Martens Cars of Washington

Martens Cars of Washington Receives First NADA Century Award

Congratulations go to Martens Cars of Washington for being the very first recipient of NADAês newly created Century Award, which recognizes NADA member dealerships that have been run by the same family for 100 years or more. NADA Chairman Charley Smith and NADA President Phil Brady personally presented the award to Steuart and Harry Martens III last week at their Wisconsin Avenue Volvo-VW dealerships.

–This award underscores the point that dealers are in this business for the long haul,” said Smith. –NADA is pleased to recognize the commitment that dealers like the Martens have made to their communities for generations,” he added.

Martens Cars of Washington was also featured in a Then & Now article in the August issue of NADAês Auto Exec magazine.

–We are excited about the award,” said Steuart Martens. –We feel kind of lucky. Itês a hallmark, and itês dawning on us how long 100 years is. I think itês a tribute certainly to our grandfather and his vision way back in the early 1900s, and also to our father who continued that legacy. And now I think itês quite appropriate that four of the grandchildren are carrying on that legacy and running a business where there are only two dealers left in DC.”

Sadly, Harry Martens, Jr. who ran the business since the 1950s, and was a former NADA director for Washington, D.C., passed away on July 3, 2004.

As we reported in the May 8, 2004 WANADA Bulletin, the business began in 1904, when Leonard (L.P.) Steuart, assisted by his younger brother Guy, founded LP Steuart & Brother basically, a mule drawn cart that sold coal in the winter and ice in the summer.

The Steuart brothers rapidly expanded their operation to become one of DCês leading fuel oil and coal distributors.

In 1916, Henry Ford approached the Steuart brothers about selling his new •horseless carriagesê in DC. And that was the beginning of a dealership dynasty that eventually included BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler-Plymouth, Citreon, Datsun, DeSoto, Ford, Hyundai, Jensen-Healey, Lotus, Mazda, Nissan, Packard, Pontiac, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen franchises.

The brothers separated their business interests in 1951, with LP taking the automobile business. Along the way, one of LPês daughters, Virginia, married Harry Martens Jr. and together they had five children four of whom manage and work at Martens Volvo-Volkswagen today. The rest, as they say, is history.

NADA would like to hear from other longtime dealers. To be considered for the award, the dealer principal must have signed the NADA Code of Ethics, and must complete a short nomination form, which can be obtained from or by calling (703) 827-7411.

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