Goodbye, Strieter

Well, it finally happened. Actually, it happened six months ago, but it became clearly over just recently. Strieter Lincoln had been a Quad City area staple, in business for decades. In addition to Lincoln-Mercury, they also sold and serviced Saabs until around 2000-2001. I first started doing business with them around ten years ago, when I bought my first Town Car–from the local Cadillac-Volvo dealer.

Later on, I bought Town Car #2, an Autumn Red 2004 Ultimate affectionately nicknamed “Big Rhonda” from my pal Peter Clarke, who had been there for years. I’d stop in frequently and we’d chew the fat, discussing The Cellar, a supper club we both were fond of, and cars, and all sorts of things. It was that kind of place. He naturally also had a Town Car–a White Chocolate Tricoat 2007 Designer that was even nicer than my ’04.

Service too, was great. Ron Erickson, the service manager, was a pro, pleasant and we’d frequently chat about his green ’90s Corvette when I’d drop my car off for service. Justin was also a great guy. He had a bright chrome yellow circa 2002 Wrangler that he kept immaculate. These folks knew their stuff, and went above and beyond for their customers. They were a credit to their dealership.

And then it all ended. A friend of mine from high school, Pete Peterson, messaged me that the company he works for got a “thanks for all your service but we’re closing permanently” letter from Strieter. Apparently they sent it out to all the vendors they did business with. I immediately texted Peter, who confirmed it. “Strieters is no more, sad week for us. They sold the place to some people from out of town.”

Uh oh. Out of towners. As it turned out, my car had been in for service the last day Strieter existed. They had said they couldn’t get me a loaner that day, but could give me a ride to the office and pick me up later. I said no problem. After the fact, I realized it must have been due to the floor plan financing changing hands. Everything was changing over that day, I just wasn’t aware of it.

Well, six months passed before I needed to take the car in. During all that time, I thought, hoped, maybe they’ll be OK. Maybe there won’t be a problem. But I already knew they’d laid off most of the staff. I had stopped in in March or so and Peter and basically everyone else I knew was gone and replaced with strangers. Down to the receptionist.

Then a couple weeks ago I dropped the car off, and again, hoped for the best. It was…not great. There was clearly a lot of flailing around, and now that I was in the service area I realized they’d chopped/replaced 90% of the service staff too. The only people I recognized was one mechanic, and the guy who dropped me off at work. We had a long conversation about all that had happened there the last six months.

And while I’d prefer not to go into specifics, I’m done with them. The staff at Strieter were terrific, professional people. They knew what they were doing and proud of their dealership. Strieter won the Ford Motor Company President’s award several years, and earned it. It was a pleasure doing business with them.

And now it’s over. Fortunately the local Ford dealer is an old friend of mine, and my cars will be going there from now on! When I called him to see if that was feasible, he said sure! He also related they are getting new Lincoln customers every week due to their experience with “the new guys.”

It’s a shame. I was close with so many folks there, I liked seeing them, visiting them, spending my money there. And now it’s all gone. Strieter is dead. Long live Strieter, and the fine folks who worked there! I’ll always have good memories of the place. It’s almost like losing a friend.

Some Strieter-related columns:

Five Years On The Town: Life With A 2000 Lincoln – Riverside Green (

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve: Luxury, American Style – Riverside Green (

Road Test: 2017 Lincoln MKC 2.0 T AWD – Riverside Green (

Retro Road Test: 2011 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited – The Last American Car – Riverside Green (

10 Replies to “Goodbye, Strieter”

  1. Adam 12

    Sorry for your loss personally and the loss the the car community around you as a whole. Times are changing and not always for the better.

    Now you will have a new group to get to know and hopefully they treat you as well. Any of your old friends land there? If customers are landing there maybe other personnel did too. After all there is a shortage of knowledgeable people.

  2. GeneralCornrowWallace

    I live two thousand miles away, and this is just conjecture, but perhaps it was because Mr Strieter wanted to retire and get out of the car business. And nobody local could afford it or was interested. So he sold to a national mega dealership chain (e.g. AutoNation) to cash out.
    While a loss to the community, looking at it from the other side of the table, the owner did have a right to sell it to the highest bidder.

  3. CJinSD

    Have you been to lately? Everything they sell has the same form-factor as a Subaru Outback.

    The dealer group I worked for one summer in college stuck around for at least thirty years before selling out to Umansky about four years ago. Now Umansky has sold out to Flow. I wonder how long they’ll try making a go of retailing cars?

    • Tom Klockau Post author

      You said it! I don’t know what I’ll spring for next time.

      Good thing I keep cars for years.

  4. LynnG

    You are lucky the dealer stayed local for as long as it did. The locally owned franchise business model no longer works except in the largest metro areas. Family owned one store dealers are a thing of the past. Not because they do not provide benefits to the local community, but because the financial demands of the OEM’s has become to burdensome. That and the cost of floor planning an inventory, just look at the sticker prices of new cars and trucks. Also in many states the legislature has raised the minimum wage outrageously so instead of paying $5.00 an hour for a responsible high school kid to wash and prep the cars after school the dealership has to pay $15-$20 and hour for the same work and it goes on. Locally owned franchises provided many benefits to the local community from sponsoring little league to advertising in the local weekly but u fortunately those days are gone just like choices of multiple color interiors.

    • Tom Klockau Post author

      The funny thing is when I talked to KV about it, he said he’d been trying to buy Strieter for years. He never knew they were looking to sell late last year, no one approached him. He was mildly peeved.

    • jc

      Well, in my large metro (7 million population), all the dealers I’ve been involved with in the past five years or so have been owned by big multi-multi-dealer companies.

      I suppose there could be some single- or two-franchise dealers, maybe of the more exotic nameplates, but I rather doubt it.

      The number of dealerships I’m aware of that still bear a family or founder name, is down to exactly one. And I couldn’t determine from a quick internet look if any of the family are still involved – plus, they have 18 dealerships across 4 states, so they’re hardly a mom and pop operation.

  5. JMcG

    I bought my Mustang a couple of years ago. I walked into the local family-owned dealer I’d use for two previous vehicle purchases.
    They were stripping the logos and I asked what was going on. It turned out the principal was retiring and neither of his kids wanted the business. He had sold to a regional mega-dealer.
    The decline was immediate and drastic. I’ll never cross the threshold of that shop again.
    Damn shame, they were great people.


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