Joe Girard sold 1,425 vehicles in 1973. Ali Reda says he sold 1,582 last year.
But Girard will not lose his title as the world's best car salesman, because Guinness World Records has decided to retire the category rather than settle what has turned into an ugly dispute between Girard, now 89, and Reda, 45. Meanwhile, Girard has sued Reda, claiming the challenge to his record has hurt his reputation as well as his income from book sales and speaking appearances.
"Still to this day ... no one has been able to prove [Reda's] record or what he did to even get that record," Girard's wife, Kitty, told Automotive News last week.
General Motors backed Reda's figures, but Guinness says there's no longer a way to sufficiently verify the figures, as it did when Girard earned his spot in automotive retailing history. Thus, Girard will be considered a "historic record holder," a Guinness spokeswoman wrote in an email to Automotive News.
The organization requires a "clear and independent analysis of the competition," either through "market research or from a global institution who monitors sales in the industry in order to confirm a record holder in this category," the spokeswoman wrote. "Following extensive research, it appears that no such institution exists and market research would be deemed insufficient according to our guidelines."
Reda, a salesman at Les Stanford Chevrolet and Les Stanford Cadillac in Dearborn, Mich., said he found a third-party auditor and planned to pay for his numbers to be verified.
”I sent Guinness an email saying this is going to be costly. Before I move forward with this, I just need to make sure that you are going to accept this as proof," Reda said. "And then they sent me back that: They decided to remove the category."
That decision surprised Reda, as did the lawsuit from Girard.
“Why would you even think about suing someone for beating your record?” Reda asked. “How does that even make sense? I'm going through it and I don't understand it.”
Girard, who worked for another Detroit-area GM dealership, Merollis Chevrolet, claims he had "reduced bookings" because of the publicity given to Reda, whom he accuses of "chasing the economic benefit" that comes with the Guinness record, according to the Detroit Free Press, which obtained the filing and reported Guinness' decision to back out of the matter last week. Girard also says he has "suffered emotional harm" as a result of "ignorant emails" sent to him, the Free Press reported.
"I really can't believe I'm going through this," Reda told the Free Press. "I had a completely different image of what this would look like. It's a shame Joe just couldn't accept, congratulate and embrace all of this."