Aaron Rassas outside his Red Bank auto dealership. Below, the original location, at 21 Mechanic Street, in 1934. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Born in the Great Depression, and illuminated in recent decades by a bold ribbon of neon signage at a gateway to Red Bank, Rassas Pontiac both rode and symbolized the ever-rising fortunes of postwar America.
Round-shouldered sedans and coupes once crammed its showroom. Then muscle cars. Minivans. SUVs.
But now, the auto giants are in retrenchment. A few years back, General Motors scrapped the Pontiac line, leaving Rassas to switch over to Buick. Few car dealers can survive selling Buicks alone, said business owner Aaron Rassas: his is one of only two such shops in all of New Jersey, and 30 nationwide. But he failed in his efforts to land a second brand, as GM tries to right-size markets it considers overfranchised.
With that, and the approach of his 70th birthday, Rassas has decided to shut off the engine.
On April 26, after 83 years of selling new and used cars in Red Bank, Rassas Buick will go out of business.