In 1969, Mike Carey, a longtime Detroit ad sales representative for Time magazine, took over an annual Saturday Evening Post award that had been given to the top auto dealer of the year since 1960.
Carey renamed it the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award, with the first class of nominees in 1970. The honor, now known as the Time Dealer of the Year award, is still considered one of the top annual accolades for new-vehicle retailers in the U.S.
Carey, who died in 2010, "must've been a real smart marketing guy at the time and saw an opportunity for the Time brand to step in and really establish an amazing footprint in the auto industry through this alignment through the NADA," said Damian Slattery, vice president of client solutions for finance at Time Inc.
Then and now, Slattery said, the award honors dealers for "doing well in the business" and "doing well by their communities" through philanthropy.
Dealers are nominated by members of the Automotive Trade Association Executives. Then judges comb through the list of nominees, which usually ranges in number from the high 40s to the low 70s.
Four finalists are selected and then one winner is announced at the NADA convention.
"The Time Dealer of the Year award is the most prestigious industrywide recognition for new-car dealers," Jeff Carlson, 2016 NADA chairman, said. "Just to be recognized as a nominee in your state is a huge honor."