By on September 17, 2018

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.

1990 Eagle Talon

[Images: Chrysler Corp.]

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65 Comments on “QOTD: What Was Your First Showroom Vision?...”

  • avatar
    Chris Tonn

    As my dad so frequently bought and sold cars – and occasionally worked in dealerships between more regular gigs – I don’t have a specific instance of the “first.” I’m sure I spent time ogling plenty of machinery and inhaling Armor All much earlier than this…

    ..but I was at a local dealer “reveal” of the 1988 Nissan 300ZX Shiro Special, I’m guessing sometime in 1987. I would have been eight.

    I was in awe of the pearlescent splendor.

  • avatar

    Late 1960, Hauter Ford in Montrose, Ca. What was to be mom’s new T-Bird was on the showroom. ’61 Coupe, Light Beige with matching interior. I was six yrs. old.

  • avatar

    My parents were Chrysler folk, and replaced one piece of crap Dodge product with another for the years between 1988 and 2006.

    I think when I was about 8, I had a pretty new brother and the family pretty much needed a minivan. Off we went to the local Jeep-Eagle-Plymouth-Chrysler-Dodge-DeSoto dealership, where I spied a Viper for the first time.

    Blue, white stripes. It was everything.

  • avatar

    First I remember was when my parents got a red ’95 Chevy Blazer to replace my dad’s Olds 88 as his company car. I was 5. I remember being with them to pick up the car from the dealer, I don’t remember test driving any other cars so I assume I was probably home with my mom while my dad narrowed down his preference.

    First time I remember being out for test drives and stuff was a few years later when my parents were looking at replacing my mom’s car. First one there was an Isuzu Trooper.

  • avatar

    My father was friends with the owner of the local Chrysler dealer, so naturally, we had all Chrysler products growing up and spent time at that dealer. There isn’t one specific car I remember since we would frequent it a lot, but a few remain in my memory.

    First was the brand new 300M Special. Idk why, but when I was way younger, I thought it was a cool car. I suppose it still is, but it was really nothing crazy.

    The second was the SRT Ram. What a silly vehicle! They hosted a car show one day and I remember someone doing a huge burnout down the parking lot. Hell yeah brother.

    Finally, I remember going to the launch party of the 300C. What a cool ride at the time, rwd, hemi, sinister looks. I begged my father to buy one, but it just wasn’t possible at the time.

  • avatar

    Dad shopped for cars frequently when I was a kid, and loved taking me along. His preferred marque back then was Cadillac, and I faintly remember some details of them (in particular, I remember how they smelled, and I thought having the windshield wiper controls attached to the driver’s door was just too cool).

    But there’s one I remember being quite taken with when I saw it on the showroom floor at the ripe old age of eight, and it’s this bad boy, right down to the “special edition” trim:—1972-Ford-Mustang-Sprint/3725721.html

    I still have a soft spot for these fastback Mustangs today.

  • avatar

    As a child I was absolutely in love with the Plymouth Prowler (with the Viper and Range Rover running silver and bronze).

    I had Prowler posters, toys, and folders. My father owned some ChryslerCo stock and he gave me a copy of their 1996(?) annual report becuase it had a Prowler on the cover. I even wrote a letter to ChryslerCo (with a stamp and everything) about my enthusiasm for the car and they were kind enough to respond by sending me a brochure, a short note, and some other Prowler swag (some of which I still have).

    Anyway, when the car debuted, the local dealer had one in their showroom and my wonderful parents made a special trip over there just so I could see it. I remember being very nervous walking up to it because it was behind velvet ropes and had a $70K over MSRP markup and was basically my hero at the time. I just stood at the ropes and stared at it in silent awe, but then one of the dealer employees came over and told me I could go behind the ropes and even let me sit in the driver’s seat. That was a very nice thing to do and I hope many good things happened for him through the years.

    And then the first new car I bought as an adult was a Mopar, so profit I guess?

  • avatar

    I grew up in Dubai, the first new car we ever bought as a family was a 1986 Saab 900 (5 door hatch, 2.0 8 valve, manual, black exterior, tan cloth interior), so my first car dealership memory was that of Saab.

