QOTD: What Was Your First Showroom Vision?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd what was your first showroom vision

There’s not a soul in here who doesn’t, from time to time, go and make a nuisance of themselves in a dealer showroom. I’m not talking about wasting the time of the sales staff, or even helping themselves to copious amounts of free coffee during scheduled maintenance. No, I’m talking about simply wandering through the showroom, looking at all the metal merchandise.

Today, it’s easy. Drive or hoof it down to the brand of choice, examine whatever’s caught our fancy at this minute, and hightail it back out again once the Dealer Principal starts giving you the evil eye. It wasn’t that simple as a kid though, whether it was thanks to being chased out by surly managers or simply living far enough away that one depended on the parental unit to drive them there.

Which brings us to today’s question: what was the first car you remember seeing in a showroom? Given the photo above, one shouldn’t have too much trouble guessing my answer.

Tom Woodford Limited operated out of a unique two-story building located smack dab in the middle of a parking lot for the area’s largest shopping mall. Hawking Chrysler products, the parts and service departments were on the ground floor, along with the main entrance. A wide, winding staircase led customers up to the second floor showroom.

Traipsing up those stairs at the ripe old age of 10, I vividly remember laying eyes on a 1990 Eagle Talon TSi. Having to ascend steps to the showroom assured kind of a slow reveal, with these car-obsessed eyes seeing the black Talon gradually appear into view with each riser climbed.

Turbocharger feeding eleven pounds of boost. All-wheel drive. Just under two hundred horsepower. I had the specs memorized after reading Car & Driver‘s Ten Best article upteen times. This is not something a gearhead forgets.

We asked a version of this question back in 2016, to which my answer was this same car. This time, we’re not interested in the car that hooked you into being a gearhead … but rather the first car you remember seeing in a showroom. Was it a sport compact? Some sort of Detroit barge? A bruising truck? Surely you’ve all a story for our comment section.

But not before one more picture.

[Images: Chrysler Corp.]

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  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Sep 18, 2018

    My first car I remember really sitting in and enjoying the experience was when my Dad was shopping for a new truck in 1987-1988. The 1978 Toyota was rusting before our eyes (with only 80k on the clock). My folks had bought mostly used cars (though always from dealers) to that point, the exception our 84 Ford conversion van. We were at Babe Charapp Ford in Mckeesport PA, where 10 year old me sat in a 87 or 88 Mustang GT convertible. Dark blue, white leather, it is a car I currently would love to own before they all are either destroyed or are priced to the stratosphere by Mecum,etc. Decent cars are already 10-15k, exceptional ones are insane. I've found some drivers for 8-9k. Preferred to be stock or largely so, GT or LX V8 any color really besides red ext/ white int. or white/red, but I really want that one I saw in the showroom 30 years ago. I would like a stick, but having an automatic car might be the way to go for the future. Not only for resale purposes, but for my own sake in case I can't push a clutch anymore. Might be the only way I sell the wife on the deal too, since my Golf is a stick. (Dad ended up with an extended cab Ranger XLT 2wd and not from that dealer. Dark brown/light beige two-tone and the ralleye (rally?) wheels, it was a handsome truck when new. 5 speed, 2.9 V6, crank windows and no A/C. Never did figure that one out, he always maintained that it was because he worked nights and didn't really need A/C. I loved that truck, once I figured out how to drive it.)

  • Willyam Willyam on Sep 18, 2018

    What was it about 1987 that we all ventured into showrooms and remembered it? Malaise beginning to end? Mine was a Pontiac-Buick establishment, and in my town it was still DOWNtown, in a brick building on the main drag built in the twenties for just that purpose. I was 16 (I know, right? Late bloomer?) but was only into 60's Muscle, and my fathers' Century was in for yet another attempt to glue its parts together. I sauntered about the very small tile and brick and glass showroom and sat in a new Grand Am coupe. Yes, Quad 4 auto, grey/grey, but darned sharp little thing. I didn't want to like it. I fired up the radio and it began to thump along to Touch of Grey (the Grateful Dead's commercial return, which 30 years later I still think of as new and not really Dead music). Great song helped by the silent showroom, and it sounded better than it had a right to. My girlfriend the next year would be given THIS very car, and I would stand in the driveway with her dad attempting to figure out where the spark plugs had gone. She would complain that it was a Pontiac and not a Honda Prelude, as oil-company debutants of the time were want to do. Their graduation presents must look just so in front of the sorority house next year, after all. Small town politics and all meant our families all bought from the dealer they literally had a house next to, and not the upstart weird Honda franchise. Therefore, no matter how bad they got, we all grew up in Buicks, Ponchos, and Fords. Also, most of our grandfathers from that area had been shipped to the Pacific during the war, so there was also that. Honda would establish itself, and the Ford dealer would also buy a Toyota franchise, but for now a few more of us would get the experience of an ancient brick corner lot where the service bay was in the alley, and the pretty new sport coupes would sit in the window.