By on July 3, 2010

As a Ford salesman during the Year Of Our Lord 1995, I had very few scruples and fewer dreams. I did, however, have a few personal goals. One of them was to sell as many pink cars as possible. I convinced a woman shopping without her husband to order a pink Windstar. I checked “Rose Mist” by default on every 1996 Taurus order form that passed through my hands, relying on the customer to see the “mistake” and correct it. I even convinced a color-blind man to order the pinkish interior on a black 1996 Taurus station wagon, describing it to him as “a very vintage red, luxurious in tone and strongly reminiscent of a Sixties Rolls-Royce.” When his son came to pick up the car with him, he looked at me in a fashion I can only describe as “murderous”.

Another goal, known only to me: to never sell a Ford Aspire. At the time, I believed that Ford made a few good cars and a very good truck. I also believed that Kia had made a good car, and it was called the Ford Festiva. The Aspire, which succeeded the Festiva, was no successor at all, and certainly no success. Built on the bones of the perfectly-packaged little Korean “Ford” Festiva, it was heavier, slower, no more spacious, and strongly resembled a suppository when viewed in profile. It was also expensive when equipped with air conditioning and an automatic transmission. The dealer margin on the Aspire was about five hundred bucks between sticker and invoice, meaning that I could usually get customers into a far superior Escort LX, priced at invoice, for less than an additional grand.

After driving both cars, and seeing the vast difference between the competence of the Mazda-based ’95 Scort and the Kia-built ’95 Aspire, customers always chose the Escort. When I gave my two weeks’ notice at the dealership, I knew that I would leave the business with my Aspirations cheerfully unfulfilled. Less than ten days later, my dream crashed into the ground… with a tinny “clink”.

Anyone who has grown up in a wealthy suburb is familiar with the phenomenon of the “man-child at home.” These are young men who return home from college, often at the insistent request of the Dean of Students, and never again leave the nest. Faced with the prospect of living on their own means in some eight-hundred-square-foot apartment, eating Ramen noodles and sleeping restlessly on a bare mattress, they make the sane choice to stay at home, borrow money from their millionaire mommy or daddy, and spend the evenings drinking.
Sometimes they spend the nights driving after they drink in those evenings, and they crash their cars.

When that happens, they require new cars to crash. And so it was that a friend of the dealership principal arrived at 9:01 AM on my third-to-last day at the shop. He was a grizzled, sixtysh, vital-looking man, football-framed and solidly fat beneath his Scioto Country Club golf shirt. His son was thin, wispy, downcast, early thirties, standing apart and obviously displeased to be up this early.

“Pops” shook my hand in a manner designed to ensure I couldn’t play “Eruption” on the electric guitar for at least a week. “Brian here, (jerks thumb over shoulder) is a fuckup. Crashed his car. Drunk. Lives with me and his mother. Needs a car. For a job. Like that will happen. Don’t suppose you’d hire him here.” Hearty laugh, shared with me as a man in the world of men who work at nine in the morning. “Get him a car. Cheapest you got. Color? Don’t care. Cheap is the word, young man.”

“Sir, you are in luck. I have an Escort LX for $10,995, well-equipped with cassette player and comfort-tinted glass.” Pops squinted at me.

“Don’t you fuck with me, young man. Paper says you got one for $8995. You won’t get rich off me. I know your boss. But,” and he thumped my back with sufficient force to rattle my lungs around in their frequently-cracked ribcage, “I like your spirit!” Damn. He’d seen our Sunday ad, which featured the lone Korean suppository on the lot.

“Well, Sir, that’s an Aspire, but the Escort…” Thump on the back again.

“Don’t fuck with me, kid. Told you already. Show me the cheapie.” I went to the keyboard and jogged out to the lot. Oh, dear God. My conflicting emotions fought tooth and nail in my heaving chest. Our sole Aspire in stock… was pink. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand, I had sworn to no one in particular to sell every pink car I could. On the other, it was an Aspire. I considered simply running to my demo and driving away, and then I realized I needed the $50 commission we received for selling cars at the newspaper-advertised price.

I pulled up to Pops and son in the pink Aspire. The son looked as if he would vomit at any moment. Pops grinned. “OH HO! I see why you have to give this one away! But beggars can’t be choosers, eh, Brian! Don’t suppose you’ll bring any tail home in this faggot-wagon!” I ushered Pops in to sign the papers before sneaking back out to meet Brian, who was standing mute before the pink Aspire.

“He’s right,” Brian told me, before I could say anything. “Beggars can’t be choosers. I made some mistakes. I still live at home. I don’t know what to do.” He was older than I was, had partied his entire worthless life, and would, most likely, be a millionaire through inheritance. Standing in my worn-out shoes, thinking about how I desperately needed to find enough money to pay my dentist for a cavity I was nursing, I put my arm around him.

“It’s a good car. They don’t break, really. Won’t spend much for gas. The color looks different when the sun’s not so bright.” He said nothing. I went inside and earned my fifty dollars.

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133 Comments on “Capsule Review: 1995 Ford Aspire...”


  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Great story Jack! I remember having a Festiva as a rental car but never drove an Aspire. All the ones I have ever seen have faded paint and trim parts which are desperately trying to remove themselves from the main body.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I too sold Fords when the Aspire which we quickly renamed Perspire was introduced. I remember fairly well watching the Ford salesperson intro video which was done by Jackie Stewart who extolled the “finer points” and explained why the Perspire would soon be a hit. One of his big points was the amazingly solid design/construction features. The Ford store I worked at was more of a truck/suv/van (conversion/Aero/Windstar) store and I never sold a Perspire. If I remember correctly I never demoed or rode/drove in one and never had a customer inquire about one. To this day I chuckle about the Jackie Stewart video.

  • avatar
    xaocoh

    I worked at a rental company when these horrible little cars were on sale. Surprisingly, about half of them were the hot pink color you mention. The other half were the same metallic teal that ~50% of all Ford and GM vehicles were painted at the time.

