Accent on Living

AS ONE who rose to the bait offered by an automobile dealer’s advertisement, I offer this brief account of why I am determined to squeeze another year’s use out of my 1947 model jalopy-in-the-making.

The dealer was a big one. His newcar invitation, at $2074 and with a rich trade-in allowance — my old car was listed in his advertisement as a model that would fetch $200 more than I had expected —struck me as irresistible.

I telephoned the dealer and got a salesman on the line.

“I am calling in regard to your advertisement in the Sunday papers.” I said. ”I have a 1947 Hoozit to trade.”

“Has it a radio and heater?” asked the salesman.

“Yes, it has everything. Snowtires, too.”

This must have been unwelcome news, for a considerable pause followed.

“What kind of car do you want to buy?” the salesman asked.

“The one you were advertising. The $2074 model.”

The $2074 model!” The salesman had sounded slightly hostile up to this point, but my answer was too much for him. He burst into honest laughter. “That’S a two-door job,” he said.

“I’d just as soon have the twodoor,” I replied.

“And with a hand shift”

“Fine, fine. I wanted a hand shift especially. Much quicker on the take-off.”

The salesman was chuckling again. “You don’t understand,” he said. “That $2074 car comes stripped.”

I had heard “stripped” used to describe cars plundered by thieves who steal tires, wheels, battery, accessories, and everything else removable. That was certainly what the salesman made it sound like.

“How do you mean — ‘stripped’?” 1 asked.

“I mean stripped,” the salesman said. “With that $2074 car you get absolutely nothing. Nothing at all.”

“Does it have tires?”

“Of course it has tires. But it has no equipment. None.”

“ What kind of equipment do you mean?”

“No radio, no heater. No turn indicator. You wouldn’t want to take a car like that out on the road.”

“I wouldn’t?”

“Well, you might want a car without a heater in this climate, but I wouldn’t.”

“Well, I was just thinking of the extra cost. I could get the heater later on.”

“What’s the difference? Now I have a very pretty job here, a fourdoor. It has an automatic transmission — frankly, no one wants a hand shift nowadays.”

“I do.”

The salesman brushed past this without listening. “And it does have ordinary equipment — radio, heater, and so on.”

“How much is it?”


The pause was at my end this time.

“No,” X said. “I’ll take the twodoor car with the hand shift—the $2074 car. It is really exactly what I want.”

A long mutual pause.

“Let me tell you about that ad,” said the salesman. “We’re cleaning out on that model. It’s going to be discontinued.”

“That’s what I’d heard, but it will suit me very well.”

“We only had two of those $2074 jobs.”

“I only want one.”

“Well, they’re both gone.”




When a man has just persuaded himself into a foolish transaction and declared for the ultimate leap, in all its silliness, his feelings are necessarily mixed when he learns that the deal is not going through after all. He is disappointed, for the moment, in not harvesting the rewards which he has been telling himself this particular error of judgment would, in some mysterious way, bring him. It’s a letdown. But my sorrow at not being fleeced by the dealer in this case was, I am happy to report, short-lived. Such is the resiliency of the human spirit.

Considering the brilliance of the merchandising scheme which lay behind this episode, I must say that the advertisement itself was far too conventional. If a given number of chumps such as myself would reach for the unavailable $2074 offering, would not a far greater number respond to the same bait at, say, $1666.33? There is no reason why the dealer should remain earthbound by a supposedly published price of $2074 when lie might just as well have dreamed up the lesser figure, He could even afford to throw in the radio and heater.

As for that word “stripped,” the dealer could enlarge its meaning at the same time. A fair price for the not-to-be-had “stripped” version would be still lower—probably not more than $900, a mighty attractive bargain in times like these for a new ear in the middle price range, lacking only windows, doors, seats, engine, etc. Since he isn’t going to be allowed the car in any case, these are superfluities which any motorist can get along perfectly comfortably without .

The upshot of my telephone conversations was a decision to spend $30 on repairs to my ‘47 Hoozit. That left me no wealthier than I had been before — in fact I was poorer by $30 — but my sensations were genuinely those of a man who has just found a few thousands in an old suit—a happy ending in spite of my best efforts.