COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The last Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze is switching owners once again. The newest owner is a car dealer who is thrilled to have it on his Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram lot.
Now the fourth owner of the famous Cruze, John Kufleitner has the car sitting in his dealership lot in Columbiana.
“It doesn’t matter what you buy, what you sell, what you drive. Lordstown has played a big role in this Valley and I think it’s important to everybody,” Kufleitner said.
The last we heard of the Cruze was on May 10 when Mary Pipino — the sister-in-law of local businessman Ed Muransky — bought it for $35,000 at a United Way auction.
Kufleitner was part of the online bidding, but then bowed out at the live auction.
“I didn’t want to go there and bid against the Chevy dealers. Those guys are my friends,” Kufleitner said.
But when Kufleitner heard a Chevy dealer did not buy the car, he contacted Pipino and she agreed to sell him the Cruze.
“I paid her what she paid and then we made a contribution to the United Way,” Kufleitner said.
The last Cruze rolled off the General Motors Lordstown assembly line on March 6. Two days later, it was displayed at Sweeney Chevrolet in Boardman until mid-April, when Muransky announced he had bought it and would auction it off, with the money going to the United Way. Then it was Pipino’s and now it’s Kufleitner’s.
Although it might seem a little strange that the last Chevy ever produced in Lordstown is on a Fiat-Chrysler lot, Kufleitner doesn’t mind.
“It’s not strange for me, maybe for other folks,” he said.
Kufleitner is glad the car ended up around Youngstown, but never thought he’d have the chance to buy it.
“I really thought it would end up on a Chevrolet showroom and probably should be on somebody’s showroom right now, Chevrolet,” he said.
Kufleitner will keep the Cruze at his Columbiana store for now, though it may end up at his galleria of classic cars in Salem.
“I’ve had a lot of family members and friends and neighbors that worked at the Lordstown plant. So let’s be honest, that plant’s a part of all of us,” he said.
Kufleitner says he’s driven it and loved it — he doesn’t understand why GM decided to quit making the Cruze. He calls it a piece of local history.
He also says everyone is welcome to stop by his dealership in Columbiana to see it, sit in it and take pictures with it.