Normally, the answer to that question is “No!”
On the other hand, how often do you find a band saw running outside of the car dealer’s showroom door on a Saturday?
Every once in a while, you wander across a business owner who will do anything for kids.
Eisinger Chevrolet’s Greg Eisinger is one of those guys.
A little over a year ago, I asked Greg if we could have a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car carving clinic at the dealership. Sometimes parents (particularly single moms) don’t have wood tools, so we do this so every boy can carve a car to race with his friends. I figured we’d have the clinic back in the detail shop.
Greg doesn’t just say yes. He says yes, buys $500 worth of Pinewood Derby wood block car kits for the kids to carve, pulls all the cars out of the showroom, and rents tables and chairs so the kids have a place to safely carve their wood cars.
In the showroom. On a Saturday.
Fast forward to May 2007. I’m on the committee to put on a graduation party for the senior class. The goal is to put on a party that a maximum number of kids will attend and have fun at, while staying out of keggers and off the roads until after the bars close. One of the carrots to attract the seniors is a nice pile of prizes that’s given away in a drawing just before the party ends. We were brainstorming a surprise and came up with photos with nice cars.
I’d already secured a newly-painted Harley from Sitescape’s Bruce Lutz, but I wanted something else. Something that the average C-Falls high school senior wouldn’t expect to drive, much less be allowed to sit in. I asked Eisinger service manager John Kropp (also on the committee) if Greg would lend us a convertible Vette. I was happy to settle for a used one. John wasn’t sure, but what could it hurt to ask.
The answer? Yes.
As usual for Greg, “yes” wasn’t enough. We couldn’t have a used Corvette. We’d be getting a new one. No questions asked, no paperwork, just take the car, use it and bring it back. One of those things that you smile about inside after you’ve asked, you know, like you just got away with something you shouldn’t have.
For reasons that still escape me, I was asked to drive the Vette to C-Falls. As you can imagine, this troubled me a great deal. So, Friday afternoon, I enter the dealership and take home a 2007 metallic orange convertible 6.0 liter Corvette. My 15 year old son enjoyed the ride home only slightly less than I enjoyed driving it.
1500 rpm gets you 70mph.
Yes, it required a lot of discipline to keep that orange bullet under 80. It had 44 miles on it when I picked it up, so it was still in the break-in period. Under 80 is the rule during break-in.
The next day, our party committee member from DuPratu VW arrived in a 2007 convertible VW sedan (the hoped-for Mustang was sold earlier that day) to complete the trifecta. Seems that Greg isn’t the only nice guy in town.
John and I underestimated how popular this little experiment would be. Almost every one of the 104 kids who came to the party stopped to get their picture taken in the driver’s seat. Some had to be coaxed into the car, surprised that they were allowed near it, much less that they could sit in it with their friends.
Not a single one struggled to crack a wide smile as they settled into the $66,190 vehicle before posing for a picture. We managed to get the classic Corvette mirror into the individual pictures, and the familiar Vette taillights into the couple’s shots. For years to come, I suspect all of those kids will remember that picture (which they can download) and a few moments in that new convertible Corvette.
I haven’t known Greg all my life, so we aren’t boyhood pals. I don’t spend $50k a year at his dealership. In fact, I’ve bought one car from him: a used 1999 Suburban. He’s just a good guy who happens to sell cars. The world could use a few more guys like Greg.
Mary Nolan and Callie Spencer strike a pose.
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