The year was 1929. Herbert Hoover had just won the presidency in a landslide election, the first-ever Academy Awards were held in Hollywood and in October, along came the infamous stock market crash. It was also the year that a bright and optimistic 25-year-old Julius Kaminsky opened the doors of Southern Motors on Broughton Street.
Though he grew up before the automobile age, Julius knew that cars were the future. For years he’d been buying and selling cars individually (his first was a Nash he drove down to a buyer in Jacksonville) and giving the profits to his mother to help with the family’s expenses.
What he didn’t know what this: his mother never spent a single dime of that money. Instead, she saved it and then gave it back to her son to help him start the business that would become a fixture in the Savannah community.
According to Julius’s son, Myron, who now co-owns and operates the business with his two sons, Adam and Ross, his father was “tough, fair, generous — and he loved to work.” Julius had few hobbies outside of work, aside from billiards, which he played every afternoon on his lunch hour downtown. His reputation as a strong pool player earned him the nickname “Champ” among friends.
Thanks in part to Julius’s high expectations, perhaps, Southern Motors thrived, expanding to locations in the city’s Southside area, then Springfield and Rincon. This family business has outlived some of the large manufacturers whose cars were once in their showroom: Nash, DeLorean, Rambler. Now, Southern Motors is a licensed dealer for Honda, Acura, and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, and is one of the oldest dealers of both Chrysler/Jeep and Honda in the country. This year, Southern Motors turns 90 years old.