Hooniverse Asks – Who's Your Most Hated Minor Celebrity Car Dealer?


Hate is a strong word, said Mrs. Heartline, my kindergarten teacher. But if she was still alive today, God rest her soul, and she watched one of Billy Fuccillo’s commercials, even she would fly into a bitter, mouth-frothing rage.

A few days ago, you told us about your favorite minor celebrity car dealers and the impact they’ve made on generations of hoons from across the television. But for every yin there’s a yang, and for every local dealer whom you can tolerate, chances are there are a dozen more whose television, radio, billboard, mail flyer, airplane skywriting, chest-scribbling bombardment will drive any well-composed individual into attacking a busload of nuns with a linoleum knife. Local dealer ads are designed to provoke that primitive response center in humans that allows us to strike with the same unrestricted, reckless fury after, say, a sabre-tooth tiger’s ripped off a limb in unarmed combat. Selling cars is merely a curious by-product. And some ads, of course, touch our buttons in all the wrong ways.
That's what…she said?

Anyone who has lived in the upstate New York area (or served time at Auburn Prison) will know who Billy “It’s Huge!” Fuccillo is. Entrepreneur, businessman, local-advertising tour de force, his ever-looming presence haunts I-81 with promises of EZ-Financing and “Billy Credit.” He swaggers onto our TV screen in yet another decidedly low-budget commercial, filling the frame with his large girth—he’s both wide and tall, built like an aging linebacker, and the black peacoat he usually wears only serves to enlarge his size. “We got all these brand-new 2011 Sorrentos!” he shouts in a harsh, booming voice, arms in the air, as he stands in a snow-strewn lot surrounded by Cobalts, PT Cruisers, Hyundai Sonatas. “Forget about Camry, forget about Accord, we got Sonatas! You can drive it!—30 month lease! You’re not gonna believe it! Not gonna believe it!” Every sentence is yelled, every motion exaggerated; so eager is he to get his pitch out that his mouth seems to act faster than his brain can form sentences. Occasionally he’s joined by his guests—a blonde woman in her mid-30s, and a business partner named Tom who does most of the talking—both of whom he loves to interrupt every chance he gets.
“How big is this sale, Billy?” the woman asks.
“It’s bigger than big, Caroline!” Billy barks, rapid-fire, before she even has a chance to finish.
“Sure are a lot of great cars here, Bill- ”
“You sure know it, Tom!” Billy interjects, then stands grinning, quietly swaying, as Tom finishes his pitch:
“…and if you want to drive right past those gas pumps, this is it! This ’09 Cobalt is ready to go! Just take Rt. 81 to exit 41 to Rt. 11 in Adams, because…”

This is his commercial, these are his dealerships, and you had better not damn well forget, dear viewer. And to reiterate his message, at the end of every commercial, without fail, he growls out his catchphrase: “IT’S HUGE!” He pauses before pronouncing the G, attacking that last syllable with almost comical precision: “HUUUUUUUUUUUUU-GGE!” Ask any man, woman, and child, from the Lower Westside to Inner Harbor to University Hill, and you’ll soon discover how it’s been drilled into their minds until they can hear it in their sleep. This is how he uses his physical size to full advantage. There’s no denying that he himself is a big person, and that he’s hard to ignore—he’s kind of a big deal around here. The aggression serves as a metaphor: it’s how he does business. He doesn’t even have to try anymore—his buddies Tom and Caroline can hammer out the dirty work, and he just snarls his catchphrase. It’s Huge!
Fuccillo must have been a bully in high school. Not that he’s a bad person, per se, but it’s such a fitting personality—everybody grew up knowing someone like him, no matter what side of the eternal bully/nerd dichotomy they were on. Does he use his catchphrase with his wife? Some questions are better left unanswered.

Of course, the ads are infuriating only because Billy Fuccillo is a natural for this business, someone who has spent decades honing the dealership commercial to an art. And, it may be an ugly art but he is its foremost practitioner, for better or for worse.  The Fuccillo Automotive Group owns string of dealerships in the upstate New York (and one in Southern California), 20 in total, stretching from Watertown to Grand Island to Syracuse to Adams, his home base. In Rochester, he even bought the naming rights to an ailing radio station, 107.3FM. Its name now? Huge!107.3.

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  1. Alff Avatar

    Low Profit Glen Grant
    [youtube BWwM1uWBNdY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWwM1uWBNdY youtube]

  2. Hörñéy Avatar

    I doubt anyone here has heard of Bob Rohrman, but I'd nominate him. If you live in or around Chicago, Indianapolis, Purdue University or Fort Wayne, you can't escape his commercials. *Shivers*

  3. P161911 Avatar

    Anybody remember "King of Cars"? Josh Towbin.

  4. Paul_y Avatar

    I hate those Fucillo bastards. Buffalo and Rochester are also blighted with them; I haven't seen a Fucillo ad since I've been in the southern tier, however.
    I am not, however, a fan of the Buffalo-based Basil dealerships. http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/autos_
    My parents buy all their POS Chevys from them, of course. The jingle will haunt your dreams.

