The Life and Legacy of Donald Foss

Donald Foss became a self-made billionaire by founding the subprime auto lender, Credit Acceptance Corp. He ran the business as its chairman and CEO until 2017 when he retired, at which point his net worth was $1.2 billion.

The following article details the life and legacy of Donald Foss, who passed away August 14, 2022, at the age of 78.

Early Life

Donald Foss was born on June 18, 1944. His father was a used car salesman with a dealership in Detroit, Michigan. Donald modeled his father’s craft from an early age, learning everything there was to know about the automobile sales industry.

Foss started out as a car salesman himself by selling vehicles from the driveway of his home. In 1967, he opened his very first used car dealership in Detroit at the age of 23.

Credit Acceptance Corp

Credit Acceptance Corp was launched in 1972 by Donald, as a way to allow those with bad or nonexistent credit scores to be able to purchase a car. It was one of the first subprime auto lenders that worked with dealerships whose customers may or may not have been able to secure traditional financing for their vehicles.

This not only created repeat business for dealerships but also helped the consumer in a mutually beneficial relationship. The customer was able to increase their credit score through the program, and the dealers shared in the success of the completed contract.

Over the years, Credit Acceptance Corp would assist with over 8 million vehicle purchases through their program, leading to the company to a net worth of over $9.8 billion today.

In 2002, Foss became the company’s Chairman of the Board. Fifteen years later, in January 2017, he stepped down from this role to retire.

Later Life

He died on August 14, 2022, at the age of 78 due to complications from cancer

Donald Foss

The Legacy

During his lifetime, Foss gained many accolades, including a Doctorate of Laws in 2010 from Northwood University, the NADB Hall of Fame award in 2015, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Metro Detroit Chapter of the Michigan NIADA for his work in the automobile sales industry.

Foss also set up many charitable foundations and causes to help others. Over 630 scholarships have been provided to students pursuing professions in the automotive sector at Northwood University through the Donald Foss Annual Scholarship, which was set up in 1998, and the Donald Foss Endowed Scholarship, which was established in 2015.

He followed this in 2016 by setting up the Car Dealers Care National Foundation. This privately funded organization was designed to give back to the community directly, and through Foss’s car dealership chain, CarRite.

He also leaves behind him the company that started it all, Credit Acceptance Corp, which has gone from one of the first to one of the biggest vehicle finance companies in America.