The Wheeler Dealer
Written by Bill Freedman and Ben Gershman
Greg buys his first car for $100 and learns a hard lesson about caveat emptor. I hope you enjoy the script.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
EDDIE, Greg’s friend
RONNIE, another friend
(The episode begins with Greg and Mike in Mike’s car. Mike is giving Greg a driving lesson as they drive around town. They come into their driveway as Greg prepares to park.)
Mike: Greg, watch the, watch out for the wagon now.
(Mike pushes it out of the way and Greg starts to park.)
Mike: Don’t go on the grass.
(Greg successfully parks the car.)
Greg: How did I do?
Mike: Well, you did fine. I’m really proud of you.
Greg: You really mean it?
Mike: Anybody who can navigate the Brady obstacle course without a major collision is ready for anything.
Greg: I hope I do as well tomorrow when I take that driver’s test.
Mike: You’ll do fine.
(He gets out of the car as Marcia and Jan come by and laugh at Greg.)
Greg (angry): I wish you kids would keep your junk out of the driveway.
Jan: Look who’s calling who kids.
Greg: When you’re old enough to drive a car, you’re not a kid anymore.
Jan: Oh, big man.
Greg: For your information, they don’t give a license to just anybody. And in 24 hours, I’m going to have one that says Greg Brady, qualified driver.
Marcia: If you pass the test.
(Greg starts to get out of the car. The girls burst into laughter again.)
Jan: He can’t even unbuckle his seat belt.
Marcia (sarcastically): Great driver.
(Greg glares at them as the scene fades out.)
(The next scene has Alice in the kitchen reading the driver’s manual. Greg comes in.)
Greg: Oh, you’ve got it. I’ve been looking all over for it.
Alice: There sure are a lot of rules and regulations.
Greg: Yeah, you got to learn this whole thing exactly.
Alice: Even if I could learn the written part, I’d still have a problem.
Greg: Why is that?
Alice: I don’t know how to drive.
Greg: You mean you’ve never driven?
Alice: Only shopping carts. Over 100,000 miles, only one accident.
Greg: If you want to learn, I could teach you easily.
Alice: Oh, you really think so?
Greg: Oh, sure, come on. (He takes the chairs from the tables) Driver’s seat, passenger seat.
Alice (sitting down): I’ll fasten my seat belt.
(Greg takes a gold dish and uses it for a steering wheel.)
Greg: This will be your steering wheel.
Alice: Mmm, that is one classy steering wheel.
(She pretends to start driving.)
Greg: Hold it.
Alice: What’s the matter?
Greg: You forgot to turn on the engine.
(She pretends to turn the engine on, then take off.)
Greg: Hold it!
Alice: What’s the matter now?
Greg; You can’t just pull away from the curb without checking behind you. You have a rear view mirror up here and over there, and check over your shoulder.
Alice (checking backwards): Now. (She pretends to start driving and makes a sound like a motor. She laughs) Nice quiet engine.
Greg: You’re doing fine.
Alice: Thank you.
Greg: You better watch it now, Alice. You’re on the freeway.
Alice (frightened): Freeway!
(She panics and hands the plate back to Greg.)
(He hands it back and she pretends to resume driving. Bobby and Cindy come into the kitchen.)
Alice: Look out!
Bobby: What are you doing, Alice?
Alice: I’m driving.
Cindy: In the kitchen.
Alice: No, on the freeway. It’s my first lesson.
Cindy (to Bobby); We better get out of here.
Bobby: Yeah, this is no place for pedestrians.
(Next, Carol looks outside and then closes the door.)
Carol (to Marcia and Jan): I thought I heard the car drive up.
Jan: What’s taking Greg so long?
Marcia: There will be no living with him once he gets his license.
Carol: Well, look Marcia, I wouldn’t tease him if I were you. I mean, you’re going to be getting your license in another year or two.
Jan: Boy, they’ll give a license to everybody.
Marcia: Is that so?
Carol: Cool it.
(Greg comes home and looks depressed.)
Carol: Hi, Greg.
Greg (glumly): Hi. Dad had to go back to the office. He said he’d be home in time for dinner.
(He sits down looking upset.)
Marcia: You don’t have to tell us, Greg.
Jan: We can tell by the look on your face.
Carol: A lot of people don’t pass the first time, honey. What did the man say?
