The Truth About Cars » g20 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:24:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » g20 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Confessions of a Conversion Van Driver http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/confessions-of-a-conversion-van-driver/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/confessions-of-a-conversion-van-driver/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=531793 My name is Vojta and I drive a conversion van. And, yes, I do that in Europe. And no, I have never offered anyone free candy. Actually, no one even expects me to do so, as pedophiles in Europe don’t drive big vans. Or at least people don’t think they do. But still, my daily […]

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My name is Vojta and I drive a conversion van. And, yes, I do that in Europe. And no, I have never offered anyone free candy. Actually, no one even expects me to do so, as pedophiles in Europe don’t drive big vans. Or at least people don’t think they do.

But still, my daily driver is a huge American van with an embarrassingly large six cylinder engine which gulps gas by the gallons instead of liters, and with a suspension designed in early seventies. What in the world has led me to such choice? Especially when I’m living in Europe, land of wonderful, cool and very modern vans, like various Volkswagen Transporters, Ford Transits and other much more sophisticated vehicles?

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First and most obvious reason is the looks. The G20, especially in this dark gray color, looks positively butch compared to any European van. While ours are very clever and practical, with very boxy, yet somehow aerodynamic shapes, the G20 is remniniscent of the past when even commercial vehicles were designed to look pretty, more than to be practical.

The bulbous body, pointy hood, massive grille with two-row headlights, massive chrome bumpers. And in conversion van form, with tall side windows and spare wheel cover in the back, it brings lots of looks on Czech streets. Not as much as fullsize sedan or a pony car, but people definitely notice it. And it’s the good kind of attention. Unless it’s late-model Escalade or Hummer or something, American cars ten to generate positive attention. With an expensive German car, even a fancy van like VW Multivan or MB Vito, people tend to look at you like some rich prick. This? They come at the gas station or parking lots, and ask about the car. Truth is, that 80% of questions is “how much fuel does that thing of yours suck?”, but people react in positive way. And if you like attention, this alone may be worth purchasing a car like this – just being that cool dude with old American van.

Maybe the biggest part of this appeal comes from the Europeans’ romantic ideas of Americana – almost every European man had, at least once, for a little while, dreamed of commanding the huge, shiny Kenworth or Peterbilt across the vast expenses of some American deserts, or through the endless fields of the Midwest. And while driving a semi truck is quite an impractical way of getting around, the conversion van offers at least a glimpse of the experience. Sitting high, with low and wide windshield in front of you, deep, rumbling tone of the engine and reflections in the windows, showing your massive car with lots of orange and red lights, just like American trucks.

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Yes, when I think about it, I can’t escape the feeling that this is pretty stupid reason to own and drive any vehicle, let alone the one you use daily. Bit still, it’s one of the easier and cheaper ways of catering to your inner child.

Second reason for owning a conversion van is the driving comfort. While this may sound crazy to American ears, American vans, even remnants of the past like this G20, are much more comfortable to drive than their European counterparts. How is it possible, with several more decades of development and tradition of making sophisticated vehicles on European side? For the most part, this may come as result of American ignorance to lowly issues of practicality or efficient packaging. While Europeans try to make use of each and every cubic centimeter, the US engineers are happy to forfeit several cubic feet under the floor just to have it nice and flat. While the elevated floor reduced the usable cargo space, moved the center of gravity significantly higher and generally made the Chevy Van much worse van than a Transit or Traffic, or similar European van, it also made it, quite surprisingly, much more “car-like” to drive.

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That’s not to say that the Chevy Van drives like a car – it doesn’t, and between it’s primitive suspension, short wheelbase and high body, it is, in fact, quite a terrible handler. But with the floor raised above the driveshaft, you sit like in a car, or an SUV. The seating position is right, the steering wheel is where it should be, and angled like it should be. The dash is in front of you. If you compare it to some European van, where you sit like in a truck, with your feet down below, steering wheel flat like in a bus, and dash somewhere under it, the Chevy suddenly feels strangely relaxing.

And then there’s the engine. Even the 4.3 V6 in this example is a power monster compared to contemporary European vans, and its massive torque low down makes for especially effortless performance. Of course, I we were to compare it to the current crop of the Eurovans, it would be whole another story – many modern turbodiesel engines would walk all over the tired old six cylinder. But then again, to make that comparison fair, we would have to use a modern iteration of Chevy Van – which would be equipped with 5.3 or 6.0 Vortec V8, offering performance reserved only to sports cars in Europe.

