05/26/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT
Like gladiators, they knew the combat would be long and arduous and that only one of them could survive. But that did not discourage 32 men and 14 women from accepting a promotional challenge from a Fort Myers, Fla. car dealer: Whoever could keep one hand on a $6,500 customized 1979 Plymouth Arrow the longest would win the vehicle. The contestants had only 10 minutes off each hour to eat and go to the bathroom. They slept with hands taped to the frame. After 21 days only two contestants remained—Cassandra Sapp, a 20-year-old auto paint shop worker, and waiter Michael Noll, 22. "I'm not going to let her win," vowed Noll, "because she's greedy. I offered to split the pot with her, but she wants it all." Replied Sapp: "I'll be here until hell freezes over." Two weeks later the car dealer outlawed lying down—and within two days Noll collapsed from exhaustion. Sapp burst into tears and hugged him. "We have been through a lot together," she said. So had the car. When Sapp tried to start it, the battery was dead.