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More car dealerships going out of business

Generation Motors in Modesto shut its doors Friday morning, an apparent victim of the sluggish economy that has toppled auto dealerships nationwide.

All new and used Isuzu, Kia and Lincoln-Mercury vehicles at the dealership on McHenry Avenue’s auto row were removed by noon. Owner Curt Hughes said through an associate that he also would close Friendly Chevrolet in Escalon.

Hughes, representing the third of four generations in the auto business, bought Manteca Dodge in 1979, Friendly Chevrolet in 1994 and opened Generation Motors four years ago where Showcase Auto Plaza used to stand. His son-in-law, Stefan Leer, bought the Manteca dealership but it reverted back to Hughes in March.

The Manteca dealership recently closed as well, said Debby Moorhead, executive director of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce. Other area car dealers said sales have been sluggish since summer.

"It's been a difficult market this year, and the valley has been hit the hardest," said John Gardner, owner of Central Valley Automotive in Modesto. "With the local real estate market, the gas spike and bank failures, it has been the perfect storm."

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