Better turn in your used car keys before entering Wheaton

Published10/7/2007 12:35 AM

There is a Bruce Springsteen song that goes:

"Now mister the day the lottery I win, I ain't ever going to ride in no used car again."


Meaning that to own a used car was to be scorned, because you didn't have the stature or salary to breathe in that new-car smell.

Yes, there are smug lugs who can make you feel bad about your 30,000-mile-plus bargain basement wheels.

And who are they? Well they look down at you from the heights of their perilously mortgaged 15-room palaces with 2007 whatevers in the driveway of their three-door garages. They'd paper their walls with mutual fund perspectives, if it wasn't so tacky.

Like owning a used car.

Or in Wheaton's case, selling used cars.

The city has told Packey Webb Ford, which has been in Wheaton since 1964, to hit the road if it keeps advertising that it sells used cars at its Roosevelt Road dealership.

Because in Wheaton, you see, you are not even supposed to sell used cars. It's against a zoning law aimed at assuring Wheaton does not become a sleazy suburb encouraging the uncouth used-car crowd to come in to do their shopping. Heaven forbid you have those hoboes prowling around Roosevelt Road. The next thing you know, they'll be stealing pies cooling on window sills of the city's elitist dwellings.

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Or as Wheaton Councilman Howard Levine, who surely doesn't have a recently purchased four-year old Ford fouling up his driveway, put it: "I just don't want to see a 1978 LeBaron parked on Roosevelt Road, welcome to Wheaton."

Hey, don't knock that old LeBaron. A review of that 1978 model I found on the Web describes it as having "personal luxury character."

Now I can understand the city not wanting to host those fly-by-night used car lots. You know, where the facade is bunch of dusty plastic pennants hanging from a clothesline nailed to a rundown hut from which emerges a salesman with a cigar clenched in his teeth and an ample belly that can't be contained by the short tails of his too-tight wrinkled shirt.

Maybe that was what Levine was thinking of when he feared the city becoming a "used car center that steadily and surely dilapidates."

But that surely isn't Packey Webb Ford, a reputable dealership that by its own description sells only high-end, newer model used cars.

Packey Webb would like to stay in business in Wheaton. But it would take a change in the zoning code that requires dealerships to sell both used and new cars. That doesn't appear to be forthcoming.


In that same Springsteen song, the boy whose father just bought a used car wishes his dad would take a stand against neighbors looking down on him:

"I wish he'd just hit the gas and let out a cry and tell 'em all they can kiss our ----- goodbye."

Wouldn't blame Packey Webb if it felt the same way about Wheaton.

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