(Click on pics to enlarge)
When was the first car ad, above, placed? If you said 30 July, 1898, take a point.
Now, for a bonus point, where was the ad placed?
Sorry, time’s up and no, it wasn’t in the the New York Times or Washington Post. It was placed in Scientific American.
The ad was placed by the Winton Motor Carriage Company. Alexander Winton was a Scottish-immigrant bicycle maker who switched to building cars in 1896. By 1900 he had the world’s largest auto factory. Winton stopped producing cars in 1924 and started making stationary engines. The firm was bought by General Motors in 1930.
The 1898 ad shown above is the first known automobile advertisement and encouraged readers to dispense with the expense, care and anxiety of keeping a horse. In another first, Winton made the first American car sale, to Robert Allison of Pennsylvania, a sale initiated by the Scientific American ad. Winton sold another 21 vehicles in 1898, including one to James Packard who went on to later form his own car company.
By 1902, Winton advertising no longer emphasised the benefits of a car over a horse. Perhaps to show ease of operation, the ads showed that even a woman could operate an automobile: