Clarence Van Lingen, Founder
Early Years – Serving His Country, Learning a Trade
Clarence Van Lingen grew up on a dairy farm as a boy, where he was reared on a strenuous 24-hour existence. Growing up Clarence Van Lingen sought a different path for himself when he joined the military, mostly to get away from the farm. Little did he know at the time that he had trained well for a different kind of 24-hour life as an adult. Fast forward to military service, Clarence was stationed on the USS Enterprise, which was scheduled to be in Pearl Harbor on a memorable December day in 1941. Luckily, the carrier ran behind schedule and narrowly escaped its fate. As one of the few surviving aircraft carriers, the Enterprise (later nicknamed the Galloping Ghost because it changed names at every port) was in hot demand, and badly in need of on-board metal smiths to treat and patch up her battle wounds. Clarence was a fast learner and quickly caught on to a trade that would be the springboard for his career.
After the War – The Auto Body Business
Not wanting to go back to the farm life of his youth, Clarence and his wife, Inez, with the help of their families, opened a small auto body business on the edge of his uncle’s dairy farm on Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance. The auto industry was booming, and the metal smith trade would likely sustain them in the growing post-war economy. Then came an opportunity.
Van Lingen Towing – One man, One Truck and a Dream.
As his auto body business grew, Clarence noticed he couldn’t get tow service on the weekend. Police officers told Clarence…
If a car needed to be towed, people were instructed to lock the vehicle and leave it on the side of the road until it could be picked up on Monday.
The Police told Clarence that if he got a truck, they would call him when their other vendor was busy. Little by little, the late night and weekend calls trickled in and Clarence established himself in the towing business. It was the start of a long-term relationship, continuing to this day. Now over 50 years, three facilities, two corporations, and dozens of trucks later, the Van Lingen family enterprise still offers both private and commercial 24-hour towing services. The quality service first provided by Clarence has become the hallmark of the Van Lingen organization.