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Cal Worthington Dead At Age 92; Iconic Car Dealer became American Legend, Multimillionaire

Cal Worthington and his "Dog Spot."

Cal Worthington and his “Dog Spot.”

By Brian Hews

Cal Worthington has died at the age of 92.

The iconic car sales man became one of the most recognizable figures in pop culture during the past several decades with his “Go See Cal” commercials.  His death was announced on Monday afternoon.

Worthington was in the car business for 57 years, and sold over a million cars and trucks and has probably sold more cars and trucks than anyone in the world, his website claims.

“Throughout this entire period of time, he and his staff have dedicated themselves to fair and honest attempts to make sure you get the best possible deal. Cal’s slogan has always been, “I’ll stand on my head to beat anybody’s deal,” and he’s proved it time and time again,” a company spokesman said.

Calvin Coolidge “Cal” Worthington (November 27, 1920 – September 8, 2013) was an American car dealer  well known throughout the West Coast, and to a more limited extent elsewhere due to minor appearances and parodies in a number of movies.

He was best known for his unique radio and television advertisements for the Worthington Dealership Group.

In these advertisements, he was usually joined by “his dog Spot,” except that “Spot” was never a dog. Often, Spot was either a tiger, a seal, an elephant, a chimpanzee, or a bear. In one ad, “Spot” was a hippopotamus, which Worthington rode in the commercial. On some occasions, “Spot” was a vehicle, such as an airplane that Worthington would be seen standing atop the wings of while airborne. “Spot” was officially retired in the mid-1980s; however he was mentioned occasionally in his later commercials.

According to a profile published in the Sacramento Bee in 1990, Worthington grossed $316.8 million in 1988, making him at the time the largest single owner of a car dealership chain. His advertising agency, named Spot Advertising, had Worthington as its only client and spent $15 million on commercials, the most of any auto dealer at the time. He sold automobiles from 1945 until his death and owned a 24,000-acre (9,700 ha; 37 sq mi) ranch located in OrlandCalifornia, north of Sacramento.

  • McMahon, J. says:

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013.

    Not all roses.

    City of Long Beach, loaned said dealer a major loan to stay inside Long Beach, during this past recession. Press Telegram Newspaper archives has many articles on this loan, as said brokerage was ready to close. Part of the package was derived from Redevelopment fundings.

    Also, back in the 90’s, many of dealerships were under FBI investigation for suspicious in house auto loans for alleged consumer fraud. Some the odometers were tampered with too, along with phony smog certifications.


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