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Jan-17-2014 23:47printcomments

Ron Tonkin Dies at 82

“It took someone who had gumption to stand up and fight for what was best for the industry, not just what was best for themselves. That was Ron.” - Greg Remensperger, executive vice president of the Oregon Auto Dealers Association

Ron Tonkin
Ron Tonkin photo: autonews.com

(PORTLAND, OR) - Ron Tonkin, a Portland businessman and national industry leader who began his career at his father’s used-car lot before launching what became one of the state’s largest dealership chains, died Friday of end-stage renal failure. He was 82.

The father and grandfather was a recognizable figure to Oregonians thanks to the commercials he and his sons helped write and often starred in over the years for his 17-store chain. He also thrilled in introducing unknown products -- even when at times they brought jabs from others -- including electric bikes, one of the first Honda compacts and the state’s first Ferrari franchise.

In early 2006, Tonkin offered up his thoughts on how his business had prospered for so many decades. When other dealers left the lot, he said, they might enjoy golfing, skiing or flying a plane. He and his family went in search of more cars, whether that was organizing annual rallies around the state, racing or finding rare models for his personal car museum.

That, he said at the time, is how he came up with his company’s motto: “For the love of cars.”

At last count, Tonkin’s museum held 45 cars, said his son Brad Tonkin. His personal favorites were a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS and a 1985 288 GTO, the last of that model to roll off the assembly line. Founder Enzo Ferrari made sure Tonkin received that last car after hearing his first wife, Nancy Tonkin, had died.

OregonLive has the report: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2014/01/portland_auto_magnate_ron_tonk.html

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