Greg: The man (Pause) said to show you this.
(He hands her an envelope. She opens it.)
Carol: Oh, you, it’s your license. Congratulations.
(She hugs him and Marcia and Jan sigh in disappointment.)
Marcia: Boy, that was pretty sneaky putting us on like that.
Jan: But we’ll let you drive us around anyway.
Marcia: Yeah, congratulations.
(The girls walk away.)
Carol: Oh, that’s great. Well look, you know, I promised you you can drive my car once in a while, and I’m sure your father will let you drive his, too.
Greg: You and Dad don’t have to worry about that anymore.
Carol: What do you mean?
Greg (getting up): Now that I’m an official driver, I’ll buy a car of my own.
(He walks away.)
Carol (shocked): A car of your own?
(Later on, Greg is showing Peter and Bobby some potential cars he might buy in a car magazine.)
Greg: I don’t know which of these cars I’d rather have.
Peter: Boy, are you a dreamer?
Bobby: Yeah, what are you gonna use for money?
Greg: This convertible is groovy, but the hardtop is pretty sharp too.
Peter: Why don’t you get them both, Mr. Moneybags.
Greg: You guys think I’m kidding about getting a car?
Bobby: If you’re not, you’re nuts.
Greg: Just to prove it, Peter, you know my bike?
Peter: Yeah, what about it?
Greg: Now that I’ll be getting a car of my own, I won’t need the bike anymore, you can have it.
Peter: I can?
Peter: What’s the catch?
Greg: Can’t a guy perform a simple act of generosity without being suspected?
Peter: Boy, I always said you were the greatest, didn’t I, Bobby?
Bobby: No, just this morning…
Peter: Who asked you? Thanks, Greg.
Greg: Think nothing of it.
(The next scene has Mike coming in the room to speak to Greg.)
Greg: Hi, Dad.
Mike: Hi, say, I hear you’ve been talking about buying a car.
Greg: Yeah, I figured why should I inconvenience you and Mom, always borrowing yours?
Mike: That’s very considerate of you. (He looks at the magazine) Is this the one you had in mind?
Greg: No, but I’m going to try and get something as close to it as I can.
Mike: That’s a pretty fancy machine. A gentle reminder to you, my boy, your name is Brady, not Onassis.
Greg: I’m going to buy it, Dad. Look, I’ve been saving $109.
(He takes the cash out of his pocket to show Mike.)
Mike (proud): Hey, you’ve been adding to it. That’s good. But I want you to promise me one thing, before you buy a car, you let me look at it.
Greg: Sure, Dad.
Mike: How did you mange to save all that?
Greg: It wasn’t easy. I had to give up a lot of the necessities in life.
Mike: Like what?
Greg: Pizzas and French fries and girls.
Mike (laughing): Girls?
Greg; Well, mostly pizzas and French fries.
(Carol and Mike are in his den further discussing the matter.)
Carol: I still don’t like the idea of a 16 year-old owning his own car.
Mike: Well, look honey, you know, we did promise him. And he’s had driver’s education in school, he’s passed his test, and really, he’s a pretty good driver.
Carol: I know, but, why can’t he drive my car or your car?
Mike: In the long run, what difference does it make? Your car, my car, his car. You got to be logical with him.
Carol: I don’t have to be logical, I’m a mother.
Mike: Well, honey, anyway, I think you’re worrying prematurely because by the time Greg gets enough money for the kind of car he wants, the 1999 models are going to be here.
Carol: Oh no, he wants to buy a car right now.
Mike: Look, he’s only got 100 bucks. He’s not gonna be satisfied with anything he can get for that.
Carol: Just a hundred dollars?
Mike: Yes, and delusions and grandeur. What kind of a car can he get for $100.
(Next, we see a run down car that reads for sale like new. It belongs to Greg’s friend, Eddie, who wants to sell it.)
Eddie: She’s a beauty, ain’t she, Greg? I’m only selling her because I need a fast hundred bucks. You know, I’ve got 5 or 6 guys just waiting to buy this baby, but it’s such a good deal, I wanted a friend to have it first.
Greg: Thanks, Eddie, I appreciate that. (He checks out the car) There’s an awful lot of chrome missing up and down here, and all these dents.