    I absolutely HATED driving the Aspire. It was the only car that made you pine for a Geo Metro. The Hyundai Accent was also considered in the same class in the rental fleet and it was positively luxurious by comparison. I remember that when driving the Aspire more often than not the accelerator was mashed completely to the floor. I have never seen worse plastics on a car, nor as many blank spaces (was the Korean equivalent totally pimped out with options?). I also remember that they had a really weird smell when you got into them in the summer.

  • avatar
    Libertyman03

    This is a great story. I laughed out loud when the old guy told his son he wouldn’t “bring any tail home in this faggot-wagon!” It reminds me of one of my own experiences selling cars, just a couple years ago. I sold Chrysler products before the bankruptcy thing, and an older woman came in one day and positively fell in love with the last Dodge Caliber we had. It was BROWN. It was also the cheap SE model, with crank windows and 15 inch steelies. She seemed happy, and drove away that day in the little POS. At least it was a stick. Anyway, again, great story.

  • avatar
    majo8

    Great story…..

    You’re dead-on about the Aspire being “no successor at all” to the Festiva. The Festiva had a suprising amount of room for such a small car.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    And furthermore… As bad as the Aspire was next to the Festiva, the Festiva was a horrid piece of poo when compared to it’s predecessor, the Fiesta!

    • 0 avatar
      UnclePete

      Agreed. The Fiesta was a good little car. I had one as a commuter car for a short while and it got the job done on very little gas. (It was totaled by a drunk driver; luckily for me it was parked.)

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      The Fiesta was a darn good little car indeed. Much more reliable than the Pennsylvania built VW Rabbits of the same era and not a bad little econobox to drive at all.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    First, faggot is not a word I want to see used on this site again, it’s 2010 and that is an insulting and offensive word…ED, I’D SUGGEST USING SOME ASTERISKS in this word, NOW. Would you print a story about a father commenting on a ni**er wagon? Doubt it, so make the switch.

    Jack, you sound like you were quite an as*hole, (see how I cleverly used an asterisk to imply the nature of your character, without using the actual offensive term?) in those days, “shocking” that you were a car dealer as well.

    Make the change. Agreed that the Aspire was a POS of the highest magnatude…a good friend had a Festiva, and that was a decent econobox…tough, reliable and efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      Loser

      Lighten up Frances. And you are who to make these demands? I’m tired of people trying to force their PC BS on others. If you are offended go hang at Disney.com.

      Jack, I thought this was a great story, thanks for sharing.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimmy7

      SFDennis 1 is right: “fa**ot” is offensive. Would it be okay if the dad in the story tried to j*w the dealer down?

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      I agree. Such language has no place in a respectable environment as TTAC. Next time, stick with the technical term: queermobile.

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      Funny how you complain (and take out of context) the word ‘Faggot’ but you don’t complain about the words ‘shit’ and ‘fuck.’ I would complain if Jack refereed to people in this article as ‘Faggot’ ‘Nigger’ Etc. but he did not. Getting uptight can lead to high blood pressure. :-) Just my two pennies, so feel free to disagree!

    • 0 avatar
      italianstallion

      +1.

      Wake up people. The term “faggot” is extremely offensive and is off-limits.

      And if you don’t understand why, you’re a f*cking Neanderthal.

    • 0 avatar
      galaxygreymx5

      Oh lighten up. As an honest-to-god homo it made me giggle. Don’t think I could get any tail in that hunk of shit either.

      Sidenote: I sold one of these as a used car to someone looking for a commuter pod to beat the crap out of and spare his new luxo-barge the wear and tear. As he was signing the contract he looked at me and said “Did I just buy a Ford Expire?” “No sir, Aspire.”

      Hehe.

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      I am not attempting to speak for all of “my people,” but I don’t find the word offensive in the way that it was used. It was the only audible chuckle I got out of the whole thing. If the father had instead said he wanted the “joo price…” then that’s what he said and that’d the kind of guy he was. It really helps tell the story. Alls I’m sayin’ is, if you attempt to live in a bubble, then you’re going to be offended by a lot of things.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      It was just a quote. Derogatory sure, but it wasn’t Jack’s words, nor did he use it out context to apply it to the Aspire in general. Notice how the word “fuck” is used during “Pops” quotes as well.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      +1 to Blue Adidas. It was a quote, it should be stated as it was said. There is nothing bigoted about the was Jack used the term. Now, if someone wrote a review on this site and closed with a line like “considering the lack of power and poor build quality of the Toyondaru Imcordry, it’s plainly clear that it’s a car for faggots” that would be a little different. Context is everything.

      Plus, even if you are offended, does using asterisks make a word somehow less offensive? It’s still clear what the word is, and it isn’t like that little a is going to scar your eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      Lighten up, people, this is a period piece. This was fifteen years ago, and the use of the term “faggot” completely reflects its time.

      God, how I miss George Carlin…

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      The problem has been identified. Everyone is now afraid to report something funny (and it was funny) that happened 15 years ago because now we’re all humorless, politically correct Orwellian clones that take ourselves much too seriously. I’ve got an idea: let’s rid ourselves of cars that show any racial (purple Cadillacs), ethnic (low riders or rice rockets), demographic (pickup with rebel flag)influences, because someone might be offended. And we all know that to be personally offended is almost a capital crime, these days. I say, let the government produce the equivalent of a Trabant–and then dictate that it’s all we can buy. Then, we can all be happy in our misery.

    • 0 avatar
      Facebook User

      That is just stupid, does it REALLY make a difference to you if you write “faggot” or “f*a*g*o*t” or any other combination?? The word is still the same, the meaning is the same and everyone still knows what you mean… It is like saying something on a hush voice, everyone knows who heard you still knows what you meant!!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Methinks some doth protest too much.

      Quotaton marks mean ‘that’s what he said’, not ‘that’s what you wished he said’.

      If instead of “faggot” he had said “jew down”, “nigger”, or any of the many inappropriate words not cited here, he needs to be quoted accurately, with no hint of revisionism, as it demonstrates the poor mindest of the father.

