Central Valley Automotive Group is adding to its sizable dealership along McHenry Avenue in Modesto by acquiring Fireside Dodge/Hyundai.
The sale should be completed by mid-April, said John Gardner, president of Central Valley. At that point, all three Chrysler lines — Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep — will be under Central Valley's banner, along with Hyundai, Infiniti, Nissan and Volkswagen.
Gardner said the dealership's location next to Central Valley made it attractive, along with a push by Chrysler's corporate ownership group, Cerberus Capital Management, to consolidate dealerships in the next four years.
"That prompted us to begin discussions ahead of time," Gardner said. "It just made sense for our overall business plan."
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Gardner said the new acquisition will be known as Central Valley Dodge/Hyundai, but would be otherwise unchanged for now.
In a few years, he said, he probably will remodel his dealership to move all the Chrysler brands to one area, then move his Volkswagen vehicles to the area vacated by Dodge.
Although Chrysler has suffered a sales downturn in recent years, Gardner said, he felt good about adding Chrysler lines to Central Valley's holdings.
"With the new management and its new direction, I think it's going to be the right direction," Gardner said.
Gardner is buying Fireside from Kevin Sosinsky, who had owned the Dodge dealership since 1981 and became known around Modesto for his "Super Kev" television commercials and billboards.
Sosinsky, who before owning Fireside Dodge had worked for Chevrolet, said 36 years of selling cars was long enough.
"It's time to ride off into the sunset," Sosinsky said, adding that he plans to stay in Modesto. "It's time to do something else."
Sosinsky also said Chrysler's consolidation was the compelling reason for him to sell, and he noted that Chrysler has plans to cut its lines from 34 to 18 in the next few years.
Many Dodge and Chrysler vehicles are similar, he said, so selling them at two different dealerships is illogical. "This just makes sense for Chrysler."
Although he noted that the downturn in real estate and the overall economy have negatively affected Northern San Joaquin Valley vehicle sales in recent months, Sosinsky said that did not prompt his decision to get out.
"I think there's no question that the downturn is affecting everyone," he said.
Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2331.