A couple of weeks ago I worked at a car show near my home. One of the many vehicles on display was a 1903 Oldsmobile. A copy of the original advertisement for that vehicle was also on display. The image that you see above is cropped from a picture that I took of the advertisement and some other associated literature.
What stood out to me about the advertisement was “It Costs 3/8 of a Cent a Mile to travel in the Oldsmobile.” Immediately, my mind went to thinking about fun math problems that could be based around the advertisement. Some of the questions that I thought of include the following:
- How would that cost today after adjusting for inflation?
- How much would it cost to cover ten miles in that car in 1903?
- What’s the modern equivalent of $650?
- A research question: What was the top speed of that vehicle?
- How long would it take to drive 20 miles in that vehicle at its top speed? Is that faster or slower than covering the same distance on horseback or in a horse-drawn wagon?