      And as far as the father goes, using those words back then showed how big a pimmel he really was.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      Jack was quoting somebody, that’s quite different than he himself calling it a “faggot wagon”. And yeah, it was also 1995.

    • 0 avatar
      NRTrackStar

      Don’t you dare bow to the PC sheep of the world and change this story. If that is what it comes down to, just shut TTAC down and direct all of your contributors toward Autoblog so they can write vanilla articles there. If you can’t publish the story as it happened, don’t bother putting it up at all. We can just talk about Toyota recalls or something all day instead.

      sfdennis1, if you can’t handle the word faggot without an asterisk, then maybe the internet isn’t the place for you. If “faggot wagon” or “nigger wagon” was actually used in context to describe this car, that had damn well better be how it is posted on this website. A truly respectable publication would publish it unedited.

      Jack, those of us who live in the real world really enjoy your stories, regardless of how rough they may be. You are easily this website’s most valuable contributor and without this kind of frankness, TTAC has no reason to exist. Honestly, if all most of us wanted was industry related news and reviews we could all just go to Jalopnik or Autoblog, who TTAC can’t compete with in that regard. Articles like this are this website’s meal ticket and if you start choking your contributors, TTAC is dead.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      I’m with Walter on this one. As a person who could be labeled with the word “faggot”, I do not find the word at all offensive in this usage. Jack was clearly repeating what the customer (obviously a jack-ass) said. Of course, some people see these words and are incapable of understanding the context. Adding asterisks to a word does not change its meaning. Only idiots wouldn’t be able to fill in the asterisks.

      Jack himself doesn’t come off as an intolerant fool, so there is no problem here. I found this story extremely entertaining, especially Jack’s personal goal of selling every car in pink. Classic.

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      “Yeah, it was 1995 so faggot is OK ‘cuz that’s how we talked then.”

      Bullshit. big fat stinky lying bullshit. And you can all suck on it if you can’t see that.

      OK, let’s tell some stories from the 1950′s and be sure to include lot’s of N*gg*rs, and k*kes, and go*ks, and dag*s, and and w*tbacks and all the other ‘terms of endearment’ commonly used by the charming bigots of the time.

      Faggot was WRONG then, and it’s wrong now, and this is an auto blog, not an insult site…or is it?

      Don’t make me start talking about your ugly mothers, slutty wives and stupid kids, because I’ve got a lot of material saved up…but of course I don’t mean anything by it…c’mon, why don’t you all have a sense of humor?

    • 0 avatar
      Facebook User

      @eamiller: you drove a pink Aspire?? Oh the humanity!

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Loser’s comment makes him a Winner, LOL. X90001!!!1!1

      I really hate the Political Correct bullshit.

      I laughed when I read the faggot-wagon part. And I’m not from the US.

      Don’t change a word Mr. Baruth.

    • 0 avatar

      I second the comment about lightening up Francis.

      You can’t bowdlerize the way people speak and it’s a writer’s job to accurately convey that speech, epithets included.

      Also, your hypocrisy is disturbing. You somehow think that if you call Jack an a**hole, that’s somehow less offensive than saying “Jack you’re an asshole”. For the matter, you can’t even “say” “a**hole”. How do you pronounce an asterisk? You think that by not using the exact spelling that it’s not offensive? In that case, “nigga” isn’t offensive. It’s certainly not offensive to my black friends who use it the way I use “guy”.

      My brother now lives in Jerusalem. I love my brother. He’s a man of principle. Not long ago he was sitting in traffic and noticed the driver of the car in front of him, a United Nations vehicle, discarding a cigarette butt out of his window. Jeff set his parking brake, got out, picked up the butt, tapped on the UN guy’s window, and told him, “I think you dropped something”.

      The UN guy said, “It’s trash”.

      My brother replied, this is the holy city of Jerusalem, not your trash can, and flicked the butt back into the guy’s car.

      That has nothing to do with my story, other than the fact that I think my big brother’s kind of cool.

      So we were teenagers. Jeff had a Lotus Cortina that was fun, but also rusting, so he was looking for a donor body. He found a Cortina GT that was solid and right in his price range ($500 or less – this was the early 1970s). He wanted the car, so they started dickering.

      The negotiation didn’t get far. The seller said, “Well, I’d like $400, but I suppose you could Jew me down.”

      Jeff said, “I was going to give you the $400, but now you’re not getting a penny from this Jew,” and we walked away.

      Now could I have told the story accurately by putting in an asterisk? Actually, where should I have used one, when the idiot used J*w as a slur, but not when my brother described himself as a Jew? All these PC rules get kind of hard to remember. But just remember, the totalitarian impulse can be a slippery slope and someday someone will find some element of your own speech “offensive”.

      This is like the idiots that airbrushed out Churchill’s cigar or Robert Johnson’s cigarette.

      Today’s lesson, boys and girls, comes from Leonard Schneider, AKA Lenny Bruce. Use Google to find the following two routines Mr. Schneider performed:

      Blah-Blah-Blah – about Lenny getting arrested for saying a naughty word that’s a synonym for fellatio, then sitting in court listening to the judge, prosecutor and his own attorney use the same word in open court.

      Are There Any Niggers Here? – Lenny’s early attempt to deny slurs the power to hurt, sort of the way some gay activists have embraced the word “queer”.

    • 0 avatar
      Libertyman03

      Mr. Baruth, don’t even think about changing this. I don’t think you would anyway. Sfdennis1, if you’re going to comment on something like this, AT THE VERY LEAST read what you have typed before submitting it, and make sure you spelled everything correctly. I agree the Aspire is a POS also, but to the highest “magnItude,” not “magnAtude.”

      A misspelled word in such a fiery comment makes the commenter look like a retard. Oh wait, I mean r*tard.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      To all you people who are telling Jack not to bow down to the “PC brigade” and impose some form of censorship on himself, I have one question:

      Where the hell were you lot when THIS kicked off?!

