Folks at Honda. Here they were sitting on...


April 22, 1992

PITY THE POOR folks at Honda. Here they were sitting on the pinnacle of success with a car that outsells every car Detroit's Big Three makes, and they get upstaged by -- well -- a pickup truck.

Ford Motor Co., widely criticized for letting its top-selling Taurus linger in the showroom too long before being called back for restyling, got the last laugh when its full-sized pickup became the country's top-selling vehicle, surpassing even Honda's best-seller.

The country's new No. 1 vehicle has none of the appeal of a Honda Accord, none of the style, the panache, the (sigh) things which make a person feel he or she is driving a different kind of vehicle than a. . . truck. There's something about those Americans. Sometimes, there's just no figuring them out.

* * *

AFTER A STORM of protest, Pep Boys has promised, "We'll never abandon the Boys."

The Boys, of course, are Manny, Moe and Jack (Manuel Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss and W. Graham "Jack" Jackson), who founded the auto parts chain in Philadelphia in 1921 and whose smiling faces appear in the company's logo.

Word got out last summer that the company was unsatisfied with the "jovial jokers of auto parts," as Esquire magazine called them.

They would be replaced with something more in tune with the 1990s -- something, no doubt, without Manny's cigar and thick-rimmed glasses, Moe's old-fashioned hair styling and protruding ears and Jack's big nose and feminine kisser.

But when more than a few protesters threatened to buy their next lug nuts elsewhere, the company felt obliged to offer reassurance.

Esquire, in its March issue, was skeptical. "We'll be watching," said the magazine. So will the rest of us.

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