HMG Holdings, Britain's 20th largest motor retail group, was today in the hands of receivers. It is believed to have debts of between £50m and £60m.
The £440m turnover group has 12 Ford dealerships among its 40 franchised outlets.
Ford Credit, which had a major stake in the group, called in Grant Thornton as receivers.
The boss of another motor dealer group said: "We are seeing a knock-on effect from the collapse of DC Cook. Finance lenders are getting nervous about money in motor retail groups."
Nigel Ruddock and Scott Barnes, of Grant Thornton, have been appointed to HMG Holdings and specifically to Hancock Southern Limited, a subsidiary of the group operating 12 Ford car dealerships and five Iveco truck dealerships.
Mick McLoughlin and Roger Oldfield of KPMG have also been appointed to HMG and to all the other companies in the group which have franchises with 10 non-Ford manufacturers, including Vauxhall, Renault and Honda.
HMG was formed when Hancock Motors' acquired the car dealing interests of Henlys which decided to concentrate on the bus and coach sector.
Grenville Hancock, who became chief executive of the combined group, left in late 2000. It is understood he was unhappy with the direction of the business and he was replaced by 'company doctor' Ian Lynham.
HMG Holdings is based in Sevenoaks, Kent, and trades from sites throughout the UK under the names Henlys, Stormont and Hancock.
Turnover in the year to December 2000 was in excess of £400m. The group employs more than 1,800 staff.
Ford will want to want to ensure these sites are taken over by dealer groups able to conform to its market area strategy.
A spokesman for Grant Thornton said: "Both sets of receivers are doing everything to ensure that trade continues as normally as possible and that the majority of customers who are expected to pick up 'Y' registered cars are not disappointed.
"Both sets of receivers have been encouraged by the interest shown to date and are hopeful of achieving the sales of as many dealerships as possible in the near future."
HMG Holdings holds these franchises: