Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lincoln Dealership in Clifton Closing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lincoln Dealership in Clifton Closing

Article excerpt

Liberty Lincoln, which has been on Route 3 in Clifton for 29 years, is one of a growing number of former Lincoln Mercury dealers to call it quits since Lincoln's parent Ford Motor Co. dropped the Mercury line two years ago.

The dealership will close at the end of the month and the property is up for sale.

Ford, which is trimming Lincoln dealerships nationwide as part of a plan to streamline distribution and revitalize the brand by reaching out to younger car buyers, bought out the franchise contract at a confidential price "that no else would offer," co- owner John Chirico said Tuesday in an interview at the dealership.

The dealership is one of the top 10 sellers of Lincolns in the Northeast, according to Chirico, but since Mercury was discontinued at the end of 2010, revenue is way down.

"That was 60 percent of our business," Chirico said. "We are still surviving," he said, but to continue as a standalone Lincoln franchise is "a gamble," he said.

In 2010, the shop sold close to 500 new vehicles but last year dropped to about 300, Chirico said.

"The product is phenomenal, but we don't know if it's [the strategy's] going to work. They don't want to compete with Cadillac anymore, they want to compete with BMW and Lexus," he said.

Lincoln is pinning much of its hopes on the rollout of the 2013 MKZ luxury midsize sedans that offer push-button transmissions, sliding glass roofs and fuel-efficient "EcoBoost" engines, as well as hybrid versions.

Liberty Lincoln will not be the first Lincoln dealer in the area to close. Ken Smith Motors, a fixture in downtown Ridgewood for more than 60 years, was unsuccessful in attempts to get a Ford franchise after Mercury was discontinued, and it shut down earlier this year. The business was bought by All American Ford on Route 17 south in Paramus, which had acquired the Westwood Lincoln Mercury franchise in Emerson. …

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