Eight Winter Driving Ads from the Early 20th Century

These ads from the early 20th century show the development of auto technology to help car drivers cope with winter weather.

Ford car advertisement 1935

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Early January’s sci-fi-sounding ‘polar vortex’ dropped thermometers well below zero and dumped countless tons of snow from New Mexico to Maine. Flights were cancelled, power lines went down, and across the country, road travel became either impractical or impossible.

In short, it was sucked for drivers, but you might draw comfort from how much more comfortable winter driving has become in the past few decades. Heaters, defrosters, and even closed roofs were novelties in cars, as you’ll see in these advertisements from the The Saturday Evening Post and our sister publication, the former Country Gentleman.


You know it’s cold when you invent a way to electrocute yourself to stay warm.

1917 Steer Warms

Winter on the outside… Living room on the inside!

1921 Perfection Heaters

Once upon a time, closed-roof cars were pretty novel.

1922 Essex

“The heat is there — Why not use it?”

1924 Perfection Heaters

It’s just like sitting by the fireplace…

1926 Francisco Heater

Again, the fireplace promise of “living room comfort” in your car.

1935 Ford Heater

Who knows what this “Weather Eye” does?

1938 Nash WeatherEye

When the roads are rough — Why not just fly?

1950 United Aircraft

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  1. This is a great feature Michael, and I love your comments and selections. It does show that then and now it’s easier and faster to heat up a car than to cool down a hot one. Heaters becoming common/standard in the 20’s but air conditioning basically still a novelty (and a very expensive one) in the ’50s and even into the ’60s.

    Deborah, to try and help you, I recommend a book from 1995 simply called ‘Covers of the Saturday Evening Post’ by Jan Cohn. You can find it at various prices on ebay or amazon.com. It’s outstanding, featuring nearly every cover from 1900 to Feb. 8, 1969 the last issue before it’s two year reformulation hiatus necessary at the time.

    I of course have the book, and was diligently looking through the 1922 covers, all 52 of them after reading your comment. There are quite a few with just women on the covers; all great covers, but none with a tennis racket. The May 13th issue does have a woman in a red sweater (with a man behind her) with a bow and arrow. Getting this book will absolutely help you, plus provide endless hours of stunning covers with fascinating background on each decade. Some of the enlarged covers at the start of each chapter are not repeated in the smaller size. Good luck!

  2. I am looking for a cover from 1922. my father gave me one of a women maybe with a tennis racket or just by herself. please help


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