LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE

The car salesman and the faux test drive from hell

Automotive News | March 13, 2013 - 2:49 pm EST
UPDATED: 3/14/13 6:14 am ET -- correction
Larry P. Vellequette covers Chrysler for Automotive News.
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Update corrects spelling of Camaro.

I admit it: I was initially fooled by an online video making the rounds online that allegedly shows a used car salesman from North Carolina taking the test drive from hell in a hot Chevy Camaro, courtesy of four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon.

But as other online sleuths pointed out, the video -- sponsored by Pepsi Max -- is a fake. Fake or not, this video is getting a massive number of eyeballs today, about 100,000 hits per hour, according to YouTube.

Armed with hidden cameras, a disguised Gordon visits a used car dealership in Concord, N.C., as just another customer named "Mike" and gravitates toward a well-placed used 2009 Chevy Camaro.

After filling out the customer info sheet, "Mike" and his sales rep hop into the Camaro for a spin. As he starts to pull out, "Mike" tells the salesman that he's never driven anything so powerful, and the salesman reassures "Mike" that there's nothing to worry about.

What happens looks like a NASCAR-lover's dream and a salesman's worst nightmare. And in this case, it's also a complete fantasy.

First and foremost, the car is all wrong. It's identified as a 2009 Camaro in the video, which is a big problem, because the Camaro didn't return to production until the 2010 model year. Plus, the Camaro's interior features a prominent centerstack cupholder that doesn't exist and a navigation screen that's three years too early. Not to mention it's the wrong steering wheel.

I'll leave the veracity of the rest of the film -- such as the identities of its main characters and whether the stunts were staged -- for others to decide.

Selling cars can be a rewarding and engaging career, but it is not without its dangers. Sales reps put their lives in their customers' hands every day when they climb in a passenger seat for a test drive with a driver of unknown skill.

In the case of Pepsi's prank, everything turns out okay -- hilarious even.

What happens in the video looks like a NASCAR-lover's dream and a salesman's worst nightmare. And in this case, it's also a complete fantasy.

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