Lot Number

1902 Oldsmobile Model R 'Curved-Dash' Runabout

Sold For $44,000

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 10 - 11 OCTOBER 2019

Engine No.
  • Recent engine rebuild
  • Iconic early automobile
  • Highly original with excellent patina

The Olds Motor Vehicle Company of Lansing, Michigan, was founded by Ransom Eli Olds 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 burgeoning automobile industry. He tested his first car, a steamer, in 1887, and a gasoline-fueled car soon followed. 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. It was well made, easy to operate, and a good value. The Curved-Dash Oldsmobile quickly became America’s first volume car. Olds sold 425 of the $650 cars in 1901, another 2,500 or so in 1902, and 3,924 in 1903. Production continued through 1904.

The CDO became legendary with the release of “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” a popular song from 1905, with music by Gus Edwards and lyrics by Vincent P. Bryan. The song’s chorus comprises some of the most enduring automobile-oriented lyrics. The verses, which are slightly suggestive (by 1905 standards), tell of a couple who court and fall in love during a trip in a new Oldsmobile.

This remarkable Oldsmobile is believed to be mostly original and unrestored cosmetically; however, the five-horsepower, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine has been recently rebuilt. With its old-world original charm and rebuilt engine, this iconic curved-dash Oldsmobile is ready to deliver a “merry old time” for its next owner.

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