A rendering of the whale car wash used to market to potential franchisees around the country. | Buffalo Stories archives

Yesterday we featured a neat story about how one city in Wisconsin is trying to preserve the old mascot of one of their longest car wash chains. Ozzie the Octopus has adorned three Madison, Wisconsin car wash businesses for more than 50 years. But the signs came down when the business changed hands this year.

Now we have a neat story about another car wash mascot that became a fixture in its own right. BuffaloNews.com brought an old story out of its archives this week looking at an old car wash in Western New York that had drivers pull through the mouth of a fiberglass whale to be serviced. The picture here shows what the whale was designed to look like but it fell into disrepair after it closed down.

The big blue whale car wash sat on Young Street in Tonawanda near an amusement park. Built in 1973, the whale was supposed to be a prototype for a slew of franchises. Buffalo’s Milton Car Wash Equipment Co. had the whale made out of fiberglass on a steel frame. It was 83 feet long, 22 feet high and about 30 feet wide.

When the car wash opened in 1973, town officials loved it. The mayor himself said the business would be a “welcome attraction” and people seemed to love the fiberglass seahorses and palm trees that surrounded the wash. But it turns out residents thought the thing was pretty ugly. It closed by 1983 and Willy the Whale, as he came to be known, sat there rotting for the next two years until he was torn down and replaced with a Wendy’s.