After more than a decade with Chrysler Corp., Jerry Depew was part of the wave of Detroiters who joined Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was a regional general manager and worked in numerous other dealer relations jobs before retiring in 1995. Depew, 78, recalls his early experiences with Toyota quality:
"I was an assistant regional manager, and I go to talk to dealers. They were putting these huge aluminum drip pans under the cars on the showroom floor, and I'd say, 'What are you doing?' And they would say, 'Well, it's gonna leak.' I told them: 'Toyotas don't leak; pull that pan out. I'll clean the carpet for you if it leaks.' And I never cleaned one carpet.
"We did have a little problem with one of our vehicles in 1970. The cars wouldn't start in high altitude with California emissions because the carburetors wouldn't go full choke. So when somebody bought a Toyota in that altitude and cold weather, we'd give them a Popsicle stick. And they'd say, 'What do you need a Popsicle stick for?' And we'd show them where to put the Popsicle stick, to hold the carburetor wide open. It worked, and nobody got hurt."