If you want to sell cars, you couldn’t find a more receptive audience than the mostly middle-aged men prowling the auto auctions in Scottsdale this week. At least that’s what Ford and General Motors think.
Both have made big investments in showing off their latest models at the Barrett-Jackson auction, including a test-drive lot. Yesterday alone, Ford gave 400 test drives. And to attract a crowd, Ford had a promotion in which participants could drag race a pair of Mustangs tethered to dynos.
Not to be outdone, GM signed up nearly 2,000 drivers through Friday to test drive one of its new models, such as a Chevrolet Equinox or Buick LaCrosse, then take a spin in a Chevrolet Corvette with a driving instructor at their side.
“We want people to interact with our cars,” said Ford spokesman Robert Parker. And it pays off. Last year Ford’s display resulted in sales of seven Mustang GT500KRs, some very expensive pony cars. Tim Stoehr, the sales operation manager for Ford in Phoenix, said he thinks at least three have been sold this year.
Ford’s president of the America’s, Mark Fields, was due to attend today. GM design chief Ed Welburn arrived last night. The presence of both executives underscores how seriously automakers take the auctions.
GM, for its part, was showing off the Chevrolet Volt and other models. Both automakers have their displays in a place where enthusiasts have to walk through them to get to the auction floor.