I'm familiar with several of the dealers designated last week by Chrysler to relaunch the Fiat brand in the United States. From the looks of it, Chrysler got it right. These dealers run high-quality dealerships, treat their customers fairly, are good stewards for all their brands ... and make a decent profit in the process.
If anybody can make Fiat successful in America, they can.
Chrysler's announcement last week was upbeat. It was a time of optimism and confidence for the dealers, their employees and for Chrysler, which is counting on Fiat to give the company broader appeal.
It was like the first blush of spring after a harsh winter, full of promise and hope ... so much so that it brought a single tear to my eye.
But then the little devil on my left shoulder reminded me that many dealers -- including some of these same newly minted Fiat dealers -- were just as elated when they were awarded Saturn, Hummer, DeLorean, Daewoo, Edsel, Renault, Peugeot, Triumph or Austin-Healey franchises.
"And you know how those ended," sneered the little devil.
"OK, that's true," chimed in the little angel on my right shoulder. "But a lot of dealers made plenty of money -- not to mention began building personal automotive empires -- by selling those brands while consumers still wanted to buy them."
The little angel was on a roll.
"Don't you dare forget about the dealers who were among the first to sign up with Datsun, Toyota, Mazda and Honda. Through the years they've made millions of consumers happy, and most of those dealers also have done very well for themselves and their families."
Then, poof, the little guys were gone.
But their words reminded me about what some consider the dualism of the universe -- and the relationships between good and evil, yin and yang, light and darkness ... even success and failure.
It also raised a key question: How can Fiat dealers sell cars to the little devil and the little angel?