Suburban's decision to locate its Fiat franchise in Ann Arbor happened suddenly, and so did its acquisition last summer of the Chrysler Jeep dealership across the street.
Though many still remember it as the longtime Naylor dealership, for the previous four years, it had actually been owned by Benn Gilmore. "Dr. Gilmore," as Tabet respectfully refers to him, "was a medical doctor who sold his clinics and wanted to try something new. But [the car business] just wasn't for him." Suburban eagerly bought it from him, and everyone's happy. "Dr. Gilmore bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee from himself on his last day and brings it in every three months for an oil change, and we chitchat a little bit."
While the Fiat studio is very small, sleek, and European, Tabet is also proud of the traditional retro glamour of Chrysler Jeep, one of the last car dealerships inside the city limits. "It has tons of character. I understand it's one of only two remaining 'pentastars,'" he says--seen from above, the glass-walled showroom is shaped like the five-sided Chrysler logo.
Suburban, based in Michigan, is one of the country's largest car groups (Tabet thinks it ranks about thirteenth). It also owns the Chevrolet and Cadillac dealerships on Jackson at Wagner.