Ralph Reedman Jr.; Built Car Empire Along Route 1

Posted: January 15, 1994

Ralph C. Reedman Jr., whose used-car business in Langhorne mushroomed over five decades into one of the largest and most innovative new automobile dealerships in the country, died Thursday at St. Mary Hospital in Middletown, Bucks County.

"He was a legend and innovator in this business," said Bob Ebert, who worked with Mr. Reedman for 39 years and now is the firm's operation manager. Mr. Reedman began operating the mall concept of selling cars - several showrooms in close proximity - decades before it was successfully imitated by others. What made Reedman so unusual was that he owned all the different dealerships.

Mr. Reedman began selling used cars with three of his brothers in 1946,

from space he rented at the old Langhorne Speedway. World War II had just ended and new cars had not been manufactured during the war so the boom was in used cars. Stanley E. Reedman Sr., Mr. Reedman's brother, said that in 1952 his brother moved across Route 1 from the former Langhorne Speedway to the present site and into the new car dealership business.

His first dealership was for Packard Cars and then in 1954 he opened a Chevrolet Dealership. At the time of his death Mr. Reedman had a total of nine car and truck dealerships in 20 showrooms at his Reedman Auto Mall-World Car & Truck Center. Depending on the time of the year, Ebert said, between 2,000 and 3,000 new and used vehicles are on the grounds for sale.

With so many dealerships in the location, Reedman made it easy for shoppers to check out several types of vehicles while never having to leave the 150- acre property.

Ebert said that he knew of no other dealership that had test tracks for cars - one track for prospective buyers to try out the wares and another for testing cars with mechanical problems.

Ebert said that Mr. Reedman always was an impeccable dresser and while he had owned Rolls Royces, his favorite car always was a Lincoln Continental. ''His livelihood and his hobby were cars," Ebert said.

Ebert said the while Mr. Reedman had relinquished the day-to-day operations of his dealerships to his three brothers a year ago, he was still active in the business and had checked in by phone on Tuesday.

Surviving are his daughter, Gail Reedman De Maria, two brothers in addition to Stanley, Herbert C. Reedman Sr. and Thomas F. Reedman Sr.; a grandson, and several nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be said at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Ignatius Church, Reading Avenue, Yardley. Relatives and friends are invited to call at the church on Monday, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Burial will be private and contributions in his memory may be made to the St. Mary Hospital Foundation, Langhorne-Newtown Road, Langhorne, Pa. 19047.

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