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The whole experience of driving an American fullsize van, be it Econoline, G20 or Express, or even a smaller one, like Astro, is much more akin to driving a large SUV. While in European ones, you are always aware of the commercial roots of the vehicle, the American van feels much more like a big SUV – you don’t feel like delivery truck driver, but more like a commander of some strange behemoth from other world. Because on European roads, American vans really ARE behemoths.

Which brings me to the last difference, but a very important one. The width. The European vans, designed for European roads and city streets, tend to be quite narrow – even the real big ones, like Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. This has little effect on actual space inside, but has a great effect on feeling of space. In the G20, with your passenger sitting somewhere far to the right, and captain chairs allowing you to walk freely from the front of the vehicle to the back, you feel like you’re sitting in spacious room, not confined in some tin can of a car. This is also augmented by a strange effect of isolation from other road users, brought by the raised floor.

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It’s these things what makes the conversion vans one of the most comfortable vehicles ever made for long road trips. And even more so in case of better equipped ones, like this Vandura a group of my friends imported from USA recently. With the plush leather seating, lots of lights, TVs, tables and ashtrays everywhere, and loads of wood, it just feels like a true road yacht – and much more literally so than is the case of large sedans.

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This charm, together with relatively low prices compared to the European offering like posh Mercedes-Benzes or VW Multivans, is probably the reason why conversion vans count among the most popular American cars in Europe – if we exclude the common stuff officially imported here, like various minivans, big Chryslers and occasional pony cars, the conversion vans count among most often seen “true American” machines on the old continent.

For me, the conversion van represents fantastic combination of a “hobby” car and practical vehicle. It looks cool, it is unique to drive and I can go to US car meets and cruises with it, but it also holds seven people, transports furniture and you can even sleep or party in it. Yeah, the fuel economy is terrible for European standards – maybe 12 l/100 km (19mpg) outside the town, and 15-17 liters (14-16 mpg)in city traffic. But this is at least partially offset by the fact it’s cheap, and virtually unbreakable.

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And ever since I started driving this thing around, I tend to look at other cars and think – how could I live with a car that serves only as a car, and not as a mobile home or a cargo truck?

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Avoidable Contact: Infinity Jest. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/avoidable-contact-infinity-jest/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/avoidable-contact-infinity-jest/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474521 I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior […]

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I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior lights. To open the throttle on the Bose-by-Nissan stereo. To feel the perfect response from the small sedan’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, to catch a slide as the four-wheel-steering kicks in at the most bizarre time during an irresponsible freeway maneuver. To pose Yakuza-style in the baddest sedan on the block, B-pillars swimming barely seen beneath the glass. To feel the 276-horsepower, quad-cam V-8 punch you back into the impeccably tasteful interior.

Then, and only then, if you can dream with me, if you can believe what I believe, then you might be able to look through the stupid Q-names and the dumb-assed rocks-and-trees marketing and the aftermarket Skyline badges and the unfocused-looking Pathfinder rebadge and the Jersey shore types crowding each owner’s meet and just hold this idea in your head:

Infiniti didn’t always suck.

Because it is part of my job to know, I will eventually put away my disgust long enough to internalize the ridiculous new naming convention employed by the not-really-autonomous luxury arm of Nissan. What I know offhand is this: the G37 successor will be called the Q50. This arrant stupidity is roughly equivalent to Rolls-Royce introducing a new small car and calling it the Phantom Eight. Or calling the new Acura ILX the Legend Plus Five. Or calling the swoopy 2014 Lexus IS the Lexus LS510hL. I could go on, and I encourage you to do so when you are wasting time with your work buddies at lunch (“Hey! I’ve got one! The new Mercedes CLA coulda been the S650!”) but you get the idea. The just-unveiled Infiniti Q-ship system has the previously unknown-to-science ability to make the utter marketing dolts at Lincoln and Cadillac look like geniuses just for not calling the MKZ and ATS the Continental Mark XIV and Fleetwood Talisman Brougham Eldorado, respectively.

The G37 becomes the Q50. The G37 coupe becomes the Q60, and why shouldn’t it? The M37 and M56 both become the Q80, which sounds like a plastic-bodied camera they sell people in the “pro-sumer” department of Best Buy. Meanwhile, the trucks all take a nomenclature cue from the QX56, a vehicle so unspeakably crass it depresses the space-time curve around it for kilometers and causes cordovan Alden penny loafers to spontaneously evolve into Chinese-sewn Kenneth Cole white-trash square-toe monstrosities as all notions of human decency are shattered beyond hope or recognition in its lumbering, cetacean wake.

