NEW ORLEANS -- Digital marketing tools, slick service apps and fresh F&I strategies were on the radar of many dealers who attended the NADA convention here this weekend.
But for Chevrolet dealer Heinke Trapp, it was a date with The Reaper.
The Reaper is what you get when you take a stock 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 and upfit it with beefy fender flares, an audacious domed hood, 8 extra inches of clearance, giant performance shocks from Fox Racing, and a supercharger to command 550 horsepower from the 6.2-liter V-8.
The beastly aftermarket truck is the creation of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, a tuning company best known for its Corvette packages, and Southern Comfort Automotive, which sells specialty vehicles. It's designed to rival Ford's F-150 SVT Raptor all-terrain pickup and its aftermarket permutations.
Trapp, owner of Trapp Cadillac Chevrolet in Houma, La., spotted The Reaper on the convention floor here and bought it on the spot. He sees an opportunity to juice showroom traffic before eventually selling the truck. He figures it will fetch more than $70,000.
"Just having a truck like that on our lot will offer some of the best advertising we could ever have," Trapp says. "People driving by are gonna pull off the road just to come in and see it."
Trapp's impulse buy highlights the sort of chances that dealers are willing and able to take as sales head north of 16 million units and dealer profitability soars.
But it was more than a whim for Trapp. He's built from scratch a nice business of upfitted trucks, with customized wheels, fog lamps and other gear. He sold around 100 custom truck packages last year vs. zero about four years ago.
The Reaper is different, Trapp acknowledges. The dealership usually does its own accessorizing, rather than buying a package, so the Reaper sale won't reap as much profit. And that supercharged engine voids the General Motors' warranty, although it comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile aftermarket warranty.
Trapp doesn't think he'll have trouble selling it. He'll keep it on display for as long as 90 days. If it hasn't sold by then, he'll consider eBay.
"There are a lot of truck buyers who want something unique," he said as he beamed at the gleaming red truck. "There's a market for this."