The sign is painted on 149 W. 14th St., but the Model Driving School and A + L Auto Rental were located next door at 145 W. 14th St.
Beginning in 1941, both A & L Auto Rental and Model Auto Driving School were listed in the Manhattan telephone directory at 145 W. 14th St. Model Auto Driving also had two other locations, 229 E. 14th St. and 120A E. 34th St. As of 2010 www.switchboard.com listed Model Auto Driving School, Inc., at 145 W. 14th St., (212) 534-0695. In March 2015 switchboard.com listed "Fast Track Driving School, 145 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011, 212-243-4339 and 212-243-4321." Maybe Fast Track is a successor?
The story of Model Driving School was told in this story from the New York Amsterdam News, 28 Sept. 1963, pg. 38, "They come to Manhattan's Model Driving School, fresh; and they come there after flunking tests taken as students of other schools. They come learners, like world-welter weight champion Emile Griffith, Broadway star Bibi Osterwald or the wife of former Yankee player, Mrs. Lou Gehrig. But mostly it's the common people, like the plain Joes who want a license to drive a truck trailer or a taxi. So many have gone to the Model Auto Driving School with the main office at 145 West 14th St., Manhattan, that it rates the largest of auto driving schools. Hard work and satisfactory service, said Elvin A. Tharp, has brought the school to that peak since he started it with Victor J. Supa [sic] 25 years ago. It was their first job after finishing school. 'Things were very rough,' said Mr. Zupa, reflecting on the early days, 'we couldn't make a living.' But now they more than make a living. For the school has over 400 cars constantly in use; has its own garages and mechanics' shops; its own body and fendermen. Twenty five years ago Zupa and Tharp did the office work and outside teaching themselves. They worked seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. And neither had a vacation during the first eight years. Now they have over 50 persons working at their different offices in addition to ten assistants at headquarters. They teach driving for all types of vehicles: trucks, trailers, tractors, buses, cars of all makes, including foreign ones. Their specially equipped cars serve the handicapped and disabled. There are the 1963 safety dual control cars, with automatic or standard shifts. ...."
In case this glowing review of the Model Driving School seems a bit too good to be true, a different view of A & L Auto Rental is offered in this story in the New York Times, 2 Oct. 1971, pg. 63, "A Manhattan car-rental concern whose employes allegedly assaulted customers, threatened investigators and lured clients to its office with false promises of low rates was sued this week by the city, the Department of Consumer Affairs said yesterday. The suit, filed in State Supreme Court here, charged that A & L Auto Rental Service, Inc., of 145 West 14th Street, had violated Consumer Protection Law Regulation 6. The law, which went into effect in March, bars auto-rental concerns from promising specific cars or rates on telephone reservations unless they can honor them. In the A & L case, spokesmen for Commissioner Bess Myerson said they began their investigation after getting numerous complaints about 'bait and switch' tactics. For example, they said, a customer would see an advertisement from A & L for a small car at $12 a day plus 12 cents a mile and make a telephone reservation. But when he arrived there, the agency spokesman said, he would be told those cars were not available; instead he would be offered a larger car for $22 a day and 22 cents a mile. The consumer in immediate need of transportation for moving or travel is often forced to accept A & L's offer,' the department said. One A & L customer said in an affidavit that the company had tried to charge him an additional full day's fee when he returned a truck two hours after the appointed time. When he tried to get a copy of his Master Charge credit-card bill on which the additional fee was entered, he said, several A & L employes attacked him and threw him to the floor. One Consumer Affairs Department investigator charged that an A & L employe threatened to 'kill' him when he tried to serve a notice of a violation there. The department accused A & L employes of giving fictitious names such as 'John Doe' to investigators. It identified the officers of the company as Elvin Tharp, Daniel Zupa and Victor Zupa. A & L also owns a Honda scooter agency and a driving school on West 14th Street. ..."
The people mentioned in these stories were Elvin A. Tharp, Daniel Zupa, and Victor J. Zupa. There was also another Zupa, Joseph Zupa, and a branch of the business was known as Zupa Bros. The brothers were Daniel and Victor, sons of Agostino Zupa, an immigrant shoemaker from Italy. The Zupa Bros. were listed in the telephone directory as (212) 242-0044 as late 2010.
An ad for the Model Auto School appeared in the New York Times in 1946.
A later ad for the Model Auto Driving Academy appeared in the New York Amsterdam News in 1962.
This ad for A & L Auto Rental appeared in the Variety in 1968.
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