Marion L. McDaniel Sr. and partners opened an auto business in a livery barn in Marion, Ohio, in 1916 and began selling and servicing Willys-Overland cars
The 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco featured a number of technological advances, including the first steam locomotive purchased by Southern Pacific Railroad, a telephone line to New York City and a five-acre working model of the newly opened Panama Canal.
One of the stars of the exposition was the newest Willys-Overland car, the Model 83. Willys-Overland was already the second-largest producer of automobiles in the U.S. after Ford Motor Co. But its front engine-rear drive cars, while dependable, were a bit expensive compared with its main competitor, the Model T.
Yet the Overland Model 83, with its lower entry price tag of $750, would soon make the Willys-Overland car company even more popular. Of the 1.5 million cars sold in 1916, 142,000 were Willys-Overland models.
From the Stable to the Streets
For new businessman Marion L. McDaniel Sr., the timing could not have been better. McDaniel, along with partners Bert E. Bumgarner and Ernest B. Bumgarner, opened an auto business in a livery barn in Marion, Ohio, on Jan. 26, 1916.
Because the Willys-Overland headquarters was just 100 miles north, the Marion Overland Company was ideally situated to sell and service Willys-Overland cars. The fact that Marion, Ohio — with its booming population of 28,000 — was also a hub for several railroad lines, including the Hocking Valley Railway, which brought the cars down from Toledo, further cemented the business move.
The Marion Overland Co. was a hit from the start, said grandson Mike McDaniel in a Marion Star interview about the company’s 100th anniversary. “They sold their first new car three weeks after they started in business. You didn’t know where the future of the industry was at that point. It was really early on. They used horses to pull the cars around that were broken down.”
Just five months later, the company moved into a new building on S. Prospect Street. By 1920, McDaniel had bought out his two partners and sold stock in his new company to Marion businessmen. In 1926, the company moved again, this time to 309 W. Center St., and a year later, McDaniel changed the name of the business from The Marion Overland Co. to The McDaniel Motor Co.
Generations of Growth and Success
While Willys-Overland went through its own financial difficulties in the late 1920s and early 1930s, McDaniel Motor continued to grow and expand, adding Cadillacs, Pontiacs and Ramblers to its lineup. In 1947, Marion L. McDaniel Jr. joined the family business, followed by Mike McDaniel in 1977.
In 1983, Toyota reached out to the McDaniels to start a Toyota franchise. They purchased an existing Toyota facility and began receiving shipments just two months later. More acquisitions soon followed, leading to two new dealerships on Mt. Vernon Avenue. By the early 2000s, McDaniel Motor was selling cars from Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Nissan, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Toyota.
Today, after more than 100 years in business, McDaniel Automotive sells and services Toyota, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles in the greater Marion area. Assistant General Manager Scott McDaniel joined the company in 2013, becoming the fourth generation of McDaniels in the automotive business and carrying on a family legacy that he is reminded of every time he steps into the dealership.
“A lot of people come in that see that I’m a McDaniel, and they recognize me from either my father or grandfather,” Scott told the Marion Star. “They get a big smile or smirk on their face, and you can tell they’re wanting to tell me a story of some sort along the lines that they’ve had with my family. Some of these people bought cars off my great-grandfather and they’re still buying cars here, so that’s pretty cool.”