Thursday, 21 March 2013 12:57

Bill Luke Fiat Comes from a Long Line of True Pioneers

In 1873, a teenager with an adventuresome spirit rode into a remote western town populated by about 1,000 hardy souls, liked what he saw, and decided to put down his roots in the desert.

His name was Frank Luke and the town was Phoenix. In the years that followed, Frank married, raised nine children, prospered in business and spent the last 20 years of his life in public service. At the time of his death, in 1939, he was State Tax Commissioner.

Frank Luke Jr. was the fifth child of Ottilia and Frank Luke. He only lived for 21 years but his name and deeds will live forever in American military history. Second only to Captain Eddie Rickenbacker as the leading ace of World War I, Luke was credited with 18 kills in nine months of combat. Rickenbacker was quoted as saying “Had he (Luke) lived, he would have put me out of business as the Army’s leading ace.” Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, had a statue erected in his memory in the mall of the State Capitol and was further honored when Luke Air Force Base was named after him.

William ‘Bill’ Luke was the youngest of Ottilia and Frank Luke, Sr.’s nine children. He was always fascinated by machines and in 1927, at the age of 18, jumped at the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a young, growing industry. He was to become the founder of Bill Luke Chrysler-Plymouth and continued as head of the automobile dealership until his passing in 1988. During his years as an automobile dealer, Bill Luke found time to pursue interests in farming, cattle ranching, and was a breeder of thoroughbred horses. At one time he owned a stable of 70 race horses and won the Arizona Breeders Award many times.

Dorothy and Bill Luke had five children. The youngest was named Donald ‘Don’ Luke, and, like his father, displayed an early interest in machines. He began working in the family business at the age of 13, progressed up the ladder to General Manager and then to President and CEO of the Bill Luke Dealerships. Don has three sons, Ryan, Chris, and Eric— bringing the total number of direct descendants of the Arizona pioneers, Ottilia and Frank Luke, Sr., to well over 100.

In May of 2012, The Bill Luke Automotive Group added Bill Luke Fiat to it’s line-up. Bill Luke Fiat is located in the Tempe Autoplex in Tempe, AZ. Eric Luke is the Fiat Director and has remained in the top 3 of the Phoenix Zone for car sales since taking over the franchise.