Carl W. Brand knew from the time he was a young boy his life would be in cars.
He had a passion for all things automobile-related and bought his first car, a used Ford Model T, for $7 when he was 12 years old.
Mr. Brand, owner of Dulaney Lincoln-Mercury in Timonium for 51 years, died Thursday at Stella Maris Hospice of lung disease. He was 81.
One of his favorite cars was a maroon 1915 Model T he kept stored for special occasions and kept in near-perfect condition.
"He liked the older cars, antique cars, better than the new ones," said Mr. Brand's daughter, Barbara Brand, 50, of Lutherville.
Even though he had his pick of a lot full of shiny new cars, Mr. Brand preferred to drive his 1966 Lincoln convertible around the dealership and neighborhood.
Mr. Brand's career began in 1939 when he joined his father at the old Liberty Motors Co. on Mount Royal Avenue and later at Motor Sales Ford, also on Mount Royal. He opened his first business, Dulaney DeSoto Plymouth, in 1949 on Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson. The company later became a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership.
In 1967, Mr. Brand changed his affiliation to Lincoln-Mercury, and the company moved to its current location on York Road in Timonium.
"He liked anything to do with cars," said Carl Brand III, 57, of Cockeysville, Mr. Brand's older son. "He even designed and built his own car once, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that."
The younger Carl Brand and his brother, David, 53, of Timonium, remember watching their father toiling on his creation, banging and molding, standing back and admiring.
"I remember riding in it. It was futuristic-looking," the younger Carl Brand said. "We thought it was a space-age car at the time."
Little did the Brands know that their father was training them for the future, especially when he paid the boys $14 a week to wash cars at the dealership.
All three children work at Dulaney Lincoln-Mercury.
"He was very knowledgeable mechanically," Barbara Brand said. "He knew more about cars than anyone we knew."
That knowledge helped Mr. Brand represent customers on the Baltimore-Washington district's Ford Motor Company Consumer Appeals Board from 1978 to 1986. Barbara Brand said it wasn't a cliche to her father that the customer was always right.
"Customer service was his specialty before it became a key word anywhere else," she said. That's why many of Mr. Brand's customers were lifelong clients, refusing to go anywhere else to buy a new car or get service for an old one.
"He was one of those real honest automotive people, and I guess there are relatively few of those left today," said Don Faber, who purchased five cars from Mr. Brand, the first in 1963. "He knew his business. He knew it from a mechanical standpoint as well as a marketing standpoint."
Family members said Mr. Brand could more often be found in the dealership's service department than at his desk, attending to customers' needs. He changed license tags and test drove vehicles to diagnose problems.
Mr. Faber remembers pulling into the dealership with a power window that wouldn't close.
"Good old Carl senior," Mr. Faber said. "He, along with one of the mechanics, helped me get that window up. How many founders of an organization would be there to help with that sort of thing?"
Mr. Brand was born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He graduated from Forman School in Connecticut in 1936 and attended Fenn College in Cleveland before moving to Baltimore in 1939.
He married Betty Resch, also of Cleveland Heights, in 1940.
Having his three children operate the dealership allowed Mr. and Mrs. Brand to vacation regularly in Florida and allowed him to retire last year.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity, 1800 Vista Lane in Timonium.
Contributions can be made to the Church of the Nativity building fund. In addition to his wife, two sons and daughter, Mr. Brand is survived by five grandchildren.