Home » Fireside Haggling: Cold Start

Fireside Haggling: Cold Start

Topshot 132
ADVERTISEMENT

“I’ve seen things, you people wouldn’t believe, hmmm … attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-Beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.”

These words were uttered by Rutger Hauer in the film Blade Runner, and I don’t doubt that his about-to-die character had seen some shit. However, I don’t think he’d ever seen someone put a fire pit in a car dealership.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Oh sure, I know that many dealers today put some wimpy glass-fronted rectangle into a wall with semi-realistic flames, like below. But that’s just going through the motions for the great god Prometheus.

Screenshot (1333)
Suburban Subaru

The people at Fireside Chrysler Plymouth went all out, giving customers a Mad Men-style sunken mid-century style box with real live flames behind a thin, openable screen for the kids to throw things into while you try to cut a deal on that red Plymouth Duster there. With the carpeting and drapery, it looks like the intent was to make this place on Dealer Row in Schaumburg, Illinois feel like the inside of the Playboy Club. A new store occupies the space now (Patrick Hyundai, for all my Chi-Town homies), and you don’t even need to ask if the fireplace is still there and surrounded by Ioniq 5s.

Topshot 132
Fireside Chrysler-Plymouth via ebay

These all appear to be 1972 cars, and if you’re afraid of that fireplace burning the place down, I’d be more concerned about that mint green little sedan right next to the pit. That, my friends, is an infamous Plymouth Cricket, a British-built Hillman Avenger imported so that Mopar dealers would have something, anything, to pitch against Volkswagens.

ADVERTISEMENT
D
Chrysler

The Cricket was all that you would expect from something produced in strike-riddled early seventies England: a total disaster. The workmanship was reportedly poor, which likely exacerbated the built-in issues with driveability due to early emissions controls and electrical maladies. Chrysler started bringing in “captive import” Mitsubishis (badged as “Colts”) during this time, and you can guess who was going to win that race. The last Crickets were sold in 1973 after a mere three-year run.

The whole idea of presenting a car in a sort of museum setting to create a mood always intrigued me. You might remember that in addition to doing some scribbles of a what-if line of late eighties AMCs a while back, I also played with what the dealership might look like. I really wanted to play up the idea of separate AMC car and Jeep areas, with the Jeep section featuring a little pond, trees and rustic flooring. Why not bring a little bit of the auto show to the showroom?

Dealer

Dealer2
The Bishop

Sadly, with the rise of touch-free online sellers since the time of COVID, the whole dealership experience is changing and even disappearing today. If you’re going to do any haggling on a car in the near future, it’s likely the only fire you’ll be sitting next to is the one in your living room.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
51 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Vee
Vee
4 months ago

Before they moved across town a nearby dealership hadn’t been updated inside since 1980. It was amazing and I loved walking by it just to appreciate the architecture. They had mirrors on the ceiling above the display cars, glass blocks separating the cubicles, a carpeted guide path in the linoleum floor, and a gravel garden with spotlights buried in it that lit up the wall behind it in a soft glow. It was so wild seeing a BN generation Mazda3 and fourth gen Honda CR-V in that time capsule surrounded by all the modern advertising print hung up on the walls. The grey desaturated posters for all the Hondas being in the warm colours of the environment created a really depressing contrast.

Funnily enough the outside looked brand new, painted all blue and white. I guess because the place sold three brands the dealership rules for styling only applied to the signage.

EDIT: Might I also add that I miss houses having the colloquially called “fuck pits” in architecture. So called because of their prevalence during the golden age of a certain adult industry… Having a recessed lounge area is so nice if the house still has one. I get so disappointed when a house has the recessed lounge removed and the floor filled in after a remodel.

Last edited 4 months ago by Vee
Autorama
Autorama
4 months ago

Meanwhile, in the automobile dystopia of Argentina.

The infamous Hillman Avenger becomes a Volkswagen model
(when Chrysler closes operations and leaves the country in 1979)

Resulting in the obsolete “Volkswagen 1500” (manufactured between 1980 to 1990)

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Autorama

And it carried on in Iran in ute form all the way to 2015 (though they dropped the sedan in 2005)

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

Or the burning Tesla in your hopefully detached garage!

