Elephant Super Car Wash, Seattle, Washington


Elephant Super Car Wash, Seattle, Washington

This painting brings me so much joy! I grew up in Seattle, Washington and few images remain in my memory from childhood, but this fantastic pink neon elephant sign from the Elephant Super Car Wash is definitely one of them. Imagine my delight last summer on a family vacation to Seattle when we took a wrong turn, and boom, there it was! My heart raced as I commanded Richard to stop the car knowing I had hit roadside gold! I took a number of pictures from different angles and decided this one was the best. I’ve immortalized the sign forever in this oil painting, which leaves me with a feeling of great satisfaction.

In doing some brief research I’ve discovered that the original Elephant Car Wash opened in Seattle in 1951 on 4th Avenue and Lander Street . Dean, Archie, and Eldon Anderson opened the first automatic car wash in Washington and invented hands-free machines that cleaned cars safely, putting the old bristle brushes out to pasture.

In 1956, they opened up this, their second location on Battery Street and Denny Way in downtown Seattle and erected this marvelous rotating elephant sign. In 1963 they went on to open other locations in the Seattle metro area. In 1982 they sold the business to Bob Haney who advanced the technology away from plastic-bristle brushes to high-pressure water cleaning and soft-cloth wraps.

On a trip several years later to Palm Desert, I was amazed to come across the exact same elephant on a car wash sign for the Rancho Super Car Wash! I have tried relentlessly to find the correlation between the two signs with no luck. I can only assume that the sign makers used the same basic template to create the sign for the car wash company in California, as there is no mention of the Andersons opening a business in the south.

Oil on canvas, 36×36″

  • Nick J Rousso
    Posted at 21:00h, 15 January Reply

    the car wash in California was started by the daughter and son-in-low of one of the Andersons, Eldon I believe.

  • Mary Anne Erickson
    Posted at 09:39h, 13 July Reply

    Thank you for your comment. They must have used the same sign designer – those two signs are some of my favorite neon signs in the USA.

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