The Dimmitt family has built generations of loyal customers and employees throughout the central gulf coast area. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, in the early 1900’s. It was then that the late Larry Dimmitt, Sr. joined the automobile business, selling and servicing the Peerless car. Prior to this, Mr. Dimmitt had pursued two other careers in the lumber business, and in the railroad business. He was in the “Klondike Gold Rush” before the turn of the century. Before coming to Clearwater in the early 1920’s, he had been associated with the Liberty car and the White truck. Mr. Dimmitt was also the Buick distributor in the Georgia area, and supplied 16 dealers. After settling in Clearwater in 1924, Mr. Dimmitt purchased a Ford dealership. He handled Ford and Lincoln until 1933, when he took over sales and servicing of Chevrolet, Cadillac, and LaSalle.
The Dimmitt Organization grew as Clearwater expanded, and in 1952, Larry Dimmitt, Jr (second generation dealer) took over from his father. In 1965, a separate dealership facility was provided for Cadillacs while the Chevrolet dealership prospered at the original location. In 1976, Richard Roth Dimmitt Purchased the Cadillac franchise from his father and became the 3rd generation dealer/operator. In 1986, the Cadillac dealership relocated to its site in Countryside. Range Rover (now Land Rover), the luxury British four-wheel drive sports utility vehicle, joined our Cadillac store in 1987 as the exclusive Florida West Coast franchise and one of only 25 charter Land Rover retailers nationwide. A decade later the most prestigious of Marques, Rolls-Royce/Bentley was added to the family. In August 2000, Lotus Motor Cars joined the Dimmitt Family of luxury performance automobiles and in November 2006 Saab also joined the Dimmitt Family.
The Toyota dealership was acquired in 1985 and was originally located in Inverness, the County Seat of Citrus County, Florida. A few years later the dealership relocated to an all new facility on US 19 in Homosassa and the Cadillac franchise was added. Village Cadillac Toyota is currently the largest volume dealer in Citrus County. The Audi dealership was built in 2017 in Wesley Chapel with state of the art innovations and architecture.
Mr. Dimmitt has an area network of dealerships spanning from Crystal River in the north to St. Petersburg. He has won numerous “Master Dealer” awards for his locations as well as received copious amounts of community recognition and awards. Being a member of one of the few original Clearwater (local) families, Mr. Dimmitt prides himself in reaching out to the local community in all of his efforts. Mr. Dimmitt has owned and operated successful automobile dealerships for over 30 years and is a 3rd generation Dimmitt family automobile dealer.
Now his sons Richard and Peter continue as the 4th generation to serve our community. With such strong roots in the bay area, Dimmitt is passionate about making a difference.
The History of Dimmitt Automotive Group
After moving to Clearwater from Georgia in 1924, Mr. Lawrence Dimmitt Sr. purchased the Ford dealership, then located at the corner of Drew Street and Garden Avenue. He traveled to different areas of the county, offering both fresh fruit and Ford vehicles for sale by the pound. Here, Mr. Dimmitt (designated by the arrow) poses with his staff for a photograph in the 1920’s.
The infant days of the dealership on Ft. Harrison saw working conditions somewhat austere compared to today’s high-tech facilities. Here, the dealership’s ‘technicians’ take a quick break in this 1920’s Service Department photo. The building was such that pigeons roamed and nested freely, and the roof leaked substantially every time it rained.
In the early days of Clearwater, there were very few miles of paved road, thus inspiring the “‘scuse our dust” moto on the Ford’s wheel cover in this 1920’s photo. Mr. Dimmitt, Sr. hoped Clearwater could be the next Palm Beach…so much so, he eventually became a subsequent owner of the first house on the north end of the beach.
In 1931 the Ford and Lincoln dealership was moved to 603 South Ft. Harrison, and in 1933 Mr. Dimmitt, Sr. took over sales and servicing of Cadillacs, LaSalles and Chevrolets. Lawrence Dimmitt, Jr. took over from his father in 1952. Mr. Dimmitt, Jr. (left) is pictured with his parts truck in front of the Ft. Harrison location during the mid 1950’s.
At one point, Larry Dimmitt, Inc. provided a number of unique services tailored to seasonal customers, including long-term rentals and warehouse vehicle storage. This photo, probably taken around 1940, shows the original building on Ft. Harrison and the new car lot, as well as the billboard and a print ad explaining our innovative services to seasonal visitors.
Larry Dimmitt, Jr. (second generation owner) took over the business from his father in 1952. When this picture was taken around 1960, we had several satellite used car lots throughout Pinellas County. In addition to the Cadillac and Chevrolet franchises, Mr. Dimmitt also owned several rental car companies which helped supply the satellite lots with inventory.
In 1960, as now, one of the highlights of the showroom was a hand painted mural. The impressive showroom was a significant landmark along Ft. Harrison for more than five decades.
When this photo was taken about 1962, the dealership had just expanded to give Cadillac and Chevrolet their own showrooms. The large building in the background on the right is the Ft. Harrison Hotel, built in 1926. Still a prominent landmark in Clearwater’s skyline, the hotel, like Dimmitt Cadillac, has weathered many physical and economical challenges of the 20th century.
Flashy posters adorned the windows of the original Cadillac/Chevrolet showroom on Ft. Harrison. Even into the early 1960’s, the dealership actively marketed its rental car program.
Though they still retained some vestige of their aero-styled, daring design of ’59, when this photo was taken in 1965 Cadillacs had become more streamlined and conservative.
During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Larry Dimmitt, Jr.’s brother-in-law, “Uncle George” Sanders, managed the Cadillac franchise when it was moved for a few years to a temporary location downtown on Cleveland Street. The Chevrolet store eventually moved onto Cleveland Street, and Cadillac expanded on Ft. Harrison to two showrooms and a pre-owned lot.
During the early 70’s, the leadership helm passed to Larry Dimmitt III. While the Cadillac dealership was still in its temporary location on Cleveland Street, it started a revolutionary (for its time) program of quick oil changes. It was at this point in Clearwater history that commerce was beginning its move away from the heart of downtown.
Work began here on the Mansion in 1984 and the dealership moved in during 1986. The building was patterned after a library in Georgia, after Mr. Richard Dimmitt (current and third generation owner) and Doreen Dimmitt traveled the South in search of the ideal design to capture the essence of southern hospitality.
The “Mansion” as it stands today.
The Dimmitt family, left to right: Richard Dimmitt, Peter Dimmitt, Richard Dimmitt, Jr., and Doreen Dimmitt.