• Mar 9th 2009 at 1:58PM
  • 48
With each passing day bringing more tough news about the state of the car companies and the plight of the autoworker, it's sometimes easy to overlook the effect that all of this economic gulag is having on mom-and-pop dealerships across the country. Bringing that idea into stark focus is news that Gregory Graham, a Pennsylvania car dealer recently died of a heart attack while torching cars at his own ailing dealership.
Graham, 61, was found amidst a row of a dozen fire-damaged vehicles on the lot of Graham Colonial Motors early in the morning on Feb. 17, and now police are confirming that the fire was due to arson – rolled up newspapers and a gasoline can were found on the scene.

According to Automotive News, court records indicate that the Pittsburgh-area dealership owed more than $420,000 in 2008 federal tax liens and some $11,000 in county property-tax liens.

The Jeep, Buick, Pontiac dealership closed last week.

[Sources: Automotive News (subs. req); Image: MSNBC]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I feel sorry for the man.

      Probably he was committing insurance, but we do not know that for a certainty. Maybe he just lost his marbles and decided to destroy the products that he saw as having destroyed his finances.

      Possible, though I admit improbable.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hard times.

      • 6 Years Ago
      ""Coincidentally Brazil is one of the very few countries that has broke it's dependancy for oil, at least for the automobile sector.

      Yep, there's a clue there. They use ethanol btw, so it might be time to pay more atention to people like David Blume.""


      Brazil has never exceeded 30% ethanol utilization in it's motor vehicle fuels, and has always used significant amounts of gasoline.

      Brazil today is heavily dpendent on domestic sources of oil, and is agressively developing huge new offshore oil field discoveries for export and domestic consumption.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Sucks he died, but at least it wasn't a row of 911's or M3's!
      • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        Are we all not obscuring the fact this guy was committing insurance fraud at the time that he died? Not exactly an honorable person.

        Also, forgotten is his failure to pay taxes.

        Yes, sad that a man is dead but he was not exactly a great person from what we can tell.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Yes, sad that a man is dead but he was not exactly a great person from what we can tell."

        To be honest -- we don't know. We don't know if he got into a situation where he couldn't pay his taxes. Not everyone who owes back taxes is a cheat (except for certain politicians and Obama nominees). Sometimes they find themselves on the bad end of the economic stick. If it's shown that he was evading taxes I'll change my mind but until then I will reserve judgment and just offer my condelnces to the family.
        • 6 Years Ago
        May he rest in peace.
        • 6 Years Ago
        My condolences to the family!

        RIP to the man!

        It's a shame.....
      • 6 Years Ago
      I remember seeing this in the local news last month, before they knew that the guy did it himself. But the first this I said when I saw it was that the owner did it, as his dealership is in poor redneck territory and his sales probably sucked.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wish this guy could have waited out the storm. This are going to get better. Here's a plan that seems to be working.

      Brazil auto sales rise for 3rd month in February

      * Sales rise for 3rd month, edge up 1 pct from January

      * Production climbs for 2nd month

      * Volkswagen leads pack with 13.7 pct surge in sales (Recasts; Adds context, breakdown of sales by automaker)

      SAO PAULO, March 9 (Reuters) - Automobile sales in Brazil rose in February for the third straight month, industry data showed on Monday, helped by government tax breaks that have allowed dealers to lower prices to woo consumers back into showrooms.

      Sales of new cars and trucks edged up 1 percent to 199,400 units from the previous month, following a 1.5 percent increase in January and a 9.4 percent surge in December, according to the national automakers' association Anfavea.

      More at
        • 6 Years Ago
        Coincidentally Brazil is one of the very few countries that has broke it's dependancy for oil, at least for the automobile sector.

        Yep, there's a clue there. They use ethanol btw, so it might be time to pay more atention to people like David Blume.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Not really. It's more because Brazil is an emerging country. China's sales also went up 33% on February.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Brazil also has huge taxes on new vehicles with some cars with engines of less than 1.0L getting huge discounts. When they start at such high tax base any significant reduction in taxes will increase demand.

        This would be similat if all 50 states temporarily suspended sales taxes on the purchase and lease of new vehicles.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm not sure what the point of posting this kind of news on AutoBlog is.

      Way to seek out the worst news you can find and post it up so everybody will look at it like a car crash. Come on AutoBlog, you can do better than that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What the heck? Why is there so much god damn debt in this industry? Is this really how the automotive industry has been working on for the past how many years and nobody has said anything?
        • 6 Years Ago
        But nobody even mentions who we as Americans are in debt to. Sounds like this guy was mainly in debt to our government, meaning at least it would've been money staying in the country. Then its up to the government to redistribute and change the money/debt.
        • 6 Years Ago

        • 6 Years Ago
        I heard on NPR that Americans owed as much or even more of our GDP. Funny thing was last time that happened was in 1929 when people were buying stocks at a tenth. History repeated itself and no one tried to stop it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Almost half a million dollars in 2008 alone? I'd hate to see this guys spending for the past little while.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That is called leverage. Works for you on the upturn, punishes very badly on the downturn.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, this is how the industry works. Dealers all borrow money to finance the cars on their lot. No dealer could afford to buy the cars with cash.
        • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        Are you serious? Cars are very expensive to produce. It's not like farming, where your strawberry crop fails, loss equals cost of seeds, fertilizer and time. If no one buys the millions of cars sitting on lots across the globe, that debt continues to mount.

        These companies need to cut production, seriously. The losses that GM posted last qtr.? is kind of a misnomer. They didn't actually lose that entire figure that was published, most of that money is sitting on dealer lots all across the world. It more of a cash flow crisis for them. They outlay huge sums of money to build these cars, said cars are not selling. They end up with a negative cash flow problem.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Everything is based on debt now. Nobody saves money, they just spend. To spend they borrow. Banks LOVE it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Borrowed money = borrowed time. It will all, one day, go up in flames.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @phez - yes, this is how the industry works, and this applies to the Detroit Big Three AND all of the rest of the industry in the United States. All dealers rely on floor planning (financing) their inventory, usually paying only the interest, then paying the principle as inventory is sold. The manufacturing side of the industry is very capital intensive, and relies on suppliers, who in turn are living off their cash flow, using their accounts receivable to collateralize their lines of credit. Without their lines of credit, 90% of those companies can't make payroll or pay for raw materials.

        That's the way that industry works.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Conclusion: Americans are mean and waste their energies slagging off the wrong people. Go after the capitalists who are exploiting you and stop wasting your bile on the little people...fools.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sad story. My condolences to his family.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The prick got what was coming to him. A man would have taken responibility for the failing of his business, even if the failure was not his fault. Going into business for yourself is a risk. There is NO excuse EVER to intentionally set a car on fire. Did he think torching new cars is a victimless crime? He obviously didn't care who it affects so long as he can collect his precious money. Absoloutly zero sympathy here. What a dirt bag loser.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Not to mention all the firefighter lives he put at risk.

        Not to mention the potential of starting other fires and harming others.

        Not to mention the added burden his fraud putts on others that dont defraud the insurance company.

        Not to mention the embarrassment to his family.

        Not to mention the debt he just passed to his heirs.

        Nice guy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, he got off easy. We who are left behind, collectively, have to deal with the mess he left behind. We already are out of the tax money he owed, but then he destroyed and wasted some useful cars of some value.
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