Everything You Hate About Used Car Lots

Used cars salesmen are often associated with lawyers when it comes to untrustworthy people in jokes. No other film proves just how crooked a used car salesmen can be than 1980 cult classic Used Cars starring a young Kurt Russell and Jack Warden doing a double role as twins. Kurt Russell as a fast talking used car salesmen pitted in a turf war with a rival dealership across the street. Cartoon levels of hijinks ensue.

Used Cars is rated R for strong language and brief nudity.

Plot Overview

The movie’s plot is actually pretty original. Kurt Russell plays Rudy Russo, a charming, fast talking, Arizona car salesmen who’s raising money to buy his way into becoming a political golden boy for state senate. A used car salesmen turned politician, can you think of anything more comically poetic than that?

Rudy works at the struggling New Deal Used Car lot with his overly superstitious co-worker Jeff, burly mechanic Jim, and the owner Luke Fuchs, played by Jack Warden. The rival dealership is run by Roy L. Fuchs, also played by Jack Warden, who plays as his mean spirited twin brother.

Roy is upset when he finds out that the construction of a new freeway off-ramp will run through his dealership even though he has been kicking back money to the mayor to prevent this. That means he has to find a way to steal his brother’s lot in order to move his operation and take advantage of the soon to be prime location. Only one problem is Luke won’t sell, but he does have a bad heart. In an scheme to inherit his twin brother’s lot, Roy sends over one of his mechanics, who drives demolition, to go over and “scare” his brother into a heart attack. He does this by taking Luke, and his prized ’57 Chevy 210, on a test drive from hell. Driving the Chevy to death and causing Luke to have a fatal stroke, but not before giving Rudy enough evidence to show that this was no accident.

Rudy, Jeff, and Jim hide the body by placing Luke inside his Ford Edsel and then burying the car behind the shop. The pressure is on to sell cars in order to keep the business afloat and keep Roy from taking over. How do you get customers to flock to a dealership? Showcasing live strippers at the dealership to attract customers for starters. Rudy also tries to keep Luke’s death a secret by telling Roy that he left to Miami Florida. A secret that is harder to keep quiet when Luke’s daughter, Barbara, comes to see her father after ten years of being apart.

Rudy also hires 2 tech wizards to hijack TV signals in order to broadcast their own homemade commercials during a major football game, and later during Jimmy Carter’s presidential address. One of the best scenes in the movie is their commercial during Jimmy Carter’s speech.

Jeff plays Marshal Lucky, a foul mouthed psychopathic cowboy who fights inflation by “blowing the living shit out of high prices.” He does this with a pump action shotgun as he literally shoots cars with sticker prices that are too high. Roy watches in horror as he realizes that the cars Marshal Lucky is shooting at are his own inventory, on his own lot! The commercial ends with Marshal Lucky blowing a 1977 Mercedes 450 SL sky high with dynamite before cutting back to Jimmy Carter.

Warning: Use of strong language.

Roy fights back by using his contacts in the local news to edit a commercial done by Barbara into making it sound like she said, “one mile of cars.” Roy then pushes for Barbara to be sued for false advertising. When Rudy learns about Barbara’s legal trouble he scarifies the money he was going to use for his ballot on the senate to buy 250 junkers from a salvage yard to have the inventory needed to measure one mile of cars.

In order to find drivers Rudy recruits a local high school of students who need “road experience” to pass Driver’s Ed. In a race against time, a sea of used cars blaze across the desert to make it to the dealership on time. What makes this movie worth watching is spotting all the now desirable cars that in 1980 were just old junkers.

Go Watch It!

Used Cars is an often overlooked classic. It is generally funny watching these car salesmen use every clique in the book to sell cars: rolling back odometers, using chewing gum to hold body panels in place, painting cars with water-based paint, and faking a dead dog to make a sale. Not to mention you get to see plenty of classic cars being treated like second hand Corolla’s.

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The movie has great car stunts with real edge of your seat driving. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys 80’s movies, comedy movies, or road movies. Rotten Tomatoes even gave it a 75% rating.

Go watch Used Cars, “trust me.”

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