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Area car enthusiasts weigh in on industry woes

Some local car enthusiasts worry about the potential implications of bankruptcy filings for American automakers Chrysler and General Motors. "It concerns me because I really feel the auto industry is a major part of our economy and our country," ...

"Cruisin' Broadway"
A collector's 2008 425-HP Dodge Challenger SRT8 catches the attention of D.C. Cavkusic during the Cruisin' Broadway event Thursday night in downtown Fargo. A 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is behind the one he is looking at. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Some local car enthusiasts worry about the potential implications of bankruptcy filings for American automakers Chrysler and General Motors.

"It concerns me because I really feel the auto industry is a major part of our economy and our country," said Duane Geir, owner of Fargo's Finest Auto Body Shop. He brought his 1960 Ford Starliner to National Muffler's Cruisin' Broadway event Thursday evening in downtown Fargo.

"I just don't see where government should be involved in the car business," Geir said.

Chrysler hopes to emerge from bankruptcy protection within the next few days. General Motors filed for Chapter 11 protection Monday, and its officials say they hope to reorganize as a new company in 60 to 90 days.

"They unfortunately didn't keep up with the times," said Gary H. Olson, a member of the Valley Vintage Car Club.

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"Car manufacturers in other countries came out with some better cars and beat them out of the market, and they finally have to reorganize now. I think they'll come out of it."

Kurt Jankowski, service director of United Automotives in Fargo and Toppers Car Club treasurer, called the U.S. auto industry a mess.

"I don't think it's fair to some of the dealers that have been around for years that they're just pulling the plug on them, but I realize the situation they're in. They probably don't have many options," he said.

Executives with General Motors and Chrysler say their companies need to shed hundreds of dealerships as part of their bankruptcies. They called the decisions painful yet necessary moves to right-size their companies.

Shane Triepke, Toppers Car Club president, likes the classic styles some companies such as GM have been bringing back.

"I hope they can get everything resolved as far as finances so they can continue doing that, bringing back that era," Triepke said.

Car enthusiasts are upset with GM's decision to phase out its Pontiac brand as part of restructuring efforts.

"I'm a big Pontiac fan, and it just kind of irritates me because they were coming out with the new Trans Am, and I don't even know if that will make production and I wish it would," Triepke said.

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Jankowski had another concern.

"When you're in the repair industry like we are, a lot of times you can't get the parts to fix the cars when they discontinue them," Jankowski said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

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