Have You Ever Bought/Received a Car for Christmas?

I see these ads on TV every Christmas season. They usually involve brand new cars with big red bows on them, or a smooth voice-over telling you that there’s no better gift than a [insert brand/model here] this Christmas.

Whenever I see these, though, I wonder just who they think their target audience is. The only people I know who’ve been given cars are people with very rich grandparents who have lots of money to throw around for spoiled grandchildren. Buying a new car for someone is a really big financial commitment to make, especially if the recipient has never seen the car to verify that they really want it.

If you have given or received a car for Christmas, please share your story. Was it brand new? Was it a complete surprise? If you received one, did you have a hand in selecting the model? If you gave one, did you consult with the recipient beforehand?

For some couples, it’s perfect to both give and receive.

Yes, we have received a car for Christmas. We were living in Louisville, KY at the time: it was our only Christmas up there, and we took a Greyhound on an overnight trip from Louisville to Jackson, MS. (Memphis terminal. Shudder.) We got here, and got with the family. MIL found a green minivan, used, at one of the local car dealerships. She took us out to the dealership, and it was in excellent condition, and drove very nicely. She bought it for us. We drove that minivan back to Louisville.

When we moved back here to the Jackson area, we pulled a U-Haul trailer from that minivan. We drove it everywhere. It was fantastic. It was, quite honestly, one of the best cars we’ve ever owned.

And then we got hit by an Avalanche. A Chevy Avalanche, who was going way too fast in the rain, broadsided us. His truck got barely a scratch. Our van was totaled. Thankfully, we had just dropped the kids off at school about 15 minutes earlier, because he hit right where our daughter would have been sitting.

I’ve never given or received a car for Christmas, but working in dealerships I have seen cars given for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries.

I received my master’s degree just before Christmas 1997 and bought a car the next week, but it was a graduation present, not a Christmas present. :slight_smile:

So far the poll results confirm my suspicions: the vast majority of people do not give or receive cars for Christmas. This brings me back to a question I raised in my OP: just who are these ads targeted towards, then? A small sub-segment of the population? Or are they trying to evoke the feeling that someday you, Joe the Plumber, could be wealthy enough to give the gift of a car, and when you do, the perfect brand is X?

WAG: it’s just another way to make the cars look like luxury items, so nice that upper class people give them to to each other as gifts. These ads usually show cars sitting out front of tastefully large houses, you presume they’re not buying a new car because the transmission finally gave out on their Tercel. So if it’s nice enough for some rich guy to give to his wife then it must be a real treat to buy for yourself.

IANA ad person, nor do I know much about luxury cars.

ETA: I’m thinking specifically of the Lexus ads, if there’s gift ad for mid-range cars then obviously my theory doesn’t apply.

I kind of received a car for Christmas, the one I’m driving now. I custom ordered a BMW in November, and it had to be manufactured in Germany and shipped to me. I picked it up from the dealer on December 24, so my husband decided that it was my Christmas present that year, and didn’t get me anything else. Not that I really minded so much since I really love the car and it was pretty expensive, but he could have given me some token gift.

I think the ads are designed to make you think “Hey, I want a car for Christmas…I deserve it…I’ll get a Christmas present for myself.” There is a very limited market for people who will actually go buy a car as a surprise for someone.

I worked at a dealership for 6 years and we would sell 1 or 2 cars in December that were actually going to be gifts. I’ve sold more for anniversaries and birthdays than for Christmas.

I gave a car for a birthday once. My first husband had been wanting an old Jeep. I found a WWII-era Jeep for a good price. I bought it and had my brother drive it to our house on then-hubby’s birthday.

I think he still has it.

My guess is that they’re not actually expecting a large number of people to literally put big red bows on new cars and park them in the driveway on Christmas morning.

But, they’re going to advertise their product anyway, and this is a way to do so that’s a little gimmicky and gets consumers to pay attention and remember their brand when they’re choosing their next new car.

In this way I suspect the ads are pretty effective.

Probably right.

For the record, I have given a new car to someone for Christmas, and I did put the huge red bow on top. It was a whole bunch of fun to get it in front of the house without the recipient seeing it ahead of time, finding a place to store it in the days leading up to Christmas, generally being deceptive for about 3 days, etc. It was awesome.

Where does one obtain such a substantially sized bow?

My dad gave the family (mostly my mom since I was only about 7 at the time) a new car for Christmas. It was around 1953 and the car was a year-old Plymouth sedan which had been the dealer’s demo. It was pale green, and every other car we had ever had was either black or maroon, as were the cars of all our friends; I think the manufacturers were just beginning to see the virtue of painting lighter colors (make the car an accessory for all those lady drivers!). I can still remember my dad telling us to go look out the window, and looking out and seeing that beautiful gleaming car sitting there. Wow! Thanks for bringing back that memory!

(ETA No bow.)

If I remember correctly, I googled “car bow”.

Yup, that’ll do it.

That might even be the same exact site. It was 4 years ago.

Link to a previous thread on the same subject, along with two articles from the New York Times on the subject. One article notes that Lexus stockpiles the big red bows in California, and that “it is such an extravagant notion that it makes the commercial memorable. It makes it interesting, and it reinforces Lexus’s position as a luxury brand.” The other article notes the problems with this sort of gift. In particular that auto sales are final, so you’re in trouble if the recipient doesn’t like the color or model.

And here’s an article from the New York Times in 1921 that mentions “an automobile selling agency on upper Broadway has encouraged the bestowal of automobiles as Christmas gifts.” So the idea is not so new.

Great stuff, Dewey Finn, thanks!;

My sister and I (not sure about my brother) received our first cars as Christmas gifts. Thanks, Dad!

(They were most definitely *not *the kind of cars you see on the commercials. Mine was 10 years old and certainly not a luxury import.)