DO YOU WANT to know why automobiles are not rolling these days? I'll tell you why. I was looking for a car the other day to replace a gas guzzler I was unhappy with.

My first stop was at the Banzai dealership.

"I want a small car, comforatable, that won't use up too much petrol."

"Then the Banzai is for you. It has everything a big car has but you never have to fill the tank."

"I'm just looking, mind you," I told him. "I like the styling of the Banzai, but I might also check out a Brustein XLD."

"I understand," the salesman said, "But I think you ought to know the 1980 Brustein XLD has had eight recalls so far, and we're still in January."

"I didn't know that. Was it in the papers?"

"They keep things like that out of the papers. It seems if you have to stop for a red light, the seatbelt can give you a hernia. If you're looking for something hernia-proof then you should get a Banzai with a sun roof."

I told him I'd be back. I went across the street to inspect a Hara-Kiri Sword and seemed happy with it. But I wasn't sure whether I wanted a Sword or a Banzai.

"The Banzai's a very good car," he said, "except the transmission keeps falling out of it. Apparently the people who made it give their workers sake instead of coffee when they take a break. Banzai workers are drunk all the time, except when they're out on strike."

I thanked him for the information on the Banzai and told him that although I planned to look at other cars I would probably wind up buying a Sword.

The next showroom I went to displayed the Achtung 489. The salesman told me each Achtung was guaranteed to give 35 miles to the gallon, and the doors could be removed and made into a bed. He asked me what other automobiles I had looked at.

I told him the last one I liked was a Hara-Kiri Sword.

"Do you have a family?" the man asked.

"Yes," I replied, "why do you ask?"

"Nothing," he said. "I just returned from a funeral of a family that had been driving a Hara-Kiri Sword. I still haven't gotten over it. The police said the steering wheel came off as they were parking in a shopping center. God, that family had so much to live for."

"That couldn't happen in an Achtung?" I inquired.

"I wouldn't be selling them if it could," he said, wiping the tears from his eyes.

I don't want you to think I just looked at foreign cars. My next stop was to check out a compact Stars and Stripes Zipper. The salesman took me for a drive in it. He drove past an auto dump filled with wrecked and crushed cars.

"It's full of 1978 Achtungs," the man said.

"Why?" I asked.

"No resale value," he said. "The only reason a dealer will buy them back is for scrap."

I liked the Zipper until the manager of the Rawhide dealership told me the ashtrays on it were wired into the electrical system and every time you put a cigarette out you got a shock. The people at the Hurricane showroom said the Rawhide's bumpers tended to fall off when it snowed, and the Grunt car dealer said the Hurricane had never been able to make it through a pothole without both axles breaking.

I decided the hell with it. I'll stick to my old Dowdy until I can find a new car that somebody has something nice to say about. Truth in advertising is one thing, but what's going on these days between competing automobile dealers is ridiculous.