Lou LaRiche, owner of Lou LaRiche Chevrolet in Plymouth, said that when he came to Plymouth 41 years ago, longtime auto dealer and pitchman Don Massey already was a legend.
"He was an automobile man's automobile man" who "always did things first class," he said.
Massey died this morning of congestive heart failure, according to a report by Crain's Detroit Business. He was 83.
LaRiche said today that the two, whose dealerships were just about a mile apart, became friends and he always looked up to Massey as "being the dean of the automobile business" in the Metro Detroit area.
He said Massey had a "great deal of community impact," including donating the lights to Don Massey Field, a baseball park in the community that bears his name.
"Some day they'll write a book about him," he said.
A report by clickondetroit.com states that Massey, who was born in Tennessee and had worked in Florida, bought a used-car lot in Detroit in 1961 and opened his first new-car dealership in 1967.
It was then that he became known as the 'Cadillac King.'
According to the Crain's Detroit Business report, Massey became the largest Cadillac dealer in the country by 2002, accounting for 6 percent of the brand's sales with revenue totaling $1 billion.
That same year, Massey sold 16 dealerships based in seven states to Charlotte, NC-based Sonic Automotive Inc. for $165 million in stock and cash, the report said.
A representative at Don Massey Cadillac in Plymouth declined comment for this story. A message was left with representatives from Massey Enterprises seeking comment.