    Since then, I have had an unhealthy love of 1980’s (& early 1990’s) Saabs, particularly 900 & 9000 Turbo 16’s/Aero’s/Viggens etc. The newer stuff (GM and beyond), not so much!

  • avatar

    My father had bought Fords up until 1979 when he had enough of them. I had never gone with him for any of these purchases until he decided his next car was going to be a Datsun. He bought a 1979 Datsun 510 – two-tone – silver over gray and the car had cloth/velour seats.
    But that wasn’t what caught my eye. In the showroom was a yellow Z – not sure if it was a 280Z or 280ZX – but man was that thing beautiful. As my father did all the paperwork – I walked over to the Z and sat in it. I’ve been smitten by them ever since.

  • avatar

    1961 Ford and 1961 Chevrolet at the local dealers in Augusta, GA in early 1961. My Dad had been temporarily transferred to Augusta from Memphis with his job. Money was tight and my parents needed to replace our old 1951 Chevrolet. My dad could not afford a Galaxie or an Impala so he shopped the Fairlane and Bel Air models. I remember sitting in the office at the Ford dealer while the salesman ran through his list of Fairlanes on the lot. I also remember a test drive in a 61 Bel Air 4 door sedan.

    A new car was not possible however so we kept the 51 Chevy for about 6 more months, making a couple of trips to and from Memphis. Finally my dad bought a used 59 Ford Fairlane to replace the old Chevy.

    Things improved financially for our family and a few years later Mom and Dad ordered a brand new 1964 Impala. I remember how excited I was to go and pick it up at the dealer.

  • avatar

    Earliest memory of a dealership is my dad picking up a 5 door Ford Sierra (the sports version of which is aka Merkur XR4Ti).

    Earliest memory of being impressed by a car in a dealership was a 3000GT sitting in a Mitsubishi dealer when he was picking up parts for a van.

    I do recall the old Ulster Motor Show having the Dodge Viper when it was first released, what a sight to behold!

  • avatar

    Well, I was only six, so I don’t remember specific cars, but I remember visiting a couple of different Rambler dealers in Dallas, in 1966 (John M. Clark, on Ross Avenue, near downtown), and Roundup, on South Buckner, in the Pleasant Grove section). My parents ended up buying our ’66 American 440 4-door (Frost White with blue interior, 232 2-bbl, automatic, a/c, and pushbutton AM radio) from Roundup Rambler. I still have a few business cards from Roundup Rambler, and some of the sales paperwork. Actually, I wish I still had the Rambler.

  • avatar

    I don’t remember. But Eagle was nearest dealer by my house and when I walked by I’ve seen plenty of those, walked around them, etc.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I guess I was 11 or 12 and went with my old man to pick up his new Dodge Van. While he was in with the paperwork I sat in the Dodge Rader on the show room floor and hammered through the 5 speed for who knows how long. I remember the new car smell and thinking that **IF ONLY** I could some day get a Rader for my self.

    Fortunately or un depending, dad also bought a Colt Vista around the same time and that cured me of ever wanting a Mitsubishi powered product. My Sunday school teaching mom managed to grenade it.

  • avatar

    It’s funny you should ask that. I was thinking about all the vehicles that “spoke” to me. Nothing stopped me in my tracks like the Gen-1 Ford Bronco. I swear it was like it was saying “I was made for you”. But like then, I still can’t afford one – or to restore one.

  • avatar

    In our family, car buying was not a family occasion — we were flabbergasted with what Dad brought home on more than one occasion.

    But being a VW Bug nerd in the early ’80s meant gravitating to VW dealers, who in Germany still had new ones (hecho en Mexico) until ’85. The first that left a strong impression on me was the ’81 Silver Bug (the 20 million Bugs celebration model), and the first I tried to persuade Dad to buy was the ’82 Jeans Bug. (Given their rustproofing, it probably would have needed welding before I first would have been able to drive it in ’88. ;-)

    I also have memories of spending an open door day at the local Renault dealer mostly in the cabs of the light trucks and vans on display. Seeing that now I’m a truck driver, that obviously left an impression too.

