Where's My Dream Car?

Why built-to-order autos aren't rolling out of cyberdealerships

All Brenda Clough wanted was a new Toyota Celica without a tacky spoiler on the trunk. But not one of the six dealerships near her Northern Virginia suburb could come up with one, even though spoilers are listed as an option on the car. "I told my dealer it was a deal-breaker," says Clough, 45. Just as shocking, though, was when the science-fiction writer discovered that it took three months of surfing the Internet and old-fashioned phone calls to Toyota dealerships in surrounding states before she could find a Celica sans spoiler. Clough bought the car, even though it lacks anti-lock brakes, side-impact air bags, and a winterizing package--all of them options she would gladly have paid a few thousand dollars to get.

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