One of the more obscure board games from Parker Brothers’ past is the used car dealership game, Dealer’s Choice, released in 1972. This game puts you in the shoes of the owner of a used car lot, and asks you to wheel and deal your way to the top of the food chain. And you might as well check your ethics at the door; in this game, you won’t need them.
This is not a traditional Parker Brothers board game. In fact, there is no game board at all. Instead, a central wheel-shaped “organizer” holds all the cards and money for players to access on their turns. Each player gets a “Blue Book” with secret vehicle values that they use to determine how much money they can make off the deal. Each Blue Book has a different set of values in it, so no one knows what the other players are sitting on. Players get “Auto” cards that have list book prices on them. The difference between the list and Blue Books is the key dynamic on how the game is played. Players buy and sell cars to both the bank and each other, each looking to come out ahead on the deal.
Complicating matters are the “Dealer’s Choice” cards, which contain cards to make players buy or sell, cards that cause the loss of their cars due to theft, accident or fire (or insure them against such disasters), cards that cancel other cards, and even cards that temporarily close the lot to prevent a bad deal.
Some tense negotiations can result from the player-to-player car transactions. No one trusts a used car salesman, especially one sitting across the table from you. Sometimes an opponent might think that the asking price is more than the Blue Book value, and opt to “look under the hood.” If this happens the seller must reveal their Blue Book value for the car, and if the suspicions are well founded, must sell the car at the Blue Book value plus give the buyer an additional $2,000 for being so darn dishonest. But if the suspicions are wrong, and the seller’s Blue Book value is not more than the asking price, the buyer must now purchase the car at the Blue Book value and give $2,000 to the seller for being such a huge pain in the backside.
Fun as this game is, to all good things must come an ending. For Dealer’s Choice, the game ends once all the cars are gone and at least one player’s lot is empty. At that point the money is counted and the assets are liquidated for their Blue Book values, and the player with the most filthy lucre wins.
Dealer’s Choice requires a minimum of three players for negotiation purposes, and a maximum of five can play (there are only five Blue Books). The minimum playing age is 10 years old, but I’d recommend even a little older due to all the accounting a player needs to be doing every turn. This game is a lot of fun, and if you’ve ever wanted to simulate playing a sleazy used car dealer, there are few games that equal Dealer’s Choice!