Last Lordstown Cruze on auction block

POLAND — Good coming from bad … that’s what Ed Muransky said he wanted to see happen as the last Chevrolet Cruze assembled in Lordstown became increasingly real.

It’s why he started working the phones. Muransky’s first call was to Bobby Stackhouse, general sales manager and partner at Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC in Youngstown to try to stop the white LS Cruze from being shipped to a Chevrolet dealership in Florida so he could buy it.

Sweeney was successful in having the rights transferred to the dealership. And now that Muransky owned the car, his second call was to Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, to offer the car to be auctioned to raise money for the organization that benefits families and children in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

“We are going to turn a tough situation that hopefully is not the end into a celebration of our future and a celebration of raising money to bridge our future with our children,” said Muransky, CEO of the Muransky Cos.

His moves and motives, and that of his wife, Chris, were kept secret until Monday at the Lake Club in Poland, where the auction and how people can bid on the Cruze was announced.

The money raised will be used to help expand the United Way’s Success After 6 program, which provides wraparound services to students and their families — from an after-school program to food pantries to academic support and mentoring — in 13 schools in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

“The United Way and employees at the GM Lordstown plant have a strong history. The employees have been dedicated donors and volunteers to the United Way cause for more than 50 years, and we wanted to honor that relationship by purchasing the last Chevy Cruze made by the hands of these men and women who so generously supported our community,” said Muransky, who worked in the van plant in the summer of 1978 before attending the University of Michigan, where he was a football and academic All-American under legendary coach Bo Schembechler.

“We want to ensure our children have a bright future. Our United Way provides vital resources to those in need of the support necessary for that future, and so it was natural to bring the two together in this important fundraiser,” Muransky said.

To bid on the Cruze, go to www.bidpal.net/lastcruze, register and bid. Bidders will have to enter credit card information, but final payment can be arranged with the United Way. The winner must be a licensed, insured driver and is responsible for all applicable taxes, title, plate and document fees associated with the vehicle.

Bidding closes at 9 p.m. May 10. The winner will be announced at the United Way’s Centennial Champions gala that evening at the Lake Club in Poland.

United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Dave Green, who tried to arrange a vehicle swap for the last Cruze, said he’s glad for the opportunity to keep the car local.

“We have a very strong relationship with United Way. Our members have always given. I think they know the importance of community, so we have always been very supportive of the United Way,” Green said.

Production of the Cruze stopped March 6 as General Motors idled the facility in Lordstown, the first of five in North America it intends to close as it shifts its focus toward SUVs, trucks and autonomous and electric vehicles. The fate of the plant will be determined when the UAW and GM meet this year to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.