Just before Christmas I idled away a very informative hour at VW’s Wolfsburg museum, which is part of the sprawling factory site.
I came away with much to think about concerning Volkswagen’s rise and rise (which I’ll save for a future blog). But I also saw this advert - we think it dates from the first decade of the 20th Century - which seeks to encourage small businesses still using horses to switch to a Ford vehicle.
Among the affluent, the costs and risks of switching from horses to motor vehicles was much discussed in the pages of Autocar over 100 years ago. The costs of keeping a horse and paying for stabling, food and a permanent carriage man or running an ‘autocar’ were often very similar.
Indeed, many enterprising carriage drivers transformed themselves into driver/mechanics and advertised for work in the Autocar classifieds as far back as 1898.
The pages of 19th Century Autocar were full of early car owners extolling the virtues of powered travel, in an era of crude and often unreliable machinery. W B Jevons, of Market Rasen, wrote in the July 9th 1898 edition: “I have run my machine [a motorised tricycle] over 750 miles without the slightest hitch whatsoever.
“The longest trip was sixty-two miles, at an average of fourteen miles per hour, and the cost of oil used for the journey was something under ten pence.”
Henry Ford’s advertising men were having to make a similar argument a decade or so later.
Fourteen Points for Ford
1. Strongest where horses are weakest - on pavements.2. Comparative cost - no more than team and wagon. Does twice the work.3. Covers more territory - expands your business.4. Never runs away. Horses often do.5. Can work 24 hours a day. Eats only while it works - and never sleeps.6. Cheap stabling - also clean.7. Prime Advertising. Better than paid space to boom your business.8. Goods don’t freeze, don’t melt, don’t wilt. Custom is always satisfied.9. Light weight - less maintenance expense - yet Vanadium allows 750lbs freighting.10. Low cost - low through big production - Ford turns out 75,000 cars this season, all on the same chassis.11. Flexibility - can turn in a 28 foot circle - accommodates itself to your space or your customers’.12. Simplicity - few parts, no fol-de-rols, easy to run and easy to keep in order.13. Fully equipped - not a cent of expense to you for “extras”.14. Looks - not a truck nor a wagon nor a van - a CAR.