News Story

Why you can’t buy cars on Sunday in (some parts of) Michigan

Law was passed at the behest of auto dealers; Detroit led effort before Lansing followed suit

Auto sales are illegal on Sundays in Michigan’s largest counties.

It’s been this way since 1953, when a law was enacted to ban Sunday car sales. News reports from the time show the law was not pushed by religious Michiganders trying to impose their views on others but rather by car dealers who wanted the day off.

Act 66 passed with immediate effect and was enacted on May 12, 1953.

Read it for yourself: Act 66 of 1953

A May 13, 1953, story in The Detroit News, published the day after Act 66 was passed, presents the law as a gift to auto sellers, whose competitors were open on Sundays.

“The large majority of Detroit’s new and used car dealers were elated Tuesday when it was announced that Gov. (Mennen) Williams had signed a bill banning Sunday auto sales in Michigan’s most populous counties,” the story reads. “New and used car sales had been banned in Detroit for the last year and a half, and this has caused a few of the dealers to set up establishments on the outskirts of the city.”

As written, the 1953 law only applied to eight counties, those above 130,000 in population as of the latest U.S. Census. Today, 71 years later, the law applies in 17 counties:

  • Berrien
  • Calhoun
  • Genesee
  • Ingham
  • Jackson
  • Kalamazoo
  • Kent
  • Livingston
  • Macomb
  • Monroe
  • Muskegon
  • Oakland
  • Ottawa
  • Saginaw
  • St. Clair
  • Washtenaw
  • Wayne

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.