I'm reading a book (Small Change: Money Mishaps and How to Avoid Them by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler) and see this sentence:

At a car dealership, we get offered add-on options like leather seats and sunroofs, tire insurance, silver-lined ashtrays, and the useless pitch of the stereotypical car salesman: undercoating.

I have searched through the internet and found nothing associated with these words. What is the meaning of them?

closed as off-topic by AndyT, Jason Bassford, nohat Aug 7 at 20:44

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    Do you know what an ash tray is, and the literal meaning of 'silver lining'? – marcellothearcane Aug 6 at 9:46
  • Answers are correct - it's a writing technique to demonstrate absurdity. This answer is on-point "The sentence is working it's way up to having a go at salesmen for touting useless things." How do I know? I wrote that section... and the book. Thanks for reading it ;) – Kreisler Aug 7 at 16:08
  • I closed this question because the answer is that the author meant the literal meaning of the words, and it is unclear if OP had at the very least looked up the meanings of "silver" "lined" and "ashtrays", which is all you need to put together an answer to the question. – nohat Aug 7 at 20:45

This is a sarcastic reference to a worthless bauble which adds quite a bit to the cost. The writers go on, after your quote,

Car dealers — perhaps the most devious group of amateur psychologists this side of mattress salesmen — know that when we're spending $25,000, additional purchases, like a $200 CD changer, seem cheap, even inconsequential, in comparison. Would we ever buy a $200 CD changer? Does anyone even listen to CDs any more? No and no. But at just 0.8 percent of the total purchase price, we hardly shrug. Those hardly-shrugs can add up quickly.

In the West, the push-button "cigar lighter" has been renamed "12V accessory socket" as smoking has become less popular. Although cars do still come with ashtrays, what good would a silver-lined one be? The silver would tarnish. The extra cost doesn't do you any good, but increases the salesman's commission nicely.

The phrase is an example of something which doesn't really add value. Don't spend out on such things.

  • Sounds like the 24-carat-gold-plated bathroom taps that used to be sold in the 70s and 80s. Not only is gold more expensive and no more corrosion resistant than the more usual chromium, its also a whole lot softer so the gold plating rubbed off.quite quickly. Absolutely ridiculous fashion. – BoldBen Aug 6 at 21:10

Here is what an ashtray means -




a small receptacle for tobacco ash and cigarette ends.

Silver-lined means that this ashtray has a coating of silver on the lining (or on the edges) of the ashtray.

  • 3
    Absolutely right, but is it also worth mentioning that it's probably not a serious dealership option? The sentence is working it's way up to having a go at salesmen for touting useless things. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Aug 6 at 12:28
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    Thank you for all the answers above. I'm from an Asian country where ashtrays are not add-on options offered by car dealers. So the ashtrays with silver linings are not something that I'm familiar with. – user356938 Aug 6 at 18:46
  • @user356938 - I'm glad it helped you :) – Justin Aug 6 at 18:48

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