In other words, they’ve named the trucks after the worst product they’ve ever made, and named the cars after a product they haven’t made since… don’t you say 2005. Don’t you dare fucking say two thousand and five. I’m watching you. Don’t open your mouth. I’m serious. According to my son, I am big and tough. He’s only three years old, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s wrong. Be careful.

The Infiniti Q45, in its majesty and glory, died in 1996. Dead. Dead as Caesar. Except, of course, in Japan, where it lived a happy and fruitful life until after the whole Y2K thing had settled down and the Japanese people no longer needed the shining light of excellence the Q45 undoubtedly provided in those dark, fearful times.

Oh, that original Q45. It appeared seemingly out of nowhere, heralded not by John the Baptist but by a series of bizarre and deliberately opaque advertisements where the car wasn’t shown at all. Arty. Interesting. Classy. Meanwhile, Lexus was carpet-bombing the media with endless images of its S-Class-by-Nikon, each and every one of them with the humiliating italicized “$35,000″ featured front and center. The Lexus LS400! It’s a CHEAP JAPANESE S-CLASS RIPOFF! DID YOU GET THAT MEMO! CHEAP! JAPANESE! S-CLASS! CHEAP! Ugh, it was slimy, and they had the nerve to have a fake British accent in the TV ads, too. It was beneath contempt.

The LS400, too, was beneath contempt. In retrospect, we know it to have been a fabulous feat of loss-leader engineering, but at the time it looked like the equivalent of JC Penney’s “Hunt Club” polo shirts. Yeah, it was cheap, yeah it probably lasted longer, but who’d be seen in such an obvious copy? $35,000! CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP FAKE BRITISH ACCENT!

Enter the Q45. We, the cognoscenti, nodded approvingly. The LS400 had a fake Mercedes grille? The Q45 had no grille. The LS400 had a fake Mercedes interior by way of a Corolla? The Q45 had center-seam seats, a dashboard sweep that predicted the current Audi mode fifteen years in advance and not a bit of wood, fake or otherwise, to be seen. The LS400 had a nifty four-liter, 250-hp V-8 that made it as fast as the BMW 735? The Q45 had a bigger, stronger, more majestic V-8 that bitch-slapped the Germans back to the drawing board, where they would eventually make Nikasil V-8s and embitter an entire generation of victims, er, owners, but that’s another story.

Everything about the LS400 was fake. Everything about the Q45 was real. Plus it was bitchin’ fast. Also available at the dealership was an authentic Nissan Leopard JDM coo-pay, pressed into service as the M30. It was slick and futuristic and it sure as hell wasn’t a Camry. Since nobody had a functioning crystal ball at the time, this wasn’t seen as the source of the brand’s descent into sales-report hell and perennial second-tier status. It was considered to be a source of pride.

Just to pound the point home — just to put the final nails into the coffin of that stupid experiment in middle-class buffoonery over at Toyopets Ltd — the G20 arrived shortly after and OMG IT WAS A PRIMERA AND STUFF. Tasteful to a fault. Handling to die for. Not a centimeter larger than it needed to be. Infiniti. By. A. Knock. Out!

Your humble author, having been forced to pull the eject handle on a rather promising postgraduate collegiate career by a combination of bad temper, worse judgment, and incandescent youthful arrogance, arrived for My First Real Job with Infiniti of Columbus in the spring of 1994. The M30 had bowed out and been replaced by the J30, which was the combination of a Jaguar and a 300ZX and in many ways was the most satisfying sedan money could buy. The Q45 had been lightly refreshed with a grille and some wood but just when you thought the soul was gone, they hit back with the (partially) active-suspension Q45a, a genuine Japanese technical masterpiece and still monstrously quick in a straight line. I couldn’t wait to sell them. The whole lineup kicked ass. Heck, my own father had abandoned the Germans to pick up not one, but two J30 sedans.

Six months later, I was out on the street again without a penny in my pocket but with a considerably greater understanding of how the luxury-market battle in the country was actually going. The G20 wasn’t appreciated by customers; they drove the ES300 back-to-back with it and found the four-cylinder G to be slow, noisy, cramped, and Sentra-esque. The J30 was too expensive and only moved as a $399 magic lease.