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/nissan-and-toyota-mutiny-about-the-bounty/

    • 0 avatar
      Zeitgeist

      Re asterisks:

      ***** *** ****!

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with others that the context is important, and that the quotation reflects badly on the person being quoted. If it was not a quotation or the person being quoted was portrayed in an otherwise positive light then it would reflect badly on the site.

      The 1995 Baruth seems a complex mixture of good and evil. Tried to sell a bad color, but avoided selling a bad car. A bad car is worse than a bad color.

    • 0 avatar
      NRTrackStar

      Cammy, the reason nobody defended your comments is that nobody likes your articles. Sorry. Though we do for the most part appreciate the fact that you pushed the PC boundaries.

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      I’m a fag and I thought it was hilarious.

    • 0 avatar
      Znork

      Sfdennis1, is this your site? Not as far as I know, so mind your own business or get the hell out.

    • 0 avatar
      davejay

      Wow. In one article, two reasons not to visit the site again. I’m out, and doubt I’ll be missed.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I had a scuba diving pal that worked for Ford vehicle testing and he told everyone who would listen not to buy the Aspire. Apparently they flipped one and the lack of structural rigidity even appalled the most seasoned of car testers.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Agreed on the story. One of the best and I might be so bold to say it’s destined to be a TTAC classic. It’s the kind you used to find in Car and Driver during its heyday. I particularly like the bit about pink cars.

    Not sure I entirely believe it (too clever and funny, and the dialogue seems like it’s more from a screenplay) but pretty damn good, nonetheless, and does more to sum up the Aspire than any stale rehash of the car’s faults.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure I entirely believe it (too clever and funny, and the dialogue seems like it’s more from a screenplay) but pretty damn good, nonetheless, and does more to sum up the Aspire than any stale rehash of the car’s faults

      Very likely, still Thomas Wolfe really was from Asheville and he writed a good story.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Exactly. Reminded me of the whole Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson,’gonzo’ journalism thing. It was highly entertaining for the time and a shame it’s now so passé.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think you can underestimate the influence of Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson on automotive writing. Wolfe’s The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby and his story for Esquire on Junior Johnson were seminal works, not just for gearheads but in American culture in general. I don’t think anyone in American high culture ever regarded hot rodders as artists working in sheet metal (with much more artistic integrity than the whole Andy Warhol scene) before Wolfe started writing about them.

      My guess about Hunter S. is that while automotive writers of a certain age have been influenced by the gonzo style, the guy was also a gearhead. Though there’s some automotive lore in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (pumping up the Shark’s tires to 90 psi or something to get it to “handle like a Lotus Elan”) that indicate that Thompson knew of which he wrote, I’d think that Hell’s Angels is probably the book of his that most likely has been read by folks who write about cars.

      There was a time when I really liked Thompson’s work, and some of it still stands, but as a writer, I don’t think he’s quite in Wolfe’s rank.

  • avatar

    Is it wrong that I imagine this dad looking and sounding exactly like Rex Ryan?

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    When my parents were looking for a second car, they didn’t even consider the Aspire. Apparently there was a discount for new Ford buyers on the Escort wagon. That’s good, because this seems like an underpowered econobox that makes the Geo Metro and Hyundai Accent look like a Lexus in comparison.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I liked the original Escort. I wasn’t aware of the giant gap in overall quality between the Escort and Aspire.

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    Plus, what kind of name is “Aspire?” Does it Asprire to be a car that people desire?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Great story. But let me ask you, Jack. What is your hang-up on the color pink? Tell us, and you have another editorial right there…

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Did you never see that so-called pink color that Ford used on these butt-ugly lumps of Korean tinfoil? Possibly the vilest color ever applied to a vehicle in the US market…and this is coming from a guy who drove a pink car for a decade.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Even when the vehicle interiors of that era started out red, they tended to end up pink.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Back in the late 80′s, I owned both a Fiesta S and a Festiva. The Fiesta S was what taught me about the greatness that is German cars. The Festiva was a nice driving little bucket with the worst standard tyres in the world – Yokahama’s made of (I swear) bakelite. This was the only car in the world that handled more frighteningly than a ’70′s Porsche 911.

    At the time I owned the Festiva, I got into 17th century military reenactment. As a pikeman (16′ spears, for those not into 17th century militaria). I rigged up a roof rack of 2×2′s, and carried the company’s pikes to the next re-enactment. With the butts even with the back bumper (PA law was anal in loads carried beyond the back bumper), the heads extended about four feet past the front bumper.

    Ghod, what a car to tailgate something in! They always speeded up, even little blue hairs in 15 year old Buicks.

  • avatar

    When I briefly sold Fords at a central California dealership in summer 1998, we still had three new ’96 Aspires on the lot. They were still there when I left. Not sure if that speaks worse about the Aspire or the dealership, but it gives you an idea of the complete lack of appeal of the Aspire. Few cars have ever been so ironically named.

    That said, Jack was right — they don’t break easily. The company I now work for used to have Aspires in their fleet. Some made it past 300,000 miles of very hard use with little maintenance.

    The 2000-2002 Focus hatchbacks that replaced these were luxurious by comparison, but nowhere near as reliable.

  • avatar

    Great story.

    I don’t particularly like the word fa**ot, either, unless you’re referring to cigarettes. But Jack is quoting someone, not saying it himself, and so it is entirely appropriate. And as Ingvar says, this is a period piece.

    Whether or not we need **s in the word, I do’nt feel like figuring out how I feel about that right now. But my immediate inclination is that since he’s quoting someone else, it’s fine as is. I ***would*** have a big problem if he put some other, more innocuous word into the quote instead of what (presumably) the guy really said. It’s a very colorful story, and it should remain that way.

  • avatar
    boosterseat

    Nice story, that was bloody great.
    I sold cars many years ago and can identify with the personal missions you gave yourself – it helps relieve the boredom between deals. Also worked in newspaper for years and can say with confidence, you don’t go changing a story. You can print a retraction if its factually wrong, but no changes.
    keep up the good times.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Standing in my worn-out shoes, thinking about how I desperately needed to find enough money to pay my dentist for a cavity I was nursing, I put my arm around him.

