Was contemplating Truck 451's earlier post about dealer-installed CD changers and it forced me to recollect my three years selling CPJE and Dodge between 1992 and late 1995 (when I joined the Air Force). It made me think about a lot of the cars I pushed in what was actually a very exciting time for car enthusiasts. My oldest kid has been selling Fords for the past year, and while he's making ridiculous money, the process seems to be a lot less gearhead-centric these days and sans a lot of choice. It seems to me I sold in the final days of some really neat combinations - many cars I wish I had now. While most were factory-available, some combinations were just plain strange. Do you remember any of these?
- Base Caravans and Voyagers with the 2.5L and 5-speed. These were available through 1994, and with the most popular equipment (A/C, cruise/tilt, and sunscreen glass) could be had for about $15K (with rebates and discounts)
- Five-speed Grand Cherokees. I remember selling 1993 and 1994 models. Only came in the base model (ugly side moldings and steel wheels) and in 2WD with the 4.0L straight-six. They could be bought for about $20K. I remember driving them and having the ability to chirp the tires in first and second gears
- Base Spirit and Acclaim with 2.5L and five-speed. Also available into 1994, and was a real bargain for a family car. With air, cruise, and tilt could be yours for $12-$13K
One of my big frustrations with my dealership was the ownership's relationship to the local area. Our dealership was on the blue-collar south side of Milwaukee, known for its hard-working yet frugal people. I often tried to coax the lady in charge of ordering into ordering as many base models as possible, but that was often in vain, ostensibly due to the lack of profit margins in stripped-down cars. Yet every single base-model stick-shift car we ever received was gone in a day or two, and often for full price. Since we were a large dealer with a hefty allocation, we always has out-of-state dealers calling for us to trade them a five-speed car for something run-of-the-mill (like a hunter green Grand Cherokee Laredo). Man, that was irritating (but I understood why).
I also remember a few crazy combos that came in toward the end of model runs, such as:
- A loaded (sans digital dash) Lebaron LE sedan (gussied-up Spirit/Acclaim), complete with the puffy cloth interior and landau top...but with a 2.5L/3-speed auto instead of the 3.0 with ultradrive. Had engine and transmission credits on the Monroney label
- A 1993 Acclaim base in wildberry with the 3.0L...and a five-speed in a little consolette (combo not available in these cars; all sticks were 2.5-only). Sold in about 10 minutes
...and my absolute favorites, which came in 1994 as the P-bodies were being phased out, were two base-base-base Dodge Shadows. One white, one aqua, both with grey cloth, no consoles, and steelies with the plastic center caps. They looked like something the gas company would drive. I still remember looking at the window stickers, and the options were A/C (HAA) for about 700 bucks and the 3.0L V-6 for about 5-600 bucks. The stick was standard. I guess they had a few extra Shadow ES drivetrains on the shelf in those days. It was kind of fun to drive, but the engine's torque really affected the tiny P185-70R14 tires. These both sold really fast as well.
Anyway, just a bit of rambling about what I consider a much more fun time to sell Chrysler products...days which are likely gone for good. Would love to see how many of these rarities exist these days.