WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) _ A company chairman grew tired of seeing foreign cars in his firm's parking lot, so he offered a bounty - $1,000 to any employee who buys an American-made car or light truck.

''All it's got to be is an American label on an American-made car,'' said Peter Rossin, chairman of Dynamet Inc. in southwestern Pennsylvania. ''A Honda car made in Ohio doesn't qualify because the profits derived from that car go back to Japan.''

''As I drive to work and park in the lot, I see a lot of foreign cars,'' he said. ''There are two products where there really is a major trade imbalance - petroleum and cars - and I can't do anything about petroleum.''

The offer is on a first-come, first-served basis, and 70 of the company's 350 employees will be eligible each year, said company spokesman Stephen Reese. An employee can participate in the plan once every five years.

Any employee with at least six months experience at Dynamet can qualify for the bounty by providing proof of purchase and a copy of the car's title.

''It will be just like submitting an expense account,'' Reese said.

The company manufactures titanium and nickel-based alloys for the aerospace and medical markets at its plants in Washington and nearby McMurray in suburban Pittsburgh. It also has a plant in Clearwater, Fla.

Employees were notified late Wednesday of the incentive plan.

One shift foreman, Sam Insana, said he planned to shop for a new pickup truck Thursday night.

''I echo the sentiments entirely,'' said Insana, who has worked at the Washington plant for 10 years. ''My wife will be pleased to hear about it.''

Rossin, 66, also sent letters to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors telling them about his offer.

The auto companies hadn't received the letters by Thursday, but General Motors spokesman Ralph Kramer said the incentive isn't unprecedented.

''We occasionally hear about something like this,'' he said. ''From our viewpoint, anything that will prompt a customer to buy a domestic car can't help but do some good.''

Frank Joyce, a spokesman for the United Auto Workers, added, ''Most of our members would find that a welcome gesture.''

Rossin, who drives a Cadillac, said he was hoping his plan ''has a snowball effect and that other companies will participate. We get enough companies involved and we might make a dent in the trade imbalance.

''I'm just a big believer in America and I hate to see us take a back seat to anyone.''