The Oldsmobile Model R Curved-Dash Runabout was a vehicle that was nearly snuffed from history before it was even introduced to the world. Ransom Eli Olds had experimented with steam and electric propulsion but ultimately decided on the internal combustion engine. His curved-dash model was completed in 1900 and ready for market in early 1901. However, a fire at the factory delayed the start of production with only one prototype rescued.
Production resumed shortly thereafter and the first runabout was available to the public in the late summer. The runabouts weighed a mere 650 pounds and sold for $650.
Power was from a horizontal single-cylinder engine placed under the seat and mated to a two-speed planetary transmission. Steering was by a center tiller and suspension was comprised of a long leaf spring on each side connecting the front and rear axles. The body was made of wood and attached to the top of the springs. Any rocking motion was eliminated by the small transverse full-elliptic springs in front. The following year, truss rods were added. Improvements were made throughout its lifespan, which lasted until 1907.
The cars were instantly popular, becoming the best selling motorcar in America in 1903.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007