He came to sell President Bush’s plan to overhaul Social Security. Instead, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley sold something else—his beat-up old car.
Grassley closed the deal at a downtown Des Moines hotel, selling the 1986 Olds Delta 88 for $356, one dollar below book value, to an Iowa factory worker.
The gray Oldsmobile, with 172,511 miles, paint peeling off the body and a Volkswagen hubcap on one wheel, was used in political advertisements last year during Grassley’s re-election campaign as a prop for his claim of visiting all 99 counties.
The deal started last month at a town meeting, where Grassley, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, was explaining Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security.
Roy Nelson, 41, was there with his four daughters. One of them stood up and asked him about the car because she was turning 16 within a month.
“Grassley told her that the book value was $357, ‘but today I’d sell it to you for $356,”’ Nelson said. “I looked at him and said, ‘Sold.”’
Grassley said he thought it was a joke. On Saturday, the two met again.
“I’m going to show you everything wrong with it,” Grassley said to Nelson as they walked to the car. “The first thing is, you have to unlock it from the passenger side because the other side doesn’t work, you see.”
Once inside the car, Grassley told Nelson not to worry about the brake light that is always on, the power steering that sometimes sticks and the fact that “every two or three times, the starter won’t catch.”
Yet, Nelson was satisfied and got out his checkbook.
The deal done, the men shook hands. Nelson smiled and had Grassley sign the dashboard and trunk lid with a marker.
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