Frank Hotopp had been in the used-car business for a few years, but in October 1947, he decided to become a new-car dealer. Hotopp’s Rocket Auto and Implement Company at 701 S. Broadway in Rochester would become home to a unique but familiar vehicle.

Unlike other auto manufacturers, Willys Corp. did not shut down production for World War II; they stepped it up, with their new model GP or “general purpose” 4-wheel-drive vehicle that GI's nicknamed “Jeep.”

Soon after the civilian Jeeps began to arrive in 1948, Hotopp sold the business and building to Clinton Marti, who had opened his new Nash dealership on First Avenue Southeast a year earlier.

Expansion soon began on the Rocket Auto building. In 1950, Marti dropped his Nash agency, picked up Oldsmobile and moved to South Broadway. By 1952, Rocket Auto, Rochester’s first Jeep dealer, would become part of Marti Oldsmobile.

“Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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