Eddie: What chrome missing? I got it right here. (He takes a crowbar out) as for these dents, take it to the auto shop at school, they’ll pound them right out for you. (Greg tries unsuccessfully to open the car door) So it sticks a little. When you own a convertible, you don’t use doors, you just jump right in. (He jumps in the car to show Greg) Sports car, right?
Eddie: But if you want to do it the regular way, it does work. (He kicks the door open from the inside) You see?
Greg: Eddie, look at this big hole in the backseat.
Eddie: What hole? A little rip. Sew it up, only a dime for needle and thread. Listen to this horn. (He turns it on) The windshield wipers work, the radio…
Greg: Can I hear the engine?
Eddie: Sure, purrs like a kitten.(He turns it on and it makes a rumbling noise. Greg looks startled) Runs a little rough, until she’s warmed up, then she’s great.
Greg: Yeah, I can feel it.
(The engine backfires)
Eddie: The idle just needs to be adjusted. All this baby needs is a little bit of work.
Greg: Eddie, I don’t know.
(Eddie comes out of the car.)
Eddie: Greg, Greg, for a hundred bucks and a little bit of work, you got yourself a car that’s worth maybe $500.
Greg: Think all it will take is a little work?
Eddie: Positive. Tell you what I’m gonna do. (He takes a book out of the car) I’m gonna throw in repair manual, absolutely free. With this, a 10 year old could fix her up.
Greg (looking at the book): I told my Dad I’d let him look at anything I bought first.
Eddie: What time is it, Greg?
Greg (looking at his watch): It’s 3:20. Why?
Eddie: Car’s gonna be gone by the time you get your Dad here. I got a guy coming in 10 minutes, and with him, it’s a sure sale.
Greg: Eddie, I don’t know.
Eddie: Greg, it’s a great deal. Or would you rather wait 5 or 6 years for a set of wheels.
(Greg stands there pondering. Cut over to the house, where Carol and Alice are in the kitchen. carol is writing down a shopping list with Alice figuring out what they need.)
Alice: Cocoa, sugar.
Alice: Peanut butter.
(They suddenly hear the sound of a horrible engine.)
Carol: What on earth was that?
Alice: Sounds like the mating call of a lovesick moose.
(The girls hear it from their room.)
Cindy: What was that?
Jan: It sounds horrible.
Marcia: I know, come on.
(Mike hears the sound from his den, Peter and Bobby from their room. they all go outside to see what the commotion is. It’s the horn of Greg’s new car.)
Mike: Greg, could you turn that thing off.
Greg: Dad, I’m trying, as soon as I get the hood open.
(The hood suddenly opens up.)
Greg: How do you like her?
(The family laughs.)
Carol: Uh, Mike.
Greg: She’s mine, all mine.
(Greg hits down on the rim and suddenly steam rises from the front.)
Alice (jokingly): Head for the hills, the dam has busted!
(The scene fades.)
(The next scene has Mike and Carol outside examining Greg’s car.)
Mike: Greg, are you trying to tell us that you actually bought this, uh…
Greg: Classic, Dad.
Carol: Mike, do you think it’s safe for him to drive it?
Mike: Honey, I think it’s the safest kind of car you can have. One that’s not going to run.
Greg: A little work and I’ll have this thing running great.
Mike: Listen, I thought you promised me that you were going to let me look at the car before you bought it.
Greg: I know, but I had to move fast. A lot other guys wanted to buy this thing, but my friend Eddie offered it to me first. It was such a great bargain, I knew you’d understand.
Carol (to Mike): Some friend, that Eddie.
Mike: Yeah. (to Greg) Greg, uh, what did you pay for it?
Greg: 100 bucks. Eddie said it was a steal.
Mike: Yeah, I think it was a steal.
Greg: He even threw in this repair manual. Now with this thing, even a 10 year-old can fix her up. See, it tells you how to boil out a carburator, work on the timing gear, and a lot of stuff about the transmission.
Carol: Well, I think I’ll leave you two mechanics to work out the greasy details. I’ll be back in about an hour to see old faithful blow again.
Mike: Well, you think you could get it started so I could hear the engine?
Greg: Sure Dad, yeah.
(He tries opening the door but then remembers about Eddie said to jump in. He hits his leg on the door while doing so. He turns the engine on and it makes a rattling noise.
Greg: How does it sound?