Larry B
Larry B
4 months ago

The Plymouth Cricket was very quiet. You couldn’t even hear the tires chirp.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago

I once had a co-worker dropping off his car at a Subaru dealer and I went to pick him up. I stepped inside to look around while he got signed in. They had a super friendly dog wandering about greeting and entertaining people in the waiting area. It just seemed so on brand for Subaru.

MiniDave
MiniDave
4 months ago

The Jaguar dealership I worked at in Sandy Eggo had chandeliers – expensive ones too…..oh, and the service dept was in a separate building – to keep the screaming pissed off owners away from the potential new owners I guess……

Last edited 4 months ago by MiniDave
Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

Nothing takes the edge off a Cold Start without Jason like a Fireside chat with The Bishop.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Thanks for giving us a touch of the weird, wacky and nostalgic. It is great to look at stuff like this and simultaneously get a fuzzy memory, a modern sensibility WTF, and a longing for a bit more color in the world.

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago

Back when I had a job that had me spending a ton of time in dealerships, one of my clients was a Land Rover dealer at the tail end of that time period where all their showrooms looked like fancy lodges, when there was still the illusion one might get driven somewhere as adventurous as a dirt road (they also had the long-unused test course out on the back of the lot). There were also a handful of dealers who held on to some vestige of their amazing mid-century facilities, but I think at this point everything is long converted to a corporate-mandated shiny neutral coloured box.

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

It looks like it was common enough to have been at more than one location at least. All the Toronto area dealers just seem to have assorted rock formations less than a meter high to park display vehicles on.

https://www.roverparts.com/roverlog-news-blog/remembering-the-land-rover-centre/

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

I love that look, I had a very similar fireplace in the house I just sold, used it all the time. There was a version of modern design at the time that mixed an inviting warmth with contemporary style, which I think is missing much of the time today, people now seem to think modern has to equal something as cold and clinical as a Model 3 interior

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago

Ah, but this is just classic 1970’s decor. The red carpet, the red drapes, the white leather (or maybe velour) seating. And just look at that wine bottle chandelier in the background! I’m just surprised there isn’t an empty Chianti fiasco bottle with a candle stuck in the top sitting on the table.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

That candle bottle in the lounge I bet, where you go for a drink and maybe a smoke after the sale is written up. Lots o dark wood paneling.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

And that room would be done up in the “matador” theme, complete with a pedestal in the corner with a bronze bull and crossed swords on the wall so John Q. Milquetoast could fantasize about challenging the finance manager to a duel over the ruinous double-digit loan APR.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

Oh yeah. Or a coat of arms with shield and maybe a helmet on the wall. B/c classy ’70s vampire movie mansion.

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
4 months ago

Kunkleman Chevrolet tried this with a 55 gallon can and some waste oil
(for my RCR homies)

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago

Some incongruous imagery this morning, indeed: a fire pit inside a car dealership and what looks to be a tent pitched *in* the water in the background of that photograph of the Crickets parked by the stream with the scout troops.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago

Ooh, imagine all the dramatic throwing of contracts into the fire! “Here’s what I think of your loan terms!”

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
4 months ago

In the true spirit of last century: Just burn some stuff

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
4 months ago

I remember Schmerler Ford’s hilarious commercials for used cars- a monstrous, white Ford LTD spinning on a turntable with disco lights blinking on it as the voiceover describes the features, always ending with “WITH AIR!!!”
Also, what ever happened to the Long Chevrolet newspaper boy?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

A cricket on the hearth has been considered good luck in many cultures for thousands of years. Makes sense to park a Cricket by the fire pit.

Lokki
Lokki
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Cricket: Fire Pit, Money Pit, what’s the difference?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

This reminds me that some 747s used to have a cocktail lounge upstairs on the second level, in lieu of seats. Just like this, the pictures are glorious.

Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Would have been better with a fireplace, don’t ya think??

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Parsko

Esp. if it were advertised as “jet fueled” (even though I’m sure not, but still that sounds about what they’d have done)!

I’m old enough to have been around when the lounge was still a thing in the planes, but never got to see one as I would have been too young; I did however get to sit in the upstairs compartment (later on, once they were all changed to seating) a few times, and totally did try to envision a bar and chairs/tables instead of craptastic airline seats.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jack Trade
Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

We flew a 747 when I was 5 (in the early 80’s)? I recall either sitting upstairs or going up there to see what it was like. I do NOT remember a fireplace though 🙂

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Parsko

I’m just a little older than you, but I never flew anywhere long enough away on a 747 until I was an adult.

