OF SHAMROCKS AND OVALS — New Jersey dealer Bob Maguire will end his year as chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association in January at the NADA convention in New Orleans. But before he goes, Maguire hopes to iron out some lingering wrinkles, such as dealer discord over Ford Division’s Blue Oval dealer certification program. Maguire says he and Ford Division President Jim O’Connor have been discussing the issue. The key? Building personal relationships, says Maguire — and a little help from St. Patrick. Maguire says he and O’Connor hit it off because they are both Irish Americans from New York who like to walk in that city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
At William L. Morris Chevrolet, the enticing smells of red wine sauce, garlic and oregano mix with that unmistakable new-car smell, plus an occasional whiff of motor oil and new rubber. For two years, the Fillmore, Calif., dealership has been operating an Italian restaurant, and at 5 p.m. customers can request tables set up near the new cars and trucks. “We’ve sold (vehicles) at the table,” says owner Chappy Morris Sr. “Or if they aren’t sold, we invite them to think about it over dinner.” Chappy came up with the idea while drawing up plans for a new showroom after a 1994 earthquake. Morris opened the restaurant before the dining room was finished, so he put tables in the showroom. “When the dining room was done, people asked if they could sit by the cars.”