Mike: Like a flock of geese heading south. Sick geese.
(Greg turns the engine off.)
Greg: Yeah, well, Eddie said that’s the idle. Nothing a couple of turns of a screwdriver can’t fix. (He gets out of the car) You know what, Dad? I was thinking, put a new coat of paint on here. Maybe a rally stripe down the front of the hood. Mag wheels, a whip antenna for the radio.
Mike: Don’t you think that’s gonna strain your budget a little bit?
Greg: Well, not if I do all the work myself. It shouldn’t cost much at all.
Mike: Not much more than a new Rolls Royce.
Greg: Yeah, well, maybe I can do a little bit at a time.
Mike: Well, all right. We’ll work it out. You know, it kinda reminds me of an old car my Dad used to have. Matter of fact, I think it is my Dad’s old car.
(Next, Greg has the other kids helping him fix the car up.)
Greg: Jan, you don’t stir paint with a socket wrench. You’ll ruin it, give it to me.
Jan: Okay, here.
(She gives it to him and his hand gets dirty.)
Greg: Thanks a lot. (He sees Peter cleaning off rust) Is all the rust coming off?
Peter: I hope not.
Greg: What do you mean?
Peter: It’s the only thing holding the car together.
Greg: Take it easy.
Marcia: At least the upholstery is clean, Greg.
Greg: Okay, great. Thanks Marcia. Hey, what’s that stuff you’re cleaning it with?
Greg: Black water?
Marcia: it wasn’t black when I started.
(He goes to Bobby and Cindy., who are at the engine)
Greg: What do you think you’re doing?
Cindy: Cleaning the engine.
Bobby: There’s a lot of grease and gunk in here.
Greg: You don’t clean an engine with a vacuum. Get that out of here. (to himself) Kids.
(He takes the manual and reads it. Alice and Carol are in the kitchen.)
Carol: Hey Alice, what are you cooking? Something new?
Alice: Would you care to guess, Mrs. Brady?
Carol: Well, it certainly smells odd. Cabbage?
Carol: Well, now I know it’s not brussel sprouts.
Alice: Nope. give up?
Alice: Specialty of the house. Boiled out carburetor ala Greg.
(The next scene has Greg showing the rest of the family his new, but not so improved, car.)
Greg: Listen, I know you never thought I’d get it done.
Carol: That’s true.
Greg: But here it is.
Mike: Well, I have to admit I was a doubting Thomas.
Carol: And I was Mrs. Doubting Thomas.
Greg: I guess I’m just a natural born mechanic. I got the engine running like a watch.
(Alice notices some stuff on the ground next to the car.)
Alice: What’s that? Spare parts for the watch?
Greg: No, I redesigned the engine.
Bobby: That’s just extra junk we didn’t need.
Greg: All right, everybody, you’re about to see the hottest set of wheels this side of Indianapolis.
(He has a hard time getting the cover off the car.)
Peter (worried): I think we put the cloth on before the paint was dry.
Greg: I think it’s just caught in the door here. (He climbs up top to remove the cloth) Here it is, folks. Ta-da.
(He finally removes it and the family is impressed with how much better the car looks.)
Mike: You’ve certainly done a fine job, son.
Alice: Say, that looks marvelous.
Greg (getting in the car): Wait till you hear the engine. (He starts up the engine) Oh, and I fixed that short in the horn, too. In fact, I rewired all the electrical circuits. Listen to this horn.
(He tries starting up the horn but the windshield wipers start up. Then the trunk of the car starts up.)
Carol: What’s causing that?
(The engine goes off again and steam comes out of the hood again.)
Alice (worried): It’s going mad.
Mike: Hey, you better bail out!
(The next scene has Greg realizing he made a bad investment.)
Greg: Boy, did I ever get stuck with a lemon. A little elbow grease.
Mike: Well, I don’t think a little elbow grease is going to cure rigor mortis.
(He starts to lean up by the car.)
Greg: Careful, Dad, you’re liable to crush the door. Some friend that Eddie.
Mike: Aw, come on Greg. Forget about Eddie. You made a business deal, he got the best of you. That’s all.
Greg: Business deal. That’s the last time I’m gonna do business with a friend.
Mike: I think maybe you learned something about the business world.
Greg: What do you mean?
Mike: Well look, you take sellers, they’ve got something to sell, right?
