A heavily mustachioed promoter of the factory invoice came at me in a golf cart. His name was Manny; his office a shrine to the deal. A picture of Manny eating spaghetti with Dan Marino was framed on his wall. Another of Manny backstage with Bobby Goldsboro was propped on one side of his desk. The photo bookending the other side was Manny at the Yalta Conference … his right arm around Stalin; his left around Churchill. Directly behind him, inside a flashing neon casing, he’d bolted a plaque from the year 1999 advertising the dealership’s salesmen of the month. Beginning in January it chest-thumped: Manny, Manny, Manny, Manny, Twyla, Manny, Manny, Manny, Manny, Manny, Al, Manny.
I told him I might be interested in a Camaro. He blew a fuse: “Hottest car in the lot. Can’t keep ’em in stock. The only American car that appreciates in value.”
I pointed outside his window where I counted 48 brand new Camaros lined up in perfect symmetry, lonely as hell. I said, “It’s too bad I only have 14 colors to choose from.” Without recognizing the sarcasm he came back at me: “I know. I just sold the orange one.”
I made him an offer on a silver one stickered at $22,500. My offer: $15,000. He nodded, excused himself, disappeared momentarily and returned with Mo, the closer. He looked the part. A red carnation adorned his suit lapel. He even wore spats in apparent homage to his mentor, the late Bugsy Impala. In retrospect, I was lucky I met Manny first. I didn’t have to go through Eenie and Meenie before getting to Manny and Mo. Regardless, Elvis was in the showroom and ready to deal.
Waving the factory invoice, Mo bled red, white and blue: “You’re offering me $15,000? Let me ask you something. Do you believe in America? Am I not entitled to make a profit? I have rent to pay. I have food to buy. I have children to clothe. Do you realize I paid $16,500 for that car?”
I simply pointed outside Manny’s window at his lonely “Row of 48” and said, “Well, Mo, you paid too much.”
I didn’t get the car. I did, however, leave with an umbrella just for coming in. And they entered my name in a drawing for a free Caprice.