Hershey | Lot 357

1903 Oldsmobile Model R 'Curved Dash' Runabout

$22,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

12 October 2018

Engine No.
  • Eligible for Horseless Carriage Club of America (HCCA) events and tours
  • Potential London-to-Brighton participant

Ransom Eli Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, on 21 August 1897. His automobile company was the first in Michigan organized solely for manufacturing and selling motor vehicles. By 1903, Olds was a bit of a veteran in the fledgling business. He tested his first car, a steamer, in 1887 with a gasoline car soon to follow. The Olds Motor Vehicle Works was capitalized in 1899 by a wealthy lumber merchant, Samuel L. Smith, while Olds himself set about the development of several different models, including electric vehicles.

It was not until the factory burned down on 9 March 1901 that Olds focused his attention on the surviving car, a gasoline runabout – the now familiar Curved-Dash Oldsmobile (CDO). The car was powered by a single-cylinder engine and fitted with a spur-geared, two-speed transmission. The simple engine produced 4½-hp at 600 rpm and was capable of a top speed of 20 mph. It was well made, simple to operate, and a good value. The Curved-Dash Oldsmobile quickly became America’s first volume car. Olds sold 425 of the $650 toboggan nose cars in 1901 with another 2,500 or so in 1902, and 3,924 in 1903. Production continued through 1904.

This remarkable ‘curved dash’ example is believed to be mostly original and unrestored. It appears to retain much of its original paint along with later advertising where it was likely shown in an auto dealer’s showroom. Though currently not running, most of the significant parts are in place, though the wheels have been replaced, as has the radiator. Once operable, this will no doubt be the star of the show wherever it appears, including as a potential candidate for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Or, it could be maintained as-is to showcase this incredible time capsule from the era of horseless carriages.

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