Saab, Mercedes Dealership to Close at Ventura Center


Ed McDonald, owner of McDonald Motor Co., plans to shut his Saab and Mercedes-Benz dealerships at the Ventura Auto Center effective next Sunday. At the same time, McDonald plans to complete the sale of his separate Volkswagen dealership to Barber Ford.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

McDonald, 57, has had his multiple-brand dealership at the auto center for nine years; he had previously operated dealerships in Hollywood, New York City and other parts of the country for nearly 20 years. He said the decision to close his Ventura businesses was simply a matter of being ready to retire.

“I had the opportunity to sell the Volkswagen franchise and that triggered it,” he said. “I’ve been profitable the whole time I’ve been here. It’s just a natural time to go.”


McDonald, a supporter of the proposed $70-million Centerplex project--which would bring a baseball stadium, restaurants, stores and other attractions to a location near the auto center--said that the complex would help business at the auto mall, but that the mall will thrive with or without it.

“I think the whole location is looking up. In my opinion, its greatest days are to come,” he said. “But there’s no question the [Centerplex] would help bring traffic through this area and to the auto center.”

Other dealers at the Ventura auto mall took the Saab and Mercedes-Benz closures in stride.

“Obviously it affects us any time a dealer leaves. When there are other product lines, you have a chance that a customer will drive past that dealer and see your franchise,” said Ed Myers, general sales manager of the Jack Weber Nissan, Mazda and Kia dealerships.

“Any loss in the auto center is a loss of traffic, but the Mercedes is a high-line store, so they didn’t get nearly as much traffic as other dealers.”

Lars Lundgren, owner of Ventura Volvo, said he doesn’t expect to see much of a difference in his business once the dealerships close. “It’s just not a good sign for any auto center when there’s a dealership empty,” he said.

John Hofer, owner of the auto mall, said he would look to fill the vacancies, but that he currently has no prospective tenants.


The 25-year-old auto center is at Leland Street and Perkin Avenue, near the Johnson Drive exit of the Ventura Freeway.

Though the ultimate impact of McDonald’s departure on the Ventura Auto Center is unclear, the Silver Star AG Ltd. dealership at the Thousand Oaks Auto Mall is in a position to benefit.

Silver Star will become the county’s only remaining Mercedes-Benz dealership. General Manager Bill Little said customers looking for service would probably turn to his business or go to Cutter Motors in Santa Barbara.