In 1946, Perry Miller moved his family back to Rochester from Monroe County, Wis., where he had driven supply trucks serving Fort McCoy during the war. Miller went into the used car business, opening Miller Car Exchange at 1833 Second St. SW.

Twenty years later, American car builders were invested in the youth market. Detroit used letters like GTO, AMX, SOHC, HEMI and COPO as a secret code to get young car buyers into dealers’ showrooms. Being a practical man, Perry saw the market differently.

As he liked to tell the story, “In 1967, I bought two cars, $500 in parts, and became Rochester’s first Toyota dealer.” He built a new showroom and service area with living quarters on the second floor — practical.

After the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, at a time when Toyota wanted a higher-volume dealer, Perry Miller wanted to retire. In 1974, Miller Toyota became Toyota of Rochester.

“Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.



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