The longest-serving automobile dealership in the Charleston area with the same name and family ownership is now parked in Baker Motor Co.'s stable of luxury cars.
The West Ashley-based company now owns Miller Cadillac in Mount Pleasant. The deal closed Monday. Terms were not disclosed. The dealership is now called Baker Cadillac.
The Miller Cadillac North satellite location, which opened in 1998 in Goose Creek, was closed after the sale. All employees were asked to transfer to the Mount Pleasant site, according to a statement from Baker Motor.
"This is a monumental day for Baker Motor Co.," said Tommy Baker, company owner and president. "Not only have the Millers built one of the strongest brands in Charleston, but they are the longest-standing automotive dealership in town. It's an honor for us to continue the great work that the late Walter Miller began in 1958."
Miller first opened his Cadillac store on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston. In 1969, he moved to a larger store on Meeting Street.
When car dealers fled the peninsula for the suburbs, Miller had a chance to relocate to Savannah Highway but couldn't secure the property he wanted. That's when he looked east of the Cooper River, just across the bridge in Mount Pleasant.
Miller took a risk, buying a parcel near the juncture of Johnnie Dodds Boulevard and Mathis Ferry Road at a time when Mount Pleasant was little more than a fishing village with a few neighborhoods springing up along U.S. Highway 17.
In 1978, he debuted Miller Cadillac east of the Cooper and 20 years later opened in Goose Creek.
Sumter de Brux, president and dealer operator of Miller Cadillac -- who married Miller's middle daughter, Clydie, and has worked at the dealership for nearly 40 years -- said Baker first contacted him in July to talk about a deal.
He called the sale of his father-in-law's legacy bittersweet but acknowledged it is time to move on and enjoy retirement.
"Baker made an offer at a time when the stockholders of the business realized the necessity of renovating and updating the aging facility would dictate a significant financial investment of all parties involved," de Brux said. "The fact Mr. Baker is a local dealer and has made a commitment to retain the employees from the operational standpoint sealed the deal."
The prepared statement did not indicate if Baker would renovate the facility now that he owns it.
Eric Gustafson, Baker Motor's fixed operations director, is the new general manager of Baker Cadillac. Sumter de Brux Jr. will retain his position as sales manager. Dick Bell, a 40-year Miller Cadillac employee, will remain fixed operations director for Baker's new store.
Baker Motor's lineup of vehicles includes Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Jaguar, Range Rover, Land Rover, Infiniti, Maybach, Maserati, Sprinter, smart and now Cadillac.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524.