LIMA — When Vince Downing started at the Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships 25 years ago, the cars still had cassette tape players and carburetors in them.
A lot has changed.
Fuel injection replaced carburetors, and CD players, which might be considered old technology today, replaced cassette tape players.
Cars changed in size, shape, fuel efficiency and technology under the hood.
Through it all, Downing hasn’t lost his passion for selling cars. Today’s he’s the general manager of the dealership, and it’s the best job he could ever think of having.
When he started at Ahl, safety was the big concern for customers. After all, it was a time when highway fatalities were much higher than today.
Airbags were new, and cars were getting smaller. The four-cylinder engine was replacing the big eight cylinders. Gas was $1 a gallon, and the topic of gas mileage barely was discussed.
“When I started if you got 20 miles to the gallon, that was something. Now, a lot of cars are over 30 miles per gallon,” he said.
Today, no one comes in to buy a car without asking about gas mileage, he said.
“Fuel mileage is our No. 1 question asked. They are still focused on it, what their needs are and what the best fuel mileage they can get,” he said.
The four-cylinder engines gave way to the more powerful V-6 engine. But like the circle of life, the same can be said for the auto industry. Four-cylinder engines are returning, Downing said.
As far as the future, Downing expects to see more diesels on the road. Better gas mileage and an engine that lasts long are the reasons.
“I don’t think the electric car is going to soar like they thought it would be,” he said.
Downing also predicts technology will keep improving fuel mileage.