For the first time since Warren G. Harding was elected President of the United States, you will not be able to buy a new car at a historic dealership in the heart of South Jersey.

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In November 1920, President Woodrow Wilson was preparing to exit The White House as Harding had just won the election. Earlier that year, women gained the right to vote and Americans lost the right to drink alcohol as prohibition started.

Also in 1920, December to be exact, the Arena automotive dealership on the White Horse Pike in Hammonton opened its doors.

For an incredible 102 years, that famous building on Route 30 stood the test of time. Practically everything around it changed -- but not that dealership.

Arena Buick GMC in Hammonton NJ - Photo: Google Maps
Arena Buick GMC in Hammonton NJ - Photo: Google Maps

In an era of new car sales lots that span dozens and dozens of acres with inventory as far as the eye can see (assuming no supply chain issues), Arena marched to the beat of its own drum.

For decades, their art deco building was surrounded by maybe a few dozen cars on a stone lot -- and that lot didn't even have any lights on it (just imagine not being able to look at a new car after the sun went down).

But sadly, as January 2023 ended, so did Arena Buick GMC.

Taking to Facebook recently, the dealership posted a simple message that read that they would be exiting the new car business on January 31st.

This decision was not an easy one for us to make.

As a small family-owned business, our relationships with our employees, customers, and vendors have been more than merely 'just doing business.'

It has always been very personal.

For generations of folks in and around Hammonton, Arena was where you went to buy your next vehicle.

A story in The Hammonton Gazette summed it up this way,

Hammonton was fortunate to have several new car dealerships, and fortunate to have the Arena Family running the one that lasted the longest. Their business was a landmark, but it was their family that maintained the deep connection to the town and area for so many decades, and kept the customers coming back, generation after generation.

However, we couldn't help but notice the wording that was used in their closing statement. Arena said they were exiting the new car business. They didn't say they were going out of business or flat-out closing. While we don't know their exact plans for the future, maybe there is another chapter to be written here.

A Look at New Jersey License Plates From Years Past

Feeling nostalgic? Let's take a look at some old New Jersey license plates. How many of these did you have?

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

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