No more Fords, says former Japan dealer

TOKYO -- Old reputations die hard.

Ford Motor Co. is making a fine comeback in the United States. But it still has a long way to go in Japan, notoriously one of the world's toughest markets for Detroit brands.

Just ask a former Ford dealer I spoke with recently outside Tokyo.

His company was founded by his grandfather in 1947 to sell Fords in post-World War II Japan. They eventually branched into Toyotas and Volkswagens and dropped the Blue Oval. A change of heart brought Ford under their roof again, but they quit the brand for good in 2000.

"We had to do too many repairs where you had to take the engine out. That never happened with the Toyotas," he said. "We couldn't make any money."

Will he ever consider selling Ford again, even given its recent turnaround?

"No," he tells me. "Even if the quality gets better, they are still imports and too expensive."