The Q45 — that gorgeous, machined-billet, time-shifting, four-cam masterpiece — was showroom poison. Nobody wanted one. It cost more than the Lexus LS and, as I would hear time and time again from thirty-four-year-old second wives distractedly evaluating the metal while hanging succubus-like from the leather-tanned arms of their Boomer boys, it “looked weird”. Only six years into Infiniti’s existence, the flagship was forced to lower its flag and retreat back to the homeland.

In its place, my successor salesmen were burdened with… a Nissan Cima. So check this out: In Japan, the Q45 was simply the current generation of the Nissan President. The President, as you might guess from the name, was the best sedan Nissan offered. The Cima was the car beneath it. By replacing the President in the United States with the Cima, Nissan pulled…

well, you know what they pulled…

That’s right. The 1997 Infiniti Q45: Nissan’s Bonneville Model G. Hell, it even looked like one. Actually, it was worse than that, because while the “Model G” legitimately rode on the GM G-platform, the new “Q45″ had a 4.1-liter engine. The Cima-Q45 was derided as a “Japanese Buick” by the color rags. I don’t even want to talk about it any more. The Q45 was “rebooted” as a super-Cima with an actual 4.5-liter engine in 2002, but the market had long since stopped caring about the idea of a full-size Infiniti and when it disappeared nobody realized it was gone, no doubt because unsold ones were still cluttering dealer lots.

That’s not quite the entire story of the Infiniti “Q”. There was a rebadged Nissan Pathfinder, called “QX4″. It was typical Nissan monkey-see business: when Lexus rebranded their well-respected Land Cruiser as the “LX”, Nissan felt compelled to trot out the miserable unibody Pathy to “compete”. I wish I could make the quotes around “compete” bigger back there. Just imagine I’m wiggling my fingers at you when you read it again. “Compete”. The QX4 was such a non-success the “QX” badge was then slapped on a horrifying variant of the despicable Titan Pathfinder Armada Brake-Chewer Deathsled, (note: not actual vehicle name, but more of a nickname, really) said vehicle being recently deposed by the current QX56, soon to be QX6000SUX or something like that, which combines the depressing aspect of Dickens books with the side aspect of Moby Dick.

Infiniti has had precisely one successful product of any note since the mid-Nineties: the G35 sedan and its successors. They are increasingly Baroque-looking 3-Series competitors which, in the right configuration, can be pleasant to drive. To its credit, Infiniti offers a six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive, sport-suspended G37 sedan and coupe. I’d tell you to check them out, but the dealers prefer to stock AWD automatics, so just forget about it.

Still, the G37 has some genuine brand cachet. Unfortunately, to a lot of people the G37 is a car driven by people who can’t afford a BMW and who also use a lot of hair gel. So that’s bad. Still, it cannot be denied that the Infiniti G-something is a well-known item with an established fanbase and name recognition even among people who don’t like or understand cars.

No longer. The G37 is now the Q50. The inoffensive and somewhat popular EX and FX are going be tarred with the QX brush. This time, we don’t need a crystal ball to know what will happen. Sales will slump. A buying public which still spells the brand name “Infinity” after twenty-three years in the market won’t bother to learn the Q-uestionable new designations. Resale value will approach nil as used-market buyers try to understand why a Q80 costs so much more than a Q60. The long-suffering dealers, who went though a lot of trouble buying shoji screens in 1990 so they could do whatever was supposed to be done with the shoji screen besides conceal young salespeople taking a nap on the expensive mandatory leather showroom couches, will suffer some more.

A new plan will debut in… oh, let’s be generous and give it four years. In the meantime, plenty of people will offer opinions as to what should be done, what should have been done, and so on. I’d like to offer some hugely nostalgic and product-centric plan for Infiniti, the way I did for Lincoln a month or so ago. Build an all-new Q45, deserving of the name, and as far ahead of the Germans now as the original one was in 1990! A snub-nosed supersedan with an all-conquering powertrain and a timber-free interior! Just build the great car and watch the greatness return!

