Hooniverse Asks: What’s History's Weirdest Car Dealership Mascot?

Cal Worthington is perhaps the Los Angeles area’s most famous car dealer personality. His schtick—having dealerships open until all hours of the night, lots of TV spots targeted at insomniacs, and his own theme song (go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal…)—cemented the Stetson-wearing salesman’s place in the pantheon of local color.
One of Worthington’s most enduring ways to grab attention was with the TV spots that featured his dog Spot. What kept people glued to the tube throughout the :30 or :60-second ads was the reveal at the end as to what Spot was going to turn out to be this time. You see, Spot wasn’t a dog, he was alternatively a bear, a camel, a hippo—which Worthington rode through the dealership parking lot—or maybe even a house cat if the zoo was closed that day. 
Worthington passed away in 2013, but his name lives on at Worthington Ford in Long Beach. He wasn’t the only car dealer to use a wacky mascot to drum up business either. I remember a few years back when a local Honda dealer employed a giant push broom—literally like 20-feet  tall with a brush big enough to swallow people whole—that they said was there to sweep up the deals or some such nonsense. In fact, these crazy schemes to get you on the lot, and hopefully into a car, have been part of the dealer modus operandi for decades. Hell, Karl Benz even had his wife pulling a stunt to encourage people to buy his first car. If you’re as big a fan as I am of these kinds of dealer mascots, let us know which ones do you think are history’s best.
Image: Pinterest

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13 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What’s History's Weirdest Car Dealership Mascot?”

  1. tonyola Avatar

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6d8d18007479ce849ea6206e5a8c33d065a128ba9d494804f2008543b969c28e.jpg Art Grindle Dodge in the 1960s and 1970s – he was something of a local celebrity in the Central Florida area due to his television commercials. Grindle erected a 30-foot statue of himself in front of the dealership complete with a rotating mechanical arm that would point just like he did on TV.

  2. Alff Avatar

    Dick Balch’s sledgehammer. His arrest a few years later for possession of an illicit substance surprised nobody.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      I remember reading an article about Dick Balch in the early ’70s, probably in Motor Trend.

      1. Alff Avatar

        My most vivid memory of him is taking the sledge to a C3 Corvette

    2. Gianni Burrows Avatar
      Gianni Burrows

      Dick Balch had a FIAT dealership – I’m thinking in Burien or Renton. I went there with my older brother when he was shopping for a 124 Spider in 1973 and got an autographed poster of Dick Balch. The poster was of him wearing a white Elvis jumpsuit and holding a sledgehammer. My brother ended up buying the 124 from the downtown Kirkland FIAT dealership. The dealership is now a swanky art gallery on Central Way.

      1. Alff Avatar

        Bel Kirk… My family had a slew of Volvos, Datsuns and a Fiat 31 from those guys through the 70s. Dad sold advertising for KOMO to them, and he returned the favor.

    3. David Peterson Avatar
      David Peterson

      I’m glad this is on the list. He made Cal look like a piker.

      1. Alff Avatar

        … and exposed Glen Grant for a NOOB.

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    I grew up in New England where this sort of screwball advertising is less popular, perhaps due to us all having a giant stick up our butt. I can’t remember any car dealers, or other businessmen, pulling stunts in their commercials. Potheads in my region did always get a giggle out of Herb Chambers, though.

  4. Lokki Avatar

    Does Little Joe’s wife count as a mascot?

  5. LeaksOil Avatar

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea0MzjeDNis https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7593a3c79c6f408cbb7b8c1721b4a231e61ab7eb6219579e7cb39fe7aba2fd48.jpg
    (Watch the video!)
    Wait did you say worst or weirdest?
    These things used* to have remote transponders that wouldn’t let the car start if you didn’t make your payment.
    *back when I was living around that area and managing quick lubes. Had to put the key in the on position, if it beeped twice than you can start it fine. No beep means they shut it off. This was back around 2008ish I used to see cars from there all the time.

  6. David Peterson Avatar
    David Peterson

    Not the weirdest, but the best was a manufacturer when Mercury had Farrah growling “meow”. You youngsters cannot imagine how fine 20 year old Farrah was. Why, I’d eat a mile of ……

  7. Gee Nick Avatar
    Gee Nick

    I miss Cal.