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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.