A South Palm Canyon Drive fixture known for keeping the community’s cars clean is undergoing some polishing itself as it celebrates a major milestone.
Driving the news: Desert Hand Car Wash, at 645 South Palm Canyon Dr., turns 75 this year. Bob Smiland, a former business executive who said he attempted to retire in 2022, instead purchased the business.
- Smiland was a client of the car wash for the past two decades. Since taking over, he has worked to revamp the branding, and is also in the process of updating and refreshing the building’s vintage lobby.
- He’s also giving back to the his employees, increasing wages and offering sick pay, parental leave, and educational scholarships.
Looking back: The business was started in 1947 by Barbara McKinney Moore, the daughter of early city pioneers Oliver and Rose McKinney. The family moved to the city in 1915, eventually purchasing 140 acres now known as the Deepwell neighborhood.
- The car wash structure was designed in 1956 by architect William Cody, known for designing homes, hotels, and other buildings during the peak of the Modern Architecture Movement.
Zoom in: While it’s difficult to calculate exactly how many vehicles have rolled through the car wash, Smiland said there are 165,000 individual license plates on record at the business.
- Each vehicle that does come through receives unique treatment. Instead of a conveyer belt and large cleaning machines, workers use soft towels and brushes to clean each vehicle.
What they’re saying: “I’m proud to continue the legacy of seventy-five years,” Smiland said. “I look at myself as a steward of this historic property and I have long respected and loved the crew who works here.”