Another car story, as requested from one of the (four or five) readers. In 1988, Hyundai did not have a good reputation. Mitsubishi, in their wisdom, rebadged the base Hyundai and call it a Precis. Since Mitsubishi didn’t have a much better reputation than Hyundai, selling a Precis was a challenge. (Many Mitsubishis were, for the time, good vehicles)
Circa 1988, enlisted military personnel under the rank of E-7 were not welcomed by most lenders making car loans. This is a story of one such financing effort.
First, the customer was black, i.e., African American. My description of him is not racially motivated; just painting a picture. Bluntly, when selling a car, I didn’t care anything at all about a customer except for three questions. First, did they have the means to buy a car? Second, would they make a purchasing decision? Third, were they legally able to buy (age, driver’s license, mentally competent)?
I was moved, not willingly, from my comfortable niche at the Ford franchise in a multiple franchise operation and dispatched to the Mitsubishi store to be a “closer”. This was supposedly a promotion. Yeah, blow me. My job was to “takeover” a sale when the first salespersons floundered, and find a way to “close” the sale. Did the customer like this? We didn’t care. Old school, hard core selling was the order of the day.
The customer was a black E-3 airman from McCord AFB. He was tall, gangly, walked like he learned how to move from chickens (arms flailing, head bobbing up and down), and had an arrogant attitude. He overwhelmed the salesman, and I was sent in.
As I came in, he stood up and announced, “Ize don’t want no fucking Precis”.
Using my best NCO voice, I said, “Sit down!” He folded up in the chair. “Let me explain something to you. You are an airman. No one wants to finance you. You have $500, that’s it. You need a bank to buy you a car and let you buy it back from them one month at a time. Do you understand me?”
“Shit, man, you hard”, he responded.
“The only car the bank is going to buy you is a Precis. You have three choices. Buy some beater piece of shit that will break down, strand you, and make you AWOL. Or, you can keep bumming rides and use the bus. Or, you can drive the only car that the bank will buy you. What is it going to be?”
He sat there in the chair, twisting, twitching, and bobbing up and down. “Can I gets me a red one”, he asked?
“No”, I said, “Blue or silver.”
He again did his spastic chicken imitation and cried out, “Silver."
Paperwork started, and forty five minutes later he was driving away in his silver Precis. As he hit the driveway, he spotted me, and yelled, “I still don’t want no fucking Precis.”
Three weeks later he was back for his license plates. The windows were tinted black. He had a sub woofer strong enough to vibrate the body panels. I made the weak suck salesman go out and put the plates on. The customer told him, “Ize don’t got no damned Hyundai; I got’s me a Precis!”
Ah, wonderful. A happy customer.