Sold for $40,950 at 2006 Bonhams. Sold for $66,000 at 2011 RM Sothebys. Sold for $94,600 at 2015 Bonhams. The Oldsmobile 'Curved Dash' made its introduction in 1901. It was a charming little car that was offered at a reasonable price and was perfectly suited to traverse the road conditions facing early American motorists. The single-cylinder engine had ample power and the chassis with its leaf spring frame smoothed out the bumpy roads.
The automobile industry quickly evolved. Soon, a more modern and updated version of the Curved Dash Olds was needed. Oldsmobile responded by offered a larger, more upscale version in 1904. The new Touring Runabout featured a 'French Front' and was the first Olds to feature a steering wheel. It was given a 10-inch longer wheelbase than the curved-dash Model 6C, with seating for two and a sloping rear deck. The engine was the same as the curved-dash model, using pressure-feed lubrication and jump-spark ignition. The power was sent to the rear wheels via a single chain drive. Longitudinal leaf springs were located on each side, with a small transverse leaf spring was added at the front. Customers could selected either dark red or dark green. The $750 price also included brass side lamps.
This Touring Runabout with its 7 horsepower single-cylinder engine is a development of the iconic Curved-Dash Oldsmobile. Under its hood are tanks for fuel and water as the engine is mounted under the seat in the same configuration as the Curved-Dash, giving the car its modern appearance. This is the first Oldsmobile to have a proper steering wheel and it has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor too. Priced at $750 it was also more expensive than the basic model. It is shown in its original color scheme of bright green with yellow pinstripe.
The car spent many decades in the General Motors Heritage Collection. It car was treated to a no-expense-spared restoration performed in-house at General Motors at least half-a-century ago, likely during the 1950s or 1960s. It was carefully preserved in the Heritage Collection for decades until it was sold to the previous owners in 2011. The current owners have shown it at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and at the Amelia Island Concours in 2014. It completed in the 2012 Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance as well as the 2014 Hampton Court Concours Tour.
By 1903, the famous curved-dash Oldsmobile was America's best-selling car. Although destined to survive for seven years, the popular iconic model was joined by other variants in 1904. The first of these was the Touring Runabout, soon nicknamed 'French Front' for its attractive little hood at the front. It suggested a front engine which was its purpose, but actually it merely housed tanks for fuel and water. At the front was a stylish brass radiator cooling the engine, which was still mounted horizontally under the seat.
The single-cylinder, 117.8 cubic-inch, 7 horsepower engine was coupled to a two-seed planetary transmission. It had a solid front axle and live rear axle with single chain drive. Suspension was by a single longitudinal leaf spring on each side with transverse leaf in front and fitted with mechanical brakes on the differential and transmission riding on a 79-inch wheelbase.
Colors were dark red or dark green, and brass side lamps were included in the $750 price.
With his curved Dash Oldsmobile, Ransom Eli Olds is generally considered to be the father of mass production. He pre-dated Henry Ford's Model 'T' by a number of years. As early as 1887, Olds had developed a steam car in his Lansing facility, however it was not a success. By the close of the 1800s, he followed the general trend and shifted from steam to gasoline power. The Olds Motor Vehicle Co. was founded in 1897 and began manufacturing the new 5 horsepower model on an exceptionally small scale. Later, with financial backing from lumber millionaire, Samuel L. Smith, changes were made including and experimentation took place. Even with the changes and the capital injection no great success was achieved. In March of 1901 a fire at the factory broke-out and just one gasoline-engined runabout was rescued from the blaze. It was a simple curved dash, single-cylinder engined runabout.
The rear-mounted, four-stroke-engined runabout drove through a spur-geared two-speed transmission with center chain drive. Two steel longitudinal springs ran fore and aft, forming side members, and the lightweight vehicle weighed just 700 lbs. Suspension was comprised of cantilever springs. The vehicle had high ground clearance and a wide track, making it an ideal vehicle for the rutted roads on which it traveled. A buggy top was offered as an option along with 'Neverout' oil lamps.
With the continued financial support of the Smith family, Olds developed mass production techniques, and output rose from 425 units in 1901 to around 4,000 in 1903. Around 5,500 vehicles were produced in 1904.
By 1903, the curved-dash Oldsmobile was America's best-selling car. It was joined by other Oldsmobile models in 1904, including the Touring Runabout, soon nicknamed 'French Front' for its little hood on the front. The hood suggested a front-engine layout, but it actually housed tanks for fuel and water. At the very front was a brass radiator cooling the engine. The engine, in similar fashion to the Curved Dash, was still mounted horizontally under the seat.
The 'Model N' Touring Runabout was the first olds with a steering wheel. It was larger than the curved-dash with a wheelbase that was 13-inches longer. There were seating for two and the only colors offered were either dark red or dark green. Brass side lamps were included in the $750 price, which was jsut $100 more than the curved-dash. The engine, which is shared with the curved-dash, featured pressure-feed lubrication and jump-spark ignition. It had single chain drive and the same longitudinal leaf springs on each side but added a small transverse leaf spring at the front. By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2012
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