Back when I sold cars last decade, I worked at a Pontiac,Buick,GMC,Chevy dealer. This was around 08-09 so right before the bailout (my dealer was one of the ones shuttered in the bk). But I did have the opportunity to witness the return of the Camaro and the introduction of the Corvette ZR-1, which was king of the GM performance hill at the time. We initially got 3 Camaro’s: an Orange SS with black stripes and 2 LT’s. The Orange one (of course) along with the ZR-1 were the showroom centerpieces. And both were marked up as hell.
The Orange SS went for nearly 80 grand and sold quickly. The Mayor of the city ended up being the buyer for it. We thought it was insane that we were asking Corvette prices for a Camaro. But someone bit and the waiting list for the things were long. The ZR-1? MSRP for them was just over $103 grand. The managers ended up putting the sticker on it for nearly 125k. And it never sold. It literally sat there up until we closed our doors the following year. We had a few people come in that were interested and tried to get us to budge from the markup, but we never did. I often wondered where the car ended up.
I mentioned those 2 examples to highlight a problem that gets glossed over from time to time: consumers don’t always bear the full burden of blame for some of our favorite or beloved performance models, or any other models for that matter, getting the ax. I think models fail at the dealer level for 4 main reasons:
Markups: The main culprit. We’ve seen it time and again: a new model comes out. Dealers start their bullshit shoveling and do or say things to justify those markups that vary wildly depending on the car but are still wrong nonetheless. And with some saying that we are living in an automotive performance golden age, we’ve seen this song and dance all too often the last few years. The introduction of the Hellcat/Demon models, the Type R, FoRS etc have all seen markups of $20,$30,$40 grand over MSRP. That alone can turn a customer off. From my experience, even those with the means done necessarily want to be taken for a ride even if they can afford to be. They want a fair price just as much as the rest of us do. But dealers don’t care to see this. Some automakers, like Dodge, have done things to curtail markups, but to little or no affect. The downside of all of this is that as long as there are people who will pay just because they can, dealers have no reason not to continue driving up the prices of these cars because they are special.
Shitty customer service: This is a given at most dealerships of course. But it gets worse and compounded when customers actually attempt to, you know, buy the car. And it gets even more worse when you get into special models or performance models. Customers of these models expect top dollar treatment because they are spending top dollar. but they often don’t get it. Things from models being literally roped off, dealers wanting deposits before test drives, not even being able to drive or touch the vehicle and other crazy outlandish things have been reported from all over the country with different makes. Prejudging takes its own ugly part in this as well. Some young and unknowingly rich to the dealer 20 or 30 something year old isn’t going to be taken seriously when he’s coming in for that Hellcat and he will probably be given the run around in regards to a test drive. It’s worse when you’re a minority. But you know what that person is going to do? He’s either going to take his money elsewhere to get that Hellcat or buy something else from an entirely different brand. Effectively putting one nail in the coffin for the model.
Outright lies and just plain wrong product information: The automakers themselves have their own part in this by sending out product training individuals or product training material to dealers. The results of this is getting just outright bullshit information from already arrogant annoying sales people. “Yea Ford developed the turbo V8 specifically for the GT350”. “You’d better jump on this now. Honda said they were only building 3,000 Type R’s ever”. Just lies to get a sale.
All this combines in sales either not meeting expectations or eventually falling flat. Then we find ourselves reading about the model dying off after the model year because of tanking sales. So while it may be true the saying that makes its rounds here on Jalopnik and other auto sites that we auto enthusiasts ask for models from automakers and then don’t speak with our wallets when the time comes, the blame cant fall entirely on the consumer. So think about that the next time you see those 6 Focus RS’ on the lot at the local Ford dealer you’ve passed every day for the past year.