1905 OLDSMOBILE RUNABOUT "CURVED DASH"
Engine No. 50324
Black and red with black leather upholstery
Engine: single horizontal cylinder, 1,565cc, 7hp; Gearbox: two-speed epicyclic; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf front and rear with cantilever springs; Brakes: rear contracting band. 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, it 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, following a devasting fire at the Olds Motor Works that destroyed every car with the exception of one Curved Dash model from which the most popular car in America was duplicated. It had a single horizontal cylinder of 1,565cc capacity, two speed epicyclic transmission and a single chain drive. The front of the body curved up to form the dash, hence the name 'Curved Dash' Oldsmobile that it later earned. At the time it was generally called the Oldsmobile Runabout. Although designed and intended as a town runabout, some epic journeys were accomplished in Curved Dash Oldsmobiles, most notable Whitman and Hammond's incredible drive from San Francisco to New York in 1903.
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.
The example offered here is a 1905 model that was purchased by Mr. Millett in 1985 from the Estate of Frank H. Hillman of New York. The car appears to have been beautifully restored in the past and, although older now, it is still highly presentable. Equipped with artillery wheels and a hand-horn attached to the tiller steering, it does not have lamps at present. The body has been nicely painted in black and red with a gold coachline and fitted with a black buttoned leather seat. The Curved Dash is eligible for VMCCA, HCCA and 1 & 2 Cylinder Car Touring events.
Unquestionably, the Curved Dash Oldsmobile is one of the most significant American motor cars ever produced. The Curved Dash Runabout helped Oldsmobile achieve financial success, demonstrating the lucrative future to be found in the automobile industry. These charming little Runabouts are highly collectible and will always be suitable additions to any collection of important and historical motor cars.