  • avatar

    As there was a Ford dealership nearest our home, I suppose it had to be a brand new Thunderbird sitting on the showroom floor when dad was looking to replace our old, tired, rusted-out gray 1950 Plymouth.

    Unfortunately, we wound up at a Chrysler dealer also near us, and he bought a 1953 gray Dodge – equally as beat up as the car he traded in!

    This had to be around 1961. I was 10.

    Memories of that snazzy T-Bird linger…

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    My small western Iowa hometown (population 3000) had both a Chevrolet and a Ford dealership so I’m sure it was inside one of those showrooms where I saw my first new car. It was probably an F150 work truck, or maybe a 1982 Corvette; however, the experience that really stands out to me came when I was much older.

    My family had an extremely rough time financially throughout the ’80s, but as 1990 approached my father had landed a steady and rather lucrative job and he decided it was time for our first new car in more than a decade. He wanted something efficient and reliable as he drove long distances throughout the Midwest. Somewhat surprisingly for our domestic-exclusive family, Dad decided a 1990 Accord fit the bill.

    I distinctly remember perusing the lot at Honda Cars of Bellevue one evening, looking upon rows and rows of then-new fourth generation Accords… and feeling overwhelmingly happy that we weren’t just looking and dreaming about owning a new car, but that Dad had the money in his pocket right now to buy one.

    Of course, I also looked forward to driving his new purchase as my 16th birthday was fast approaching, so I picked out the most expensive teal-green (remember, 1990) EX sedan on the lot. Still, I wasn’t too disappointed when he brought home a grey LX 4-door a few days later.

  • avatar

    In the summer of 1995 a buddy from work suggested we go out at lunchtime to drive the newly introduced BMW E36 M3. I already owned (well, “owned” along with the Credit Union) a 1992 325i sedan that I really liked, so why not? It was a really hot day, and I vividly remember seeing 100˚F outside temperature and 100 mph on the speedo at the same time. It was ridiculously easy to hit the ton in this not exactly stealthy Dakar Yellow car. We were of course driving on my private test track at the time, officer.

    This amazing car was only $35K with no options, but it took me another year to convince myself to sell the 325i to buy an M3 — and not with no options! I got a 96 M3 and still have it. In fact I spent the past weekend at the racetrack (Grattan Raceway) with it.

    Sometimes your showroom dreams can come true.

  • avatar

    A friend of my parents’ had purchased a Lincoln-Mercury dealership and we paid a visit to the showroom in fall 1971. I distinctly remember three cars on that floor: a pale yellow Monterey 4-door, a Continental Mark IV (color unrecalled), and best of all, a silver Jaguar V-12 E-type coupe that I got to sit in.

  • avatar

    I was 1968 and we were replacing our 1967 VW Squareback (a story all by itself). My dad took me to Kroehle Lincoln Mercury in Youngstown, Ohio as the neighboring town didn’t have a Lincoln Mercury dealership. There I saw a metallic green Mercury Cougar with a black vinyl top that I fell in love with. Before we left, I tried to convince my father to buy it instead of the Mercury Montego he was there to purchase. Alas, my five-year old persuasion skills weren’t quite honed yet, so we went home with a Montego.

    However, I was thoroughly smitten. And I was easy to buy presents for, as I would routinely request a (toy) Mercury Cougar for every birthday and Christmas gift until I was about 10 years old. In the passing years, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to buy an actual 1st gen Cougar, but never have. I’m afraid that it would be disappointing, kind of like meeting your childhood hero and finding out they have bad breath or something similar…

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    My family never had the money to buy new, so I don’t think I ever set foot in a dealer showroom until well into my late 20’s. However, there was a Dodge-Plymouth dealer a couple blocks from my high school in central Indiana. It was something to peer though the whitewashed windows in the late summer trying to get a glimpse of all of those 69-71 Challengers, Chargers, and so on that were on the floor but not officially revealed yet. What exquisite torture. Glorious.

    Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking but I really believe that there was something to the deliberate roll out of the new cars at certain times and specific model years.

  • avatar

    At age 12 (you can do the math) I rode my bike to the local Chrysler-Plymouth dealership and arrived just as the new 1957 Plymouth’s were rolling off of the truck. The first one was copper colored. Chrysler called it “sierra gold beige.” These cars had the largest fins I had ever seen. I thought I was seeing the car of the future. The dealership eventually folded, as did Plymouth.

  • avatar

    The first car I remember seeing on a showroom floor is a 1970 Plymouth Superbird at the dealership in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was blue, and the Road Runner graphics is what caught my 7 year old eye. This was in 1974, dad was buying a 1975 Newport (what a horrid piece of green on green crap) and a Plymouth Gold Duster with the slant-6 for my sister.

    My understanding is the Superbirds at the time were not popular cars – I didn’t know/understand it was a 1970 at the time, all I saw was new car and we should get THIS one. One thing I can say head held high, it would have been dramatically better than that awful Newport.

  • avatar

    Late 1963 – I was 9 years old. Mom was looking for a new Volkswagen to replace her 1959 Beetle which was to be given to my college-age oldest brother. We were at the VW dealer and on the showroom floor I saw a low, somewhat bug-like dark green coupe with the funny name “Porsche”. I pointed it out to Mom and Dad – they said no, it was too expensive and the back seat was too small. Mom ended up with a ’64 blue Beetle convertible.

  • avatar

    In my case, dad being a Chevrolet dealer, I didn’t have to walk into the showroom. He brought it home at lunch time.

    1953 Corvette. Gave mom a ride in it, gave me a ride in it, and promptly traded it to Grabiak Chevrolet in New Alexandria, PA for two Bel Air hardtops.

    He felt it was the dumbest car Chervolet had ever made.

    I was three years old, and still remember it. My earliest memory as a child.

  • avatar

    1969 Chrysler Imperial Crown, black in color. Dick Poe Chrysler in El Paso.

  • avatar

    Not new to the site, but new to commenting, here is mine:

    Not exactly when I was a kid, but being a habitual Ford buyer (06 mustang, 13 edge, 15 F150), the Kia stinger was the first time in my life I was compelled to actually waste a salespersons time and take one for a test. If I was actually in the market, it would definitely be up for consideration.

  • avatar

    First dealership showroom memory: 1962 Buick Skylark with a vinyl top!

  • avatar

    Fall 1968, Sanford & Cox Motor Sales in Lakewood, Ohio, purveyors of Saab, Renault, and Checker. And my father was part owner of the place :) . Heady stuff for a budding 5yr old car nut.

  • avatar

    For me, the showroom car that stands out the most was a (then new) 1996 Volvo 850 T5R wagon in a beautiful shade of olive green. I was about 13 years old and went to the Volvo dealer for service on mom’s 850 sedan and saw that monster sitting there wearing euro plates. That color, the black alcantara/leather seats, the dark wood grain trim, the manual transmission! It was majestic.

    Yes, my Volvo loving friends, it was a olive green manual transmission 855 T5R. Only after I got a job as a service advisor at that same dealer some 6 years later did I learn that the manual transmission was never sold here and the green color was outnumbered by currently sold McLaren P1’s how rare of a car I’d seen. Suddenly, the euro plates made sense. It was further enhanced when we got a (then) redesigned 2004.5 S40 T5 preproduction model in late 2003 to display on the front lawn.

  • avatar

    fall 1973 SM ROSE CHEVROLET in the Bronx. It was a 1974 Chevy Monte Carlo, immediately followed by a 1974 Chevy Caprice convertible. My mom was going to buy one. from there ……many visits to many dealers for me by myself as a teen. i especially loved going to the Cadillac dealer.

  • avatar

    Ford dealer showroom in Cloquet, MN about 1974. I would’ve been 5. I don’t remember the model on display, but it was something light tan in color, hood up with a massive V-8. Dad must’ve picked me up to see the motor. The giant blue air cleaner sticks in my memory the most.

