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Like most kids in high school, I had car. Mine was a 1971 Ford Ranchero. The Ranchero was based on a station wagon chassis. It had the front end of a sporty car and the utility of a pick up bed.
Early 70’s cars came with some of the most potent V-8 motors. The 351 cubic inch “Cleveland” motor was in mine. It was mated to a C-6 automatic transmission. Good acceleration, high top speed and very dependable. We added headers and a Holley carburetor to increase the performance.
One of my favorite features was the bench seat. There is nothing like driving around with your best girl sitting next to you. A good-looking ride, all shined up with a babe sitting as close as possible. Talk about being on top of the world. I wish that I still had one…I mean the Ranchero.
Riding in the back of a pickup used to be legal. My Ranchero was packed with people many a time for various road trips, especially to Zuma Beach. Put a little air in the High Jacker rear shocks and it would handle the load. I would drive down Malibu Canyon with Don and Chris… brothers Larry and Rodney…Floyd and George, two in the front and five in the back. With Peter Frampton, or, Elton John playing on the 8-track. We were going to the beach to look at girls. The 70’s were a great decade at least what I can recall..
We took a lot of pride in our cars back in those days. I washed and waxed my Ranchero hundreds of times. I knew that is was special. It was more than just a set of wheels, because I had custom pinstripes. To a car buff, what makes a good paint job stand out is flair. Pin striping is usually two different colors, one to set off the body color and one to make it stand out, almost a 3-D effect. Freehand pinstriping is the most difficult, but it permits almost unrestricted creativity.
My Ranchero was pinstriped by a master my friend Gary. Gary had a body shop in town that did paint and body work. But custom car fans knew it was home to one of the premier pin strip artist. It transformed my paint job into a work of art. I got to watch him do some of the Ranchero and I was in awe of the lines and designs he would create.
I really enjoyed those days. I have many great memories in the Ranchero. My whole life was in front of me. I had the freedom to go anywhere in my Ranchero. That is still part of the draw of being in car sales, being able to connect to people on what really makes them happy about driving. Finding the little things that really make a difference.
At our store, Sierra Motors, in Jamestown CA. we don’t pay our sales people on price or profit. We pay on one simple detail; customer satisfaction. If you aren’t satisfied we shouldn’t be doing it. I want you to be as satisfied as I was with Gary’s pin stripes.
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REGGIE JACKSON AND FIVE CAMAROS
You have to play the cards that are dealt to you. Those are the rules. Not just in Poker but in business and in life. Whining, crying and complaining are not going to produce anything on a paycheck. This was, and still is true.
General Motors has had it’s share of problems over the years. Strikes can be one of the worse. In the mid-eighties it was a transportation strike that stopped the movement everything from the factory to the dealerships. No new inventory coming in, when existing inventory was sold, that was it for a long while.
Except when it came from the Van Nuys plant. They were local enough to get cars from. They only produced one thing at Van Nuys in those days, the Camaro. You never met a worse group of people than the ones that built the cars. The most amazing part was that they would complain the most about the quality. Go figure.
With the only thing for sale being Camaro’s, Chevrolet Zone management put on a contest. There would be a weekly winner for whoever sold the most new Camaro’s. The payout was $400 cash and four tickets to the California Angels. The big draw was Reggie Jackson. Mr. October seemed to either strike out or hit a home run, every time. I sold five new Camaro’s in one week and was recognized as California Salesman of the week.
Greg, Andrew, Billy and I drove to Anaheim Stadium. The crowd there was a little different from the normal Dodger Stadium people we were used to. We were sitting front row behind home plate…Great seats! They served alcohol there, not just beer, so we drank. Being we were so close, we knew the players could hear us, so we let them know we were there. Each time Reggie came up to bat, we would let him have it and he struck out every time.
The season ticket holders sitting around us didn’t appreciate our loud obnoxious behavior and sent the ushers down to ask us to settle down. They announced my name as Chevrolet salesman of the week and put us up on the Jumbotron. We looked like fools but were having a good time.
Bottom of the 8th inning, two outs and two men on, Angels are down 6 to 5. Reggie is up next. We go crazy. He is in the batters box and calls time. Reggie steps back and turns to look at who is making all of this noise. He sees four idiots and points at us with his thumb and finger, six-gun style. Reggie stepped back into the box and takes two pitches. The next one is a fastball down the middle and Reggie crushes it out of the park. The crowd went wild and Reggie watches it sail before rounding the bases. After he steps on home plate he walks up to us and with a sly smile. Out comes the double six-gun hand gesture.
Suddenly the people sitting around us like us. “Reggie Jackson hit a home run for you” they yell. “He never does that,” said another.
I sold five Camaros that week. That is because that is all that I had to sell. Five Camaros and my own little piece of History… Got to love the Car business .