The Fiat Sale

How to Sell a Car to a Sucker

"It's the Fiat...or you."

Those were the words uttered by Tommy's long-suffering wife last month, after Tommy brought home his latest addition to the Magliozzi family junkyard: a 1952 MG TD convertible. on earth could Tommy sell a 1979 Fiat Spider--perhaps the most pathetic excuse for wheels since...well...since the 1978 Fiat Spider. Who would be dumb enough to buy a car that looks like a go-cart, drives like a set of Hot Wheels and sounds like a Lawn Boy?

How did Tom do it? It wasn't easy. Fortunately, Tommy has years of training at unloading heaps on naive, trusting the sucker who bought the Fiat, our pal Joe at .

So...just how *did* Tommy do it?

Well, it's like this...

Preparation is an important part of selling any car, and it's critical to successfully unloading a junker. Here Tommy gets in position to roll a few hundred thou off the odometer with a cordless drill.

Prospective purchasers will want to look at the engine compartment. Be ready to casually obscure missing components. Practice before the customer arrives. See how Tom has deftly maneuvered his hand to hide the attachment point for an obviously missing choke stove tubing.


Engine noise can be a big problem in old cars. Fortunately, that's nothing that a bushel or two of bananas can't cure. Shove them in before starting the car for your buyer. And never let the engine run for more than a few minutes.

An alert purchaser might notice fluid leaks. Be sure to repave your driveway before arranging for an inspection. If there's not time, practice "hitting your mark" with size 12 shoes. Look carefully--Tom's hiding coolant, oil, brake fluid and washer fluid leaks with two expertly positioned size nine loafers.

Selling a junker for top dollar is a lot like pulling off a great magic trick. Here Tom seamlessly moves the customer's attention away from wheel-well rust and toward a freshly painted quarter panel.

Sometimes a buyer will insist upon taking the car to a mechanic. Try to avoid this at all costs. You can prevent an inspection by anonymously "tipping off" your local mechanics that the buyer has a lousy credit rating.

Mechanics will go to great lengths to keep out a customer who can't help them make their boat payments.

If the buyer persists in asking for a professional inspection, try convincing him that "there are no good mechanics in this state" or "they're all in prison this year." If that doesn't work, you still have a final out: just make a quick, unobtrusive payoff.

Close the deal with a benevolent gesture, like throwing in something "for free." It'll make your sucker feel like he got a great deal. Have your friends and neighbors greet the buyer like an old chum. Here Ray donates some coolant to his new best friend, Joe.

Success! But don't be too cocky. Run immediately to the bank and cash the check posthaste, because....

You never know if they'll be close enough to walk back when they break down.

P.S. Despite Tommy's best attempts to hide to grim reality of the Fiat's unseemly condition, the fact is that Joe is a whole lot smarter than any one of us could have possibly fathomed. 

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