In 1936, FDR was President, Hitler ruled Germany, 'Gone With The Wind' was published and Jesse Owens won four Olympic gold medals in Berlin, and it also happened to be the last year you could legally buy a car at a dealership in New Jersey on Sundays.

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

One Garden State lawmaker is now pushing a measure to pave the way for dealerships to open seven days a week.

"This just seems like a very simple thing to do," explains Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo. "It's not a mandate. It's an opportunity for those dealerships that want to open on Sundays to open. This just gives the extra day if the dealership wants to open for customers to come and purchase a new vehicle. I think it's a great opportunity to help stimulate the economy."

If dealerships were allowed to sell cars on Sundays in New Jersey it could also level the competitive playing field. Neighboring states of New York and Delaware currently allow Sunday sales. It's legal in ten other states too.

The current law on the books in New Jersey literally criminalizes selling motor vehicles on Sundays. According to the 1937 statute, it's a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to a $100 fine and 10 days in prison for the first offense of selling a motor vehicle on Sunday. In 2011, New Jersey passed a law permitting motorcycle sales on Sundays.

"The law making it a crime to sell motor vehicles dates back to a time and place when society was very different and most communities were dormant on Sundays," says DeAngelo. "The reality is that Sundays are oftentimes the only day of the week when families can go out together to stop into a showroom or test drive a car. Opening car dealerships on Sunday make them more accessible for customers."

If you're looking for perspective as to how old New Jersey's law banning Sunday car sales is, consider this. In 1937, the year the law was enacted, aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared, the Hindenburg went down in flames in Lakehurst, NJ and Garden State resident Bette Cooper was crowned Miss America.


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