Cars have been a part of the Garff family for a long time. So long, in fact, that the name Ken Garff has outlived a lot of cars - like the Studebaker, Goliath, Borg Ward, Grand Page and Divco milk truck. All are a part of the automotive history, and all once had ties with the Garff name.

Today, the Garff name is tied with with such noted names in the automotive world as Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, Hyundai and Oldsmobile, and for good reasons - experience, success, reputation.All reason, too, why there is longevity in the Ken Garff dealerships. This year, for example, it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with Mercedes-Benz and 45th anniversary with Oldsmobile.

Another reason for this longevity is the special attention shown its cars. Its five dealerships, for example, sit on the same block in downtown Salt Lake City, in Ken Garff Auto Plaza, but each has its own space in the complex.

"We feel it important," said Gary Garff, president, "that each be separate . . . each service department works with the one car, each group of salespersons is trained and schooled on the one car. We feel we can do a better job providing this separate attention.

"The Olds dealership is, in fact, the only single-point Olds dealership in the state. All others have another make of car on the showroom floor. We sell Olds, we service Olds, our parts department is all for Olds."

Ken Garff started in the car business 56 years ago. Looking for a means to work his way through the University of Utah, he started buying and selling used cars.

He discovered he liked the business so well that he stay with it and is, on a limited basis, with it even today. Today, his sons, Gary and Robert, and daughter, Jane Garff Henshaw, are actively involved in the dealerships.

Which is why Ken Garff has been able to involve himself in other projects, such as the one recently entered into with Orchard Elementary School. During a March 30th ceremony, Ken Garff was recipient of a special honor by students and dignitaries for his contribution of $10,000 to the school for development of a computer lab.

The Garff auto family will have all five makes of its cars - Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, Hyundai and Oldsmobile - for preview and purchase during the Salt Lake 500 New Car Sell-Off at the Salt Palace this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Gary Garff pointed out three key changes that will come about in coming months.

They are:

- Oldsmobile will enter the truck market this year by introducing a van. Among its many other features, the van will have a plastic body that will not corrode or rust.

- Mercedes-Benz will be introducing an on-demand four-wheel drive model unlike anything else in the market place.

- After 18 years of holding the same body style, the Mercedes SL convertible will be changing to a new body style.

Mercedes-Benz

A number of improvements in the 190-class sedans, some new interior designs and the availability of full-front air bag systems lead the list of changes in Mercedes-Benz.

Inside the 190, redesigned seats with more side support and softer upholstery, increased rear-seat knee room and three-position height adjustment for the front shoulder belts are the most noticeable changes.

Mercedes-Benz, which in 1986 became the first to have a driver's-side air bag as standard equipment, now also includes a passenger-side air bag as standard equipment in the 420SEL and 560SEL sedans and 560SEC coupe. The system is optional on six other models.

Changes in the medium-size 300-class model include: revised automatic transmission, electrically heated windshield washer reservoir, lines and nozzles and a 0.6-inch reduction in vehicle height due to new suspension settings.

Oldsmobile

For 1989, there are five models fashioned according to these buyer needs: Cars aimed at fulfilling the driving needs of contemporary families; engineering innovations that delivers meaningful benefits for mainstream driving needs; freshness and originality in design; balance of technology, design and overall performance; quality and dependability in everything that has to do with owning an Oldsmobile; Lasting tangible value; and affordable prices with many special features included as a standard part of the bargain.

Honda

Honda this year has a new comprehensive three-year, 36,000 mile limited warranty; manual transmission models will be equipped with a starter-interlock system requiring the driver to depress the clutch within 10 millimeters of the floor before starting; and rear window defogger with a timer, among many things.