Co. helped define early Los Altos
The year was 1952 and Los Altos was the place to buy one of thosenew, fabulous Hudson Hornets. The dealership was the Mozart MotorCompany, located at 251 First St., in Los Altos, opposite of theSouth Pacific Depot. In 1952, a new car dealer was a big deal,and having a Hudson franchise in downtown Los Altos helped putthe small country town on the map.
People from as far away as Morgan Hill and Santa Rosa paid avisit to the Gus Mozart's dealership, all to see the "Carof the Year!"
"The customer is king and has to be taken care of properly,"said Gus Mozart. He greeted each and every customer, always witha firm handshake. A giant of a man, he stood well over six foot.His dress was impeccable, fine slacks, jacket, polished shoes,bow tie and a well-lit cigar. Gus Mozart always smoked a cigar,occasionally he would smoke a pipe, but the cigar was his love.He walked with a pronounced limp, from a bout with polio whenhe was a child. But this never slowed Gus Mozart. He was determinedto make the Hudson a roaring success.
Hudson had two models, the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and the lowerpriced running mate, the Hudson Wasp. The ride in both of thesecars was super as the Hornet had an extremely long wheel base.Both cars had mohair interiors, two-tone paint and exceptionalchrome. To own one of these beauties, all you needed was a steadyincome, a small down payment, and a promise to make payments.Most deals in those days were done on a handshake. He sold eachcar personally - there were no salesmen.
As Mozart Motor Company began to grow, another automobile wasadded to the dealership. This car would be the powerfully fastDeSoto Firedome, last of the great V-8s.
The DeSoto had an amazing chrome grille, like polished polishedjaws of a furious wild beast. While the Hudson Hornet was elegant,the DeSoto Firedome was powerful and fast. The car could cruiseat l00 mph. Though not as elegant as the Hudson, the DeSoto wasa car of high quality and simple flair. The Desoto was soon ahuge seller and Mozart added the Plymouth to the inventory.
By 1954 the dealership was officially a Hudson, Desoto and Plymouthdealer, and business was booming. And the business kept on growing,that is until a new small German car came upon the market.
In late 1954 Gus Mozart was approached by Volkswagen. Representativeswere interested in finding a dealer to represent their new caron the West Coast, a new car the Germans believed would outsellHenry Ford's Model Ts. This is a car that would take thecountry by storm, but most dealers at the time thought it wascrazy to take on a Volkswagen franchise.
Not Gus Mozart. He thought the car would be a nationwide hit!Despite doubts from fellow dealers, Mozart decided to take a gamble and became a Volkswagen dealer,starting out with two cars at a time. Within a week, both carswere sold and customers stood in line to be placed on a waitinglist. The little bug was selling, everyone had to have one!
Hudson DeSoto and Plymouth decided to drop their franchise withGus Mozart, and that was fine with him. He decided move his newVolkswagen dealership over to Palo Alto at Stanford in 1955. Hecalled it Gus Mozart Volkswagen. Later moving to 1766 EmbarcaderoRoad in Palo Alto, it became one of the largest Volkswagen dealershipin the United States. Mozart sold the dealership in 1973 and movedon to a Roll Royce franchise in 1975. He retired from the carbusiness in 1979. Despite moving his business to Palo Alto, Mozartremained a Los Altos resident until his death in 1994.
Mozart Motors helped put Los Altos on the map in 1952, back whenthe town was a small country orchard with some dirt roads. Backwhen the town had a theater and a malt shop. Those were simpletimes when everybody knew each other in town. And during somelazy summer night you could hear, off in the distance, the roarof one of those Fabulous Hudson Hornets.
August Mozart, Gus Mozart's son, still resides in Los Altosand works for Coldwell Banker.
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