    “It’s a good car. They don’t break, really. Won’t spend much for gas. The color looks different when the sun’s not so bright.” He said nothing. I went inside and earned my fifty dollars.”

    Speaking of the pink car and the commission reminded me of:

    “Well another man might have been angry,
    And another man might have been hurt,
    But another man never would have let her go…
    I stashed the bill in my shirt.”

  • avatar
    Robbie

    This to me seemed like a case of excellent parenting, right?

  • avatar
    dastanley

    1.) So Jack, what’s the signifigance of pink? Why were you trying to push pink on everyone? Was it some kind of joke or a running gag or bet you had with fellow salesmen? Was the commission higher with certain colors?

    2.) Once upon a time, I read that Ford actually lost money on every Escort that they sold during the truck/SUV crazy late 90s. But Ford sold the Escort anyway because it raised their CAFE, allowing them to sell more profitable trucks/SUVs, more than making up for any losses. Jack, can you confirm or deny that?

    3.) It never even occured to me to be offended at the “faggot” quote. I just chuckled and kept reading. It was only after I read the comments that I realized what a big deal some people think this is. Guess I’m just an evil white straight male, out of touch and un-PC. You have a gift of writing. Thanks for the entertainment.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    What was the little three cylinder Geo/Chevy Korean POS which was also sold at that time? I still remember thrashing those poor things hard when I ended up with one as a rental car.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The Geo Metro. I almost got my boss to jump out of one once. I floored it to get on the freeway, and it kicked down to first gear and howled like a banshee. My boss reached for the doorhandle, but I’d gotten it up to 35, so he just held on. He never asked me to drive after that.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    BTW, I was reminded of another song…

    Money for Nothing by Dire Straits …

    There is the line:

    “See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup,
    Yeah buddy that’s his own hair,
    That little faggot got his own jet airplane,
    That little faggot he’s a millionaire.”

    Somehow fitting to both the narrative of the story and comments of the father, and to the controversy here in the comments section.

    Re. the story: This could be the description of the n’er-do-well son after the trust-fund payout!

    Re. the “quote or don’t quote” controversy: In the States, this section of the song, which was in the music video played incessently on MTV, seems to be edited, or the word seems to be ‘fuzzed’ out when played on the radio these days (not so here in europe.)

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Robert,

      I don’t know if you realize, but about a decade or fifteen years ago, that verse mysteriously disappeared from the song, along with the section of the video. Then it came back. I think a lot of people got vocally pissed with the ‘cleansing’.

  • avatar
    postjosh

    rented one once. when my friend got in and saw the name he said,”so, what does this aspire to be, a car?”

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I even convinced a color-blind man to order the pinkish interior on a black 1996 Taurus station wagon, describing it to him as “a very vintage red, luxurious in tone and strongly reminiscent of a Sixties Rolls-Royce.” When his son came to pick up the car with him, he looked at me in a fashion I can only describe as “murderous”.

    It’s no wonder people don’t like car salesmen.

    I considered simply running to my demo and driving away, and then I realized I needed the $50 commission we received for selling cars at the newspaper-advertised price.

    Takes me back. It’s no wonder most car salesmen hate their jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      1600 MKII

      Reminds of the time an older lady (whose farmer husband had died and left her the farm which she had promptly sold to a developer) came in with her son to find a car and landed on a cherry (in condition and color) 1976 Coupe de Ville. She was smitten.

      I had to drive her – she wouldn’t demo herself and when we got back, as we’re signing the paperwork (for a pretty massive profit, if I remember) she looks me and asks, “You wouldn’t call this a red car, would you?”

      I probably went pale as a ghost (there was no redder car except maybe a Ferrari 348 made in 1976) but without a pause, answered, “No ma’am, I’d call this car Firethorn (the GM name for screaming-burn out your retinas-red).”

      She replied, “Oh good. I wouldn’t ever want to own a red car.”

      True story…

  • avatar

    When our Chrysler minivan was in the shop for one of its four transmissions, the dealer arranged a loaner from Enterprise down the block and they gave us an Aspire. The only thing close to competent on that car was that the A/C blew cold. “Horrid” is how I described it at the time. Perhaps the very worst car I’ve driven in my life. Kia and is lucky people don’t know they made the Aspire. For the matter, if more people knew that the Aspire was made in Korea, that would probably hurt Hyundai’s sales too.

    Of course, Bertel keeps telling us that it’s the customer’s fault when a supplier makes crap, so I guess that some of the Aspire’s crapitude can be laid at Ford’s feet, but the Aspire almost permanently soured me on Korean cars.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Mr. Baruth, please make one of this for the Festiva. I work down here in a plant were one of its descendants is still assembled.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Good story! Had me chuckling a few times as I used to loose my gloves in elmentart school so my Mom bought a purple pair. I have yet to own any color Ford but I think those gloves are still around.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Many years ago when I was young and poor in CA, my own wheels couldn’t make long trips. So for important job related conventions, I had to rent cars to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back. First rental car was a Geo Metro, the second was a Ford Aspire.

    The Metro felt utterly refined compared to the Aspire, the latter proving loud, guzzled gas, had no power to speak of, rode like a brick, handled like the steering gear was rubber bands – in short a true penalty box.

    Eventually my own wheels became a Geo Prism which proved utterly reliable for 6 years, but thanks to 3 speed auto was a buzz box on the interstates.

  • avatar
    210delray

    My employer bought one of those “rose mist” 1996 Tauruses. It soon acquired the nickname “Barney.”

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My folks bought one of the very first Ford Windstars in Metallic Plum over Gold – it too was instantly dubbed “Barney”. It was also an unmitigated heap of crap!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I had a ’95 Chrysler Stratus (in Europe, it was not sold as a Dodge), in (IIRC) a european-only kind of taupe colour.

