FEBRUARY 16, 2011
'Ford Motor Co sued luxury automaker Ferrari on Wednesday for trademark infringement after Ferrari named its 2011 Formula 1 racing car the "F150." Ferrari's F150 logo bears striking resemblance to the one on Ford's F-150 pickup truck.' - REUTERS
Burl J. Moneymaker adjusted his hairpiece and winced as the phone rang yet again. Even allowing for his clever St. Valentine's Day promotion 'The back of a F-150 makes it easy to get a leg over', February was usually a quiet period for sales in this rural auto dealership. Since the beginning of the month, however, his business had been inundated with bizarre enquires. This was likely to be another one. He picked up the phone.
"Honest Burl speakin', your friendly auto dealer sponsored by McDade's Rooster Farm For Fresh Eggs Direct From Backside to Breakfast. What can ah do for you?"
"Oh, hi! I'm enquiring about the F150 you have advertised in the latest edition of the 'Sentinel and Bugle'. This will be a show car, right? Not the real thing with, like, you know, a proper engine and gearbox?"
Moneymaker braced himself. It was indeed another of those weird calls.
"Sir, wha'dya mean, proper engine and gearbox? How d'y'all suppose it got into ma showroom?"
"You have one right there?"
"Wow! It's just been announced. You've got good contacts, Mr. Moneymaker."
"I ain't the president of the Chamber of Commerce for nuthin'!"
"I guess there must be a strong Italian community over there."
"We got a pizza place, if that's what you mean."
"Ah! I get it. You can't say who you've been talking to. Right enough, they've been kinda touchy ever since that Spygate thing."
"Dunno about a spygate. This one's got tailgate with a step. Mighty handy when you're not towing."
"That's clever! This tailgate with a step - is that code for the latest diffuser? You certainly don't want to tow anyone, do you?"
"Well no, 'course you don't want to tow a hooman person. I always put Mrs. Moneymaker up front with me - even if it kinda goes against Ford advertising a 'Quiet Environment' in the cab!'
Moneymaker shifted uneasily in his battered rocking chair. "That was a joke," he murmured. "What's up with you folks these days?"
"Look, we're kinda getting off the subject here," said the caller after a short pause. "What's the situation with tyres?"
"Hardly used and the spare hasn't been touched."
"Spare? That's strange..."
"No it ain't. It's in the usual place, at the back, just below the quick-fill nozzle for the gas."
"But there's not supposed to be any refuelling these days."
"This some kinda joke? Lissen, I know auto folk are advertising fuel economy an' all that carbon finger print stuff but, good as this vee-hey-cule is, you gotta put gas in it somewhere between here and Tucson."
"Well, I wasn't intending to drive it on the road. I mean - obviously not!"
Moneymaker could feel sweat trickling from beneath the hairpiece. This is where the conversation usually took a turn for the worse. A man of mild temperament on most days, he wasn't known as 'Blowin' Burl' for nothing when the going got rough. Which was just about now.
"Wha'dya mean, not drive it on the road?" he exploded. "D'you think them good folks at Ford build this here F-150 and make it do more than one hunnert mile an hour just for you to drive across fields all day scaring cattle?"
"Ford! What have they got to do with it? The Old Man turned them down years ago."
"What old man you talking about? You been drinkin' al-co-hol, boy?"
"I was about to ask you the same question, Mr. Moneymaker. You'll be telling me next the F150 can cross river beds and has, I dunno, a rear seat and maybe, ha-ha, room for a bed in the back!"
Moneymaker paused before stating the obvious. Of course the F-150 had what Ford called a 'stowable bed extension' in the back; that's why he had concocted his brilliantly witty play on words in the St. Valentine's Day advert. Some people just did not understand the subtleties of life. He was wasting his breath on a man who, clearly, did not possess Burl J. Moneymaker's tact and sophistication.
"Lissen, asshole," spluttered Moneymaker, "d'you want it or not? Need to know 'cos I got Luke from the Saddle Sore Ranch coming across to take a look-see."
"You're making this up. Okay then, tell me this: how much are you asking for the F150?"
"This here F-150 is going for $34,155."
"Now you are having a laugh, Mr. Moneymaker."
"Is that so, wise guy? Lissen, I was going to throw in a month's supply of fresh eggs from McDade's, but you can forget that. I'm gonna call the Ford Motor Company and tell 'em I've had it up to here with their F-150. It's attracting some mighty strange people. For all you folks know about pickup trucks, you may as well be talkin' about one of those little biddy race cars! I'm gonna fix me some eggs. Good day to you Sir."
Maurice Hamilton , a freelance motor sport writer and broadcaster since 1977, is the author of more than twenty books and contributes to websites and magazines worldwide.
His weekly column for Grandprix.com was Highly Commended in the 2011 Newspress New Media Awards.