DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- Ray Cohen was to Chrysler dealers and Chrysler Corp. what Ed Mullane was to Ford dealers and Ford Motor Co. -- an advocate for dealers and a pain in the neck to the manufacturer.
Cohen, a former Dodge dealer in Yonkers, N.Y., died June 7. He was 84.
He founded the Independent Dealer Committee Dedicated to Action, which grew to 800 dealer members from all manufacturers. After getting out of the new-car business in the 1980s, Cohen published Automotive Dealers Digest, a newsletter for dealers.
Cohen was foursquare on the side of the dealer in any tussle with the factory and was not universally loved by the people who make the cars and trucks.
In September 1979, with Chrysler teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Cohen suggested that Chrysler's dealers should impose on themselves a $50 surcharge on every vehicle they sold and also spread over five years the 5 percent rebate the factory owed dealers for unsold carryover models.
Cohen reasoned that it would be an interest-free loan to the automaker amounting to $40 million a year.
The suggestion was merely self-interest, he said, to protect the billions of dollars that dealers had invested in their businesses and would lose if Chrysler went bust.
Even then, Cohen didn't want anyone to think he was being charitable to the factory.