A 35-year-old Staunton, Va., automobile salesman was discovered fatally wounded at the wheel of his car at a busy Alexandria intersection yesterday morning.

Police refused to speculate on how Robert Joseph "Mike" Haley, said to be in Northern Virginia on a car-purchasing trip, met his death. A hand-gun was found on the floor of his car, officers said. Haley had been shot once in the left side of his abdomen, police said.

Haley's relatives said yesterday that Haley carried a handgun and large amounts of cash when he came to the Washington area to purchase cars he saw advertised in newspapers.

"He had just bought a brand new car to sell,(and) he was on his way to buy another car... and everything seemed to be going well." said Margaret Richie of Alexandria, Haley's sister.

Haley was discovered slumped over the wheel of his car at the intersection of South Patrick (U.S. Rte. 1) and Wilkes streets at 8:25 a.m. Police said he was unconscious and was pronounced dead on arrival at Alexandria Hospital.

Police in Staunton said that Haley had moved there several years ago and that he would make frequent trips to the Washington area to buy used Corvette sports cars, models in which Haley specialized.