In this case, I won’t even bother. You see, people used to care about Lincoln. To some degree, they still do. But nobody ever cared about Infiniti. The G37 would be more popular with a Nissan Skyline badge. The rest of the stuff would be more popular in a landfill. This is what you do. Close the dealers, repurpose the factories, give it up. You’ll never beat Lexus at the game of being Lexus, and you’ll never beat BMW at the game of copiously defecating all over BMW’s legacy while simultaneously blowing 100,000-plus lease-deal angel-eye crapwagons out the door. Admit defeat and walk away.

Before you turn out the lights, however, I want a few minutes alone with an original 1990 Q45. Triple black, if you can manage it. If you have one in the archives. I want to open the door with that gorgeous big chrome pull-handle that looked so perfect but froze solid in the winters. I want to sit in the tailored interior that didn’t have wood or a Nakamichi logo screen-printed in tacky-ass gold letters on the console. I want to hear the big V-8 roar. I want a few minutes to show my respect to the product. We always say “May the best man win,” and when we say that, we acknowledge that plenty of times, the best man doesn’t win, he falls, he fails, he fades from history.

Good-bye, Infiniti Q45. You didn’t suck.

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Capsule Review: 1994 Infiniti G20 and The Nervous Professor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/capsule-review-1994-infiniti-g20-and-the-nervous-professor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/capsule-review-1994-infiniti-g20-and-the-nervous-professor/#comments Tue, 05 Oct 2010 14:15:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367492 Whenever somebody asked me what I did for a living during the summer of 1994, I would tell them “I sell Infinitis”. That was a lie. My actual job was to lease the Infiniti J30 at $399/month to second-tier suburban wanna-bes and a wide variety of credit criminals. That was what paid for our owner’s […]

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Whenever somebody asked me what I did for a living during the summer of 1994, I would tell them “I sell Infinitis”. That was a lie. My actual job was to lease the Infiniti J30 at $399/month to second-tier suburban wanna-bes and a wide variety of credit criminals. That was what paid for our owner’s impressive coke habit, and that was what earned me as much as three thousand dollars per month.

In the interest of strict factual accuracy, I should point out that we did, nominally, sell two other models. The 1994 Q45 was an overpriced brick with a Park Avenue-style facelift. Over the course of six months, we sold two of them, one to a former salesman who was simply in the habit of driving that particular car as a demo, and one to somebody who owned a 1990 example and was only vaguely horrified at the “updates” performed that year. Looking back, I think he used to snort coke with the dealership’s owner. It would explain a lot.

The other unwanted Infiniti, the G20, was the very definition of “showroom poison”. Everybody thought it was a jerked-off version of the Sentra. This was highly ironic, because the car which was murdering it in the segment was a jerked-off version of a Camry. Allow me to recapitulate for you the typical conversation I would have with someone unfortunate enough to be my “up” for the afternoon:

JACK: This is the G20. The European version of this car is commonly regarded as the best-handling FWD car in the world.

RUBE: You mean the Sentra?

JACK: Sir, this car shares nothing with the Sentra except the award-winning two-liter powerhouse nestled snugly beneath the bonnet. It was designed by a team of European Nissan engineers.

RUBE: So it’s basically a Sentra. And I don’t want to pay $25,500 for a Sentra. Hell, you can buy a Lexus for $25,000.

JACK: Sir, that car is nothing but a Toyota Camry with an aesthetically offensive, lopsided psuedo-badge conceived in a focus session to appeal to easily-impressed people whose parents, no doubt, attended community colleges.

RUBE: That’s a damn lie. Don’t look anything like a Camry. You must think I’m a fool, to buy this Sentra.

JACK: Sir, I do not normally mention this to any but the most elite members of the Dublin auto-connoisseur community, but we have a limited program for this particular automobile in which you can avail yourself of the many privileges of Infiniti ownership, from our bamboo-lined showroom facilities to the complimentary loaner-car program which covers the statistically nonexistent times during which your motorcar could potentially find itself in need of the most minor service imaginable, for the negligible sum of $249 each month.

RUBE: New Sentras lease for $149 at the Nissan place.

Can you believe it? The people at Nissan North America had managed to figure out a way for us to lease these sleds, stickering at $25,500 or more, for just $249 a month, 36/36,000, less than a G out of pocket, and we still couldn’t sell ‘em.

The sad part was that the Infiniti G20, particularly in “G20t” five-speed trim, was just a flat-out wonderful car to drive. It was fast enough, it handled beautifully, it was built with painstaking attention to detail, and it never, ever, ever broke. My brother received one for his 18th birthday, drove it for 40,000 miles around the jazz clubs of the Midwest without changing the brake fluid, tires, or engine oil, and never had a single problem. I wish I had the chance to buy a new one now, instead of that obscene-looking G37 thing with its truck engine and “Jersey Shore” cast of reprehensible owners.

