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1903 Curved-Dash Oldsmobile Runabout

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Olds Motor Works, Lansing Michigan - founded in 1897

The Man

Ransom Eli Olds
  b. June 3, 1864 -   Geneva, Ohio, U.S.
  d. Aug. 26, 1950 -    Lansing, Mich.

In 1899, Olds formed the Olds Motor Works with financial backing from Samuel L. Smith, a wealthy lumberman, in Lansing, Michigan. In 1904, after an argument with Smith over the latter's plans to substitute a large touring car for the popular Oldsmobile, Olds left the company and formed the Reo Motor Car Company. By 1907 he had built Reo into one of the industry's leaders, but after 1908 the company steadily lost ground to its competitors. After 1915 Olds turned most of his attention from the automobile business to other activities, including the marketing of a lawn mower he had invented and land speculation in Florida.

The Car

First American car to be manufactured in quantity was the famous Curved Dash Oldsmobile. Production of the Curved Dash Oldsmobile Runabout began on December 16, 1901. The model was first produced in  Detroit in 1900, but much of the assembly was shifted to Lansing after a fire destroyed the Detroit plant.

The Curved Dash built from 1900 to 1905, and  was the first car to carry the name Oldsmobile. With a 66-inch wheel-base it weighed about 650 pounds. It was powered by a one-cylinder, seven-horse power engine and cost $650. It was the first car built using a progressive assembly system The company produced 425 vehicles in 1901, 2,100 in 1902, 3,750 in 1903, 5,000 in 1904, and 6,500 in 1905. For a time the Runabout was the best-selling model in the United States.

Note: In 1905 it inspired Gus Edward's to write the song "In My Merry Oldsmobile." This is the most successful song ever written about automobiles.

[Oldsmobile]  [Model T]  [Sears]
[Buick]  [Detroit Electric]