The start of World War II halted auto production and the dealers were once again in survival mode.
Pennsylvania’s auto dealers went to war with the rest of the nation. Board members John Gardner of Upper Darby, Edward Sahli of Beaver Falls, and Leigh Schadt of Allentown all served and returned to chair the association later that decade.
By 1942, all wartime production of civilian cars ceased, and each of the manufacturers turned to defense production. In addition to the gas and tire rationing that was imposed for the duration of the war in an effort to conserve fuel, it was difficult to get a car repaired during the war because automotive parts were rationed and many of the mechanics who had worked at the dealerships were now overseas repairing aircraft or tanks instead of passenger cars.
PAA assisted NADA in the recruitment of mechanics for the NADA Battalions, serving in Tunisia, Italy and Germany and in the D-Day landing on the Normandy beachhead.
PAA’s President Claude Klugh served on the Office of Price Administration’s Automotive Rationing Branch.
Those dealerships who survived the war years turned their attention in the late 1940s to improving the highways and bridges throughout Pennsylvania.
The Board took a proposal to Governor James Duff to increase gas taxes by 1%. Their position was that “many motorists do not use the highways for several reasons, including density of traffic, fear of accidents, and lack of enjoyment under existing conditions.” The Governor implemented the Board’s suggestion, and work to improve Pennsylvania’s roads began. Governor Duff’s road program included an expansion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Philadelphia.
Americans continued their love affair with the car as each new model was released with sleeker styling and improved features. In 1949, industry production hit a new high. Auto shows returned, whetting the public’s appetite for new cars. Dealerships began hosting big events during new car introductions in recently re-built showrooms that emphasized brand loyalty and introduced customers to the dealership’s many services.