#Buerge Ford Bites the Dust

Posted: March 25, 2014 in Ford, Los Angeles Specific Issues
Tags: , ,

Update 8/7/2014: Curbed LA reports that CIM Group, a developer NOT known for good design, plans a massive mixed-use complex at the site of Buerge Ford:

The plans, presented last night at the West LA Neighborhood Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, call for a four-story project, with 157 units that include 16 low-income apartments. There will be nearly 45,000 square feet of retail, though committee members voiced worry that a big box retailer, like CityTarget, would move in and bring on a traffic apocalypse (lots of underground parking is planned). CIM reps said there are no plans for something like that, but the committee wants the retail spaces broken up into smaller shops, as well as more open space and wide sidewalks. There’s time for adjustments as the project, designed by Gene Fong & Associates, is in the very early stages.

No word on what CIM will do with the Chrysler parcel, but I ‘m sure it will be equally horrifying.

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Just a couple weeks after Buerge Jeep-Chrysler-Dodge-Ram closed forever, the other Buerge enterprise, Buerge Ford at 11800 Santa Monica Blvd in West LA, also shuttered.

The sad sack building and nearly empty parking lot tell a story.

The sad sack building and nearly empty parking lot tell the story.

Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that both dealerships tanked. The clueless management and hapless sales staff  – hallmarks of the Chrysler store – were only marginally better at the Ford store.

I shopped at Buerge Ford a few times over the years and I always came away with the feeling that the salesman seemed depressed and resigned to losing a sale. The test drive inevitably consisted of a short, four-right-turn-course, with busy Santa Monica Blvd as the “rewarding” home stretch. This kind of useless short route is all too typical of dealer test drive routes in L.A.

The physical facility always looked dated and in need of attention. Whether it was a leaky roof or just the cramped showroom, the whole place should have been torn down and replaced years ago. I assumed that there just wasn’t enough money to do any upgrades.  These days, owning only two small dealerships isn’t enough mass to compete with the large dealer groups that dominate the LA market. The tiny physical footprint occupied by Buerge Ford also made any major expansion a challenge. And any hint of large-scale development is met with opposition from well-financed NIMBY neighborhood groups.

There didn't seem to be any hurry to dismantle the service bays, but all of tools and equipment was being moved out.

There didn’t seem to be any hurry to dismantle the service bays.

The only difference from closing the Chrysler store is a referral to another dealer.  Big banners at Buerge Ford point bewildered customers to Airport Marina Ford at 5880 W. Centinela Ave, not far from LAX.  For many, that’s just too far out of their daily orbit. Santa Monica Ford will likely pick up most of the business.

Buerge Ford Customers are referred to Airport Marina Ford near LAX.

Buerge Ford Customers are referred to Airport Marina Ford near LAX.

Interestingly, a few remaining cars were marked to go to different Ford dealerships. This pathetic-looking Fiesta was marked to go to Santa Monica Ford. I wonder how much longer it sat before it was driven a couple miles west to its new home.

This Fiesta was tagged to go to Santa Monica Ford. The thick layer of dust and wilted paper tag are a clue that the car has been sitting like this for at least a week or two.

This Fiesta was tagged to go to Santa Monica Ford. The thick layer of dust and wilted paper tag are a clue that the car has been sitting like this for at least a week or two.

Both Chrysler (including Jeep, Dodge and Ram Trucks) and Ford have numerous blockbuster models including the Ford F-150 pickup truck and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  There should be a very strong market in wealthy West LA for both brands.  At least for Ford customers, there are two stores (Santa Monica and Airport Marina) in the same area 310 code.  No such luck yet for us Chrysler Group owners (I own a Dodge Charger).

I found parts of the Buerge Motor Car Company website were still active.  Here’s the Buerge story:

Buerge Ford is one of the longest continually active Ford franchises in California and the United States.

We trace our roots back to 1915 in Westwood.  Buerge Ford has been selling cars and trucks, servicing cars and trucks, and selling parts for cars and trucks for over ninety-three (93) years! On top of that we are on Route 66 – the “mother road” of the West! Located just under a mile from the 405 Freeway at 11800 Santa Monica Boulevard. Buerge Ford and Buerge Chrysler Jeep are family run local businesses that have sold and serviced new Ford, Chrysler, and Jeep cars and trucks for decades. We’ve got grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, who bring their children and grandchildren in for their first new car or truck. We have families and friends who have purchased cars here for generations.

We offer superior service and extraordinary deals for all automotive needs and transactions. As an example, Blue Oval is the Ford Motor Company’s exclusive measuring tool to seek out and reward the best of the best – the best Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers in America and California. (Like the J. D. Power Awards). Buerge Ford has been Blue Oval Certified every year this customer satisfaction program has existed.

In the internet age, I’m not sure that being “Blue Oval Certified” means much. I don’t know anyone who has a “personal relationship” with a dealer or car salesperson. You’re more likely to have a business relationship with the service department than sales. For most, going to a car dealer for anything has all the appeal of a stint in a dentist’s chair. The only silver lining for the Buerge family is that the real estate – two full blocks in West LA –  is probably worth a small fortune.

Buerge Ford lasted for 99 years. It’s a shame it didn’t make it to 100 in 2015.

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