‘Dispense with a horse’


Pretty much every manufacturer needs to advertise their product, and car manufacturers are, of course, no exception.

Early on, the purveyors of this new-fangled form of transport realised they would need to use advertising to push their products.

Actually that doesn’t sound quite right does it!

Bernard Egan

Perhaps that would be better put as push sales of their products.

A recent email from a friend which included some delightful examples of automobile advertising certainly brought this to mind.

It also begged the question – when did car advertisements start?

The answer may surprise readers, as it did this writer.

The earliest known automobile advertisement appeared on July 30, 1898, when the Winton Motor Carriage Company placed a magazine advertisement cajoling readers to “dispense with a horse.”

That very first advertisement for an automobile was placed in, of all places, the Scientific American.

Yes, that very same Scientific American that would eventually detail the work of Einstein and Fermi,

and also feature stories of the likes of world champion Gary Kasparov’s thoughts on chess-playing computers.

Alexander Winton was a Scottish-immigrant who founded the Winton Motor Carriage Company.

The advertisement worked; Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania, bought a Winton after seeing it.

Later that year Winton sold a staggering 21 more vehicles, including one to James Ward Packard.

That would be the same Mr Packard who went on to found his own car company.

You won’t see many Wintons running around these days.

Winton stopped producing cars in 1924, and started making stationary engines.

The firm was bought by General Motors in 1930, and became part of the Electro-Motive Corporation, still in business today.

Speaking of electro – as this bottom-left advertisement from over 100 years ago proves, electric cars aren’t all that new after all.

And then of course, clever people dreamed up ingenious solutions to motoring problems like wheel ants.

Wheels ants?

We’d be interested to hear if any readers or their cars for that matter have been inflicted with those.

Of course, along with cars came optional extras (below) which also needed to be advertised, although obviously the words health and safety had yet to enter the vocabulary when this advertisement appeared.

It was inevitable someone would start advertising cars.

That someone was Alexander Winton.

Just last year one of the few remaining Winton cars, a 1912 SIX 48 HP Tourer was advertised and sold at auction for US$140,000.

– By Bernard Egan