c1906 OLDSMOBILE RUNABOUT 'STRAIGHT DASH' MODEL B
Engine No. 50816
Green and yellow with no 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, 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 capital 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 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 notably 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.). Later, in November 1908, the Olds Motor Works was acquired by William C. Durant, and Oldsmobile became the foundation upon which General Motors was built.
Olds completely revised his Curved Dash for the 1905 season with new improvements to the mechanical aspect, but sensibly kept the popular styling. The single cylinder was more reinforced than before, with a marine-type connecting rod and cooling. The flywheel was now cast in one piece, with holes rather than the spokes of the earlier variant, and a transmission brake was added.
Model B production continued from 1905 through 1906 and 1907, and there was now the option of a straight dash instead of the traditional curved dash, though the model was unaltered otherwise. Total production of both curved and straight dash cars was 100 units per year, and color options were limited to black or green (as for this example), and the price was held at $650.
This Oldsmobile was repainted many years ago, however it retains the original profile badging. Seemingly complete except for tires, it is in need of a complete restoration and it is not known when this car was last used or started.