You get the idea. People hated the car and you couldn’t even give them away. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a slight, meek-looking, distinctly professorial fellow examining our rather meager G20 inventory one Saturday morning. I nearly broke my ankle getting out to the fellow.

“Sir,” I said, “this is our G20, a European-designed…”

“Yes,” he replied, “it’s a Primera. I taught overseas and drove one as a company car.” We shook hands and I was impressed at the way his dislike of touching other people nearly matched mine. He didn’t even want to hear the lease pitch; the university credit union would be happy to cut us a check for, shall we say, sticker price less a $500 discount?

There was one slight issue. We had the plain five-speed car in green (the car that would later on find itself being whipped along by my ungrateful brother, as a matter of fact) and a G20t “touring model” in black. He wanted the touring model in green. Not a problem; our sister dealership, down in Louisville, had the green one in stock. He signed a purchase order and I sent him home for the night in our black G20t. He asked me one question as he prepared to go home:

“How many miles do you suppose it will have on it?” Most of the cars on our lot had a few hundred miles on them from our spectacularly unsuccessful “24-hour-test-drive” program. I figured that, given my luck, the Louisville car would have every bit of 200 miles plus the long drive to Cowtown.

“It’s a long drive, but we use skilled professionals who follow strict break-in procedures. There is a possibility the car could have…” I thought about this for a moment. “…three hundred and fifty miles.” The professor’s face fell. “Not to worry,” I cheerily stated, “it will be in perfect condition.”

When the “skilled professional” arrived approximately two hours late the next day, unwashed, stinking to high heaven, and clutching a very suspicious-looking satchel which almost certainly contained hard liquor, I immediately grabbed the best of the lot attendants, a Chris Tucker lookalike named Chauncey, and slipped him twenty bucks to take care of the car, pronto. Chauncey got in the car and said,

“Baruth, you ain’t gonna believe this, this motherf***er got nine hundred and eighty-one miles on it!” Christ above! Nearly a thousand miles! On a brand-new car! With our lease customers we could simply swallow the mileage charge on the front end, in this case eighteen cents a mile, and allow them the full 36,000. But this was a purchase! I saw the professor pulling up and courteously parking his loaner in the line of lonely G20s at the back of the dealership lot. I ran in to tell our assistant sales manager the problem.

This assistant sales manager was a pixie-ish, insanely attractive woman in her mid-thirties who could manipulate middle-aged men without the slightest effort. This was a bad situation, but I felt good that she could work it out. I met the professor at the door and walked him in, explaining that his car was in “the final stages of detailing”. If you consider “removing distinct aroma of human feces by using WD-40 sprayed through a 36″ industrial fan and across the passenger compartment with all four doors splayed open” one of the “final stages” of any solid detailing job, this statement was true.

His first question was the one I did not want to answer. “How many miles did the car have?” For once in my life, my composure utterly failed me. I simply walked him into Miss Thing’s office, assured that she would know just what to say.

“Professor,” she purred, “your car is here. It’s not a problem, but your vehicle has more mileage than we expected, and we will compensate you for the inconvenience.”

“How many?” It was a direct question from a very restrained man.

“Approximately nine hundred. Now, you see…”

“HOW COULD THAT HAVE HAPPENED?”

“Well, as you know, you enjoyed our loaner vehicle last night, and it is likely that someone else enjoyed the car, perhaps a few people…” Oh my God, she is somehow equating the car to a woman that somebody else has gang-raped. I exited the room so as to not have to watch this particular sausage being made.

There were accusations; there were recriminations; I believe there were even tears, but in the end we sold this ragged-out hooptie, complete with a 4-inch scrape on the left rear quarter-panel and rash on the nearby alloy wheel, for invoice price minus all rebates, holdback, and incentives. As I recall, the final price was somewhere in the neighborhood of $19,500.

Our professor ended up being so satisfied with his deal that he told his neighbors. They came in two weeks later: quiet, unassuming, professorial as well. “We want to see the car Raymond bought for $19,500,” they said.

“Well,” I replied, pointing at the gleaming G20t on the showroom floor, “that was a very special deal, but it was similar to…”

“That looks like a Sentra,” the wife said.

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