Car Advertisements From 1903

How Cars Were Advertised in 1903

While researching last week’s story about the 1904 record 6 1/2 hour automobile drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, there were numerous advertisements that caught my eye in Motor World Magazine.

America’s passion for cars dates back over 120 years. How they were advertised in 1903 is fascinating to see.

What manufacturers choose to highlight in their offerings are sometimes very practical features, other ads feature the bizarre.

You will recognize only a few brands that survived the auto industry’s infant years. Most of these automobile names were eliminated from the market so quickly that many people living at the turn-of-the-century would not have known them.

Take a close look at this Northern Mfg. Co. car. There is no steering wheel. The car was steered by a tiller.

And you thought electric cars were new? Many companies had electric cars back in 1903 including Studebaker. The company touts that “no expert chauffeur is needed,” and is, “a successful hill climber” with its “perfect spring suspension” and “reliable brake control.”

Studebaker started as a wagonmaker in the 19th century and produced its last automobile in 1966.

Haynes – Apperson had a 12 horsepower Phaeton that apparently won some car races. Would that influence a potential buyer?

Packard produced this car marketed for “Physicians and Others.” With room for five people, this Packard would set you back $2,500. To give you some perspective $2,500 was about half the price of a new, modest three bedroom home. The Packard Motor Car Co. produced its last automobile in 1962.

The Autocar is a “Harmonious Whole.” Autocar is still in business and is run by the GVW Group LLC.

Conrad Motor Carriage Co. had a car for every price range, from $750 – $1,250. The $1,250 model got you three speeds sliding gear transmission with 12 horsepower.

I love the name of this car – The Chainless Cudell. One of the few cars advertised that had a roof!The Searchmont, an import, has a double chain transmission with four speeds forward. Searchmont seemed to be appealing to potential customers that they were an honest car company. They used the word “principles” three times. As the ad says “$2,500 not five to ten thousand dollars – is luxuriously and solidly built, on right principles.”

Thomas B Jeffrey & Co produced The Rambler, “it’s right”, Not just because they say so! At $750 it was one of the less expensive automobile options.

Cadillac is one of the few companies to generally not show their product in their advertisements.

Cadillac simply relied on the quality of their product and eye-catching ads. Cadillac has lasted into the 21st century and  currently is very popular in China.

Locomobile is “easily the best built car in America.” During the Boer War in Africa Locomobile became the first car to be used in a war. Many of the Locomobile models were run by steam. The car shown here is a new “gasolene model.” Locomobile was taken over in 1922 by Durant Motors and went out of business in 1929.

In 1903 a Winton was the first car to be driven on a transcontinental trip across the United States. On a $50 bet , Dr. Horatio Jackson who at the time had almost no driving experience took 63 days to go from San Francisco to New York and beat all the other car companies which had hired professionals to accomplish the same feat. Upon his arrival in New York many people doubted he had accomplished the feat, but he had.

Winton offered a $25,000 reward if anyone could prove that Dr. Jackson did not make the drive. No one collected the reward because he had and had documented the trip  with photographic proof.

Airplanes would change the world with the historic first flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903. So the White Sewing Machine Company, (that’s right sewing machine company!) compared their new car which was “noiseless  and free from all motor vibrations” to air flight.

A great ad for Oldsmobile with a car to keep you dry from the rain. One question: how well can the driver see the road?

The U.S. Long Distance Automobile Co. were built for American roads. That means they must have been pretty sturdy cars because the roads were terrible.

The Moyea uses imagery to sell their autos, with a few words to describe their superior product. The company only lasted one year. The Alden Sampson Company agreed that Moyea was a superb car. Alden Sampson bought Moyea in 1904. The Moyea became Alden Sampson Models.

We’ll conclude where we began with Oldsmobile. This amazing fact is given in this advertisement that says one out of every three automobiles used throughout the world is an Oldsmobile.







4 thoughts on “Car Advertisements From 1903

  1. Pingback: Antique And Vintage Cars – Vintage Souls

  2. Ralph Horn

    Oh my god! I really feel pleased after uncovering such a useful blog. Because it contains some unique info related to car advertisements. Honestly, I had no idea about car advertisements in 1903. I am only 30 years old and I have been using a car for 4 years. But I have never thought about all those things. However, after going through your blog, I learned some info which was unique and invaluable for me. It is true that no one will implement this method today while promoting their brands, but I think there is a need to know some of the past traditional methods of advertising.

  3. Jesse Hall

    Wow, this is really cool to see how cars have evolved over time. The advertisements today are so, so much different! Plus, it’s interesting to look at how different modern cars are in comparison with classic cars like these. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Shahul Hameed

    This post is like a treasure to me, it has a lot of information about vintage cars. Thank you very much for sharing this like. Can I get any other links where I can know details about cars?


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