AP NEWS

Springfield Drive-In Car Wash closes after 64 years

January 1, 2020 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A drive-through car-washing business that opened in Springfield when Eisenhower was in the White House and tail fins were on stylish coupes has closed its doors after 64 years.

Henry Grebler opened Drive-In Car Wash just south of downtown Springfield in 1955, appropriating a now-vintage neon sign from the former In & Out Car Wash that had operated a few blocks away.

Grebler modeled the assembly line-like wash business after one he saw in Madison, Wisconsin, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported. After heart surgery he surrendered the business to his son, Peter, in 1972.

Peter Grebler, now 81, watched on New Year’s Eve as his last customers pulled away from the business in their sparkling, freshly-washed autos.

“Forty-seven years is a lifetime,” he said. “I could talk about the economy of the industry and competition, but for me, it’s time. I don’t want to get carried out of here on a gurney with my boots on.”

Car washes remain popular. There were more than two dozen car washes in Illinois’ capital city in 2018. The International Carwash Association reports that the portion of patrons choosing professional car washes over the home garden hose increased from 47% in 1994 to 72% in 2014.