Posts Tagged ‘Chrysler’


It’s nearing the end of high season in Palm Springs. Our many Canadian and other cold weather refugee friends are preparing to go back to their thawing northern homes. The temperatures are in the upper 80s and it’s between The Dinah and the White Party.  About 40 miles east, young hipsters and A through D-List Celebrities are dancing, partying and passing out from the heat during the second weekend of the world-famous Coachella Music Festival. So what better time than to showcase antique (read: Classic) automobiles from the glory days of the American auto industry – primarily 1950 – 1972. First Annual Palm Springs Region Antique Automobile Club of America

The setting was Sunrise Park in the heart of Palm Springs on the northeast corner of Ramon Road and Sunrise Way on the lovely lawns between the Palm Springs Library and the Boys and Girls Club.

I’m not sure this event was organized well as there were only a few dozen cars on display. I’d seen many of them before at the annual Casual Concours from the gay car club Great Autos of Yesteryear. This simple Ford Coupe wasn’t in the show – it was parked in library lot.  It certainly qualified as an “antique” (in my mind) more than some of the “classic” cars on display. I loved the license plate from the World’s Fair in California in 1939.

1939 Ford Coupe. Check out the original gold and blue California plate commemorating the 1939 World's Fair!

1939 Ford Coupe. Check out the original gold and blue California plate commemorating the 1939 World’s Fair!

The turquoise and black color scheme of the Studebaker Hawk is wild.

The turquoise and black color scheme of the Studebaker Hawk is wild.

The quilted pattern upholstery inside this Studebaker Hawk was flawless. I don't know if this was an original feature, but it sure looked great.

The quilted pattern upholstery inside this Studebaker Hawk was flawless. I don’t know if this was an original feature, but it sure looked great.

I'd never seen this car before. It's a 1952 Cunningham C-3 Coupe. These cars were hand-made in Florida.

I’d never seen this car before. It’s a 1952 Cunningham C-3 Coupe. These cars were hand-made in Florida.

The fastback style of this 1952 Cunningham Coupe reminds me of the brand new Rolls-Royce Wraith.

The fastback style of this 1952 Cunningham Coupe reminds me of the brand new Rolls-Royce Wraith.

Great badge, huh?

Great badge, huh?

This 1960 Chevrolet Impala Hardtop Coupe was terrific in this fire engine red color.

This 1960 Chevrolet Impala Hardtop Coupe was terrific in this fire engine red color.

You just don't see interiors like this anymore. Everything matches the exterior color. Check out cast steel gauge cluster. You don't want to hit your head on this! Hard to find hounds-tooth fabric in a car anymore.

You just don’t see interiors like this anymore. Everything matches the exterior color. Check out cast steel gauge cluster. You don’t want to hit your head on this! Hard to find hounds-tooth fabric in a car anymore.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

Ah, for the good old Atomic/Jet Age days. I love the Impala logo integrated into a stylized jet.

Ah, for the good old Atomic/Jet Age days. I love the Impala logo integrated into a stylized jet.

A 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville was the top-of-the-line for Cadillac. These beasts cost a fortune.

A 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville was the top-of-the-line for Cadillac. These beasts cost a fortune.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

This was one of the most beautiful Cadillacs ever produced (IMHO). This is a 1967 Eldorado.

This was one of the most beautiful Cadillacs ever produced (IMHO). This is a 1967 Eldorado.

There are no bad angles for this gigantic front drive car - a rarity in 1967.

There are no bad angles for this gigantic front drive car – a rarity in 1967.

A 1951 Studebaker Commander.

A 1951 Studebaker Commander.

I believe this is a 1958 Chrysler New Yorker. Love the fins.

I believe this is a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker. Love the fins.

The Gen II Corvair was my favorite body style. This 1966 Convertible looks sharp in aqua.

The Gen II Corvair was my favorite body style. This 1966 Convertible looks sharp in aqua.

The Corvair interior was simple but well sorted. The thin steering wheel, horn ring and shifter gave the interior a light, airy feeling.

The Corvair interior was simple but well sorted. The thin steering wheel, horn ring and shifter gave the interior a light, airy feeling.

This Corvair has the turbo flat 6 engine making a powerful 180 hp.

This Corvair has the turbo flat 6 engine making a powerful 180 hp.

Chevy made some amazing muscle cars in the 1960s, This 1967 Chevelle Super Sport had the 396 engine option.

Chevy made some amazing muscle cars in the 1960s, This 1967 Chevelle Super Sport had the 396 engine option.

The interior of the 1967 Chevelle Super Sport.

The interior of the 1967 Chevelle Super Sport.

The hood stretches out for miles on this 1970 Ford Thunderbird. Underneath, it was a Ford LTD.

The hood stretches out for miles on this 1970 Ford Thunderbird. Underneath, it was a Ford LTD.

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang. This lovely 1969 Mustang GT still looks amazing in its blue suit.

