Once a separate franchise with hundreds of dealers, Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury brand now is without any stand-alone stores in the U.S.

The last solo Mercury dealership, Community Motors in Canonsburg, PA, has given up its franchise and now is devoted only to used vehicles.

The dealership was opened in 1950 by Joseph P. Mastrangioli, Sr., who died in 1958 and was succeeded as principal by his son, Joseph, Jr., who was only 22 years old at the time.

“I had a tough time convincing Ford to let me keep the Mercury franchise,” says Mastrangioli. “But we were doing pretty well with Mercury then, as well as selling 30 to 40 units a month.

“In those days, there were hundreds of exclusive Mercury dealers, as well as single-point Plymouth stores and dealerships for each GM brand.”

Though pre-owned-vehicle dealerships maintain mostly prep facilities and farm out major service and warranty work, Community Motors will keep its service department.

“Being able to service all vehicles as well as doing Mercury warranty work has been a key part of our business,” Mastrangioli said. “We can repair things other dealers can't.”

Mercury has been seen as an “endangered species” by some analysts, in view of Ford's concentration on new Ford and Lincoln models unshared with Mercury. (See also story on page 23.)

Mastrangioli wouldn't be surprised if the brand his family has sold near Pittsburgh for nearly six decades “eventually goes under, like it did in Canada seven years ago.”

In Canada, Mercury models became Lincolns, and Ford-Mercury stores were renamed Ford-Lincoln.

Mastrangioli says, “No way we would become a Lincoln-only point, so I guess we're just as well off focusing on used cars of all brands.”