The 1980s had it all: decent music, hairspray-assisted hairstyles and the BMW 3 Series. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and even luckier to get a 316 as my first demonstrator.
That may not sound like much, but back in 1983 no salesmen had them; they were too busy flogging the things. Compared with the British rubbish and assorted Eurotrash I’d been used to, it was a revelation. No wonder everyone wanted one.
It may be hard now to realise just what a giant leap in car technology, brand building and all-round automotive awesomeness the E30-generation 3 Series was. I mean, it actually handled. The doors shut with a reassuring ‘gerthud’. Nothing ever rattled. Sitting in a 3 Series made you feel confident. Driving one turned you into a demigod. Not owning a brand-new 3 Series was not an option, and I was there to help.
The customers came in all shapes and sizes as BMW developed the compact executive car to the point where absolutely everyone wanted a 3 Series. The yuppies may have been the early adopters, but there were also company car buyers who would dump their user-chooser Ford Sierra Ghia in a heartbeat for a chance to pilot a boggo-spec three-door 316 in Henna Red.
The brilliant thing about all German cars was that everything was an extra. What made me smile was ‘radio preparation’; that’s 50 quid. For that, you got a couple of speakers, a few wires and a manual aerial.
Yes, it was all about the extras. That’s because it was all about profit. We were not playing the ‘park ’em deep, discount ’em cheap’ game like Henry Ford. More profit in the deal meant more money in my double-breasted suit. Some dealers did discount, but we never did. It was pretty much a sackable offence. Indeed, it was our job to raise the retail bar and it was relatively easy to get customers to spend comfortably over £20k on their car.