Home » How To Advertise Cars By Making Horses Look Like Jerks: Cold Start

How To Advertise Cars By Making Horses Look Like Jerks: Cold Start

Cs Horseolds 1

In the early 20th century, when cars were just starting to be sold in real numbers, the competition wasn’t from other cars, be they steam, gasoline, electric, or gaint-spring-powered, but rather from biological sources. Yes, nature had a firm lock on the personal and commercial transportation industry with their very popular product, Equus ferus caballus, better known under the brand name horse. So how does one compete with such an established and entrenched player in the transportation space? Easy. You just need to convince people that horses are assholes. And that’s just what carmakers like Oldsmobile tried to do.

The Curved-Dash Olds, introduced in 1901, was a small two-passenger runabout with a 1560cc flat-one engine making five horsepower, making it a worthy adversary to the horse, which was also a two-passenger runabout that you’d think made just one horsepower, but in actuality could hit 15 hp in short bursts. Horses, unlike the Olds, had a mammalian brain that was capable of moods and feelings, including, as this old Oldsmoible ad pointed out, viciousness:

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I’ve never seen another ad for a car that pushes the lack of “visciousness” as the primary selling point. Also, the ad notes that the olds has “no uncertain disposition” and “no menace to life and limb” and no “uncontrollable temper.” Really, these are still fantastic qualities to look for in a car today. I’m told new cars as varied as the Kia Ioniq 6 and the Dacia Duster and the Tesla Model Y all feature a lack of an uncontrollable temper, too.


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That not enough for you? Well, what if your horse’s “uncertain temper, sudden fright, and unruly disposition” cause a horrible accident, all because you chose poorly, selecting 900 pounds of freaked-out muscular quad-hoofed asshole instead of “mechanical skill and mathematical exactness” that the Oldsmobile provides. A Curved Dash Olds won’t see something shiny and lose its shit and go stampeding into a crowd of people, but some idiot horse? Who knows?

What a way to advertise a car! It’s not alive! It can’t go bonkers on you!

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The Curved Dash Oldsmobile was a strange little car; first, it’s one of the only cars that is consistently referred to as model name first, then company name, which is weird enough, but it’s also the only mid-engined Oldsmobile. The Curved Dash was an interesting design, resembling a side-by-side more than a conventional car, partially because it was designed for America’s then-crappy road conditions. Look at that ground clearance!


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What a interesting little machine; no wonder they sold about 19,000 of these before the Ford Model T was even introduced. And it’s at least in part because it lacked an uncontrollable temper, among other things.

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67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 day ago

I started rea this morning only to get distracted by the side-note about horse power. Finished the rest now,good stuff.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 days ago

The drawings suggest the Curved Dash was a… Crossover.

Cue pearl clutching.

3 days ago

main two problems with the Horse was this

  1. must be fed and watered, even if not going for a ride
  2. all that feed goes in, must come out somewhere

Picture of true anatomy

John Hower
John Hower
3 days ago

My uncle had a Curved Dash Olds and I saw some things that could be described as uncertain disposition. Just sayin’.

3 days ago

I always love these “OLD” (ha ha) ads, they are interesting and hilarious…I really do miss Oldsmobile & Pontiac.
“no menace to life and limb”
Oh, you mean like the CYbErJuNkTrUcK?
Also: “Rusty! RUSTY!!!”

3 days ago

So, the C&C Mustang cliche must truly have been beaten like a dead horse (and i’m not even a dad). nearly six hours of commenting, and no one has referenced the pony car in relation to Old’s claim above about “No Runaways.”

3 days ago

Well Wilbur, What’s it gonna be? You’re taking your newfangled software defined, epitome of modern transportation into town, that may emergency brake on an on ramp if it sees it’s shadow, or are you taking me, and I may go where you intend, or perhaps check out that new filly? The way I see it, it’s either a crap shoot, or a crap shooter.

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