New Year's Eve, 1993: The Distributor Plate and the New Mexico Police

Gather a bunch of factory guys together in a bar and you can smell the bullshit flying from a mile away.

In this case, the factory guys were myself and other field sales managers from American Honda Motor Company, and the bar was located inside the Marriott in Torrance, California. The talk turned to working with Honda dealerships.

“I made that dealer take more green del Sols, and I told him to build a new facility and to get his CSI up,” said Ed. “Then I screwed his daughter.”

Haha, sure you did!

Shortly thereafter, the conversation turned to the new California Distributor license plates used by “import” car corporations on company-owned vehicles. The new version did not spell out the word “Distributor” and instead displayed the letters “DST.”

“The next time I get pulled over for speeding and the cop asks what ‘DST’ means,” said Tony, “I’ll say that it’s short for ‘District Attorney’ and I bet he will let me off with a warning.”

Haha, sure you will!

A few months later, I would attempt that very ticket-beating tactic myself.

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How The Honda Passport Got Its Name

It ceased being fun working at American Honda around the summer of 1993. Most of our senior managers in the sales division had recently been fired. In May, the New York Times published the first story about our executives soliciting bribes from dealers. The Justice Department was snooping around our US headquarters in Torrance, CA. The year before, our geniuses in Japan had dropped the ground-breaking CRX two-seater and stuck us with the dull del Sol. Over at Acura, our Honda Division castoffs were busy trying to figure out why the tepid 5-cylinder Vigor was not selling.

We were still stuck in the Civic-Accord-Prelude-del Sol mode. “We will never build trucks,” our execs had often proudly proclaimed. Now we found ourselves caught flat-footed as we followed the success of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner SUVs. We needed a sport-ute yesterday, and it would take us a minimum of four years to develop one. We did what any self-respecting, high quality, loved-by-its-customers car company would do in this situation.

We called Isuzu.

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