June 13, 2016
When Charlie Watson, the manager of a small Ford dealership in Ohio, took in a late night viewing of the classic film “Smokey and the Bandit,” he had an epiphany. While watching the film, he realized that the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am that Burt Reynolds drove was powerful without the added technology or flash. Watson said, “Back in the day, it was just a man and his car. It had a big engine and tons of power. It was all fun. It wasn’t about the fancy body kits, the heated seats, the touchscreen and all of this other craziness.” This realization brought about the idea of offering car buyers a base 2016 Mustang GT equipped with a Roush Phase 2 supercharger that has a 5.0-liter V-8 engine. With this setup, the engine is able to deliver 727 horsepower. The dealership priced the car at just $39,995. Once news of the powerful and affordable Mustang got out, the information went viral. Now, a dealership that once received about 20 sales calls a day is fielding around 1,000. The dealership is receiving orders for the car from buyers who are located across the country in states like Texas and even Florida. This next generation muscle car has helped the dealership diversify its customers demographically. Prior to the deal on the Mustang, the dealership’s client list mainly featured retirement age buyers who were interested in bringing home a Ford Shelby or a supercharged Mustang. The price range on these cars is from $65,000 to $85,000. With the $39,995 offer on the table, car buyers who are in their mid-20s are turning up to purchase the Mustang. The dealership is currently selling about three to five of the Mustangs each day. Watson reported that to lower the price of the vehicle to below $40,000, the store decreased the cost of the car as well as the labor. Without the reductions, the car would have come to around $44,000. Those who buy the powerful Mustang will be required to pay for the title, licensing and shipping. To keep up with demand, the Lebanon store has been working closely with Ford’s general operations and Roush Performance to acquire enough parts. The dealership is also selling Mustang GTs that are equipped with Roush Phase 1 superchargers. This engine produces 670 horsepower. Lebanon Ford is selling the model for the same low price. Watson credits the store’s owner, Lisa Cryder, for backing the idea. He believes that many car buyers are interested in this kind of promotion because some people prefer power under the hood to amenities inside the cabin. Initially, the promotion was set for one month, but the success of it has inspired the dealership to keep it going. With people buying the car model from around the nation, Lebanon Ford is definitely onto something big.