Ultimate Car Option
by Mad Dog
These are the men and women who managed to sell
us Pintos, Gremlins, and Yugos, even though none of us will admit it.
|| Its hard to think of many things scarier than 20,000 car salesmen under
one roof. Sure, the Third Reich marching through Poland comes to mind. So does Ken Starr
and Jerry Falwell sitting around watching the Teletubbies episode where Tinky Winky gets a
male intern and runs off to Key West to wear leather chaps, get his antenna pierced, and
write a tell-all book called "I Put the Pee-pee in PBS." But were talking
car salesmen here. You know, the guys the public ranks below columnists on the Faith and
Trust scale, if you can believe such a thing is possible.
They showed up en masse in San Francisco not long ago for the
National Car Dealers Association convention, and you could spot them from a mile away.
Yes, they were the ones wearing plastered-on smiles with their fingers crossed as they
handed out imprinted keychains which read: "No, WERE No. 1!"
So what do these guys talk about when theyre together?
Oh, tricks of the trade, just like at any other convention. Things like how to claim the
steering wheel is an option, how to call the janitor into the office and pawn him off as
the sales manager so he can offer you the "cheapest price I can without losing my
job", and how to add a Bahamas Vacation Preparation Fee to the invoice without
attracting too much attention.
With all this, do they really need more help? After all, these
are the men and women who managed to sell us Pintos, Gremlins, and Yugos, even though none
of us will admit it. But this is the dawn of the New Millennium, and like everything else,
the rules change. (NOTE: Do not confuse this with The Rules, which are about dating and,
according to some authors and single women wholl never find a good man if they keep
listening to those authors, will never change.)
Michelin, the tire company with the mascot that makes Richard Simmons wake up during the
night screaming, has test marketed a line of tires with colored sidewalls to replace those
boring old black and white ones.
|| According to the
speakers at the convention, the modern car buyer wants honesty, lots of facts and figures,
and a car with a relaxed fit. Oh sorry, that last one is about pants and sneakers. Yes,
sneakers. Like it wasnt enough that jeans and shirts have been adapted to the
bulging Boomers, Keds now makes womens leather sneakers in a "Relaxed Fit"
for those whose middle-aged spread extends to their feet.
I have to admit, Ive never bought a car from a dealer.
Ive always preferred getting screwed by someone whos not a prosomehow it
makes me feel like less of a chump. Yes, this means Ive never owned a new car. You
could chalk this up to the fact that Ive never found one I really liked. Or that
Ive never had enough money. Or maybe they just dont make the options I really
need. Luckily, the last excuse is changing.
Its nice that you can get a CD player, power everything,
and even a computer that gives you driving directions. But thats just not enough. In
Europe, where theyre on the forefront of just about everything except bathing, you
can get red, yellow, and greenwall tires for your car now.
Michelin, the tire company with the mascot that makes Richard
Simmons wake up during the night screaming, has test marketed a line of tires with colored
sidewalls to replace those boring old black and white ones. With names like Aetna Red,
Nordic Green, and Rio Yellow, the tires may yet see the light of mass marketing. A Dutch
tire maker, Vredestein, has also been at it, selling enough yellow and redwalls to warrant
expanding the size and color selection.
You can bet that as soon as word of this reaches the members of the National Car Dealers
Association it will be on their Preferred Options List faster than you can say "Would
you like fries with that carjacker?"
|| But leave
it to the South Africans to know what the well-dressed car should be wearing this
yeara flame-thrower. This points up a major cultural difference between them and us.
Well, besides the fact that their leaders win Nobel Prizes while ours are happy if they
win their lawsuits. Here in the United States its hard to find a cigarette lighter
in a car anymore; in South Africa you can get your cigarette lit just by walking next to
The reason for this is simple:
they know how to have more fun than we do. Just kidding. The real reason for wanting to
mount a flame-thrower on their cars is that carjacking is as common in Johannesburg as
double parking. Or maybe it takes the place of double parking. Either way, for only $650
(plus delivery, taxes, and dealer prep) you can have a flame-thrower built into your car
doors. Then all you have to do is step on a floor pedal and a fireball shoots out the
side, sautéing a carjacker without endangering yourself, your passengers, or the paint
job. Charl Flourie, the brains behind the Char-o-matic, says someone can get third-degree
burns and might be blinded by this, but it wont kill them. Can keychain versions be
You can bet that as soon as word of this reaches the members
of the National Car Dealers Association it will be on their Preferred Options List faster
than you can say "Would you like fries with that carjacker?" Of course here it
will be marketed a little differently, since carjacking isnt quite the crime it is
in South Africa.
"Theyre great for lighting barbecue grills on the
side of the road," the car salesman will tell you. "Plus theyll teach
hitchhikers not to flip you off when you pass them by and they can be used to get
rid of roadside litter while you drive, making them politically, environmentally, and
Hey, it doesnt get any better than that.
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while getting your flamethrower refueled.