The Top 10 Craziest Incentives Dealerships Have Used to Sell Cars

Due to the ongoing chip shortage, car sales are in a rough spot right now, but of course, that wasn’t always the case. Prices might seem high now, but not that long ago, car dealerships and automakers were doing everything they could to convince people to buy a car. Here’s a look at the top 10 craziest incentives that dealerships used to sell cars.

Guns, bibles, and car dealerships

The John Andrew Ford dealership in Auckland, New Zealand
The John Andrew Ford dealership | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A small-town car dealership in South Carolina once offered a free AR-15 and a bible for the purchase of a car. That said, the car dealership was at least doing background checks before giving out that free firearm. 

Buy a Kia, get a Kia free

According to Jalopnik, not that long ago, some Kia dealerships tried a few crazy tactics to get people to buy their cars. This was back when the Kia Rio was known for being dangerous, so it made sense that dealerships would need these incentives. For example, one offer said that if customers bought a Kia minivan, they’d get a Rio for free. Another dealership tried something similar but with a Ford F-150.

A Chevy and a free Geo Metro

The buy one, get one free dealership tradition has been happening for a long time. As Jalopnik wrote, there used to be a promotion involving Chevy vans and the Geo Metro. However, since the Geo Metro was a very basic car, it’s not clear if that was much of an incentive at all.

Free lifetime powertrain warranty, sort of

According to Jalopnik, car dealerships often have a terrible reputation, and this incentive was another example of that. A dealership chain from St. Louis offered free lifetime powertrain warranties for used cars. There was a catch, though. Customers would have to follow the dealership’s maintenance schedule, and if they did, then they would’ve already spent a lot of money on their car. 

A free Chrysler PT Cruiser dealership deal

The PT Cruiser had a bad reputation, and some dealerships thought they could salvage it with another buy one, get one free deal. This was good news for anyone who wanted two PT Cruisers, but not for anyone else.

7 years of financing

This tactic is still happening nowadays, but it’s still pretty crazy. 72 or 84 months of financing may keep monthly payments low, but that’s a long time to be paying off a car.

Cash for clunkers dealerships

The Clash for Clunkers dealership program provided quite a few great cars to customers. For example, Jalopnik talked about a $1,800 Town & Country minivan that lasted for 11 years and 190,000 miles and only cost $6,000 in maintenance fees. It would’ve been a great deal in today’s economy.

Practically an investment

Similarly, other places offered cars with 0% interest for long periods of time. As such, this allowed some vehicles to practically be an investment. Jalopnik mentioned a $21,000 Volkswagen GTI from 2018 that was sold for $22,000 thanks to that 0% interest rate deal.

Free supercharging

Back when Tesla wasn’t a powerhouse in the automotive industry, Tesla was doing all it could to get people to buy its cars. This included offering free lifetime supercharging to customers. Tesla’s not as generous nowadays, and it makes sense since using a Tesla Supercharger can cost a few dollars. 

A free Volkswagen Beetle

One of the craziest dealership incentives, according to Jalopnik, happened in Brazil. In 1994, the President of Brazil restarted production of the VW Beetle for just one year. As it turns out, though, nobody wanted to buy a Beetle. So, as a way to get rid of all of those Beetles, dealerships offered a free Beetle to anyone who purchased the most expensive car they offered.

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