We are pleased to be the new Long Beach caretakers of the esteemed Cadillac franchise… the Standard of the World. Based on the memories of my father, Jim Willingham, Ridings Cadillac was owned by Bud Ridings and was one of the few stores on American Avenue he had not sold cars for. American Avenue had been “The” place to buy a car in the 1950’s as most of the dealerships were brand new, and very large by the day’s standards.
Masters Pontiac, Dick Browning Oldsmobile, Ed James Studebaker, Campbell Buick, Rancho Rambler and Glenn Thomas Dodge and all of their beautiful, ornate marquis lined the street with the showroom glass right up against the sidewalk to attract passers-by into the well-lit showrooms. In the mid to late 60’s the 405 freeway was constructed and the flow of traffic began to change significantly. New residential areas, such as Park Estates, were moving the affluent east of downtown. These two factors made dealers start to think that moving eastward was a good idea. The Lincoln-Mercury dealership went to the Traffic Circle and Ray Vines, who had purchased R.O. Gould Chrysler/Plymouth moved out to Willow and Lakewood Boulevard, right in the shadow of the new freeway.
Mike Salta who had acquired the Pontiac franchise on what was now Long Beach Boulevard, purchase Ridings Cadillac in 1975 and changed the name to Coast Cadillac. Even though the store was right next door to Mike Salta Pontiac, he immediately began searching for a spot that was “in-between the doctors living in the estates and the Hospital”. In 1977 he moved Coast Cadillac to its current location on the corner of Redondo Ave and Willow Street.
In 2001, Mike sold the store to Sonic Automotive, one of the first “publicly held” dealership operators in the country. Sonic performed an exquisite remodel of the building in 2003 which removed the old low-slung roof line and replaced it with beautiful Indiana limestone. Now, looking more like a Ritz Carlton than a dealership, the store has gone full-circle… Jim Willingham (who had became Mike Salta’s partner in 1992, placing then struggling franchises Buick, Pontiac and GMC together in one store in neighboring Signal Hill) is joined by his new partners Ron Charron and myself, Brad Willingham. We have re-christened the beautiful location Boulevard Cadillac and are starting the new era of General Motors and continuing the great customer service for the rebirth of the new Standard of the World.