      I’m a little color blind, so it was a beautiful color when the sunset light hit it … all the rest of the time it seemed just like grey to me … but, man, I tell you, I got tired of all the people refering (in a way that indicated they could hardly believe I could be seen in such a thing) to it as “purple”…

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The original Escort was an underpowered, sloppily-built, disposable piece of shit. Very typical for an American car of the era. It slowly got better as they sorted the crapiness out of it.

    The Mazda 323-based replacement Escort of 1991 was far superior.

  • avatar
    BlisterInTheSun

    Just to clarify: Thomas Wolfe (author of “Look Homeward Angel” which is arguably one of the greatest American novels and was written about his hometown of Asheville, NC) is not the same person as Tom Wolfe (author of “The Electric Koolaide Acid Test” and “The Right Stuff.”)

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I love Ford dealers. Now, being 4th of July weekend, can we talk about Gran Torinos, or at least Probes, and not Aspires? Thanks.

  • avatar
    jeremy5000

    Working at 9 in the morning, must have been hell.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    sfdennis1….I’ll make you a deal…we won’t tell you which gender to be attracted to….you don’t tell us what words we can and cannot use….it’s called freedom. If you don’t like it, you are FREE to go to another website to read.

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      (To you MacInnis, and to every other poster who thinks ‘faggot’ is a fine adjective to use on TTAC)

      I thought TTAC was an auto-related site, not an insult site…In the privacy of your own home, you are free to say any idiotic thing you choose…that’s what you’re free to do.

      However, on a public forum such as this, you can keep the insults to yourself…I’d like to see ANY of you try and pass off racial insults or religious slurs and see the response you get. Try it, freedom lovers, and see how “free” you are to talk sh*t, and insult people without getting called out on it…

      If I’ve misunderstood, and TTAC IS an insult site and NOT an auto site, then I’ve got some great material I’ve been saving up about your mothers, your wives and your sisters…Of course, I don’t mean to offend anyone…c’mon, don’t you idiotic breeders have a sense of humor?

      I’m not going anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      sfdennis1, you’ve made it abundantly clear that you’re incapable of grasping the difference between using a word, and reporting on its use. That renders any opinion you might have on the topic irrelevant, as it will be based solely on your own preconceptions and have no connection to reality or accuracy.

    • 0 avatar
      Libertyman03

      I believe sfdennis1 called us all “freedom lovers.” Are you implying Dennis, that you in fact do NOT love freedom? And did Mr. Baruth anywhere in his article say “Sfdennis1, you are a faggot”? No, he didn’t. He didn’t even say faggot himself. He merely quoted another man, a character in the story he was telling. Would you consider a novel that used the word faggot to be an insult novel? Since obviously every time someone uses that word it’s aimed directly at you.

      Bottom line: No one cares that you’re gay. Get over it all ready.

      PS: I laughed out loud when you actually used the word “breeders.”

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      Whatever word Jack B. used was in the context of a quote, and therefore is usable and NOT offensive. The quote could have contained the word nigger or jew or polack or slanteye. What’s offensive is the casual ease with which “Pops” threw the word around.

      If Jack B. had used a pejorative term to describe his customer, then it would be fair game to criticise.

      My friend Charlie, who was the funniest person I’ve ever known, was also gay, and he would laugh the loudest when people would use politically correct language in his presence, afraid to offend him. Most of his best jokes were of the “faggot” variety. I can honestly say that he would not be offended by Jack’s quote.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      @sfdennis:
      “I thought TTAC was an auto-related site, not an insult site”, well since you see it as such, why do you bother returning?

      “I’m not going anywhere”, and neither are your reactionary statements.

      (Besides, with the way you are lashing-out, I can’t tell if you are serious, or just trolling for trouble.)

  • avatar

    As we are home alone, the no flaming rule is not in effect on this thread. What the hell, in observance of Independence Day, there is no no flame rule all day, for the whole site.

    The prude “bad word filter” may prevent some posts from appearing, I’ll release them if and when I find the time. I’m all alone here in China while you guys celebrate independence.

    In TTAC’s spirit of editorial freedom, Jack Baruth can write whatever he wants. Try stopping him …

  • avatar
    mikey

    In the “blue collar” world,one learns real fast. Never, EVER let on, that anything…. ANYTHING, offends you.
    A good lesson to live life by, IMHO

    Great piece of writing,Jack. Don’t change a word.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      +1 Mikey, and actually not a bad lesson to learn in the white collar world either. A persons use of a word tells you more about them than anything else. If they would use offensive language in front of you just because they assume you’re not a member of that group or feel the way that they do, then you’ve learned much about them.

      BTW I have no problem with any author quoting someone, regardless of what language was used. The wealthy father could have thrown a couple of F-bombs in there too and Jack would have been free to quote him.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      That warning goes double (at least) for the biker world.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Oh my freaking god…It’s a word…Who gives a pinch of monkey $hit!

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Hmm. Good writing pushes past edges. It can offend delicate sensibilities. I hope TTAC continues to publish good writing.

    The quote really captured the dad’s personality . . . and how cars, sex and social status are so closely linked in our culture.

    However, if we’re going to say that it is okay to use homophobic language, then doesn’t that mean it is also okay to use racist language in a quote? It would be interesting to see how the readership responded to a story where an Archie Bunker-like character used the N-word in describing certain types of cars favored in the inner city.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    Yeah, it’s just a frickin’ word…and I’m over it, and I’ll waste no more of my time on this thread trying to educate the mentally challenged as to why ‘faggot’ is not an appropriate word to use on TTAC. In fairness, I look forward to TTAC’s ongoing hilarious series on ni**erwagons, w*tbackmobiles, and k*kesleds…that should be some good reading, can’t hardly wait!

    And on the 4th, when we celebrate our country, it’s great that we have the freedom to engage in dialog and debate related to 1st amendment issues, and at the same time, to call out things that we find offensive…

    Happy 4th, you ‘idiotic breeders’ (no offense!) ;->

    • 0 avatar

      Yet you would have that same 1st Amendment curtailed if it offends you.

