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Indian/British car maker tightens its grip on Portland



After 42 years in business, the Monte Shelton Motor Company has been sold to the Don Rasmussen Company to be joined with Land Rover Portland.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Monte Shelton (right), with his son Neil, have been running Monte Shelton Motor Company for more than 40 years. Shelton recently sold the company to the Don Rasmussen Company.  Neil Shelton will stay on as Sales Director when the company is joined with Land Rover Portland.

Although the signs on the building at 1683 W. Burnside St. still bear the Shelton name, the dealership is already doing business as Jaguar Portland.

The move is strategic for Rasmussen, as Jaguar Land Rover is a single automaker and bringing retail sales of the two brands together is a stated corporate goal.

“We’re deeply grounded in the Land Rover brand,” says Dan Muggli, General Manager of Land Rover Portland and Jaguar Portland. “We were one of the founding Land Rover dealers in 1987 when the brand returned to the United States. Now that Land Rover is under the same corporate ownership as Jaguar, we see it as a really opportune time to get involved with the Jaguar brand.”

Two historic names

Don Rasmussen began his career in 1950 with a Studebaker dealership located along West Burnside Street. In 1957, Rasmussen also became the first Mercedes-Benz dealer in America, and his son Greg Rasmussen brought Land Rover into the family. The Don Rasmussen Company has also handled BMW, MINI, Volvo and many other brands at various times.

“There’s a rich history to the Rasmussen name in the community,” Muggli says. “They’ve been big contributors to the arts, and to charity. They’ve given close to a million dollars to a women’s and children’s shelter called the Shepherd’s Door over the years. And here at Land Rover Portland we have a program to offset the carbon produced by driving our vehicles. We have a long history of doing things under the radar that are worthwhile for the community.”

Monte Shelton has been a fixture in Portland’s business community since 1957. Shelton is best known for his Jaguar and Rolls-Royce dealerships, but he also sold MG, Triumph and other British marques as well. After beginning his career with a series of east side locations known as Monte’s Motors, Shelton moved his business to the current site on West Burnside in 1974.

“I’ve had a good life,” Shelton says. “I’ll be 83 next month. I had a lot of fun, and I’ve done a lot of crazy things. Having the store allowed me to travel the world. There are so many memories. The Rolls-Royce franchise was special.”

Among the memories Shelton takes away is selling several Rolls-Royce vehicles to the Bahgwan Shree Rajneesh, who famously owned 93 of the luxury automobiles. “I sold him a bunch of cars,” Shelton recalls.

After 42 years on Burnside Street, Shelton is ready to hand off day-to-day involvement with the dealership.

“It’s a lot of responsibility running that place, and a lot to deal with,” Shelton says. “It was time for me to go, so I made a deal. We want to take care of our customers, and the Rasmussen organization is a first-class bunch of guys.”

It would be understandable for Shelton to retire completely, but that’s not in his nature.

“I’m just moving across the street to sell collector cars,” Shelton says. “Monte’s Motors will be at 1604 S.W. Alder St. I’m going to take one guy with me, and I’m not going to work very hard. I’m going to kick a few tires and sell a collector car now and then, and call it good.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - After being at this Burnside Street location for 42 years, Shelton says he will now be moving across the street to sell collector cars.

A bright future for Jaguar Land Rover

In the near term, most aspects of business will remain unchanged at Jaguar Portland, and customers can expect to see familiar faces at the dealership. Most current employees will remain in their jobs and Monte’s son Neil Shelton will stay on as Sales Director.

“We’re very excited about having Neil and all his experience with the brand working for us,” Muggli says.

Both Land Rover and Jaguar are riding waves of success after reinventing their entire lineup in the last several years. Land Rover had the best sales growth of all automakers in the United States in 2015.

“We are at a point in time when Land Rover has made enormous strides, based on wonderful new products,” Muggli explains. “Last year, Land Rover was the fastest-growing brand in the industry. Our numbers are up 40 percent again this year.”

But with the arrival of the new compact XE sedan and the long-awaited F-Pace crossover SUV, Jaguar is poised to take the sales growth title this year. Pricing for the Jaguar XE starts at $35,895.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Jaguar will be the fastest growing brand this year,” Muggli says. “The average transaction price for a new car in the United States is about $35,000. A lot of people assume that a Jaguar is out of reach, but here we are with the XE that is right in the heart of the market.”

The XE is big news for Jaguar, but the runaway success story of the year is the new F-Pace, Jaguar’s first-ever SUV.

“The F-Pace is our best seller right now. We’re delivering them as soon as they come in, and we’re sold out through January of next year,” Neil Shelton says.

Also contributing to strong growth for the Jaguar brand is a new line of Ingenium turbo-diesel engines, available in both the XE and the F-Pace models. These join the Land Rover diesel options that arrived last year.

“Historically, Portland is a very strong market for diesels,” Muggli observes.

Looking farther into the future, it’s likely that both dealerships will eventually find a home at a single location, but for now the two brands will remain on either side of the river while operating as a single company.

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