Autos: Discounters on Wheels

The U.S. buyer, who can already shop for everything from clothes to furniture in the nation's spreading discount houses, is being tempted by a new phenomenon: the auto discount firm. Operating mostly in big cities and their suburbs, the cut-rate car sellers have cropped up in Southern California, New York, St. Louis, other parts of the Middle West and the South.

The discounter's economics are simple: he buys a new car from an authorized dealer at anywhere from $50 to $150 above the dealer's cost, tacks on from $100 to $200 as his own profit. He may sell...

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