J.C. Harris Cadillac closes after half-century

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The car lot at 4030 Ward Blvd. is full of Cadillacs, but the General Motors brand has been removed from the building and the signs have been covered.

J.C. Harris Jr. said the future of the business is up in the air, but the dealership is closed for the foreseeable future as he works to finalize the dissolution of his Cadillac connection.

“I got a letter from General Motors and I’ve got to go through so much red tape for them to buy the cars back,” Harris said. “I’m assuming that is going to be a three-month deal until the end of January or so.”

The Harris family bought the Pontiac Cadillac dealership at the intersection of Raleigh Road Parkway North and Ward Boulevard in 1963. As the second-generation owner, he’s seen many changes through the years, including dropping the Pontiac name when the brand stopped being manufactured.

“Up until about a year and half or two years ago when everything started going crazy, we were doing well,” he said. “We’ve always been blessed with a lot of good customers, selling Cadillacs to folks in Wilson, Rocky Mount, Greenville and Goldsboro.”

He said his family’s appreciation for loyal customers made the closure that much harder.

“We really appreciate Wilson for supporting us for 54 years,” he said. “We’ve got some really good customers. I get sad when I start talking about it.”

The dealership doors have bright signs with the word “closed,” but Harris said he is unsure what the fate of the business will be in the long run.

“I really don’t know yet,” he said. “I originally thought I could stay with a used car and service business, but it is hard to do both at the same time. When everything is squared up (with Cadillac), I’ll figure out if I can stay in business or if I stay closed.”

Global Cadillac Director Andrew Lipman said the closure was a local decision and the company does not discuss how inventory is handled after a closure.

“We have a very robust network across the country, so I don’t worry about being able to service new or existing customers in the area,” Lipman said.