  5. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

    Earnie Boch Jr., but not for his ads, noooo, its HIM I hate. He has an awful blues band named "Earnie and the Automatics" He's weaseled his way on to the show "Rescue Me" a couple times. It seems to me that he thinks he's a bigger deal than he really is, when all he is doing is riding his father's coat tails. Also, he's not twenty anymore, he needs a damn haircut

    1. bzr Avatar

      He's not the worst in the area, however; I'd have to nominate IRA Auto and their ruining of Blondie's "Call Me" as an example. I should be glad that I can't find a link to that placenta-soaked abortion on the Youtubes anywhere.

      1. Hopman Avatar

        Sadly, I have to put up with this junk too. I live in NH, but get plenty of Boston channels AND Ira has a location (the old Autofair Toyota/Lexus) in Manchester, NH.
        Thankfully, the worst NH dealer I've seen (and this isn't that bad) are the guys with "Harley" & "Tucker," the deal-sniffing collies.

  6. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    The worst one I knew of was Bob Lewis VW in the Bay Area, but couldn't seem to find them online. Now I know why :http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2008/01/07/daily81.html
    I love the line about "There's been a marked shift in buyers' preferences away from Ford and Chrysler and GM and VW products"…like somehow VW gets lumped in the the failing domestics (article's from '08).

  7. MarionCobretti Avatar

    First, Horney, as a displaced Hoosier, I do know Bob Rohrman. Or should I say Bob ROOOOOOOOOOHRman?
    Presently, I'd have to go with Steve VanGorder, who is the sales manager and television face of the Jeff Schmidt Auto Group. He has all the standard television car dealer red flags, including shouting, bad suits, industrial levels of smarm, and he tops it off with a profoundly untrustworthy goatee. If that were all, it wouldn't be so bad, but for the last four years almost all of their spots have taken the same form: Two or more people are talking and one mentions they need a new car. Out of nowhere, this douche canoe pops up like a lurking viper, and exclaims "DID SOMEBODY SAY SOMETHIN' ABOUT BUYIN' A CAR!?!?"
    My personal favorite is the one in which two women on a double date take a break to powder their noses, and one comments "Well, he's cute, but he has GOT to get a new car." Jeff then springs forth from the over the wall of the toilet stall, in what one would assume is the women's restroom, and utters his catchphrase. It's as if the ad agency folks were sitting around a table trying to think of what to do with the next spot, and someone said "You know, this guy seems like a serial rapist…let's run with that!"
    The bathroom stall spot is one of the ones excerpted in the "best" of commercial here:

    1. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

      "GET IN HERE!!!!"
      Beat me to it. As a former Dayton-area resident, that guy's one of the things I'll miss least. Dave Hidy of Hidy Honda is a close second.
      Also, I'd like to make a shout out to Walker Pontiac-Toyota-Mitsubishi. Not because they have obnoxious commercials, but because they're the worst dealership I've ever encountered.
      EDIT: Almost forgot, my first car was originally purchased at Bob Rohrman's Shaumburg Honda Automobiles. I've still got the keychain around here somewhere.

  8. Feds_II Avatar

    I can not for the life of me understand how someone watches a Huge Billy commercial and thinks "That looks like a guy I want to do business with!" His Hyundai commercials are the best. He stumbles over model names so much, you can practically hear his brain trying to hold back "rice burning piece of shit" while he spits out Hay-oo-un-die Soo-dada. Huuuuuuu Jah!
    That said, for all the same reasons, I LOVE the Pecoraros from Riverfront Auto Sales. Their ads are mostly radio, but Momma may or may not be my facebook friend.

  9. citroen67 Avatar

    I wish I could find some footage of this guy, he owns a small chain of used car dealerships in mid-Michigan called RPM Auto Sales. He is the epitome of a rip-off used car dealer. IMHO, his commercials are uber-cheesy looking, and his dealerships are very dopey.

  10. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Sonny Haugland, aka "Sonny Hill." Kansas City's most annoying commercials ("Right under that Platte City water tower!") and not a nice man to to business with.
    And no, he wasn't the cowboy hick on the commercials. That was a paid actor.

  11. Alff Avatar

    Never heard of this guy (moved here in '95). It appears he finished as he began … underwater.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Then I guess that "Bet yer boots, Colonel Billy!" probably doesn't mean anything to you, either.
      That one is truly your loss.

      1. Alff Avatar

        Huh. Thanks for filling me in. I've heard others use the phrase but never knew what it meant. I do kind of miss some of Ray Adams' sillier shticks.
        Are you familiar with the Crowley furniture father and daughter ads? I once made a less than flattering comment about the daughter's wardrobe to a buddy over lunch one day. Turns out she is his cousin. I've learned to be a little more careful since.

  12. SeanKHotay Avatar

    I went into a Fucillo Ford looking for an oil filler cap. After the 20 min search for the part, had to do the Walk-of-Lame to the business office to pay for the part.
    "What ya got?"
    "Just a small part."
    "Oh…it's not HuuuuuuJah!"
    They got a whithering look and $7.39 in return…

  13. discontinuuity Avatar

    There's so many terrible commercials to choose from in the Denver area:
    John Elway:
    [youtube IWLpcFp_2CM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWLpcFp_2CM youtube]
    Auto Ranch:
    [youtube r1Hzputgj3k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1Hzputgj3k youtube]
    Rocky's Auto: http://www.rockysautosinc.com/

    1. discontinuuity Avatar

      Here's the Auto Ranch commercial:
      [youtube 9d5tSN2qPPs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d5tSN2qPPs youtube]

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