Buying a Car? Oh, Wow!

          Linda Beaver is not going to wow us. Linda Beaver had no intentions of ever wowing us. I’m heartsick.

          Just come to her Toyota dealership in Santa Fe, Linda promised, and she would wow the heck out of us.

          Unless you spend every evening sitting on your back porch watching the climate change and taking notes, you know Linda Beaver. Her incessant commercials featured the buoyant blonde bouncing across the TV screen, her hairdo undergoing a variety of permutations over the years. I personally favored the “just got out of the shower” look.

          “We’re gonna wow ya!” she’d exclaim. “Don’t make me come get you!” She was so convincing I started double locking the doors at night.

          Talk about a letdown. For the last two years, Linda Beaver has been in Florida where the family owns a St. Augustine dealership. She has been flying in to film the commercials and flying back to Florida before anyone had a chance to get wowed.

          Now the Beaver family has sold the company to Buddy Espinosa and his team. Buddy has been running the dealership for the last couple of years. He promises not to wow anyone. He just wants to be our buddy.

          Linda’s wow campaign takes me back to 1971 when a young man journeyed from California to become a New Mexican. As he drove into Carlsbad the radio yapped “Roger Logan, what a great, great guy.” The persistent jingle soon took up residence in the cranium. At dawn’s waking, “Roger Logan, what a great, great guy.”

          It was a good lesson for a young man learning the ropes of newspaper publishing. Consistency. An advertiser needs to adopt a theme and ride it until the saddle wears out.

          This is an appropriate moment to report Roger Logan was, and is, a great, great guy. Kind of a business wimp though. He was only in his late 80s when he turned his Ford dealership over to new owners.

          If you never got wowed in Santa Fe, did you get wowed elsewhere by an out of town dealer? Or did you deal with your local new car outlet?

          Here’s my take. You can make the case the best deal is right in your hometown. Internet consumer awareness and competition has forced the car sales industry into tight margins.

         That is to say, you may or may not save a few bucks traveling a couple hundred miles, but it is doubtful you will save thousands. That argument would assume, of course, the local dealers offer the brand and model of your daydreams.

          So why the local dealership?  These are the folks who employ our neighbors and fund our community projects. I have gone begging at both Ted Durham’s Sierra Blanca Motors and Chris Carusona’s Ruidoso Ford. I would not have felt comfortable stepping with outstretched hand out of an El Paso Buick.

          You can sneak up on Durham but Carusona offices behind a plate glass window. He is a diminutive fellow and he once dived under his desk well upon seeing me drive into his parking lot.

        “What are you doing, Chris!” I challenged upon finding him there. “Uhh….napping maybe?” he stammered.

         Mine was a Ford family and I followed tradition with a sweet 1947 baby blue convertible. Fords have pretty much populated our garage from the first. 

        There were notable exceptions, not the least of which was an Oldsmobile 88 I bought from Ross Hyden Motors in Carlsbad. Big? Think beginner cruise ship. Deep blue, adorned with color-matching velvet upholstery. An eight-track player which was to advance auto music technology as far as it could possibly go. 

       It can be fun, I guess, traveling to the big city to shop cars. For my part, I will stick with Durham and Carusona. They just wow me.