  • avatar

    In 1967, my dad brought me to the Ford dealer to look at a car for my mom. He ended up with a Mustang convertible (Acapulco blue, white top, 289 2v, 3sp auto) but I fell in love with the Mustang fastback that was in the showroom. They’d put the rear seat down and the view through the rear window was breathtaking. That was the first time I got really excited about a car.

  • avatar

    Ive been fortunate enough to work at dealerships and on the OEM side since high school. What really got me interested in cars was Merollis Chevrolet in East Detroit, Mi. We lived around the corner and I remember walking behind the service area and being amazed by the engines and transmissions sitting on the ground. Being the local neighborhood rats we would go by the dealer anytime they had big events so we could get free food and other stuff. One day a salesman pointed to a guy and said he was the worlds greatest car salesman. Later I would figure out it was Joe Girard when he gave me some popcorn and his business card “In case your Dad needs a car.” Always thought that was the epitome of car dealers, well at least until the 1980’s.

    Never noticed the cars on the showroom floor unless it was a Corvette.

  • avatar

    Although I was very young and my memories of it aren’t very clear, it was a 1964 Rambler. I know that for a fact as that’s the car my parents bought. My first distinct showroom memory is of an air cleaner pie plate at Nini Chrysler Plymouth in Princeton, NJ, that said “COMMANDO” in big letters in a gorgeous dark green with black vinyl top ’67 Satellite. We did not buy that car as my dad wasn’t interested in “last year’s model” and instead ordered a ’68 Satellite with the more economical 318-2V.

  • avatar

    1953 Monarch Monterey Coupe at Noble Duff Motors in Riverside (now Windsor), Ontario. I was seven and could see my face in every square inch of chrome. I was smitten.
    Eventually, my Dad bought a used 1953 Monarch sedan. One year we drove to Florida in it. No AC, windows open and hair flying all the way. The carboretor got vapour lock nearly every time we stopped for gas or a meal. My dad brought a large bottle of water and had to cool down the carb with water soaked rags.

    My brother-in-law bought a ’54 Monarch convertible. It had the same problem. But it was pretty.

  • avatar

    I was 8 in 1970, my brother and I saw what looked like a space ship in a showroom next to where we took music lessons. It turned out to be B5 blue Superbird. Later, we were in that dealership and saw a car with a cartoon character in the grille- a RoadRunner. Beep Beep!

  • avatar

    1969 BMW 2002. Bought it after a 20 minute test drive. $2600 otd. Had it for 18 years

  • avatar

    Hampton Virginia – I can’t remember the name of the Ford dealer that was located in the now defunct Coliseum Mall but they always seemed to have a Saleen Mustang in the small showroom and I’d always go check them out.

  • avatar

    Since my father bought used cars from classified ads (from long before my birth until I was 10) I only remember going along to look at used cars in NYC.
    As far as a dealer, there was a British Leyland dealer (store front really) up the street. When I’d ride my bike to the gas station to fill the tires (age 8 or so) or to the grocery store to get something my mother needed, I’d stop dismount and look at the MGs and occasional Land Rover or other British trade-in parked in their meager lot. Always by myself, no one ever came out to chased me or see if the 8 year old needed any help. Different times for sure.
    You should ask if people remember the first cars they remember stopping to look at on the street. I distinctly remember four; a 1950s Jaguar XK something (around 1968), a Roadrunner (around the same time), a late C2 Corvette (1967?) and an XKE whose owner arrived to find my nose was pressed against the driver’s window (1969?) trying to see the inside. The owner said hello got in and drove away.

  • avatar

    My father purchased a brand-new 1980 Malibu Classic 4-dr with the 229 V6. It was the very first car I remember this 13 year old seeing at the dealer and I was smitten. He traded a well worn ‘75 Vega for it and good riddance for this had AC and an FM radio.

    Then I discovered that the rear door windows didn’t roll down that you only had the rear vent window to open and the car was gutless.

