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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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February 2005 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
The Traveling Salesman
By Robert McLellan
 
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Marcus walked from his family's farm along the country road to the general store in summer rain and winter snows. It was Saturday and the 12-year-old had his weekly allowance tucked into the front pocket of his jeans with a handkerchief on top of it to secure it and keep it from falling out. There was only one place to spend the money that made sense to him and that was at the century old country store where a selection of toys, candy and comic books waited for him. The three mile walk gave him time to contemplate his choice based on the variety of last Saturday's goods.

Frequently he met with friends and they would wander past the coffee shop and filling station. Next door was a repair shop for tractors, trucks and cars. Rarely was there anything on the street of interest, but today there was a new 1939 Lincoln parked in front of the coffee shop. It had to be a salesman's car. Salesmen were rich compared to farmers and Marcus wanted to be a salesman when he grew up. Looking in the window he could see a man with a big black briefcase. Yes, being a salesman would sure beat raising cotton for a living.

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And Marcus did become a salesman. Sporting a coat and tie and driving a 1949 Lincoln, he traveled a three state region for a garments company. From general stores to uptown department stores, he put a lot of miles on that Lincoln. Often he would drop by new car dealerships to chat with the salesmen and obtain brochures on the latest models. He would tell each salesman on his route that he would be replacing his current car which was getting along in miles with a new one. Leaving with a handful of brochures he would approach every dealership on his extensive route several times a year. Marcus collected a brochure on every model of every make for every year from 1946 to 1989, the year he retired.

After hearing his story I followed Marcus down to the basement to see boxes lining the walls. As we opened the first box I asked him what cars he had actually owned over the years. He looked embarrassed, lowered his head and quickly muttered the names of several cars, then exclaimed, "I had to drive practical cars to carry my samples. Those cars are insignificant. The important ones are the ones I saw in the showrooms and got brochures on. The salesmen would often take me for a ride, or I would get to drive the car myself. I always parked my Dodge sedan, or whatever car I was driving, a block away so they didn't have a clue as to what I could or could not afford. I enjoyed practicing my salesmanship on them as much as they did on me. It was great fun and great entertainment. Back at the motel I had all these wonderful brochures to look at."

Marcus did become a rich salesman in that he amassed a tremendous collection of brochures. Yes, it did beat being a farmer.

The following represents just one for each year of the brochures that Marcus had in his collection:

 
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1946 Packard 1947 Kaiser 1948 Playboy 1949 Buick

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1950 DeSoto 1951 Frazer 1952 Henry J 1953 Austin-Healey

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1954 Hudson 1955 Dodge 1956 Chevrolet 1957 Pontiac

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1958 Edsel 1959 Chrysler 1960 Metropolitan 1961 MG

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1962 Mercury 1963 BMW 1964 Oldsmobile 1965 Plymouth

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1966 Cadillac 1967 Imperial 1968 Avanti 1969 AMC Javelin

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1970 Ford Thunderbird 1971 Pontiac 1972 Audi 1973 Porsche

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1974 Datsun 260Z 1975 Bricklin 1976 Oldsmobile 1977 Chevrolet

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1978 Ford 1979 DeTomaso 1980 Triumph 1981 Cadillac

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1982 Bentley 1983 DeLorean 1984 Bentley 1985 Buick

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1986 TVR 1987 Porsche 1988 Pontiac 1989 Shelby

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The Automotive Chronicles, February 2005
 
 
 
 
 
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