Wetmore’s Making Wobbly Wheels Straight Since 1928

Wetmore’s Making Wobbly Wheels Straight Since 1928

By Andrea Grieg
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

WETMORE’S AUTO REPAIR HAS THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE BUILDING IN FERNDALE. Located on the corner of Woodward and Drayton, the blue brick building features interesting architecture, large vintage signs, giant windows, and a Daffodil Yellow 1963 Chrysler soaring out of the top of the building.

It is impossible to miss.

Around the time of Wetmore’s grand opening, local garages were spending small fortunes on eye-catching balloons and banners for roadside attention. Wetmore’s original owner Roy C. Wetmore found a permanent, and incredibly unique, form of advertising. A junked Wills Saint Claire originally adorned the building, with the front wheels spinning on a belt-system showing a permanent wheel wobble, the shop’s specialty. The wheels were painted with a white stripe to accentuate the wobbling. Although the car has been blamed for a few fender benders on Woodward, the tradition has stayed for almost 90 years. The Wills Saint Claire has been replaced four times with a 1940s Buick, a Hudson (which was protested by the Hudson Motor Car Company executives), a 1949 Lincoln, and finally the current empty-bodied Chrysler which made its debut in 1966.

The car isn’t the most interesting part of the garage though. The building’s architecture was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. In the 1940’s, Mr. Wetmore’s daughter dated a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. This led to Wright and Wetmore’s introduction. Wright designed a sketch of his vision for the business, and it still included a car flying off the roof. The office area was built to Wright’s designs; however, the rest of the plans were discarded after disagreements between Wright and Wetmore.

WETMORE STARTED THE BUSINESS IN 1928, and sold it on a Land contract in 1969. The land contract was forfeited, and Wetmore sold the business to the current owner, Chris Lynch, and his father Bud in 1975. While the shop originally specialized in alignment and frame work, the Lynch’s grew their scope to include wheels, tires, and most general repairs.

Currently, Wetmore’s employs 12 ASE-certified mechanics, and the shop boasts Ferndale’s best tire inventory of used and OEM tires available. Customers can shop the tire selection on the Wetmore web site.

The Wetmore web site also features an innovative self-diagnosis tool, with which customers can look up their vehicle by year, make, and model. Customers can then look up their specific issue by the sound, feeling, sight, or smell, with very specific descriptions for each possible problem. The self-diagnosis tool gives customers direct feedback of problem possibilities, with an option for the shop to call for further assistance.

“It is great owning a business in Ferndale,” Chris Lynch says. “The people and community keeps us going.” Wet-more’s is open Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and Saturdays 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM at 23459 Woodward Avenue. Visit www.wetmorestireandautorepair.com for more information about their work, their history, and for customer coupons.

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