News Column

Free Ford F-150 for Florida Man

August 8, 2013

James Gordon's 1994 Ford F-150 had 200,000 miles on it, so he figured it was time for a new truck.

He went last week to Auto Nation Ford Bradenton on 14th Street in Rubonia, Fla., where he's been making deals for years.

But when the 92-year-old went back Friday to pick up his new 2013 Blue Jean Metallic F-150, he was greeted with balloons -- and great news.

Gordon bought vehicle No. 9 million sold by the national automobile dealer, and because of that his truck is free.

Gordon -- known as the "Mayor" of Rubonia -- has been repairing vehicles at his service garage in this tight-knit community since 1946. So Troy Brown, general manager of the local Ford dealership, came to Gordon's Auto Service to deliver the news.

"I couldn't move," Gordon recalled. "Then I started to dance."

Customers and neighbors stopped by to congratulate him on his good fortune.

"It's a blessing," said Cecil Douglas, who is Gordon's kinfolk. "He deserves it because he's helped the community a lot."

Gordon is nicknamed Mayor for his community activism and getting Manatee County officials to install street lights and sewers, and pave Rubonia's roads back in the 1960s.

Brown, with AutoNation for 27 years dating to when it was known as Bill Graham Ford, really enjoyed the time he spent with Gordon.

"I spent a couple of hours there," he said. "I didn't want to leave."

Brown, who majored in history in college, was enthralled with Gordon's stories about the community.

"He's been alive since, what, 1921," Brown marveled.

To Brown, Gordon coming into the dealership is a sign the economy is improving, and he was impressed with Gordon's optimism.

"What's that say when a 92-year-old takes out a note that he'll pay off when he's 99," said Brown, who celebrated his 51st birthday Tuesday.

But now Gordon won't have to worry about paying off a loan.

Altogether, with the purchase price of the truck and the service plan Gordon purchased, the value comes to $25,000.

"Plus we're going to send him a check for the estimated gift tax he will have to pay," Brown said.

He also was thrilled that of the 230 AutoNation dealerships, the vehicle No. 9 million was sold in Bradenton -- great publicity for the area, Brown said.

During Friday's celebration at the dealership, Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, ripped up the financing contract live on the MSNBC television show, "Squawk Box."

"We must have had 180 people here at 5:30 in the morning," Brown said. Gordon appeared with his family on the show.

Gordon said he has always owned Fords.

"I bought my first car in 1940," he said. "It was a 1930 Model A Ford."


(c)2013 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)

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Source: Copyright Bradenton Herald (FL) 2013

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