Large used car dealership closes suddenly on Sixth Street; longtime, full-service car wash also is done

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Clemons AutoMax location near Sixth and Iowa street was closed and empty April 8, 2024.

One of the larger used car dealers in Lawrence has disappeared, almost without a trace.

Clemons AutoMax, 1527 W. Sixth St., definitely appears to be closed for good. The lot is empty of vehicles, the showroom is devoid of employees, and the company’s website now redirects to a dealership in Lincoln, Nebraska.

If you are having a hard time picturing the dealership, it took over the longtime location of the locally owned dealership of Academy Cars, which you may remember from Lonnie Blackburn and his ubiquitous commercials that touted the dealership and “loveee-ly Lawrence, Kansas.”

We reported in November 2022 that Clemons Automax had purchased the Lawrence dealership. The new owners, the Clemons family, said they had been in the auto business since the 1970s, owning a GM dealership in Boone, Iowa.

But in 2022, the company said it was in expansion mode with locations in Des Moines, Iowa and Lincoln, Nebraska. Indeed, on Monday I did seem to find a Lincoln dealership that is connected to the company. I briefly talked with an employee at CapitalCity AutoMax in Lincoln. That employee told me on Monday morning that there were managers at the site who would be happy to talk with me about the situation in Lawrence, but they currently were in a meeting.

I haven’t yet heard back from those managers, though, so I do not have any more information to share about why the dealership closed or other particulars. One piece of information I was looking for is what people who have bought a vehicle at AutoMax should know about the future. I assume that the used cars came with some warranty or service plans, and I wondered what that situation would look like now that the company presumably doesn’t have a service shop in the area.

I don’t have answers to that question, and thus far the company hasn’t left any instructions that I can find. While the doors were locked and the offices empty at the dealership, there was not even a note on the door explaining that the dealership had closed. The Facebook page for the Lawrence dealership also had no posts about the location’s closing as of Monday afternoon.

My best advice for people who have bought a vehicle from the dealership is to call CapitalCity AutoMax in Lincoln, 402-975-8925, if they have questions regarding their Lawrence purchase. I can’t guarantee that is the best path, but it does seem the Lincoln dealership was a sister company to the Lawrence operations.

As for what may be happening with that fairly large site, which is about two blocks east of Sixth and Iowa streets, the property was recently listed for sale by the Topeka-based real estate group Stone & Story for $1.65 million. So, we will keep an eye out for any new development activity on that site.


photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The former Lawrence Auto Plaza Car Wash location is shown on April 8, 2024.

I’m told that if you buy a car, you actually should wash it at some point. (My car usually has enough dirt on it that I trade the driving gloves for gardening gloves.) Well, one longtime spot for thorough car washes has closed.

Lawrence Auto Plaza Car Wash, 2828 Four Wheel Drive, is no more. The full-service car wash was sold a few days ago, and its new owners have closed the business to the general public. The location now is serving as a car wash and detailing shop for the Laird Noller Automotive group, an employee at the site told me.

The employee told me the Topeka-based owners of Auto Plaza Car Wash made the difficult decision to sell the business, in part because it was becoming more difficult to find employees. The car wash used a system that still relied on employees scrubbing and shining the vehicles, in addition to using an automated washing system.

As for people who have gift certificates to Auto Plaza Car Wash, my suggestion is to stop by the location during normal weekday business hours. An employee there indicated the shop would work to honor the few gift certificates that are outstanding.


Cars and football are going to go hand in hand during this upcoming college football season in Lawrence. You likely are going to need to get in one to see a home KU game. Due to the massive renovation of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, KU is playing all of its home football games in the Kansas City metro area.

That has left local merchants and other homebody fans wondering if there will be any activities in Lawrence related to football. KU Chancellor Doug Girod has told me on several occasions that he thinks it is important to figure out how to have meaningful pre-game activities in Lawrence when games are being played at either the Sporting KC stadium in Kansas City, Kansas, or Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

We don’t yet have full details of how that may work, but we do have one date to watch for. KU has announced that it will host a Rock Chalk Block Party on Sept. 27 in downtown Lawrence. That is one day before KU’s Family Weekend game vs. TCU, which will be played at Arrowhead Stadium. That Family Weekend game generally attracts parents of students from across the country, and has traditionally been a good weekend for hotels, restaurants and retailers. There have been questions about whether those benefits would occur this year, given that the game won’t be in Lawrence.

KU didn’t release any other details about the Rock Chalk Block Party, but said it would do so “in the coming months.” KU also announced it has chosen Oct. 19 as its date for Homecoming. KU will be playing the University of Houston on that date, also at Arrowhead. In a release, KU said the “Homecoming Steering Committee will coordinate activities in Lawrence and Kansas City leading up to the game.”


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