Curbside History: Monroney Sticker – 1975 Volvo 164

Over the years I have acquired many automotive window stickers. By accident, I guess. Every time I would buy a car or visit the junk yards I would search for stickers. In fact, I’ve been known to buy a car (or a few) just because it had the sticker in the glove box. If I ever snagged a day or half day off work for errands, a trip to the junk yard was a must to fit in.

Over time I would come to realize that these stickers have quite a history here in the U.S. In the 1950’s there was an Oklahoma senator named Mike Monroney who petitioned the draft of the Automobile Information Disclosure Act. This would require all dealers to display this sticker in the window of cars so that the consumer knew exactly what they were paying for. In 1958, this act was mandated for all dealers and a $1,000 fine could even be imposed for each new car a dealer sold without one. Of course, later on, stickers got more detailed with things like MPG and safety ratings being displayed, all for the purpose of consumers being well informed as they made their purchase decision.

In my thick stack of stickers is this 1975 Volvo 164 sticker, pictured above. I acquired this sticker from a car that I bought earlier this year. I will eventually post more about this car in the COAL series so stay tuned for that. But in short, this 164 had a starring role in a movie called Project Greenlights Stolen Summer. My wife and I drove up to Chicago from Arkansas to pick up this car on a chance that it would be salvageable. On further inspection I discovered that with the long amount of time it had spent up north, the rust had chewed away at vital components of the frame. In the end and to my disappointment, it had to be deemed a parts car.

Looking at this sticker in particular the major thing that catches your eye is the bold lettering at the top: “TEST DRIVE A VOLVO, BEFORE YOU PUT A VALUE ON IT”. To me, this is a decent ploy of getting the shopper to get in the car and drive it before you are “sticker shocked”. I mean, chances are you will think the price is reasonable once you drive it, at least that is the marketing tactic I envision. The next thing that you will see is that there are really no special features on the car as everything is labeled “standard”. The 164 was the top of the line model as it was, so many things were simply included as standard. However, I have seen entry level 140’s marked the same. Presumably there would be another sticker next to this sticker that would highlight all the dealer add on items, if any. Lastly, the price. For $8,565 this car could be yours! In today’s money that is roughly $41,000, which is really not too bad considering you are getting Volvo’s luxury line. And also not too bad considering I have seen some 1970’s Mercedes marked as high up as $19,000, but let’s be honest Volvo, you can’t really compete with a 450 SEL, no offense.

The selling dealer was Victory Motors in Savannah, GA. What I find interesting is that there is no Stevenson Avenue in Savannah, however there is a Stephenson Ave. Whether they changed the street spelling or they spelled it wrong to begin with, either way Victory Motors is no longer selling cars. What is in its place is Critz’s BMW, with a spiffy new building. Another interesting point is that the distributor is “Volvo Capitol” which, after a quick Google search, is also not a thing anymore. In fact, I could not find one trace of Volvo Capitol in my research. I assume that it was their financing side for dealers which probably went by the wayside when Ford bought them out. On a side note this car was imported into the states at Jacksonville, FL, but now I think they all come in around Baltimore or California, depending on where their final destinations are.

Although the sticker does not denote what color the car was, the VIN showed that the car was originally white, but had clearly been painted blue for the movie. This 164 was also sporting leather faced seats, integrated AC, and a bulb integrity sensor (whatever that is). As I recall (and confirmed by the sticker) it only had power operating front windows which was a year-specific feature of the 1975 164s. The rest is all relatively standard of what you’d expect on a car of this era, with the only upcharge being the $140 destination charge which now is almost ten times as much. Go figure.

It’s safe to say that this is before the days of over complication- short, sweet, and to the point- letting consumers know what seen and unseen features they are paying for. Now, I have to hunt to find the price on a modern day window sticker and sometimes just end up asking the dealer because the font is too small or wording is too convoluted to tell. I wish we could go back to the old way of selling cars. For the most part, honest and reasonable. As an aside, check out the back of the 164 sticker below, it tells you all about Volvo’s AM-FM radios. Come on, does it get any classier than that?