1903 OLDSMOBILE RUNABOUT "CURVED DASH"
Chassis No. 10768
Black and red with black leather upholstery
Engine: single horizontal cylinder of 1,565cc, 4.5 hp; Gearbox: two-speed epicyclic; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf front and rear with cantilever springs; Brakes: drum. Tiller steering.
Ransom Eli Olds introduced America's first mass-produced automobile just after the turn of the century. It became the biggest selling motor car in the world, and long before the arrival of Henry Ford's Model T Ford, gave rise to the moving assembly line with cars being pushed along on their wheels for components to be added by successive groups of workmen. The Olds also inspired one of the first motoring songs, "In My Merry Oldsmobile" (1905).
The Olds Motor Works was formed by Olds and his investors with an initial capitalization of $500,000. Ransom Olds' stake in the new company was just $400, and all of the engineering talent. The first car to bear the Oldsmobile name rolled off the new Lansing, Michigan, assembly line in 1901. It had a single horizontal cylinder of 1,565cc capacity, two speed epicyclic transmission and single chain drive. The front of the body curved up to form the dash, hence the name "Curved Dash" Oldsmobile, given it in later years. At the time it was generally called the Oldsmobile runabout.
One of the attractions of the Curved Dash Runabout was its modest price of $650, which was maintained throughout its six year production run. However, Olds' board of directors wanted to make more elaborate and expensive cars, and rather than agree to this Ransom Olds left the company in January 1904 to set up the rival R.E. Olds Co. (renamed Reo Motor Car Co.) In November 1908, the Olds Motor Works was acquired by William C. Durant, and Oldsmobile became the foundation upon which General Motors was built.
Although designed and intended as a town runabout, some epic journeys were accomplished in Curved Dash Oldsmobiles, most noteably Whitman and Hammond's incredible drive from San Francisco to New York in 1903. The example offered here is a 1903 model, (determined by the engine number), and we are told restored some years ago by Mr. George Green. We are also told it has since been used occasionally. The Curved Dash is eligible for all VMCCA, HCCA, 1 & 2 Cylinder Car Touring events here in the U.S. as well as many VCC sponsored events in Great Britain including the annual London to Brighton Run.