Crusing Thru 12: Charleston area wheelers and wavers enjoyed year as vehicle, boat markets stabilize
By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Dub 2012 a “good” season in the car, cycle and watercraft business locally, and chances are there will be consensus.
That doesn’t mean all 366 days were colossal, slam bang, pie in the sky, hail mary touchdown periods. But car and truck sales rose nationally, bikers bought two- and three-wheelers and boat dealers continued to rally from flat results just a couple of years ago.
And while some auto and boating ventures, groups and people wouldn’t hype 2012 beyond the “good” tag, others in the Lowcountry would count the year as memorable.
As a last look, here are a few happenings from each of the four quarters that stood out in greater Charleston Wheels and Waves spheres.
• Baker Motor Co. lands the Sentry dealership on Savannah Highway, taking over existing Buick and GMC franchises while relocating its Cadillac outlet from Mount Pleasant. The move left the former Miller Cadillac property largely vacant.
• The 32nd annual Charleston Boat Show draws sizable crowds, launching a fairly active pleasure watercraft season.
• McElveen opens its mammoth Truckville complex at its Buick GMC dealership in Summerville. The facility is considered the largest truck store in the state.
• The head of Mustang Club of Italy — yes, Italy — hitches a ride to Charleston on a sailboat taking part in an around-the-globe race. The Italian rep meets with the Lowcountry Mustang Club at a special car show in Mount Pleasant.
• American Biker hosts its fourth yearly Spring Bash and Bike Show at its shop in Ladson along Interstate 26.
• Retired General Motors executive and Charleston resident George Spaulding writes his final column for The Post and Courier, putting away his typewriter after 25 years.
• Automotive News trade magazine taps Lexus of Charleston on Savannah Highway as one of the best dealerships to work for. In the fall, the outlet finds out it ranks 61st out of the top 100 outfits. Lexus of Charleston is part of Hendrick Automotive Group.
• Zodiac inflatable boat maker designs a new corporate logo. The company’s North American operations are in Dorchester County.
• Baker Motor throws a soiree to open its fully remodeled Land Rover, Jaguar, Porsche and smart showrooms.
• Palmetto Ford Inc.’s boating tie-in with SeaFox further firms up as another brand, Regulator, is sold alongside the Moncks Corner-based brand in West Ashley and Mount Pleasant.
• SeaRay Scout of Charleston off Interstate 526 at Daniel Island changes its name to Hall Marine Charleston to reflect the boat dealership’s regional parent.
•Vintage Thunderbird Club International puts on its national convention, including a T-bird car show, in Mount Pleasant.
• The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association holds its annual meeting in Charleston.
• Mini of Charleston’s racing team won regional events and overall kept pace in a new Sports Car Club of America classification geared to compacts that are tuned like showroom models.
• TruAuto pre-owned car dealership, an affiliate of McElveen Automotive, opens on Ladson Road.
• Greater Charleston’s first Fiat outlet sets up at Hendrick Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram in North Charleston.
• The Toyota dealership on Savannah Highway completes its wholesale renovation and expansion while changing its name to Fred Anderson Toyota.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.