Manteca Dodge is changing owners, from Leer Automotive back to Curt Hughes Automotive Group in Modesto.
The dealership on Yosemite Avenue in Manteca laid off most of its workers earlier this month, according to a former employee. A Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman said this week that Curt Hughes Automotive Group has filed an application to form a new corporation to buy Manteca Dodge, with franchise approval from Dodge.
A manager who gave his name only as Jon at Manteca Dodge confirmed that the dealership was being operated by Curt Hughes Automotive Group.
A manager at Generation Motors, a Curt Hughes dealership, said this week that the deal was not official and would not comment further. Curt Hughes did not return calls seeking comment.
Generation Motors sells Buick, Isuzu, Kia and Lincoln-Mercury vehicles in Modesto and owns Friendly Chevrolet in Escalon.
Curt Hughes' son-in-law, Stefan Leer, bought Manteca Dodge from Hughes under the Leer Automotive banner.
A former employee at Manteca Dodge said the dealership had several problems in recent months. Scott Scheffel, 26, said he worked at Manteca Dodge as a mechanic but quit days before the owners laid off most of their employees.
"We got a new rumor about once every week about what would happen," he said.
Late last week, a Manteca Dodge employee who would not give her name said new owners would take over this week under a new name. But the manager, Jon, said Thursday that the dealership would remain Manteca Dodge.
Stefan Leer could not be reached for comment.
Shortly before he quit, Scheffel said, vehicles from other Generation Motors dealerships were brought to the Manteca Dodge lot.
On Tuesday, the lot was about two-thirds full, and many of the vehicles had license plate frames from Generation Motors and Friendly Chevrolet, also a Curt Hughes dealership.
Besides Manteca Dodge, Leer also owned Planet Mitsubishi on McHenry Avenue in Modesto.
Leer eventually dropped the Mitsubishi brand but continued to operate a used car dealership, Leer Automotive, from the McHenry site. Leer Automotive closed suddenly late last year.
The site, which is still for lease, was formerly home to Modesto Mitsubishi. That dealership, under different owners, closed in 2005 amid a rash of customer complaints to the DMV and the Better Business Bureau.
Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2331.