SALT LAKE CITY — For the second consecutive year, Earnhardt Auto Centers in Phoenix and Dallas-based DriversSelect were named the best among 12 recipients of Prestige Financial's annual True Partnership award.

The awards are given to dealers who have shown an extraordinary commitment to the lender in terms of overall contract volume, origination efficiencies and portfolio performance, according to officials.

The award's name reflects Prestige's atypical marketing approach, which is to forego relationships with most dealers in a given region in order to focus on building strong partnerships with a few select dealers who, in turn, produce high volumes of profitable paper by tailoring their operations to Prestige's lending programs, the company explained.

Prestige does business with more than 400 franchised dealerships in 20 states. However, executives indicated that the True Partnership award is reserved only for the elite performers.

"Our special finance center contracts 700 to 800 customers a month," said Colleen Murphy, Earnhardt's special finance director. "People are surprised to learn that we've been with Prestige for just over two years, and yet they've recently come to account for more than a third of our subprime volume.

"It comes down to the fact that their programs and their focus on our company have earned them that business," she continued

Earnhardt funded nearly 2,000 contracts with Prestige in 2007, which gave the store top honors for the year, officials pointed out. Along with Earnhardt and DriversSelect, other repeat recipients from the previous year include Larry Miller Toyota in Phoenix; Mike Calvert Toyota and Davis Chevrolet in Houston; Boulder Toyota; Albuquerque's American Toyota; Larry Miller Pontiac Buick Cadillac in Boise; and Stockton to Malone Honda and Larry H. Miller Chevrolet, which are both in Salt Lake City.

Georgia-based Bill Heard Enterprises and Karl Malone Toyota in Salt Lake City are first-time recipients.

Best known for its Open 7, Open 13 and Double Bankruptcy loan products, Prestige said it has gained market share in recent years by broadening its credit spectrum to compete for non-prime paper in the mid-600 score range.

Executives said Prestige has no minimum credit score or down payment requirement and offers generous advances and low fees. Moreover it offers a unique rate reduction program that automatically drops the APR every three months on loans that perform well to assist dealers in closing loans with rate-sensitive customers.

"This award is emblematic of the success we share with these outstanding dealerships," noted Robert Avery, Prestige's chief executive officer. "We're fortunate to do business with hundreds of excellent dealers in so many parts of the country, and our efforts are focused on helping to raise each of them to the level of an Earnhardt or a DriversSelect.

"Partnership is a two-way street," he continued. "And dozens of our dealers are right on the brink of joining this top tier. We'll continue to do our part to get them there."

Recipients of Prestige Financial's Annual True Partnership Award for 2007:

1. Earnhardt Auto Centers, Phoenix

2. DriversSelect, Dallas/Fort Worth

3. Larry Miller Toyota, Phoenix

4. Bill Heard Enterprises, Columbus GA

5. American Toyota, Albuquerque

6. Boulder Toyota, Boulder CO

7. Karl Malone Toyota, Salt Lake City

8. Larry Miller Pontiac Buick Cadillac, Boise

9. Mike Calvert Toyota, Houston

10. Stockton to Malone Honda, Salt Lake City

11. Davis Chevrolet, Houston

12. Larry H. Miller Chevrolet, Salt Lake City

In its 14th year of operations, Prestige specializes in providing consumer financing solutions for franchised dealerships in 20 states. An affiliate of The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Prestige employs more than 250 credit professionals and support staff to service a wide range of borrower types.

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