After a wild year and 300,000 miles, Willingham steps down as NADA chief After one of the most tumultuous years any elected NADA chairman has ever served, James A. Willingham says he's "more convinced than ever that the franchised dealer represents the best method of serving the auto-buying public."

Addressing the NADA's 83rd annual convention, he recounted the 1999 battles involving national and state associations with Ford and GM over what he called "forays into our domain - retailing of cars and trucks to the American public."

GM and Ford retreats from efforts to amass large numbers of dealerships "point out that factory stores have been tried for eons - and simply have never been successful," declares Mr. Willingham, a Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealer in Long Beach, CA, and an Infiniti dealer in Monterey, CA.

He traveled more than any past NADA chairman. He racked up nearly 300,000 miles and spoke before 27 state conventions during his term.

He told the conventioneers that GM had agreed to NADA's proposal that it return to elected dealer councils.

"Remember that we as dealers bring tangible value to the transaction," he says. "We being dealer-added value. We are the best bargain the factories have."