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Ryan Dodge / Corwin-Churchill Motors

By on November 26, 2012

Corwin-Churchill Motors is the nation’s oldest Chrysler Dealer, founded in 1914 by Samuel Wickham Corwin. The dealership originally sold Buick, Saxon and Mitchell automobile brands, and became one of the first distributors of the Chrysler nameplate when it was introduced in 1924. One year later, Neil Churchill joined the dealership.

In 1937, the company purchased Murphy Motor in Fargo, greatly expanding the dealership. Corwin moved to Fargo to head up operations at its new dealership, while Churchill continued to manage the Bismarck location.

During World War II, the company temporarily switched its focus on wholesale automobile parts distribution.

Churchill retired in 1952 and sold his interest to the Corwin family. The Whittey purchased the Bismarck dealership from the Corwins six years later in 1958 and continued its operation for the next five decades.

Corwin Churchill has had two locations in Bismarck, the first being downtown. Its current facility was completed in 1998, and coexisted with the downtown location for a short time. The former downtown building was completely destroyed by fire in November 2003.

In 2010, Corwin-Churchill Motors was purchased by Minot-based Ryan Auto Group, who renamed the dealership Ryan Dodge. The new name is a clear indication on the company’s intention to apply a greater emphasis on its newly acquired Dodge lineup versus its traditional Chrysler line.

Corwin-Churchill is also the name of an Appliance dealer in downtown Bismarck, which opened in 1935. The appliance store is no longer connected to the auto dealership.

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  1. Former Bismarck Best Employee

    February 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    As I worked at both the Bismarck and Fargo locations in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I have a minor correction to your article. While Best Products purchased Modern Merchandising in 1982, it wasn’t until the summer of 1987 that the Bismarck Store #142 (and Fargo #141 and Grand Forks #143) showrooms were remodeled and the “Best” logo put in place.

    From a technical standpoint, it was at that time the new IBM Point of Order (POO) systems installed upgrading from the old MM “Maven” systems. Sadly it took until 1990, for the POS systems to be finally upgraded from ancient NCR 2151’s (programmed by cassette tape drive and requiring imprint credit card copies made instead of simple mag-stripe processing) to much nicer and faster NCR registers.

    Sadly the competition of the discount retailers without 1:1 customer service that finally took their toll. An interesting side-note, the Fargo store closed over a year earlier than the Bismarck and Grand Forks stores due to them losing their lease on the 13TH Ave S location they had held since 1976. The rumor was rent was more than tripling and Scheels was more than willing to pay that for the then prime location a decade before they finished their super store on 45TH St in Fargo.

  2. Profile photo of Randy Hoffman (admin)

    Randy Hoffman (admin)

    February 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for the information – the article has been updated.

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