SH – Coast auto dealers awaiting clunker money

Managers at several dealerships said reimbursements have come through on only a few of dozens of the sales completed since trades began July 27.

“The car business is a very cash-intensive business,” said Miles Culbertson, general manager of Astro Ford Mississippi Inc. in D’Iberville. “You better have some capital or it will put you in a crunch.”

The program ended the way it started, with the U.S. Department of Transportation Internet site crashing as dealers scrambled to access it with last-minute transactions. The government extended until noon today the deadline for dealers to file paperwork, which was 7 p.m. Monday.

Coast auto dealers wrapped up most sales with customers over the weekend for the popular program, intended to remove gas guzzlers from the road and boost the economy.

Astro has sold a little more than 20 cars, Culbertson estimated, but so far has received payment for only two.