1915 Overland Six – A Big Six at a Small Price


I’ve flipped through enough old publications that I have learned to look forward with great anticipation to the centerfold. These big, flashy ads are almost always stunning.

At $1475 ($31,300 if you adjust for inflation), the Overland was a pretty pricy item for its day. But that bought you a 45 horsepower motor. That’s about a third of the average passenger car today.

1915 Overland Six

1915 Overland Six (Click for detail)

Interesting too to note the mode of dress of the people involved. The women dressed dark and plain with the only color coming from the small girl in the middle. The car seats seven, though I can’t speak for how comfortable anyone would have been.

One thing that I absolutely adore about WordPress is that I can throw out a rather half-hearted entry like the one above and somebody will come along within 10 minutes and ask a great question that forces me to actually THINK about what I just posted. Doug Payne asked: “Have an opinion on the significance of the color in the ad?” It seemed a good enough question that I thought it worth putting my random speculation into the body of the post.

You ask a great question that I hadn’t thought about (I’ll admit that my theme on this blog is consistent but my level of analysis really isn’t.)

If I had to guess…. I’ve looked at a LOT Of auto ads from this time period and the reason I hadn’t bothered to scan more is that they’re all really REALLY similar. There just isn’t the variety of designs that we enjoy today and the only thing to differentiate between them is the stats and the price point. So the color, I would speculate, draws attention to the only two things that would really matter to the affluent reader of this magazine. (The Literary Digest is aimed at a much more affluent crowd) It’s cheaper and bigger than the competition. The other colors are kept muted so help draw attention to the aforementioned items. Our central focal point is the girl in the middle in red and she’s clearly portrayed as having a grand time. But that’s just my speculation on the topic. I’d love to hear others!

Thanks, Doug!

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6 Comments

Filed under Automobiles

6 responses to “1915 Overland Six – A Big Six at a Small Price

  1. Have an opinion on the significance of the color in the ad?

    • You ask a great question that I hadn’t thought about (I’ll admit that my theme on this blog is consistent but my level of analysis really isn’t.)

      If I had to guess…. I’ve looked at a LOT Of auto ads from this time period and the reason I hadn’t bothered to scan more is that they’re all really REALLY similar. There just isn’t the variety of designs that we enjoy today and the only thing to differentiate between them is the stats and the price point. So the color, I would speculate, draws attention to the only two things that would really matter to the affluent reader of this magazine. (The Literary Digest is aimed at a much more affluent crowd) It’s cheaper and bigger than the competition. The other colors are kept muted so help draw attention to the aforementioned items. Our central focal point is the girl in the middle in red and she’s clearly portrayed as having a grand time. But that’s just my speculation on the topic. I’d love to hear others!

  2. Four-color process for magazine presses hadn’t been invented by 1915. If you have the original ad, look at it closely with a loupe. You’ll notice what’s missing is the moire that you would find with a four-color process piece. There may still be colors and halftone screens evident, but the colors would be added by creating separate plates for each ‘spot color’. Each color had to be run separately through the press, which was very costly. It looks to me like they overlaid the same red from the logo in degrees on the “brown” clothing, the flora, people’s cheeks, etc. They got a lot of mileage out of their red — which looks like Warm Red. There was no CMYK or PMS systems yet. By overlaying a red screen over black clothing, it would appear brown. Though I could be completely talking out of my hat on the clothing, because there appears to be brown in the tree trunks. Very hard to tell without hitting it with a loupe. Do you have the original?

    • For what it’s worth – I looked at the enlarged ad, and to me the tree trunk behind the hood of the car seems to be the same shade of pink (i.e. light overlay of that same red) as the flowers on the left. They were very ingenious with the technology available.

    • Also a good point. I will say that considering the complexity of the printing process there is still plenty of color printing in these old magazines.

      And yes, I do have the original.

  3. Quite the dashing fliver.

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