17 June 2000
1906 REO MODEL B 8 HP RUNABOUT
Chassis No. 4906
Engine No. 4906
Yellow with black leather seats
Engine: horizontal single-cylinder, 4¾in. x 6in. bore & stroke, 106ci, water-cooled, side-valve with jump spark ignition; Gearbox: planetary two-speed and reverse with final drive by central chain; Suspension: ¾ elliptic springs front, full elliptic rear; Brakes: external-contracting brakes on rear wheels. Right hand drive.
At the end of 1903 Ransom Eli Olds of Oldsmobile fame left the firm he had led with distinction, but it was not many months before he was back into automobile manufacture. Not surprisingly, his original firm objected to the use of the Olds name on his new vehicles, but they could not prevent him from using his initials and so the REO make was born, remaining in production until 1936.
The first Reo cars were shown at the Madison Square Gardens Motor Show in the third week of January 1905 and immediately found an enthusiastic buying public. The initial model was a 16 hp two-cylinder car with horizontally-opposed under-floor engine and planetary transmission that followed the Olds tradition, but the Reo was not a slavish copy. Gone was the Oldsmobile longitudinal springing and the tiller steering was replaced by wheel. Also the vehicle had what at that time was called a 'French Front' under which European manufacturers placed the motor, but in the case of the Reo the hood covered only the gas tank and battery with the radiator to the fore.
This 16 hp was soon joined by a single-cylinder version that differed from the larger car only in engine size and price. While the twin retailed at $1,250, the single was sold for just over half that figure at $650, the same price as the Curved-Dash Oldsmobile and $100 less than that make's 'Touring Runabout' which was broadly similar to the small Reo. During 1905 an adventurous cross-continent trip and success on the Glidden Tour brought the new company valuable publicity. Nevertheless, it took time for Reo to get into full production, and the 864 cars made between the beginning of March 1905 to the end of August showed that the planned output of 3,000 cars per annum lay in the future. The situation improved for 1906 when 2,458 cars were sold.
Reo production for 1906 was divided between the Model A, the twin-cylinder car and the Model B, the 8hp single. Factory records give numbers for the latter as 4001 to 5,200, serial and engine numbers being the same. Reo number 4906 therefore fits comfortably into the 1906 Model B output.
This car is a lovely example that has had a very thorough, no expense spared restoration. It is finished in an outstanding yellow and looks to be in presentable overall condition. We understand that this example has been in storage for quite some and accordingly we recommend that this car receives a thorough mechanical evaluation prior to being committed for road use.
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