For a couple years now, rumor was that Cadillac king Don Massey was planning to sell his 16-store empire. The 73-year-old dealer would coyly dodge questions about such a deal.

But rumor turned to fact as Massey, in his biggest sale ever, sold his high-end chain to Sonic Automotive Inc., a dealership consolidator. It runs 165 dealerships and ranks No. 2 on the Ward's Dealer Business Megadealer 100. Massey's chain placed 16th on the Ward's 100.

For Sonic, the acquisition makes sense because the Charlotte, NC-based firm wants to sell more luxury brands. Massey's chain, based in Plymouth, MI, has annual revenue of about $1 billion and sold more than 10,000 Cadillac's last year.

The deal is estimated to be worth about $40 million in cash and stock.

Born in Tennessee, Massey started his dealership career as a porter in Florida, moved to Detroit and bought a used-car lot in 1961 and founded his first new-car dealership in 1967.

He'll become a consultant to Sonic, presumably meaning he'll continue to do his legendary local radio spots. In his latest, he boasts, in a thick Southern drawl, that he's the biggest Cadillac dealer around and his home dealership is the “Escalade kingdom of the world.”