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November 1, 2011 | By Ken Bensinger, Los Angeles Times
Second of three parts The J.D. Byrider used-car dealership in Visalia, Calif., sits amid a jumble of tow yards, hubcap vendors and vacant lots littered with empty beer cans. It may not look like much, but selling aging cars to waitresses, secretaries and farmworkers is a lucrative business. That's why private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners of Palo Alto bought the J.D. Byrider chain in May for a reported $50 million. Altamont's offices, on the 10th floor of a luxury office tower overlooking Stanford University, are 200 miles and a world away from the Visalia lot. On a recent morning, a dozen executives could be seen huddled in a glass-walled conference room, reviewing a slide presentation on plans to buy some franchised Byrider lots.
October 6, 2011 | By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
Jane Wolff used to spend days visiting car dealers and reading auto magazines to figure out which car to buy. Even then, the retired schoolteacher said she wasn't sure she was getting the best deal. The Internet has changed all that. Wolff went digital with her research this time, collecting price and trade-in data from auto information websites operated by, Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar Inc. The bottom line: Wolff last month negotiated a Subaru Outback Limited for near the invoice price.
March 14, 2011 | By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
Federal lawmakers are considering legislation to require rental car companies to immediately take cars off the road that have been recalled for safety defects. Rental agencies object, saying the bill is bolstered by inaccurate numbers. The controversy over recalled rental cars was sparked in June when an Alameda County Superior Court jury ordered Enterprise Holdings Inc. to pay $15 million to the parents of two young women who died in a 2004 crash involving an Enterprise rental car. A month before Enterprise Rent-a-Car rented a PT Cruiser to Raechel Houck, 24, and her sister Jacqueline, 20, the rental agency had been notified that the car was being recalled because power steering fluid could leak and ignite under the hood.
December 22, 2010 | Michael Hiltzik
The closest thing there may be to a certainty in Southern California business (death and taxes aside) is that there will always be a Casa de Cadillac . We're speaking, of course, about the big auto dealer that has occupied the same location on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks since 1948. The business is part of the memories of generations of Valley residents, the towering plate-glass front wall of its showroom an enduring artifact of not only the Southern California car culture of the '50s but Art Moderne "Googie" architecture.
June 19, 2010 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Heading into the final stages in overhauling financial regulations, a joint congressional committee is ready next week to tackle one of the thornier issues — whether car dealers will be regulated by a proposed consumer protection agency. The joint conference committee is wrestling with the role dealers play in auto financing and the discretion they have to set terms — and potentially take advantage of consumers. "Car dealers are out there shopping for the best rate for themselves … and they don't pass that on to the consumer," said Tom Domonoske, a Virginia attorney who works on auto financing issues.
June 3, 2010 | By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
A Downey used-car dealer who allegedly used voodoo-like dolls targeting the prosecutor and investigators was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for a multimillion-dollar house-buying fraud scheme. Ruben Hernandez was accused in 2008 in a series of house purchases using fake Social Security numbers and fake bank statements that defrauded banks of about $4 million. The U.S. Marshals Service took Hernandez into custody in February 2009 after he became involved in a high-speed chase.
May 25, 2010 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington As Congress formally began the process of merging Senate and House versions of massive financial regulatory overhaul legislation, the Senate on Monday voted to instruct its negotiators to largely exempt auto dealers from oversight by a new government agency designed to protect consumers from shady lending. The House included such an exemption in its version passed in December. But auto dealers and their supporters were not able to get a vote on such an exemption in the Senate.
May 16, 2010
As the Senate debates a bill to overhaul financial regulations, its backers have fended off a series of attacks on one of its centerpiece reforms: a new consumer protection agency. Still, opponents of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency keep trying to narrow its reach, contending that it threatens to make vital forms of credit less available and more expensive. A critical test for the new agency is expected this week, when the Senate takes up a proposal by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.
February 25, 2010 | By Jerry Hirsch
The service departments of auto dealers are headed for tough times. That's the conclusion of a report issued Wednesday by consumer research company J.D. Power & Associates, which also released its annual rankings of consumer satisfaction with dealer service departments. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus brand received the highest marks for dealer service among the luxury nameplates. Buick scored highest among non-luxury brands, after factoring out the Hummer and Saturn lines General Motors Co. is shutting down.
November 28, 2009 | By Michael Oneal
Gary Grossinger was showing a visiting Toyota executive around his cavernous new $37-million "autoplex" this year when, somewhere between the first-floor manicurist and the 100,000-square-foot rooftop parking lot, the slack-jawed executive shot off a question. "You know the economy just blew up, don't you?" the executive asked. Grossinger laughed. "Aren't you supposed to be encouraging me?" he replied. These days, Grossinger needs all the encouragement he can get. On Aug. 31, amid a crippling auto industry crisis, the 43-year-old, third-generation auto salesman opened the doors on one of the biggest dealerships in the Midwest.
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