Mike: Naturally, they’re going to make it sound as attractive as possible, even if they have to exaggerate to do it.
Greg: You mean lie.
Mike: Yes, quite often they do. Although they might call it gilding the lily. But the important thing is you’re the buyer, you have to keep your guard up, see. It’s the old principle of caveat emptor.
Greg: Caveat emptor?
Mike: It’s Latin for let the buyer beware. Or to put it in the vernacular, them who don’t look sometimes get took.
Greg: Well, that Eddie took me.
Mike: Yeah, he did. He had you hog tied and happy before you knew it, but you let it happen. Okay, the important thing is that you learned something.
Greg: Don’t worry Dad, have I ever.
(Mike pats Greg’s shoulder.)
Mike: Good boy.
(Peter and Bobby are in their room playing darts when Greg comes in.)
Peter: What were you talking to Dad about?
Greg: Oh, a few of the facts of life, like caveat emptor.
Bobby: What’s that?
Greg: It means let the buyer beware in Latin.
Peter: Yeah, don’t you know anything?
Bobby: Oh, I know Latin. Obby Bay , Aday Bray, that’s Bobby Brady in Latin.
Peter: That’s pig Latin, loser.
Greg: Boy, I sure learned my lesson. When I get rid of that old clunk, this time, I’m the seller. And it’s the other guy that has to do the caveat emptoring.
Peter: How are you going to get rid of it?
Greg: Just find somebody who’s dumber than I am.
Bobby: It isn’t going to be easy.
(Next, Greg has a sign on a car that says Real Sharp, and he’s trying to sell to his friend Ronnie.)
Greg: I knew you were looking for a car, Ronnie. That’s why I called. I want a friend to have this baby.
Ronnie: I don’t know, Greg. It looks kind of an old model.
Greg: Oh, Ronnie, the word isn’t old, the world is classic. In a couple of years, this will be a collector’s item, worth five times what I’m asking for it.
Ronnie: Yeah, you think so.
Greg: Oh, sure. Listen, I got 5 or 6 guys after this beauty. But like I said, I want a friend to have it.
Ronnie: Yeah, I appreciate it, too.
(Marcia and Jan come by.)
Marcia: Hi, what are you doing?
Greg: Just showing Ronnie this little gem here. Tell him how sensational the car is, girls.
Marcia (sarcastically): Sure, sensational.
Jan (in the same tone): Oh, especially when it’s standing still.
(He laughs and pushes them away.)
Greg: Those sisters of mine. Great little sense of humor.
(Ronnie tries to open the door.)
Ronnie: What’s the matter with the door?
Greg: So it sticks a little. Listen, when you got a convertible, who uses doors? You just jump in like it was a sports car, right? Watch this. (He jumps in the way Eddie showed him to) There. Now listen, I want to tell you about these wipers I got in here. I got them hooked up to the horn, it’s fantastic.
(Ronnie attempts to get in and Cindy comes out with leftover parts from the car.)
Cindy: Greg, can I have these?
Greg: Cindy, can’t you see I’m busy?
Cindy: But you said these parts were left over after you tried to fix the motor.
Greg (laughing): Great little sense of humor, nine years old. Cindy, I got a candy bar on my dresser. You can have it.
Cindy (walking away): Thanks.
Greg: Hey Ronnie. why don’t you try it. Come on.
(Ronnie jumps in the car.)
Ronnie: By the way, how’s the engine?
Greg: Great, just great. And listen, I wanted to show you this radio.
Ronnie: Well, can I hear it?
Greg: Sure, but it’s a waste of time. Purrs like a kitten.
(He turns the engine on but it rattles like it had before.)
Ronnie: Sounded kind of funny.
Greg: That’s just the idle. Nothing a couple of turns of a screwdriver can’t fix, huh? Listen, make up your mind, Ronnie. is it a deal?
Ronnie: I don’t know, Greg.
Greg: What time is it?
(Ronnie looks at his wrist and realizes he has no watch.)
Ronnie: I don’t know.
Greg (checking his watch): It’s 4:15, and I got to show this to another guy in 5 minutes. Now, what will it be, Ron? Do you want to miss the lifetime of an opportunity or do you want the car?
(Ronnie has the same look on his face Greg had before he got it. Mike and Carol return home from the store and see Marcia and Jan in the backyard, jumping rope.)