      Here’s a hint, Nancy: the freedom of speech is not designed to protect non-offensive speech. It is supposed to protect speech that offends little babies like yourself. No one cares you are gay and drive a pink Aspire.

      Deal.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Umm, You forgot the Camel Jockeys. If we are gonna throw the Jews under the racist bus lets not forget the Muslims!

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Of course maybe there is something deeper here….Are you an Anti Semite!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      k*kesleds

      Actually, the proper term is “Jew canoe”, usually referring to a Cadillac – hat tip to Kinky Friedman.

      Should we asterisk out “pimpmobile”?

      What about “ghetto getters” or “hood cars”? Know what those are? They’re completely illegal cars, no registration, no insurance, no legal plates, maybe stolen, that never leaves the city limits because the drivers know that’s a sure way to get the car confiscated.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      On the dearly departed [H]OCP cars forum (which I know was technically reborn as part of genmay, although it was never the same) there was a decidedly pro-domestic POV from most of the regulars, and a very intolerant view of souped up Asian cars, or, as they were referred to as ‘rice’ or ‘ricers’.

      I remember a discussion taking place about what to call the stereotypical inner-city vehicle, often driven by young black men, which even though it was often from Detroit, tended to have ridiculous 20″+ wheels and subwoofers worth more than the actual car. I think in the end everyone settled on ‘Uncle Ben’s rice’ for those cars.

  • avatar
    european

    lol poor sfdennis1, so angry…

    try the “Electric Daddy” to calm you down a bit…

    :-D

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    As a mentally-challenged person, and according to my wife an emotional cripple, I take no offense at the phrase ‘mentally-challenged’.

  • avatar

    Great story, Baruth! The pink-car thing reminds me of a department head I worked under who had a 1976 Eldorado coupe that had been painted pepto-bismol pink. He was the type of guy who, when I told people who my department head was, they would say “Oh yeah, I know who he is.” or similar words. A few years later, that Eldorado or one painted just like it showed up in the local demolition derby, and you should have heard the cheers when it came onto the field, and especially when it was the first or second car taken out of action.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Unbelievable. Life must be working out pretty well overall for anyone who has the time or inclination to get indignant over the word faggot being used in an anecdotal story on a car enthusiast website. Those of you who criticized Jack over this post have a lot of God damn nerve. How about the next time YOU write the story using words that YOU deem appropriate. And then, assuming anyone even wants to read what you wrote, we’ll all sit around for several days picking apart YOUR story over the usage of one word out of several thousand. Losers.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Nice work Mr. Baruth.You have nothing to apologize for and SFdennis can stick his phony “offense” up his asterisk.

    This is one fag that finds PC BS and narrow minded intolerance to be more offensive than using the word “faggot” in a quote made by some buffoon. No wonder the kid was a drunk still living at home in his 30s.Which was the point of using the quote.

    To all breeders out there: not all of us queers are so intolerant delicate and looking to be offended by the world we live in.You’re off the hook.There’s something in the water in SF that makes people dumb and dumber while feeding their sense of moral and intellectual superiority about the rest of the country.

    I had a gut full of that garbage working in West Hollywood for 26 years.

    Make no mistake, my so called “community” is the most intolerant, ageist, racist, looksist and every other sort of “ist” you can imagine the so called staright world to be times 10.

    Take a high colonic,SFdennis. You’re full of it.

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      Hey Faggot,
      You’re free to have your opinion, just like I’m free to have mine. So, just remember, you don’t speak for all faggots either…and as a member of this online community, I have the right to say if I’m offended by something when I am…freedom of expression and all, ya know.

      Sorry if you have some unresolved issues and anger directed at the LGBT community. Maybe you should get your faggot ass to a faggot-friendly therapist and work that stuff out, and then you could be a happier faggot! Here’s hoping…

      Best Wishes and faggot kisses to you…um, faggot.

      XOXO

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Well, I think I am convinced now that SFdennis is just trolling for trouble.

  • avatar
    Jimmy7

    If Baruth had used asterisks, would it have ruined the story for you? I’m guessing that it wouldn’t. The points would have still been made about the boorishness of the father, and we could have avoided the length of this thread and concentrated on the worthlessness of the Aspire.
    There sure are a lot of folks here getting real excited about the chance to tell someone else to ‘mellow out’ about something that many people find offensive.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    God help me, I’m going to agree with Ronnie.

    One, “Faggot” is no worse than “n1gger”**, and functionally inoffensive when we’re quoting someone. It’s the same reason why “n1gger” isn’t offensive when you’re reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The word, and it’s use in this case, demeans the speaker, not the storyteller, nor us.

    Second, and I say this as someone who’s typing this from a cafe just up from Yonge and Gerrard Sts in the middle of Toronto’s Pride Parade, the word faggot has been solidly reclaimed by the LGBT community in a way that any one of a number of words haven’t been. I’d hazard that the LGBT community has made, by far, the greatest strides in breaking the cycle of victimhood, and a large part of that is because they’ve chosen not to be afraid of words, or to let words have power over them.

    It’s a lesson, I think, that a lot of discriminated-against groups need to learn. For one, that chip on the shoulder makes if very hard to reach for rungs on the ladder.

    For another, it makes the real problem (classism) much harder to address because it’s obscured by the question of race. The problem isn’t that you’re a ______, it’s that you’re poor.

    ** edited because I don’t want to get bagged by the “awaiting moderation” filter.

  • avatar
    Campisi

    Didn’t South Park address this issue already?

    • 0 avatar
      european

      ah yes, they did indeed…

      BRMMM BRMMMMM BRRRRRRRRMMMMMMMMMMMMM

      :-D

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I had the same thought (I assume we are talking about the unicycle like contraption that was operated mainly through the use of artificial phalluses (phalli?)).

      I couldn’t find a clip on youtube, and after a while googling for ‘south park dildo cycle’ and seeing parts of the internet I wish I hadn’t, I started to think maybe I imagined the whole thing.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I believe Campisi is referring to the South Park episode “The F Word” in which the boys call members of a local motorcycle club “fags” for being loud. This leads to the town accusing the boys of being homophobic even though their intent is to disparage the bikers- not slur gay people.

