In early 1989, with the Yugo's best sales years behind it, promoter Malcolm Bricklin used the NADA convention in New Orleans to showcase not a new import vehicle, but rather the prototype of a futuristic "closing booth." The gray and black room used 3-D animation and special photographic effects to sell cars.
More than 3,000 visitors trooped through a suite at the InterContinental Hotel for a peek at the booth, which Bricklin said would "take the dread out of buying a car." But that wasn't all.
Bricklin wasn't looking for buyers for his closing booth. Instead he said he wanted to buy 1,000 dealerships across the United States by the end of 1989 and put a closing booth in each one.
Every dealership would also have a 24-hour service department.
At first, Bricklin said he would buy an 80 percent stake in 10 "megadealerships," then form a management roundtable of their owners to purchase other dealerships. But then he changed his tune, saying that because of overwhelming interest from medium-sized dealers, he would include them in the first wave of purchases, too.
His Bricklin Motors, with headquarters in Denver or New York, supposedly would purchase midsize dealerships in nine markets, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and St. Louis.
But it never happened. And the closing booth faded from sight.