It’s a pretty safe bet that motorists traveling along Pendleton Pike in Lawrence have noticed renewed activity at the former home of Burd Ford, Inc. – and for good reason. The impressive structure at 10320 Pendleton Pike has a new tenant. Gone are the blue and white oval Ford Motor Company signs perched atop poles in the 45,000 sq. ft. car lot. The familiar Burd logo has been removed from the building’s facade, replaced by one that reads Sharp Cars. In mid-August, Bob Thomas, the owner of Capitol City Ford on East Washington Street, launched Sharp Cars at the former Burd location. On the heels of Burd’s closure, Thomas signed a ten-year lease for the land and building as part of an agreement with Ford and another area car dealer. “We have enjoyed an enthusiastic reception from the community,” explained the savvy Thomas who owns multiple auto dealerships, including three in Fort Wayne.
No longer are brand new Ford cars and trucks being driven off the lot. Instead, it’s a new day and a different business model at this high-profile location in Lawrence. It’s all about used vehicles. As Sharp’s Facebook page trumpets, Sharp Cars is Indy’s Newest Pre-owned Superstore! “It’s like buying a new car without the new car price,” summed up Thomas. While Sharp accepts all comers, it’s targeting a six-mile radius as its primary market – notably the Geist-area neighborhoods. John Reynolds is a Burd holdover and now general manager of Sharp Cars. “Our lot sat empty for a couple of months, but now we have cars – a really solid inventory of certified, pre-owned vehicles. Our crew is excited, and the public has been very supportive of what we’re doing here.”
A second automotive business also is on site. Thomas relocated from his flagship store what he bills as the Midwest’s largest wholesale automotive parts distributorship. It’s called Sharp Parts, and has a sizable inventory bulging from the floor-to-ceiling shelving erected in what once were the rear service bays at Burd Ford. Sharp Parts supplies dealership service departments and independent auto repair shops throughout the region. For Thomas, the building and its location presented a unique business opportunity. “For a couple reasons. [Burd] did sell a fair number of cars here, so we were able to take on a full vehicle service operation. And, we were about ready to build a warehouse for our parts operation. In fact, we were in the building permit process just as this opportunity came along.”
Thomas emphasizes that automotive repair hasn’t disappeared, and that Ford’s Quick Lane oil change service is open for business. In short, Sharp Cars can do anything that franchise dealerships do – except sell new cars. “We have a full-service operation staffed by factory-trained technicians who can do any kind of repair, not just brakes and shocks,” said Thomas in describing the soup-to-nuts operation. “We’re selling certified pre-owned vehicles that are one- two- or three-year-old vehicles, most of which are still under factory warranty. That means we’re able to secure new-car finance rates. So, this essentially is for someone who wants a new car but doesn’t want to pay the new car price.”
Sharp Cars is a member of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, having already sponsored the Chamber’s golf outing, and Thomas is promising continued community involvement. Equally important is making Sharp Cars a user-friendly experience, particularly for former Burd customers. “We have all the Burd service and warranty records,” he explained. “It will be a seamless transition.”
Additional information about Sharp Cars is available online at www.sharpcarsofindy.com and by phone, 317.545.8551.