Our dealership's story began in Somerset, Michigan, almost a hundred years ago. It was there that Andrew Leutheuser settled, and his “Town and Country Store” offered dry goods, hardware, appliances, farm implements, and yes, sold and serviced automobiles. Returning from Army service after WWII, son Paul was managing that store when a customer approached him and suggested he represent the Buick franchise in Hillsdale.
The dealership started operations in late 1950, with one new Buick and a handful of key employees. Leutheuser’s soon became successful and gained a slogan: “Hard to Spell … Easy to Deal With”. The present dealership was built on the edge of town in 1954. Paul soon actively served the community as a City Council member, Mayor, Trustee of Hillsdale College and Director at Hillsdale County National Bank. Leutheuser’s has enjoyed the loyal support of the local community ever since.
Of course, employees have made the success possible, from brother-in-law Carl Walton, first Parts and Service Manager and DuWayne Loney, the original bookkeeper, to Sales Representatives Wes “Wide Track” Towne and Don Playford, through current Managers Craig Boardman, Jerry Hagerman, Mike Moyer and Lisa Adams. Sales Manager Richard White, whose father Robert White was Leutheuser’s top salesman for many years, has the longest tenure.
Paul Leutheuser saw a demand for economical transportation and so added Rambler (which became American Motors) to his lineup in the 1960s. Jeep followed in 1971. Leutheuser’s also promoted the advantages of automotive leasing long before it become common. The next big move happened in 1978, when Oldsmobile, then the third-biggest nameplate, joined Buick. Paul’s youngest son, Eric, joined the dealership after graduation from HillsdaleCollege in 1982. Throughout the 1980’s the combination of Buick and Oldsmobile, plus Pontiac and GMC -- added in 1982 – provided the area’s widest selection and sales grew to a new level. By 1986, expansion had tripled the size of Body Shop, a new display lot spanned the Carleton Road “curve”, and an addition to the main building allowed more customer amenities.
By the early 1990’s AMC had dwindled to Jeep alone, so that brand was dropped to concentrate on selling and servicing GM products. GM phased out Oldsmobile in 2004, and Leutheuser’s began using the internet extensively and offering GM “Certified” Used Vehicles to compliment their collection of models from Buick and GMC.
-- adapted from the Hillsdale Daily News Historical Book