    But it was a first love.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Porsche 928. Just like the Risky Business one. My dad wanted to buy a new 944 following a Med Cruise (Navy Chief) in the mid 80s. Unfortunately my mother had spent most of the down payment on furniture so he ended up with a pretty clapped out 912. I also remember a red Sciricco at the VW dealer when my mom got an 85 Jetta during his next deployment when our Carolla Wagon finally rusted back to mother Earth. There was an E30 3 series in there too but the Sciricco looked awesome to me in red.

  • avatar

    1960, we went to a Chrysler dealer in, I think, Wauseon, Ohio, and there was a black New Yorker in the showroom. I seem to remember some other car with it, but only the New Yorker interested me at all. My dad ordered the exact same car, with exactly the same options. It didn’t stick around all that long, it had electrical issues from day one, but the 413 and Torqueflite were fun. The first car I saw that made me go “Wow” was when we went to my dad’s buddy the Olds dealer and on the showroom floor was a gold ’66 Toronado, my uncle’s car that came in the day before. My dad looked over the invoices on the Toros coming in a couple of days and screwed up and got his in “champagne”, which he rapidly got tired of. The gold on those Toros was and has been the only gold paint on a car I liked at all. My other uncle got his in black, which I really liked. Sadly all 3 Toros were gone in ’68, replaced by an Imperial in bronze (Dad), a Buick 223 in gold, and a Caddy in some awful grey. I desperately begged my dad to get a near duplicate of our neighbor’s ’68 Charger R/T, red with a black top. Sadly, my parents drove “old man’s cars” the rest of their driving days, which in dad’s case, was about 5 years. I wouldn’t have a non “old man’s” car until I bought my first car, a ’74 Roadrunner. I just bought an “old man’s car” in July, since I’m old now, it makes sense, a ’18 Challenger R/T Scatpack. It’s TorRed. As close to a ’68 Charger R/T as it gets now. I don’t consider the present day car a Charger at all.

  • avatar

    At 16, slid into the seat of an ’85 SVO at a showroom event, while Car And Driver, R&T, etc, were nuts about them. And they weren’t fans of Mustangs.

    But I only had a part-time and my family not wealthy. It was on the back of my mind working at a Ford dealer by ’88, saving my money, when a clean, low miles ’86 SVO came in on trade. My price? $7,995, drove it, had to have it, absolutely even though silver metallic wasn’t my favorite.

    That night a band of thieves came in, stole its wheels, along with the wheels/tires off some 80 cars and trucks. That had to be quite the orchestrated caper, but the dealer put these cheesy 15X5″ chrome “blades” on the sad SVO.

    Well? A new ’89 LX 5.0 Coupe/notch “base” was just about $1,000 more with discounts, so that’s what I did. Eventually I got an SVO too in ’95.

  • avatar

    First year intro of the Mustang. Our local, small town (1800 pop.) dealer had one. Tres cool! Both dealers in town – the other a Chevy dealer – hyped the new year intros in Oct. We had an hour lunch in jr. high at the time and unrestricted “campus” so to the dealers I went. (free donuts, eh)

  • avatar

    Sadly the old man never took me when he was looking at cars. Instead he would just show up, usually every few years, with a new vehicle. We would then go on the first drive as a family.

    I got my first true love of cars when the movie The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) came out.

  • avatar

    First was when we bought our 1981 Toyota Corolla from the Military Sales office in Heidelberg. It was a non event, as dad had driven one already (his best friend had a four-door Corolla), so there was no test drive. We just plunked down the cash, all $8k or so if it, and waited for the car to be delivered.

    The next was when my mother almost bought a 1985 VW Golf from the Military Sales office in Mannheim. At my suggestion, since I had been hanging around them quite a bit. The car still tugs at me…lovely blue metallic with that durable, almost jeans-like interior fabric. I rode my bike by the lot every single day, just to look at “our car.” For some reason, the deal fell through and we never took possession of the car, but I did get an awesome trip to the annual car show in Heidelberg out of it.

  • avatar

    Not in the showroom, but in the early 70s I remember our local British Leyland dealer had a row of brightly colored Spitfires on his lot facing the street, man I wished I could hop into one of those. Still want one.

  • avatar

    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.)

  • avatar

    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.

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