Trying to figure out the ‘first’ of anything is a tricky business, and is rarely as simple as it seems. And yet I keep finding myself drawn to things that may be automotive firsts. I won’t say that this ad for a Ford dealer confusingly named “Ferraris” is the first animated car, but it’s likely pretty close.

Just in case it doesn’t start playing at the correct place, go to 0:50 to see the ad, which dates from somewhere in the 1920s. I suspect this must have been played before movies at local theaters, but I haven’t been able to confirm that yet.

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The little animated ad itself is pretty fascinating, containing some very nicely rendered animations of old Ford trucks, in varying states of repair. It’s also the earliest instance I have encountered that shows a dealer offering a loaner vehicle while a customer’s vehicle is being serviced.

And, of, course, there’s the fact that this Ford dealer is named Ferraris, a solid 20 or so years before any car would wear the Ferrari name.

It’s also interesting to see how Mr.Ferraris was rendered in a more lifelike manner than his cartoon truck-owning customer. I guess that was in hopes that perhaps people may recognize Mr.Ferraris from the ads, and get the man some face recognition for his top-notch truck-resurrection (though he calls it a van, interestingly) services.

I’m sure there were earlier animated cars or trucks, but I’m not so sure there were earlier animated dealership/repair shop advertisements. Even if this isn’t the first, it’s still a fascinating look at the early days of cars, animation, and dealership loaner vehicles.

I mean, that service is simply splendid, and I sort regret I did not know him before, too.