AutoNation Inc. CEO Michael J. Jackson reportedly was sounded out by his old boss at DaimlerChrysler to fill the suddenly vacant top spot at DC's Chrysler Group.

A highly placed source in DC management and several DC dealers say that before assigning the Chrysler presidency to long-time Mercedes-Benz executive Dieter Zetsche, DC Chairman and CEO Juergen E. Schrempp offered the job to Mr. Jackson.

The job became vacant when Mr. Schrempp fired James Holden after Chrysler experienced heavy losses in the latter part of 2000.

Mr. Jackson is well-known to Mr. Schrempp, having served as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA before joining the No. 1 dealer consolidator AutoNation in October, 1999. He's largely credited with resurrecting Mercedes, which in the early 1990s was in a terrible sales slump.

Mr. Jackson came from dealer ranks to the Mercedes-Benz organization, and had headed Euro Motorcars, an 11-franchise dealership group based in Bethesda, MD.

He reportedly passed on the Chrysler offer on the grounds that he was committed to fulfilling a number of goals at AutoNation, which paid him $1 million last year and additionally compensates him with a lucrative growth-based bonus and stock options.

AutoNation and DC declined to comment on the reported job offer. Mr. Schrempp, in an interview with a German newspaper, said he plans to one day reinstate a U.S. team to head Chrysler.