Photography by Martin Garfinkel

Elephant Super Car Wash Neon

In Vintage Signs by Debbi FadliLeave a Comment

This vintage car wash was well known throughout the western states from Washington down to California. The Elephant Super Car Wash sign was definitely its draw, it signified that this chain prided themselves in a perfectly hand washed car. On Saturdays the entire family would go to the Elephant Super Car Wash to get their car washed, often choosing to remain inside their car for the full washing experience. It was thrilling to watch all of the sprayers, belts and gears mechanically pull your car through the different stations while very wet men hand washed your car.

This fine art photo of the Elephant Super Car Wash was taken by Martin Garfinkel. The last Elephant Super Car Wash is still in operation in Santa Barbara, California. It has been modernized however, the car is completely washed mechanically, but totally hand dried by professionals once the car emerges from its tunnel of cleanliness.

What was so delightful about 1950s was the vintage signage that one could find everywhere, advertising anything and everything from shoes to furnishes. Every sign seemed to be a large neon sign to capture your attention. Those nostalgic life size advertisements were full of humor and color. It seems that people wanted to be entertained while taking a simple drive to the grocery store. Who knows what wondrous novelty they might be drawn in to see? It is a real blessing that Martin Garfinkel has that special eye for capturing that rare and different signage. We seemed to have lost our sense of humor several decades ago. At least, we have a good idea of the Americana life style by the photos taken by archival specialist, Martin Garfinkel.

For the history of Elephant Car Wash Seattle visit:

For more photography by Martin Garfinkel visit: Roadside Gallery, 320 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623 in the heart of Carbondale’s Creative District.