- One of 325 Defenders built in 1912
- Expert restoration completed in 2013
- One of a handful of known survivors
The years between 1911 and 1914 proved to be a renaissance of sorts for Oldsmobile, with a range of exquisitely built, stylish, high-performance machines. The mighty six-cylinder, 60-horsepower Oldsmobile Limited topped the line, followed by the big four-powered Autocrat, with the smaller four-cylinder Defender joining the ranks in 1912. Powered by a 35-horsepower, 298-cubic-inch T-head engine, the Defender played the role of a sporty young sibling, offered in five body styles. Records show that Oldsmobile produced a mere 325 Defenders in 1912, of a total production of only 1,075 vehicles. With the Defender, Autocrat, and Limited, Oldsmobile enjoyed enviable status in the select world of prestige automakers.
This 1912 Defender touring was acquired by its most recent owner in 2011 from a fellow collector of rare, early American automobiles. It subsequently received a complete, expert restoration, completed in 2013. Following the restoration, it was enjoyed on tours and in concours events, including appearing at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in 2014.
The marvelous two-tone grey livery combines with dark red wheels and pinstripes to suit the car’s sporting character. It is accented by highly polished nickel and brass details. The cast aluminum cowl and sporty cut-down five-passenger touring body are very similar in style to the larger Autocrat, though scaled down for the smaller Defender chassis. Notable differences from a standard Defender include the faired-in electric cowl lamps and the glazed “skylight” cowl vent that provides an airier and lighter feeling to the driver’s compartment. The slash-cut louvers on the hood and doors are a signature feature shared across the Oldsmobile line, contributing to the car’s sporty appearance. Large-diameter artillery wheels and deeply arched fenders give the car an appealing, almost underslung stance.
The interior is trimmed in gorgeous button-tufted oxblood red leather and fully detailed with period-correct pyramid aluminum floorboards and original instruments and controls. As with the exterior, the interior nickel and brass fittings maintain a mirrorlike finish. The door louvers are a particularly interesting touch, as they serve as functional fresh-air vents for the front-seat occupants. Exquisitely finished woodwork surrounds the cockpit, and the heavy-grain vinyl top includes a fitted boot for top-down motoring.
Having seen careful use in the hands of an avid collector, this impeccably restored 1912 Oldsmobile Defender Touring is one of just a handful of known survivors. A breathtaking and highly collectable motor car, this Defender is a fitting representative of Oldsmobile’s Golden Era.