Carol: Hello girls.
Jan: Oh, hi.
Carol: Well, it looks like Greg must have got his car running.
Mike: He must have used artificial respiration. Hey, girls, do you know where Greg went?
Marcia: He was showing the car to some boy, then they drove off somewhere. He was trying to get us to say how great that old wreck was.
Jan: He kept winking at us you know, like that. (She imitates the way he did it) And he even gave Cindy a candy bar.
Carol (to Mike): Well, I wonder what that was all about.
Mike: Hmm, so do I. (They see Peter and Bobby) Boys, did Greg sell his car?
Bobby: Yeah, he called the guy a pigeon.
Peter: He said he was really going to cavit the guy’s eruptor.
Carol (confused): Cavit his eruptor? What…
Mike: I think he means caveat his emptor.
Carol: Caveat emptor? Now, where did they pick that up?
Mike: I had a long talk with Greg about buying and selling, but I’m afraid he learned the wrong lesson.
(Next, Greg is in the den with Mike and Carol, telling them how his day went.)
Greg: Yeah, I really gave him (Ronnie) a hard sell. The chump went for it hook, line and sinker.
Carol: You didn’t lie to him, did you, Greg?
Greg: I gilded the lily pretty good.
Mike: Greg, is that all you got out of that talk we had?
Greg: Sure, that’s what gave me the idea. I figured if I got stuck, why shouldn’t somebody else?
Carol: So you found yourself a pigeon.
Greg: It was a cinch. I had the hundred dollars in my hot little hand and then…
Mike: Then you what?
Greg: And then I let the sucker off the hook. I just couldn’t go through with it.
Carol: You mean you didn’t sell him the car?
Greg (shrugging): I guess I’m a pretty crummy businessman.
Mike: No, no, you’re an honest one.
Carol: Right, but where’s the car?
Greg: Oh, well, I was getting to that. Driving home, it broke down, between Second street and Fifth street.
Mike: That’s a pretty big area, whereabouts?
Greg: All the way. It just kept falling apart.
(They all laugh.)
Carol: Fifth street. Isn’t that over near the junkyard?
Greg: That’s where I sold it. The junkman gave me 50 bucks for it.
Mike: Listen, you lost 50 dollars, but if you learned something, it’s worth it.
Carol: Especially the way it ended. Can you imagine a car falling apart in front of a junkyard?
Greg: Yeah, well, I guess cars are like elephants, Mom. They both know where to go when they die.
(He leaves the den and Mike and Carol laughing. The scene fades.)
(The final scene has Carol and the girls leaving for their ballet lesson.)
Carol: Now, come on girls, we’re going to be late. In the station wagon.
Jan: We’re hurrying, Mom.
Carol (to Alice): I forgot the ballet class was early this morning. We’ll be back in a couple of hours.
(Carol leaves but comes back.)
Carol: I forgot one. Come on, Cindy. (Cindy comes) At a girl.
(Mike comes in the kitchen with golf equipment.)
Alice: Ah, your breakfast is on the table. I hope you wanted eggs.
Mike: Anything’s great, Alice. I’m late for my golf game.
(Greg comes out.)
Greg; Dad, can I use the car, please?
Mike: No, I’m sorry, son. I’m playing golf this morning.
Greg: Shoot, I’m pitching today, and if they start somebody else, I’ll lose my spot.
Mike: Oh, all right, all right. I’ll get your mother to drive me. (He gives Greg the keys to the car) Here.
Greg: Okay, great. Thanks, Dad.
(He runs off.)
Mike: Listen, be careful, will you?
Alice: Eggs okay?
Mike: Yeah, they’re fine. Alice, listen, do you think Mrs. Brady is ready to go yet? I want her to drop me off at the golf course.
Alice: She’s more than ready to go, Mr. Brady, she’s gone.
Mike: Gone. (He gets upset) Oh no, there goes my golf game.
Alice: Wait a minute. I have a feeling from now on you’ll be needing this more than I am.
Mike: What’s that?
Alice: My bus pass.
Mike: Bus pass?
Alice: Oh, it’s a cinch, Mr. Brady. You take the number two bus to Oak street, then you transfer to the 56 crosstown. Then you take the 18 to the end of the line. And from there on, it’s express all the way.