      BTW, the “dildo cycle” appears in South Park Season 5, Episode 511 “The Entity”.

      /Needs to get out more.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    I found this story especially funny because I imagine Dad looking and sounding like Jack Warden as Roy L. Fuchs in the movie Used Cars.

  • avatar
    dotnella

    No self-respecting f*ggot would be caught dead in an Aspire. Well at least not this one.

    The article did make me laugh. I have no problems with the quote. But ladies and gentlemen – it’s not a nice word. Defending the quote is one thing, but don’t defend the language. If you need perspective, go call your wife ‘c*nt’ and check her reaction.

  • avatar
    european

    so ok, lets leave the offtopic beside,

    is it just me or arent you all as well impressed
    that the koreans made a huuuuge leap forward,
    from this POS to the Sonata of today?
    just 15 years. think about it.

    Lesson no1:
    GM in chinese 通用汽车公司
    (thanks to babelfish)

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Would actually like to have been told more about the car itself.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    What a soup opera (or should I say flame war)… I even have the popcorn at hand.

    More entertaining than seeing Chavez insulting half of the country.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    I’d like to thank everybody for reading and commenting on the story.

    The ideas of censorship and self-censorship are a lot bigger than TTAC, and they are played out on much larger stages. We won’t find the answer in a story about a car dealership circa 1995.

    My intent was not to slander gay people. I have many readers, friends, supporters, and fellow racers in the LGBTOMGWTFBBQ-or-whatever-we’re-calling-it-now community. In fact, I would venture to say that one in four male automotive journalists is openly gay, with another one in five or six in-the-closet outside the magic circle of press events. There are a lot of hotel rooms that go empty on these trips because there are two men having sex in another one.

    Words have as much power as you, personally, give them. Putting asterisks in them is only a device to hide them from children who don’t know them.

    As De La Soul once, “This album does not contain explicit lyrics, but the thought is offensive”, or something to that effect. I can’t take the thoughts out of this story, not without simply deciding not to tell it.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    great Story Jack… Keep em coming

  • avatar
    forraymond

    I hope never to see a thread like this again. I also hope never to meet another man like the father in this story (unfortunately, they are quite common down here in Atlanta, the Gay capitol of the South.)

  • avatar
    crc

    Awesome Jack. Awesome.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Great story, Jack. Highly amusing.

    The troll job by sfdennis was also amusing. I doubt he’s truly that clueless about context.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    “I also believed that Kia had made a good car, and it was called the Ford Festiva”.

    That’s hilarious! In a sad kind of way. I forwarded this story to a friend of mine, who had suffered through several dud used cars and at 21, decided to go to the Ford dealership his grandfather worked at years before, and buy a NEW car. Well, with his almost worthless trade in, he could only afford one car. Yes, a Festiva. It was way too small for him, but it was NEW, so he bought it. He hated it, but he suffered through the discomfort, and was happy as it had no issues.

    But it did have a hidden issue, and he and his brother would find out the hard way what that was, it was an unsafe tin box. He and his brother were headed home one night, and a woman in a 1979 Olds Cutlass ran a red light, and hit the Festiva at about 30-35 MPH centered at the junction of the passenger door and front quarter panel. The Cutlass had only minor damage, but the Festiva was pulverized, way past the total wreck stage.

    My friend actually was able to walk, or stagger away from it, with a broken arm and shoulder. He was severely banged up, but his brother was trapped in the car, with life threatening injuries, including (I may have forgotten some some of them)multiple skull and facial fractures, a broken pelvis, right hip, foot bones, right arm, a bunch of ribs, and severely bruised lungs. He nearly died at the scene while being extracted and was in the ICU for almost two weeks with a life threatening infection from his broken ribs that had pierced his intestine in the wreck, and brain swelling from the hit his head took. That was a long time ago, and he doesn’t walk, talk, or even look like he did before the wreck.

    Needless to say, the replacement for the Festiva was a little bigger, a Chevy 1/2 ton pickup! Cars like the Festiva have no real place on the same roads that larger cars are on, they are deathtraps, no other word is more appropriate to use here.

    Great story though. I know a live at home guy in his late 40′s who is currently driving his mom’s old beige Caravan. He had a 2002 Vette, but he had to give it to the loan shark he borrowed money from to take his long time suffering girlfriend on a cruise, after his parents told him to forget about it. When he didn’t pay, even the vig, the collector came calling. Mom and dad had enough and refused to bail him out, so he gave him the only thing he had worth anything, his Vette, an inheritance from his uncle. His dad is vicious with the insults, giving him crap every chance he gets, “When I was 45, I had a grandson, and had my 25th anniversary at work already! You’re lucky to see your 25th day’s anniversary!!” Last job he had was in a bowling alley, running the desk. He quit after two weeks.

  • avatar
    flilguy

    I owned a 1995 Ford Aspire, Iris Metallic was the color. I had 1978 Monte Carlo, I never concluded if my Chevy had 173,000 miles on it or 273,000. I bought the Aspire at an end of the year clearance sale in October 1995. My sister was living with me, and my niece was still just a baby. My sister started working too, we need a reliable car and that it was. My little niece liked that car, she called it a “Barney Car”. People always debated if the car was pink or purple. Even I made jokes about it, I used to say “It’s the little car that makes you look gay.” It was sort of inspired by an SNL skit “It’s the little car made out of clay.” A few years later I bought my dream car a White 1996 Ford T-Bird V8 loaded, I always wanted a new Cougar in high school and this pretty close, so it had a happy ending. The other day ago I had someone ask what the mileage was on the Aspire, I don’t recall. I always thought it was around 32 Hwy, and they said that was too low. That is what brought me here, the story was funny. Something I made payments on, was a rich person’s punishment. Oddly when I traded the Aspire I thought a lady would buy it, instead some really butch, straight guy with a wife and kids, he bought as a work car and he drove it everyday.


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