which employed the Googie architecture (not google). This is prominent throughout the Valley/So Cal but most people are probably  not aware of this architecture style yet recognize the uniqueness of the buildings and signs. Check out the Chevy logo and what replaced it.

Today, the dealership is a used car lot called Super Calidad.To learn more about Clem Ruh, Canoga Park HS has a brief bio where he donated money to the school's football program amongst other charities in the community. Canoga Park HS bio on Clem Ruh


Picture taken in the early 70's:


















Picture taken today:




















Do you have any stories to share of Clem Ruh Chevy or even some old photos of the site?

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

4 comments to ''Back To The Future Series #1: Clem Ruh Chevrolet"

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  1. Yes, the reason Clem Ruh Chevy failed was because my grandfather died in 1973 and my uncle who took over also passed away only a few years later. My grandmother after losing two of the most precious men in her life wanted out of the business and sold it to Jim Bess. So, I'd respectfully ask that when you you write something such as: " That didnt work out and might explain why they are no longer present. ", I'd ask you to do your homework rather than try to be comical. You have no idea what you're talking about yet come across as blatantly disrespectful.

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  2. Hello Anonymous,

    Thanks for your feedback and its always good to hear from readers with first hand experience. I apologize for any disrespect. When researching about this location, I could not find much so I had to base things on my memories which are only so good. I am not aware of any books or sites that provide a glaring historical review of Clem Ruh aside for the Canoga Park HS site referenced in the post. Feel free to share any stories or explain in detail why the Chevy dealer no longer exists for the benefit of the SFV community rather than criticize my work.

    Based on your feedback, I did modify the paragraph above to correct any misunderstandings I caused between Clem Ruh and Jim Bess. I believe I referenced Clem Ruh during my visit when it should have been Jim Bess.

    By the way my Dad ended up purchasing a Ford from Galpin in North Hills.

    Lastly, for what its worth, this was the third post written so I have come a long way since then and I am developing better writing skills and evolving over time.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I was in high school in the late '70s, then college in the early '80s, I had a 1973 Chevy Vega that I worked on myself. Certain parts were available only from Chevrolet dealerships, and there were so many of them at the time!

    I'd go scurrying around looking for some obscure item (the Vega was out of production but back in those days dealerships still had pretty deep inventories of parts that they'd just keep forever), and Clem Ruh was on my list of places to visit. It was one of the smaller Chevrolet agencies, for sure.

    Others were Baher in Northridge (closest to home), Rancho in Reseda (REALLY tiny - it's Reseda Bicycles now), Terry York in Encino, Pollard-Whitman-Robb in Van Nuys, Crossroads in North Hollywood, and one in San Fernando that I can't remember the name of.

    Today, there's one (I think) as Baher is now Rydell but still stands in the same building as it always has. There might be another in Van Nuys / Sherman Oaks, but the one that was on the corner of Van Nuys and Burbank Boulevards disappeared in the big auto industry shake-out of 2008.

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  4. I used to be seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time. Thanks and good luck.
    chevy trucks for sale

    ReplyDelete

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