Fahrney family parks newest car lot in Visalia

Selma Auto Mall owners have submitted plans to build a large used car dealership in Visalia, its first in Tulare County since the company moved from Pixley to Selma in 1964

VISALIA – A large Valley car dealership based in Fresno County will park its latest business in Tulare County, where the company began more than 60 years ago.

Selma Auto Mall owners Scott and Mike Fahrney have submitted preliminary plans to build a large 5.5-acre used car dealership in the Visalia Auto Plaza north of Highway 198 off Plaza Drive in Visalia. Called Mycarpark.com, with its motto “Where buying a car is like a walk in the park,” the dealership will have parking spaces and a 20,000 square foot showroom to sell 350 pre-owned vehicles. The property is at Neeley Street and West Hillsdale Avenue south of existing new car lots for Lampe Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and BMW of Visalia. 

Fahrney Automotive Group owns the sprawling Selma Auto Mall which includes the original Mycarpark.com and new car dealerships for Ford, Totyota and Buick GMC. The used car lot in Visalia will be the first for the company in Tulare County since it moved its original Ford dealership from Pixley to Selma in 1964. 

Scott’s grandfather, Don A. Fahrney, along with Jack Swanson, established Swanson-Fahrney Ford in the small farming community of Pixley south of Tulare in 1956. The small dealership was no larger than a gas station but the people of Pixley quickly discovered the ownership offered competitive prices for new and used vehicles. As its reputation and sales continued to grow, the two men moved the dealership up Highway 99 from Pixley to Selma in 1964. In 1977, they constructed a new facility just north of Selma along Highway 99. 

Don Fahrney’s sons Jerry and Don W. Farhney joined the staff in 1972 and 1974, respectively. The company purchased Madera Ford Mercury in 1982, Toyota of Selma in 1997 and later added Buick GMC to the family of Fahrney owned dealerships. Jerry’s sons, Scott and Mike, launched the family company’s first online used car dealership, Mycarpark.com, in Selma last summer.

The used car market is the best it’s ever been as post pandemic supply chain issues have driven the average price of a new car to more than $48,000 as of July, according to Kelly Blue Book. A major factor affecting the production capacity of automakers was a worldwide shortage of microchips. According to Kelly Blue Book, the average new car contains more than 100 microchips, controlling everything from engine timing to climate settings. The companies who manufacture the chips shut down factories in the early days of the pandemic to protect their workers. When they reopened, the economic slowdown forced automakers to trim their orders. When Americans began re-emerging from the pandemic induced economic coma, those factories were overwhelmed by the demand and have been unable to ramp production back up forcing automakers to slow or even stop production at many of their factories. Financial experts don’t see the situation getting any better until 2023 at the earliest.

Unlike new cars, the price of used cars slowly dropped in the first half of 2022. In July, the average price of a used car had dropped to $28,000. Those hoping to find older vehicles for less than $15,000 will continue to struggle as they are in short supply. On Aug. 22, Kelly Blue Book reported would-be new car shoppers started buying up the available used cars. Americans are also holding onto their cars longer than ever. The average car on American roads is now 12.2 years old. And automakers produced fewer cars for several years after the 2008 recession. That leaves few higher-mileage, older used vehicles available to sell.

Mycarpark.com will be located next to used car dealership CarMax. The nation’s largest used car retailer will build plans to build a 4,292 square foot sales building, a 2,620 square foot auto service building, a 1.58-acre automobile sales lot for the display of 248 vehicles, and a 1.20-acre sales staging area for employee use only. The site will also include 86 parking spaces for customers and 150 miscellaneous parking spots.

CarMax opened the door to allowing used car sales in the Visalia Auto Plaza after the Visalia City Council amended zoning rules for the area. CarMax had originally filed plans for a location on Mooney Boulevard in 2019 but was denied by the Planning Commission in 2020 because it was not consistent with zoning along the commercial corridor. CarMax appealed the decision to the city council. In August 2020, the city council denied the appeal after local car dealers said they were never given an opportunity to locate on Mooney Boulevard.

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