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Grant Six: 1920

Grant Six: 1920

Somewhere around San Francisco in 1920. "Grant Six touring car." Pointed straight into the 20th century, although the Grant brand itself was not long for this world, expiring in 1922. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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The Grant auto was being sold by the Frank O. Renstrom Company at Van Ness and Golden Gate Avenues in San Francisco.

Frank Renstrom immigrated from Sweden with his family in 1883. By 1896 he was working as an apprentice at the Union Iron Works along with his brothers. He became an electrician, and he remained at Union Iron until about 1905.

The International Motor Cyclopedia for 1908 states he established his automobile business in March of 1905, and that he incorporated the firm in December 1906. By 1907 he was selling automobiles under his name at 424 Stanyon Street. He later began repairing cars, selling automotive supplies and tires, and also opened a branch in Oakland, California. In 1908 he was selling the Pullman and Pennsylvania marques.

In November 1910 the garage that housed his business on Stanyon caught fire, and it was completely destroyed resulting in a $10,000 loss. Before the end of December 1910 Renstrom had established a new presence at the Southeast corner of Van Ness and Golden Gate Avenues which was in the heart of the automobile sales district. A picture of the building from the May 1914 "Pacific Marine Review" trade periodical is below along with a recent Google street view.

In addition to the Oakland branch, Renstrom opened additional outlets in Los Angeles and Stockton, California as well as Nevada and Arizona. He handled many different automotive brands over the years including Kline, Regal, Briscoe, Grant, and Premier cars as well as Atterbury Trucks, Grant Trucks, and Twin City Tractors. Renstrom became one of the biggest automobile distributors on the Pacific coast.

In September 1923 Renstrom filed for voluntary bankruptcy. He appears to have lost his entire business, and in 1924 he is shown working for H.O. Harrison's Hudson and Essex dealership. Renstrom's former dealership location became the Buick franchise of Charles S. Howard.

Renstrom worked for Harrison for a couple of years, but then he started to sell real estate and insurance in 1926. He built up this business which was eventually handed over to his son. Frank Renstrom passed away during April 1947 at the age of 70.

Grant Tinkerers

Here are many of the guys who probably built the car.

View from Fort Mason

My first posting was a little vague. I believe this was taken in the vicinity of Fort Mason. When last there (2011) I noted some rail still existing in the sidewalk while riding the bike trail along Marina Boulevard. Rail within the fort still exists. The distant hills align quite well with the Shorpy image and Google street views.


Which tire manufacturer made those treads? You left their advertising copy (backwards, of course) on every dusty or muddy road.

In the seventies, there was a curved dash Oldsmobile with those tires, permanently on display at Egizio Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Naperville, Illinois. Every time my dad would take our '76 Chevy Beauville van in for service, I'd spend ten minutes ogling the new Corvette, and five minutes on the other cars. After that, I was checking out the "merry" Olds. I never got tired of looking at that car.

Golden Gate

That certainly appears to be the Marin Headlands to the right of the car's roof. To the left looks like old Fort Winfield Scott (Ft. Point) without the familiar Golden Gate Bridge over it. If so, the only place I remember a railroad track that offered that view would have been on the East Bay, somewhere between El Cerrito and Berkeley.

However, one would have needed a telephoto lens to bring in those mountains that high (judging from the Google street view). Angel Island would also have had that view, but no railroad.

Here's a view from 1902:

Once Rail, Now Bike Trail.

Today's bike trail is probably on or near the railbed in the photo. The Golden Gate Bridge would be in the distant background today.

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