Car Buyers Pick Their Poison: Free Gun or Free Gas


With Detroit increasingly desperate to unload inventory, one Missouri car dealership seems to have struck gold with a special promotion: Buyers get a $250 coupon towards either a gun or gasoline. The offer comes from Max Motors,
a small dealership south of Kansas City that has slapped
the image of a grimacing cowboy wielding two pistols all over its

Max Motors owner Mark Muller claims sales have quadrupled since the offer took effect. But in this case, the high price of gas seems not to be influencing consumers’ decisions. Most takers are opting to pack heat, reports Reuters:

Every buyer so far "except one guy from Canada and one old guy" has elected to take the gun, Muller said. Muller recommends his customers select a Kel-Tec .380 pistol. "It’s a nice little handgun that fits in your pocket," he said.

When asked by the bloggers at Wheels why drivers choose guns over gas, Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner explained that most consumers prefer their prizes to come in the form of an optional purchase — the gun — rather than a necessary purchase — the gas. "For many coffee-drinking New Yorkers, an equivalent may be the choice between $250 grocery money and an espresso machine," the blog says.

Of course, the analogy doesn’t run very deep. According to the Centers for Disease Control, guns were responsible for 30,694 deaths in 2005, and motor vehicles caused 45,520. You can say this for the latte-sipping elite — the CDC reported no deaths by espresso.

  • Mark Walker

    While the promotion was running, the car dealer’s website threw in this irony-proof slogan:

    “We are aware of the gasoline and crime problem in America. Max Motors…wants to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

    Original graphic reproduced here:

  • Max Rockatansky

    I’d take the gun, it’ll be handy for the upcoming gas warz.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I believe it’s Walsenburg, CO that has a drive-through liquor store and gun shop, though. Hard to beat that.

  • “…about an hour south of Kansas City …” I thought we Livable Streets Types were through with the drive-time-as-distance metric. Or did you mean by bike? Nice piece though (I mean article, not “piece”).

  • Dave H.

    Typo: the high price of gas seems not be influencing consumers’ decisions.

    should be: the high price of gas seems not TO be influencing consumers’ decisions.

  • Dave H.

    Hmm, Streetsblog… This posting verges on drawing the fight against auto-dependence into wider cultural and class conflicts in the United States. Is this really a good thing or does it risk making more enemies than allies? (That’s not a rhetorical question).

  • Ben Fried

    CK and Dave H. — thanks for the edits. Copy has been amended.

    As for making enemies, my guess is that this post won’t alienate many people who are not already firmly opposed to our views on transportation policy.

  • Dave H.

    Ben – I suppose that’s true, but I occasionally become worried that the livable-streets movement is too associated with the latte-drinking, gentrifying crowd when, in fact, there are plenty more groups that should be its natural allies. Gun-lovers may not be one of them. Still, the only sense I see in antagonizing gun-lovers is to fire up the livable-streets latte-drinking base by associating gun->car->redneck.

  • Dave H.

    And I meant it to add: “And you may be right that it’s worth it.”

  • Mike D.

    This post also exposes you to ridicule from the wingnuts

    I must say, on this one they make some very good points. For instance, of the 30,694 gun deaths you mention, 17,002 were apparently suicides.

  • JF

    Yeah, Mike, but the latte quote came from Stephen Dubner, not anyone on Streetsblog, and yet Judd chose that quote to label Streetsbloggers as elitist. There’s no point in having a debate with someone who’s not going to play fair.

  • Eric

    God Bless America!

    Those Commuter Outrage folks’ analyses of crime-reduction causalities are about as scientifically grounded as “intelligent design” theories. But I suppose those advocating for gun giveaways and creationism are largely one and the same.

  • Vroomfondel

    Which self-respecting coffee snob would even look at a $250 espresso machine? Latte-sipping elites aren’t what they used to be…

  • Max Rockatansky

    Re: commuteroutrage post – if you click on the link to the book that he quotes his gun statistics it opens the sales page. Prominently display on that page is a quote from the New England Journal of Medicine refuting the author’s claims. Oops!

  • Galls

    I am from NYC, but I am no coffee drinking yuppie. If you fundamentally agree with Locke and with the potential tyranny of governments then you should agree with gun ownership, you however, will just stick with ignorant assumptions and not comparing the harm with the actual benefits.

    But back to the ignorance of your post Max, where I bike, kayak, camp and hike you better have a gun and not for Humans.


The Next Stimulus Plan: Kalashnikovs for Clunkers

In case you don’t qualify for the federal "cash for clunkers" rebate program, Mark Muller of Max Motors in Butler, Missouri, has an offer you might want to consider: get a free AK-47 with a new truck. The dealer, whose motto is "God, Guns, Guts and American Pick-Up Trucks," one-upped himself after last year’s offer […]

Electric Car Fever and Polar Bear Halos

Over the next few months, electric cars will start rolling out of showrooms and onto American roads. They’ve been a long time coming. For years, Chevy has been trumpeting its yet-to-be-released Volt. Journalists test drove a version of it over eighteen months ago; it’s been a perennial feature at auto shows; this summer President Obama […]
Photo: Credit Now Auto Sales

What Comes After the Auto Bubble?

Vehicle travel in the United States has experienced a resurgence in the last two-and-a-half years, following an unprecedented decade-long per-capita decline in driving. Low gas prices are likely a big reason why; recent increases in incomes and employment as well. But an additional factor has been relatively unexplored: the effect of changes in credit markets on vehicle purchasing and ownership.

The High Price of Cheap Gas

At least on the surface, the big declines in gas prices we’ve seen over the past year seem like an unalloyed good. We save money at the pump, and we have more to spend on other things, But the cheap gas has serious hidden costs—more pollution, more energy consumption, more crashes and greater traffic congestion. […]