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang. This lovely 1969 Mustang GT still looks amazing in its blue suit.

Under the hood is a 351 Cleveland.

Under the hood is a 351 Cleveland.

The aftermarket wood steering wheel looks period-appropriate in the 1969 Mustang GT. Some will lament that it has a 3-speed automatic transmission, but it makes for a great cruiser.

The aftermarket wood steering wheel looks period-appropriate in the 1969 Mustang GT. Some will lament that it has a 3-speed automatic transmission, but it makes for a great cruiser.

 


Just two weeks ago when I drove by Buerge Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in West Los Angeles on Santa Monica Blvd., the lot was full of cars. Fast forward to today, it’s a ghost town and fork lifts are hauling out service equipment.

All the inventory is gone from Buerge Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in West LA

All the inventory is gone from Buerge Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in West LA

Whatever valuable tooling existed in the service department was being carted out. Perhaps it had been sold or it was being repossessed by a bank or leasing company.

Whatever valuable tooling existed in the service department was being carted out. Perhaps it had been sold or it was being repossessed by a bank or leasing company.

What happened, I don’t know for sure, but I can speculate: Terrible customer service finally put the nail in the coffin.

The tiny showroom was a humbled design that was never updated. It could have been done, but the owners didn't invest much in the facilities.

The tiny showroom was a humbled design that was never updated. It could have been renovated, but the owners didn’t invest much in the facilities.

I’ve shopped at Buerge before and I’ve never  had a good experience at this dealer.  And I know it wasn’t just me.  Many of the Yelp reviews were brutal.

I remember my last visit to the showroom. There were no sales associates anywhere to be seen – not even a receptionist. And there were three other customers wandering around looking at the cars on the showroom floor, wondering if anyone was going to bother to talk to them.  When one sales guy showed up, we had to let  him know who was waiting the longest, like we were at the prepared foods counter at Gelson’s. Naturally, I knew more about the car than the salesman – not surprising – but this guy seemed particularly clueless.  It must have been a horrible, depressing place to work.

The lot was very small by modern standards, but there was no place to grow. The rear abuts residential property and the dealership already occupied the full city block. The original lots just weren't very deep.

The lot was very small by modern standards, but there was no place to grow. The rear abuts residential property and the dealership already occupied the full city block. The original lots just weren’t very deep.

After I purchased my 2012 Dodge Charger from another more responsive dealer, I took my car to Buerge for service as it is the closest dealer to me in West Hollywood and I can ride the MTA 4 or 704 to a stop one block form the dealership.

The service people never found the electronic gremlins that plagued my outside temperature gauge (constantly wrong) or why the climate control system didn’t properly sense the cabin temperature, but I was horrified by the customer “lounge” which hadn’t been updated since the building was built, probably back in the 1970s. The ceiling tiles were stained from ancient water leaks. The coffee “station” could have come out of an episode of The Office. The windowless room was truly soul-sucking.

I took these pictures about 2 years ago. Note the ancient TV.

I took these pictures about 2 years ago. Note the ancient TV. And check out that fantastic coffee station. No expense spared, right?

It's like they bought the seats at a surplus auction from a defunct Greyhound Bus station.

It’s like they bought the seats at a surplus auction from a defunct Greyhound Bus station.

 

It's hard to see, but there were water stains on the ceiling tiles.

It’s hard to see, but there were water stains on the ceiling tiles.

The dealership website is still online, but when you call the toll-free number, after the initial recorded voice, you’re connected to a fast busy signal. As the unceremonious notice on the door says, they are “Closed for Business as of 2/17/2014.”

Like the way the owners ran the business, the "closed" sign was a simple notice with no information or explanation.  Maybe they lost their lease? Maybe the real estate was too valuable for a poorly-performing business? Who knows?

Like the way the owners ran the business, the “closed” sign was a simple notice with no information or explanation. Maybe they lost their lease? Maybe the real estate was too valuable for a poorly-performing business? Who knows?

This is bad news for Chrysler as this leaves the company with no store in Metro Los Angeles — the same problem plagues Chevrolet. My choices are now Van Nuys, Glendale, Downtown LA, Inglewood or San Fernando. None of them are on a transit route and none are convenient.

There’s a huge market for Chrysler-group vehicles and factory service in Metro LA. Perhaps another dealer group will take up the franchise in Santa Monica or even Mid-Wilshire.  Jeep is a hot brand, as is Ram.  Just because Buerge finally tanked doesn’t mean a well-run group can’t fill the vacuum that now exists. Any takers?

Update: April 22, 2014

I received a flyer in the mail from the “All-New” Hooman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Los Angeles – NOT conveniently located Inglewood.  This is apparently the replacement for Buerge, but I wonder why I got a flyer for my minivan but not my Charger.  Odd.  However, I won’t be taking either my 2012 Dodge Charger or my 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan there for service.  It looks like I’ll stick with Crystal Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat in Cathedral City.

Hooman Chrysler Jeep P1 Edit

Hooman Chrysler P2