Former Lighthouse Auto owner moves to OBX Chevy Buick

By on September 13, 2017

Bobby Tolson.

The Outer Banks Voice recently received a press release about a new salesperson joining the ranks of OBX Chevrolet Buick.

Normally we run this kind of news as a service and don’t get into the personality of the subject of a press release.

But this time the new employee, Bobby Tolson, caught my eye.


Bobby Tolson has been a fixture in the automobile business for almost 50 years, and for two decades he owned and operated Lighthouse Truck & Auto Center in Manteo, where he sold cars to more than one generation of local families.

Lighthouse was home to a host of characters and well-known car salesmen There were  Bart, “Chief”, and Dave Austin.

Many might remember their humorous television ads that ran on local cable.

I still drive a 2003 Ford Expedition I bought used from Tolson with 30,000 miles on the odometer. While I replaced a transmission at 150,000 miles, the engine and the rest of the vehicle are still kicking at 215,000 miles.

I had noticed a few months ago that Lighthouse appeared to be closed and had spoken to Tolson about some health issues. But I was surprised that he had moved to OBX Chevrolet Buick.


As the press released noted, Tolson has sold over 25,000 vehicles in his 47 years in the business. That’s a staggering number of vehicles to contemplate, but it’s a safe bet that a large number of Dare County residents bought their first and subsequent vehicles from Tolson.

We called Tolson at his new digs and he related the events leading to his new home.

“A little over two years ago, I had a Pacemaker put in. It wasn’t too long after that, a second surgery was required to also put in a defibrillator, and then I battled pneumonia for three months as a result of both surgeries,” Tolson said.


The long and short of the long battle was an absence from his business for over a year.

Some of his customers had moved on, but most important to Tolson was removing some stress, which owning your own business certainly can add.

Worse, the local coconut telegraph had even circulated rumors that Tolson had passed away.

“That’s a tough rumor to fight when you have a client base that ran as far away as Hatteras,” Tolson said, adding “I actually feel quite good and am ready to sell some cars to my old friends.”

“Here I actually have more resources given OBX Chevrolet and Buick’s deep banking relationships, and I can sell virtually any make or model of new and pre-owned vehicles because of the vast network the company has to locate vehicles,” Tolson said.

Tolson can be reached at 252-473-7787.

Lighthouse Auto may be gone, but the legend is alive and well.


  • William Harrison

    A great friend and member of this community.Always willing to help others!

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 11:03 am
  • surf123

    Probably for the best with his health issues. A good salesman can sell almost anything so he should do very well with the additional resources available to him at OBX Chevrolet and Buick.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 11:31 am
  • Pat P

    Nice article, I bought my first car from Bobby’s father in 1969 at Hassell & Creef’s, and many more from Bobby over the years. He always treated me fairly and when a repair was needed, a loaner was always available. Best of luck.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 1:20 pm
  • Jack Gregory

    I worked with Bobby for many years in sales and as his ffinance manager. He was always one to put the customer first, and never had a client problem he couldn’t solve or didn’t always try. He is a strong man who always tried to keep Christian values in his life and the ways he conducted business; a moral compass I know he will always keep in the forefront of his mind doing when life or customers are involved.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 2:19 pm
  • Deborah Parker

    I have bought several vehicles from Bobby Tolson and always had excellent service. Hoping you the best!!!

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 6:36 pm
  • Kenneth Midgett

    Ive bought a few cars from Bobby over the years and he’s a great guy, aside from being a longtime family friend, he’s probably the best salesman I’ve ever known. His reputation is county wide for doing what it takes to get the deal done. Bobby your the best I we wish you nothing but the best!!

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 10:39 pm
  • Richard

    I bought several cars from Bobby, including a BMW. After a year living on the beach, the BMW started to rust. Bobby gave me an incredible price buying it back.
    NOTE:If you live on the beach, everything rusts.

    Thursday, Sep 14 @ 6:07 pm
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