Best Muscle Cars

The Good Old Days Of Muscle Car dealerships

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By Mark Weisseg

This is a story that should bring you warm memories. Most of us are old enough to remember the car dealerships that were in our cities and towns. So, let’s hit the way back machine button and reminisce about the good old days of car dealerships.

The car dealerships of the past were generally small and convenient to your home. Most were about the size you see in the picture. The owner was a local person and you knew him or her from other places in your town. They sold and serviced a particular brand of car.

They had maybe two or three sales people, a parts manager, a service manager, and about three mechanics. You knew them from school or your church. You felt comfortable going to the dealership because they were friends or acquaintances. You felt you got a fair shake when you bought a new or used car. They were open six days a week, and never holidays.

What we enjoyed was a good relationship with the people at the dealership. Most people were loyal customers and in turn the ownership would sponsor a little league baseball team or provide a garden hose and space for a local car wash event to raise money. You gravitated to the dealership when the need arose. The employees would provide you with advice and had your best interests at heart. The trust factor was always present and you thought the business would be there forever. The person who operated the business usually had a family member working at the dealership as well. The secretaries and other book keepers were local people with accounting skills. It all felt so good and nobody wanted to see drastic changes. It was the best of times for everyone.

Then, everything was turned upside down. Pretty soon a person that just sold one brand of cars was now selling others. How odd was it at first that a local Dodge dealer all of a sudden owned the Ford dealership just down the road? And then to make matters worse the foreign car invasion began.

Yes, now Datsun, Honda, Toyota and more were now being sold in your town. Dealership owners that sold one brand now had four. We call them mega dealers. These owners were forced to build new buildings, hire more people, grow the name brands and take on huge debt. Suddenly when you went to the dealer you saw faces you did not recognize anymore.

The sales staffs increased three fold. Now there were “teams” in the service bays. Now the places were open very late nights, open on holidays, and you really were confused. How could one dealer principal sell six brands? What happened to competition? Suddenly you knew nobody in the service area. When you call on the phone you need to go through a series of pushing buttons to get connected to a department. No more did a operator answer your call. The dealerships grew like mad.

Your head would spin trying to determine where to go and who to speak with. The cars became so complicated it was impossible for you to understand or do any of your own repairs. Quickly your small town dealership with that homey feeling became a giant monster that you feared. Talking to the owner was nearly impossible. You now had to speak with people you did not know or trust. If you got angry and refused to buy a Ford you discovered the owner also owned the Honda dealership.

The dealerships now had gigantic showrooms, large service shops, and enough people to fill a auditorium. The whole experience has left you feeling small and unimportant. Sure they brag that they are your friends and a part of your community. But, it dos not feel like it nor do you like it. Now the down home touch is gone. The cars are very complicated. Sure they do not break down as much as before but when you do need service you get nervous. You can remember when the big three ruled the roost.

Foreign cars were just that- foreign. Today, it seems everyone has a Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, and more. Remember when a friend or neighbor bought a Mercedes or a BMW? You thought they struck gold or got a big inheritance. Now, those cars are main stream. The world seems to move much faster as you age. Most of us in the fast muscle car world want it to slow down. We want to own a older Mustang or a Dodge Charger. We miss the good old days and long for a time when cars were simple, cars were fun, and cars were cool. Now, cars look the same, they sound the same, and drive the same. Such blandness. So boring. Boy it would be nice to walk right into a service shop, walk over to a vending machine and buy a pop. Then, walk over and talk to your friend the service manager. Chew the fat for a while and leave feeling good that he advised you how to tune your car up.

I am afraid my friends we will never pass this way again. The good old days are over. It’s a new normal and we must adjust. Or do we? Why do you think so many of us buy and drive fast muscle cars of the sixties and early seventies? Answer- we want to have a piece of the good old days. Yes, the simple cars that were and are unique. Oh well, I close now and ask you to close your eyes for a few minutes and just think about the good old days. I do many times and it always makes me feel good. Go ahead and try it. It works and it is free!

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