“If you can’t trust your car dealer, who can you trust?”
Phil Roger emailed on the subject of the car dealers of the 1960s & 70s, mentioning Dick Balch. I was a fan of his commercials, and I had heard rumors about his wild lifestyle. Years later, rumor was that a scandal had closed down the dealership.
It turns out — it was the economy!
From the Seattle Times, 1981, Steve Johnston & Erik Lacitis probe into the demise of “Sledgehammer-slinging” Dick Balch. Cocaine, women and a swingin’ bachelor pad. Certainly, a wild & crazy guy…
In 2011, Erik Lacitis wrote in the Seattle Times -
He’s now 80, living in Tacoma, and once again selling cars — “high-end cars,” he says, not really going too much into detail.
“You write about me and the devils come out of the woodwork, girls claiming paternity, whatever,” Balch says.
Though older now, the trademark laugh is still there. And those who were around for his commercials still instantly recognize him, Balch says.
“They turn around, say, ‘Oh, my God!’ Everybody remembers me as a legend, despite the liquor, sex, drugs and drug and rock ‘n’ roll,” he says.
He’s now married to Melissa Balch, about three decades his junior.
“Oh, she came to the house for one of the parties in 1978 or 1979,” remembers Balch.
Of the 1970s, he says, “It was fun. The car business then was a kick in the pants.”