By RYAN CAMPBELL
The Union Democrat
A major auto dealership in Sonora has changed hands and changed names.
Hammond Ford, which has been selling new and used cars and trucks since 1982, was sold last week and has changed its name to Sonora Ford.
The new owners, Ramona Llamas and her husband Manuel Prieto, had been visiting the Mother Lode for the past eight years when they heard the dealership was for sale.
They decided to move to the region from Fresno after striking a deal with the former owners, Llamas said.
Prieto has been selling cars since he was 18 years old, and most recently was general manager of a dealership in Fresno. The two also own several acres of almond orchards.
Llamas said they had been working out a deal with the business’s former owner, Paul Hammond, for the past eight months. She said they were interested in the dealership in part because of its prime location on Mono Way within eyeshot of Highway 108.
“It’s a great place and a wonderful location,” Llamas said.
The number of cars on the lot had been dwindling for the past several months, but Llamas said her first goal in purchasing the dealership was to bring a broader selection of vehicles.
As a result, the dealership will take a shipment of 60 cars and trucks over the next few weeks.
“Our first focus is to get enough cars here to show our community that we’re serious about giving them more choices and good service,” Llamas said.
She said the most popular vehicles these days are fuel efficient cars like the Ford Focus and light pickups.
“People are really interested in cars with good gas mileage and also trucks,” Llamas said.
A Sonora Ford sign now tops the business, which has served as a car lot in some fashion since the 1920s, she said.
“It’s a cornerstone business in the community, so we’d like to be here another 100 years if possible,” she said.
The business is located at 13254 Mono Way.
For more information, call 532-5593.