In Breaking Bad, Gustavo Fring drives a 10 year old Volvo. Why?

I get the whole narrative about him being in some sort of ultra disguise but ... the man's publically known as the owner of a massive food chain business. Does it not arise more suspicion that he drives around in an old Volvo? What's wrong with an Audi or a Mercedes or some other car you'd expect a rich guy in his 50s to drive around in?

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    Clarification, was Gus' persona that of the owner of the entire chain or just an owner of a single franchise? The former would make him a multi-billionaire, but the latter would just provide a comfortable income. Aug 26, 2018 at 14:54
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    "The guy drives a ten-year old Volvo! It's Brilliant!" - Hank, S4E08.
    – Charles
    Aug 26, 2018 at 20:58
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    I have a friend who is an internet millionaire. He drives a 30 year old BMW and no, not because it's vintage. Because he's had it forever and it looks like he has had it forever. He just doesn't care for fancy cars. Maybe Gus is not too far off of that same personality. He does it for the thrill and not to live lavishly even if he could get away with it
    – Kai Qing
    Aug 28, 2018 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


Better Call Saul addresses this from an opposite perspective.

In season one, Mike agrees to take a job in helping to assist Daniel Wormald or "Pryce" in his first transaction selling pharmaceuticals to Nacho, who's working for Hector Salamanca's drug cartel.


After doing this few times, Daniel decides to spend some money on a vibrant yellow Hummer H2, but Mike refuses to get in the car and continue his services. This whole thing leads to Nacho stealing Pryce's baseball card collection and Pryce calling the police to file a report, whom immediately believe drugs are involved upon seeing this car in his driveway and then proceed to finding a hidden panel behind the couch, as the car and it's coloring is a blatant shout out and this leads to a sticky situation involving Jimmy and pie videos!

Better Call Saul Gus

So although one might argue that in Gus Fring's situation that driving a better newer car may not be out of the ordinary for a franchise owner, it's clear that Gus publically behaves as though he is a "humble servant", even doing grunt work like cleaning up after customers and taking out the trash or appearing to deeply care about his restaurant employees, to not draw ANY attention to himself.

To take this further another argument might be that this "good" public behavior is HOW Gus rationalizes his "bad" behavior by believing that he is truly a public servant of good, which Better Call Saul tends to show a great deal of "grey" in their portrayal of criminals, such as Gus seemingly caring about his Los Pollos Hermanos employees, despite that it only helps him look "decent".


IMO The TV Series doesn't really do a good job at explaining the why and how of the early philosophies of the characters. What made some of the gangsters want to be gangsters or criminals. Even with Jimmy, we understand that his philosophy derives from a perspective in youth when he established his father was a sucker, but doesn't explain how he comes to establish this; how or why he comes to believe his father is a sucker and that being a sucker is somehow "bad" thing. We don't always know how the characters rationalize their beliefs, but instead we fixate a great deal on the present with some pretext that escalates out of control and explains "immediate" transitions in criminal behavior or personality, as opposed to long term or the true origin.

Note: The color scheme of Daniels' Hummer is similar to Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant colors, minus the blue!

  • That was, of course, silly. Tons and tons of middle class suburban white guys drive ridiculous flashy cars that they spend 50% of their income on lease payments. Guys who AREN'T involved in drugs. Aug 27, 2018 at 20:15
  • It may be silly in reality depending on where you live, but the writers clearly wrote it this way, as Mike would be considered a pretty smart and reasonable down to earth characters and he didn't want to be involved anymore because he knew the implications of it in terms of cops and the cartell and he was in this case right, granted the character is still alive and things seemed to be settled. Aug 27, 2018 at 20:48
  • I live in wealthy predominantly white suburban NE Ohio "City" and although a lot of people drive/lease expensive cars here, most do not have flashy cars. In fact it looks like clonesville here! :D But in terms of fictional TV, the point isn't to be real, as much as it is to see a certain reality from certain vantage point, which means each work will have its philosophical consiets that won't line up with our reality. and I would argue that Pryce's car is more than flashy--it's gratuitous and out of place in BCS portrayal of "car reality." Aug 27, 2018 at 20:58
  • @WakeDemons3 - Maybe so - but at the end of the day, why risk it? Gus is too cautious to risk his entire empire, and any unwanted attention from any authority, and (to me anyways), risking drawing any unwanted attention with some fancy car doesn't seem worth it to him.
    – BruceWayne
    Aug 5, 2019 at 19:11

It's a common misconception that millionaires all drive late-model luxury cars. Millionaires have maintained their cache because they don't always have high expenses draining their funds.

More to the point, studies show that they are more likely to own used cars which they have bought outright. Having an old Volvo makes sense because it's reliable.

It's likely (and I don't know the backstory for his car), that this car also has some sentimental attachment.

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    You're comparing apples and oranges. Yes, people who save money (often by not buying a new car when their old one works) can become wealthy. But we know for a fact that Gus' wealth does not come from his frugality, but rather his criminal endeavors. There's a massive difference between "frugal people can become rich" (correct) and "Rich people must be frugal" (incorrect - frugality is only one of many possibilities)
    – Flater
    Aug 27, 2018 at 14:15

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