Valley left without a car dealership |

Valley left without a car dealership

by Scott Neuffer
Shannon LitzDennis Grider of Valley Creek Signs removes the sign from the Michael Hohl dealership in Minden on Friday afternoon.

With the departure of Michael Hohl from Minden last week, Carson Valley no longer has a car dealership to call its own.

Although park-and-sell operations pop up occasionally, an actual sales office with human beings walking balloon-decorated rows of automobiles may be a thing of the past in Douglas County.

“More than one consumer came up to me last week with that question,” said Minden resident Robb Hellwinkel. “It’s an inconvenience to have to drive far. But I’m still optimistic about the possibilities.”

Hellwinkel not only owns the property of the vacated dealership, but represents the third generation of a family rich in auto history.

The Hellwinkels’ C.O.D. Motor Co., a business arm of the C.O.D. Garage, was the longest running franchised car dealership in the state, in operation for more than 80 years, when the family sold it to Valley Chevrolet in 2003.

“We were the 14th oldest in the country,” Hellwinkel added.

In 2007, Michael Hohl Automotive Group bought out Valley Chevrolet in Carson City and Minden. Unfortunately, economic recession soon followed.

In early 2008, Capital Ford, located near the Minden-Gardnerville line, left the Valley. Other used car lots disappeared.

In 2010, Michael Hohl’s Minden dealership lost its Chevrolet franchise, but the location continued selling high-quality used cars.

“Obviously it’s a loss,” Hellwinkel said of the recent closure. “I do believe there is a need for auto representation in the Valley. But who that will be, I don’t know the answer.”

Michael Hohl could not be reached for comment on this story.