Carnaval Time At Brazilian Fiat Dealers

carnaval time at brazilian fiat dealers

Got up bright and early this beautiful chilly morning. The sun is out and there are no clouds in the blue autumn sky. (Get used to it. It’s autumn in Brazil.) Reminds me again of some American friends, who say that a trip to Brazil is worth it just to see the sky. Anyway, the plan is to hit the dealer at opening time and check out all the hype surrounding the new Uno. As luck would have it…

My wife is awakened by my moving around. Seeing that I’m going out, she “suggests” I run a few errands. I tell her I can’t, “you see baby, I’m on an official TTAC fact-finding mission”. No luck. She says, “Well, honey, are they paying you? So, you better run the errands.”

So, instead of hitting the dealership at the crack of dawn, I get there around 10am. Well, I thought, the new Uno must be doing well judging by all the cars parked out front. The place must be very full. And interestingly enough, the cars belong to all different sorts of brands. I think, “Conquest sales are in the making”.

I finally find a place to park. Walk into the dealer and the place is packed. I count at least 15 salesmen and women, 5 or 6 beautiful young receptionists, 3 waiters, and 3 desperate monitors trying to entertain maybe 30 or 40 screaming kids. One of the aforementioned receptionists comes up to me and asks what I would like to see today. I mention the Uno. She smiles and slips me a piece of paper with the number 14 written on it. I ask her what’s that and she responds that that’s my place in line and that a salesman will be with me shortly. She shows me to the snack bar and offers me a coffee. I sit back and take it all in.

Lots to see. The salesmen are pitching their wares feverishly. People are walking in and out of the dealer all the time. People are getting into and out of the car. There is actually a line to sit in the star of the show, the new Uno. There’s only one in the showroom. I get into that line and finally get to sit in the car. Worries about the plastics and finishing slowly evaporate. Nothing first rate, but nothing really embarrassing in its price range. Actually, the feel and look of the steering wheel are quite good, same as the feel of the seats. But wow is that door handle ever cheap and ugly. Mostly though, Fiat has done a good job of hiding all the cost-saving measures.

I get out of the car and walk around it. It’s a surprising design. Full of little lines and curves breaking the overall boxy theme. There’s a reason Fiat people are calling this design language the “round square”. I find it youthful and handsome (in a masculine way). Quirky? Not really, it works. As I’m analyzing the looks of the car, the person sitting in it turns the radio on and out of the speakers come the song John Lennon wrote for his son when he was born. How appropriate. “Beautiful, Beautiful Boy”, indeed.

And then, I feel the pangs again. I want this baby. I channel my inner-Steven Lang and fight it. “Your car is fine”, I mumble to myself. “The new Uno will start being discounted in a few months. Let the idiots pay the privilege of getting a spanking brand new car!” Somehow, I calm myself down. There was a moment there I almost pulled out my wallet and shouted, “Yes! I’ll take it!” Close, very close.

After half an hour, it’s my turn to sit with a salesman. I tell him I’m not buying today. Well that’s good he says. Let the craze die down a little. Why I ask. He said he’s sold 6 of them in the first 2 hours of that day. And that they’re promising the clients they’ll have the car in about a month. He confides though that that’ll be the case for those who order a standard edition. For those who order an unusual package it’ll take longer. He said some who put a down payment today will have their car in maybe 3 months.

I ask about a test drive. He rolls his eyes and smiles. “Sure. Sign the waiting list”. I think about my wife and thank him for his time. Enough of waiting and waiting lists for today.

As I walk out of the dealership, I can’t resist and turn my head back to look at that beautiful little car, proudly wearing its highlight yellow pen coat of painting. “Steven Lang”, I say under my breath, “Steven Lang”, I repeat like a mantra, “Steven Lang, Steven Lang”.

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  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Jun 06, 2010

    Oh my goodness. You just gave me the laugh and thrill of the month. To have someone mutter my name 5000+ miles away in tribute to their inner tightwad is just plain awesome. If you ever find your way to Atlanta before I sell a 1992 Volvo 240 that I just got for free... I'll give it to you. Please feel free to spread that mantra use of my name to the wife, friends, dogs, anyone who will listen. I'll even settle for inanimate objects. I can imagine fewer things more beautiful than to have a friend you never met use your name in a good way.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Jun 06, 2010

    Oh my goodness. You just gave me the laugh and thrill of the month. To have someone mutter my name 5000+ miles away in tribute to their inner tightwad is just plain awesome. If you ever find your way to Atlanta before I sell a 1992 Volvo 240 that I just got for free... I'll give it to you. Please feel free to spread that mantra use of my name to the wife, friends, dogs, anyone who will listen. I'll even settle for inanimate objects. I can imagine fewer things more beautiful than to have a friend you never met use your name in a good way.

    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Jun 06, 2010

      So glad you saw my article. When I say you're an inspiration to many, believe it! You changed the way I see cars. And use them. And I'll save a bunch of money because of it. Plus I'll get to enjoy my babies as they age. Priceless. Thanks Steven. And if you find you're way to Brazil, pls do give me a ring. We'll set something up. And thanks for that most generous offer! The price of bringing one of those beauties down to Braziljust doesn't justify the hassle. But I'm touched and honored by your offer. Thanks for (really) making my life better.

  • Garrett They’ve basically screwed Alfa over. Nobody’s going to buy the Tonale. Also, the last Dodge compact vehicle was also a reworked Alfa.
  • Kip65688146 "Everyone is worried about the public stations, but why don't we focus on the low hanging fruit: home charging? "BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.............This guy gets it!I'll add current battery tech means EV's in their current state are not replacements for ICE Cars & trucks but make a good argument as 2rd or 3rd vehicles in mulit-car households which is hardly a niche market.
  • 2ACL Looking forward to the next part. I didn't like the first generation, but the second-generation was on my radar; I like the low-key, yet elegant styling, and the automotive media raved that the road-handling was significantly cleaned up from its nautical predecessor's. I'd still consider one if a replacement event unexpectedly befell my TL, but developments since have made that something of a long shot.
  • Deanst “Switching to EVs will be end of the Dodge brand. Nobody wants EVs.”Tesla, a brand which only sells EVs, is the number 1 luxury vehicle seller in America. But do go on…….
  • Randall Tefft Sundeen Oldsmobile was ALWAYS my favorite GM marque ! I remember as a kid you couldn't walk down the street without tripping on one! In 1977 and 1984 respectively olds sold. Million units, GM's second biggest seller as well as being the test brand for new options (Why take a risk with Cadillac?) The first CLUTCHLESS MANUAL , the first ELECTRIC POWER WINDOWS the first AUTOMATIC not to mention in 1974 the first airbag. Iam fortunate enough to live in a warm climate where old cars are plentiful sadly very few Oldsmobiles. Many features we take for granted were developed by this special brand
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