When I did sit upstairs, I did enjoy the less-chaotic feel of it all compared to the main cabin.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago
Reply to  Parsko

I worked for a business jet manufacturer, and I got ahold of a trade magazine about aircraft completions.

Completions is where you take the mechanically complete aircraft and outfit it for the customer. Paint, interior, etc.

The article was about some of the most outrageous requests for completions. Remember, these are private jets, so the customers have DEEEEEEP pockets.

One guy wanted a working, wood burning fireplace in his biz jet. Not simulated or gas logs. Wood. Open flame. In a plane.

The designers got to work trying figure out how to do this safely. After a couple weeks of work, they figured it out and presented it to the customer.

He said “Never mind. Takes up too much space.”

Not because it was a completely outrageous extravagance. Not the ridiculous cost. Not the safety hazard of HAVING AN OPEN FLAME IN AN AIRCRAFT.

It took up too much space.

Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

The designers got to work trying figure out how to do this safely. After a couple weeks of work, they figured it out and presented it to the customer.

I would love to see this design review.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago
Reply to  Parsko

“Welcome to the design review of the stupidest thing we’ve ever done, and likely ever will do. Elaine, you wanna go first?”

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Damn, even the Queen opted for an electric fireplace on her yacht in the ’50s when it was explained to her that Royal Navy safety regulations would normally require a sailor with a bucket of water to keep watch next to any open flame, and I’d say HMY Britannia was a much safer place for that sort of thing than a freaking jet.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

They used to have smoking sections too.

I think it was Eastern airlines. You had to be in first class to use the lounge. My girlfriend and I were on a flight and they were trying to accommodate a large group and we somehow got upgraded to FC as they juggled seats. As soon as the seatbelt sign went out we were upstairs pounding back everything we could get our hands on!

Funny how cars keep getting more and more ‘luxury’ crap piled on while air travel gets more stripped down and rudimentary all the time.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

That’s a fascinating observation. And further, how we all complain about air travel, but rarely say that our cars are too luxurious.

Interesting how in the old days, air travel was way more civilized and luxury in most cars meant things like standard a/c. Obviously, part of it was due to market restrictions in both (regulation and low foreign competition, respectively), but I always wonder about if there is a sweet spot and if so, where it is?

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

I wish there were a movement to bring conversation pits back to the world. Fireplace or no fireplace. We should have conversation pits.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Actually, I think they are starting to come back in within the past few years. It’s actually being driven by the “open concept all the things” movement HGTV started, since it’s a way to have clearly defined areas within a room, while still avoiding walls.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

and indoor koi ponds!

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago

Has there ever been a car called “Avenger” that wasn’t crap? Does that make Hulk angry?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

The first-gen ’90s Dodge in coupe form was at least fairly fetching to look at, but yeah.

And making it worse: I’ve never understood exactly what are they’re supposed to be avenging anyway. With a name like that, shouldn’t they at least be a much better car after a bad one?

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Its like the Plymouth Fury. WTF were they so mad about?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Probably the Cricket

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

At least the Fury could be had in some fairly angry-looking guises over the years. A car like the Ford Aspire was seemingly doomed from the beginning.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Why would they even name a car that? Is it aspiring to be a better car? Who knows.

On the other hand, the Aspire debuted in the 90s during the peak era of motivational posters and related yuppie-corporate B.S. — so somebody in the marketing office probably just threw a dart at the wall to see which motivational poster it hit, and bingo! There’s the car’s name.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

In fairness, it had a chance. Just imagine the press if Ford had taken it seriously and produced something like an amazing, North American Fiesta-equivalent with it at that time…”the Ford Aspire does more than that, it achieves (take that GM!)”

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

And then they could trade marketing blows with GM’s Oldsmobile Achieva…

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

A car I really liked BTW. Great lines (esp. for the time), a very cool interior, and could be had in a hotted-up SCX trim.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I really miss early-90s GM. They built cars that were genuinely likeable.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

And unique within reason to boot.

I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time, but Chevys (I owned a Beretta then) then were largely each their own thing styling-wise, vs today’s “it’s all Camaro all the time GRRR!!” mojo.

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

I always thought they named it “Ass-pyre” because being burned to a crisp was the likely outcome of a collision with anything larger than a riding mower.

51
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x