Back in the heat of July, Blake asked, “Who’s Your Most Hated Minor Celebrity Car Dealer?”. In the comments, I mentioned former Kansas City area car dealer Sonny Hill. Alff lamented that he was never able to
suffer through view a Sonny Hill TV ad. Going through some old videotape recently, I found a typical thirty-second Sonny Hill spot that aired in 1988. So, now Alff and all the other Hoons out there can share my pain the experience.
Notice that the country-hokum pitchman never says his name is Sonny Hill. He instead says “I’m Sonny Hill Motors.” That’s because he was a paid actor; there never was any Sonny Hill. The owner’s nickname was “Sonny” but his legal name was was Donald Haugland, and he looked and talked nothing like the man in the commercials. But we all know people feel most comfortable buying cars from businesses seemingly staffed by moronic yokels, right?
Perhaps the facade was intended to infer that the incredibly ignorant “Sonny” might be easily out-negotiated by comparatively more savvy cosmopolites. In any case, the country-bumpkin schtick eventually wore out its welcome, and the Sonny Hill TV persona was quietly shelved sometime in the early ’90s. The quality of TV viewing in the Kansas City area skyrocketed overnight.
Sonny Hill Motors, Inc. went under in October, 1998. Mr. Haugland filed for personal bankruptcy shortly thereafter.
If for some reason you can’t see the video above, you can click here to view a Windows Media file hosted at Tanshanomi.com.