It is not surprising that many businesses along Fourth Street in the heyday of U.S. 40 dealt in some way with automobiles and related supplies. But one in particular brought to Reno some of the most iconic vehicles of the mid-20th century.
Allied Equipment moved into a new warehouse at 545 E. 4th Street in 1937. The business served as a distributor for everything from trucks, tractors, and other farm equipment to snow plows and illuminated street and highway control signals.
In 1945 the business sold to Phil Tovrea, a Phoenix businessman who was already the Arizona and New Mexico distributor for Willys-Overland Motors, manufacturers of the “peace-time Jeep.” The company had developed the sturdy Jeep for military use during World War II. The vehicle’s peacetime version, introduced in 1945, was expected to find a worldwide market as a farm and industrial tractor, truck, and mobile power unit, as well as a “general roundabout.”
The arrival of Reno’s first peacetime Jeep was such a momentous occasion that then-mayor Harry Stewart immediately took it for a spin, his dog perched jauntily on the back seat.
In 1950, Tovrea sold his operation, which also included a repair shop, to Wesley J. Gritton, the local Hudson and Studebaker dealer. One loyal customer was the Reno police department, which bought the occasional Hudson sedan there.
The building was later devoted to various auto and electric shops and, in later years, Blue Seal Transmission Center and Sipe’s Antiques. In the early 2000s it was home to Cuddleworks, a warehouse space that included artist studios, a coffee roaster, and the Bootleg Courier Company.