November 2014 marked the opening of our newly renovated storefront. We are proud to be able to offer our customers a new shopping and service experience. Read on below for a look at the history of Rothrock Nissan.
When 21-year-old Bruce L. Rothrock decided to open his own car dealership, all the major car brands decided he was just too young. Bruce wasn’t going to take no for an answer, so he headed to a car show in New York. He found a young (to America) brand at that show that was willing to take a chance on him: Datsun.
His son, Dean Rothrock, says that was 54 years ago – which makes Rothrock the third-oldest continually owned Nissan dealership in the country. “It’s a pretty amazing story,” Rothrock says. “My father literally started out fixing tractor, and realized he had a talent as a mechanic. Soon after, he got a job at a Ford dealership when he was just 17, and from there, a position managing a Texaco station in Whitehall. Back then, managing a gas station meant doing everything – working on cars, pumping gas, managing money. In time, he bought that gas station.”
Bruce Rothrock soon realized that he could fix up used cars and sell them for a profit, but Whitehall Township regulations at the time prohibited the sale of used cars unless new cars were also offered. “So in order to keep his dealership, he had to get a new car franchise,” Rothrock says. “And that’s what lead him to bring Datsun to the Lehigh Valley.”
When his father started selling the brand – on consignment – a Datsun cost $900, Rothrock says. “Nissan did not ship the vehicles. My father had to pick them up at the port and drive them back,” he says. The new Datsuns were a great alternative to buying a used car. Then, during the oil crisis in the 1970s, Datsun sales went through the roof because they had small, fuel-efficient engines. “Sales took off, and he became one of the top dealers in the USA,” Rothrock says.
In 1983, the Datsun moniker was dropped in favor of its parent corporation’s name: Nissan. “That really hurt the brand for years,” he says. “Customers were confused. They knew Datsun, but they didn’t know Nissan.”
The brand recovered though, and as it has changed over the years, so has Rothrock Nissan. On Friday, November 7th, 2014, we celebrated our grand opening of our newly renovated facility. The building is based on a well-lighted, open-floor concept, with a focus on making the entire car-buying process transparent.
There are 25 service bays, a sales and service area of more than 50,000 square feet, and more than $1 million in parts inventory that come together to offer our customers both comfort and convenience. “We’re thrilled,” Rothrock says. “We’re continuing the legacy my father started all those years ago, but in an incredible new dealership.”