Did you ever wonder why new vehicles have window stickers?  Many people think they are meant to show your neighbors that you bought a new car, or to annoy you with the glue residue on the window, but this is not the case.

In March of 1958, Senator Michael Monroney, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Automobile Marketing Practices, proposed a bill that would take the mystery out of new car prices.  This bill required every automobile manufacturer to attach a label to the window of each new vehicle, which would show the manufacturer's suggested retail price, transport methods, freight charges, and accessory prices.  This would be the first time in twenty years that a consumer could walk into an automobile dealership and find an itemized, accurate price tag on a new vehicle.  

Prior to the proposal, there was often a large discrepancy between the showroom price and the actual price of the new vehicle.  The fact was that existing price tags did not tell the full story.  Most customer-quoted prices were for "stripped-down" models and did not include additions for preparation charges, freight charges, federal, state, and local taxes, or optional factory-installed equipment requested by the purchaser.  

These hidden charges were used by some dealers to increase the selling price while giving the new vehicle buyer an inflated idea of their trade-in allowance.  This price confusion led to a slump in auto sales during the early 1950's.  Senator Monroney's bill was designed to prevent the abuse of the new vehicle list prices, but would not, however, prevent dealers and buyers from bargaining over vehicle prices.  

Senator Monroney received widespread support for this bill from both consumers and dealers.  Dealers viewed the Monroney Label as an opportunity to restore the confidence of the new vehicle buyers, which they hoped would result in a more successful sales year.  

On July 7, 1958, Monroney's bill became law.  Beginning on September 1, 1958, every automobile manufacturer was required to securely affix a label to the window of the vehicle, disclosing information concerning the vehicle and its price.  Any manufacturer who failed to comply, could be levied a fine of not more than $1000 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year. 

Once enacted, the law increased both dealer morale and auto sales.  Customers grew more confident in their ability to make an informed decision and get the best deal possible.  This law was instrumental in brightening industry-wide automobile sales during that time, by increasing consumer confidence. 

In this day and age, we tend to take window stickers for granted, but the next time you are out shopping for a new Pontiac or GMC, you can thank Senator Michael Monroney for making you job much easier.  

Click here to receive a reproduction window sticker for your vehicle along with your VIN and information packet.  

Copyright 1999 Pontiac Historic Services