Add this to the list of San Francisco's distinguishing features: It does not have a single U.S. new car dealership within its 47.6 square miles.
The last one bit the dust 10 days ago, when San Francisco Ford Lincoln Mercury, on Van Ness Avenue's Auto Row, shut its doors without warning or explanation.
"We're referring people to Serramonte and other dealers in the Bay Area," said Roger Bramble, a service department manager, who along with about 50 other employees will be out of a job when the remaining servicing and repair jobs are done.
From what we can gather, the dealership, Ford's only one in San Francisco after S&C Ford in the Castro closed in 2008, had been on the block for some time. Ford had taken control of the dealership three years ago, when the original franchisee handed back the keys.
The owner of Journey Ford Lincoln in Novato, Ali Omoomy, had been looking to take it over, but walked away a couple of months ago, I was told. Other interested buyers subsequently faded away, prompting Ford finally to cut bait.
Referring to the "very tough decision" to close the dealership, Ford Lincoln Mercury President Mel Turner, said, in a statement, "We are proud to have served the San Francisco community and will be focusing over the coming weeks on helping employees through this transition and ensuring our current customer commitments are met."
Omoomy did not return calls for comment.
No domestics please, this is San Francisco!: The closing did not come as a surprise to Mike Hollywood, a sales manager at the former Ellis Brooks Chevrolet at Bush and Van Ness, which got out of the American new car business 2 1/2 years ago.
"People in San Francisco just weren't buying Cadillac Escalades. You can't even park them in the parking structures here," he said.
Neither, it seems, are they buying Ford Fusions in any quantity.
"It's a tough market. Imports have a much bigger share in San Francisco," said Dennis Fitzpatrick, owner of Concord Chevrolet and regional vice president of the California New Car Dealers Association. "When you can sell 100 imports a month as opposed to 25 domestic, and what with the rents and real estate, it's tough to make a U.S. car dealership pencil."
It's a different story a few blocks down on Van Ness Avenue and on South Van Ness Avenue, where Audis, Scions, Hondas, VWs and Mazdas are on display. BMW and Mercedes-Benz are close by. Or hop on a 38-Geary bus, nearby the Scion dealership on Van Ness Avenue, to get to the Toyota showroom on Geary Boulevard.
"San Francisco is not loyal to anything domestic; its allegiance is to anything but domestic," Fitzpatrick said. (Oof!)
-- The seven-story, 195,000-square-foot Ellis Brooks Chevrolet, by the way, is being transformed into a flagship Nissan/Infiniti dealership and "will represent one of the largest automobile retailing locations in the United States," according to Nissan North America.
"We believe the facility will help us grow sales across the region and strengthen our competitive position relative to other automakers such as Honda and Toyota," Paula Angelo, a Nissan spokeswoman, told me in March.