Ford First Among Collectors

There’s no mystery as to the largest source of collector brands among consumers, especially where auto shows or drive-a-thons are concerned. The 2012 Detroit ‘Dream Cruise’ down Woodward Avenue, the Motor City’s main street, was dominated as usual by Ford and was informally dedicated to the late Ford performance guru, Carroll Shelby.

Among demonstrators with the most classic Fords are Andy Nelson and Michael Kunzman, who vie with each other in the number of Ford models they show off. Kuozman, 70, is a Mustang enthusiast. His collection includes such oldies as a 1972 Mach 1 R-Code HO Mustang and a 1988 Mustang GT Full Drag Race Car equipped with a parachute.

A collector who favors Ford Blue Oval cars is Andy Adelson, 58. His fleet of Ford cars includes a 351 Automatic, a 1969 Mach 142 and Super Cobra Jet Drag Pack, a 1955 4-speed, and a 1988 GT Full Drag Racer.

The appeal of Shelby’s name among Ford owners and collectors has been a boost for numerous parades and auto shows, not to mention drag races at such metro Detroit Venues as the Milan, MI raceway and the annual North American International Auto Show every January.

Michael Surnow, 64, has a 1964 Shelby Cobra and 1991 Mustang racer-but what he really wants is a 6-figure Ford GT, list-priced in the $150,000 range. “Collecting cars” is a time consumer, says Surnow, 69, who lives in West Bloomfield, MI, “but my dream is to own and run a GT. I can’t wait for Ford to make more of a splash with it.”

The GT has been discontinued as a stock Ford brand, but still occupies a spot in most parades, shows and drag races. The buzz enveloping Ford’s collector brands has not weakened interest in acquisitions of longtime Ford dealerships. A large regional dealership, #1 Cochran, serving the Pittsburgh area, acquired its first Ford franchise. Owner Rob Cochran said the addition of Ford and its classic nameplates “gives us a link to all Ford models-new and classic.

Dealers struggling to recycle the lusty financial statements of 2009 and 2010 have received turnaround strategy advice from one of the industry’s most influential CPA groups; Auto Team America.

The group serves as accountants for more than 2,000 franchised dealers nationwide and in addition to tax preparation, counsels its clients in deep-digging details as to what steps need to be taken to bring financials back to the near-record levels of 2010 and 2011.

While ‘product-product-product’ is a guideline that has served the test of time for 110 years-since the Ford Model T and early Buick and Oldsmobile days, not to mention the pioneering Mercedes-Benz era, in Germany and western Europe, the CPA ‘solutions’ manifesto focuses more pointedly on dealership financials.

“Are your unit sales what they need to be?” is a lead question, which indirectly emphasizes the impact hot cars could have on upward sales and cold cars did have on the downturn of 2010-2011.