Lot 395

Hershey 2023

1904 Oldsmobile Model 6C 'Curved-Dash' Runabout


$55,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



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  • From a prominent, climate-controlled collection
  • A foundational and truly significant piece of automotive history
  • Desirable 6C example featuring rear brakes, a larger engine, and more spacious body
  • Remarkably well-documented, with known history from 1943 to present; accompanied by original wooden bodywork
  • A highly useable and enjoyable early motorcar benefitting from widespread club support
  • Eligible for countless tours worldwide, including the prestigious London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Entering full production in 1901, Ransom Eli Olds’ Oldsmobile Model R is generally considered to be the first motor vehicle to be successfully mass-produced on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. The “Curved Dash Olds” was a sales success as well, enjoying a series of upgrades before production ceased in 1907. The Model 6C was introduced for 1904, benefitting from substantial improvements including a larger body, rear brakes (plus the previous transmission brake), and a bigger horizontally mounted single-cylinder engine producing 7 horsepower.

The Curved Dash Oldsmobile’s tremendous cultural impact—it even spawned a popular 1905 motoring ditty, “In My Merry Oldsmobile”—made it a popular option among early collectors, and it played a foundational role in the formation of the classic car hobby as we know it today.

Case in point: The 1904 6C Runabout offered here. Its history can be traced back to 1943, when it was acquired by Thomas Archibald of Norwalk, California. Though its prior history is unknown, it is fitted with a circa-1907 California Motor Vehicle Registration badge (number 9058), suggesting it resided in the Golden State from nearly new. Archibald would be the Oldsmobile’s caretaker for half a century, and correspondence on file, including letters from Curved Dash authority George C. Green, speak to his enthusiasm for the car and his keen desire to maintain it in peak operational condition.

In the early 2000s, the Oldsmobile joined a respected collection in western Michigan, and the car was soon restored to its present beautiful condition. Further correspondence on file, including exchanges with Oldsmobile guru Gary Hoonsbeen, illustrates the lengths to which the car’s owners went to ensure proper mechanical function and correct cosmetic appearance. As part of this project, a new wooden body was built by P. Gluck Woodworks of Oak Park, Michigan. It is finished in a beautiful and proper black and carmine red, with gold leaf pinstriping, and wooden wheels wrapped in white rubber tires. The interior has been beautifully upholstered in diamond-tufted black leather, and the brass trim, which is evident throughout, has been polished to a beautiful shine.

This example is accompanied by a thick file of restoration documentation, photographs, and reprinted period Oldsmobile brochures and a parts catalogue, as well as its original bodywork. It would be a superb entrant to fine vintage car events, including the famed London to Brighton Veteran Car Run—as, indeed, so many of the “Merry Olds” have been over the years.