The Culture of Car Dealing

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It’s a lonely time to be a car salesman.

Auto dealerships are empty all over the country. Many are closing up shop. The big boys are begging for bailouts in Washington. The iron on the lots is not moving.

But over the last century, those showrooms have moved a lot of iron. A lot of cars and dreams, flash and horsepower and sex appeal. A lot of deals.

A colorful new history of the buying and selling of cars in America brings it all back. The rituals. The dickering. The jimmied odometers. And says it all goes back to literal horse trading.

This hour, On Point: It’s time to remember how cars were sold.

You can join the conversation. What’s your best, your worst, story of wheeling and dealing on the showroom floor? Why is buying a car not quite like buying anything else?Guests:

Joining us from Fremont, California, is Steven Gelber, a professor of history at Santa Clara University and author of "Horse Trading in the Age of Cars: Men in the Marketplace."

And from Versailles, Kentucky, we're joined by  Jack Kain. He's the owner of Jack Kain Ford and has been in the auto sales business for over 50 years.  He's on the board of directors of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

This program aired on December 5, 2008.


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