1911 Oldsmobile Limited Factory Race Car SOLD
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1911 Oldsmobile Limited Factory-Built Racing Roadster According to Oldsmobile factory records, this unique Oldsmobile Limited (motor No. 64132) was produced in June 1911. The car has its original torpedo racing body and all of its one-of-a-kind unique features, which are unlike any other Oldsmobile Limited known to exist. These special features include the following: 1. Unique torpedo body with outside exhaust. According to the 1916 Automotive Trade Journal listing of automotive firsts for 1910, the torpedo body was first introduced during 1910, which marked a great change in the appearance of motor cars (reference No. 1). 2. The chassis has dumb arm suspension instead of ¾ elliptic springs as used on most Oldsmobile Limiteds, which allows the car to have an underslung rear axle to keep the center of gravity low. 3. The rear end is a special-built unit that looks exactly like other Oldsmobile Limited rear axles but is built for speed and cornering. It has two Timken bearings on each wheel to take extreme side thrust, unlike the single large bearing used on all other Oldsmobile Limiteds and Autocrats.The pinion housing also looks the same on the outside as other Limiteds and Autocrats but is manufactured totally different on the inside in order to hold a 2 to 1 gear set for high speed. The car is capable of over 100 mph and can be driven at 70 mph all day long. 4. In 1913 a Westinghouse starter was installed by machining teeth in the Oldsmobile flywheel. This is documented by the last patent date on the starter and by the way the wood body sill was chiseled out by hand to fit the starter bracket to the frame. All other body clearances for brackets are nicely machined. Documented History In 1937 the Thompson Products Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, purchased this Oldsmobile from a used car lot. The car at that time was a rusted hulk (picture, reference 2) with its wooden wheels replaced with disk steel wheels dated 1916. The car was believed to be a rebodied car, since very little was known at that time about all the custom-bodied cars that Oldsmobile built, let alone knowledge about the factory racer. The museum painted the car and kept it on display with no description about it, as the curator and staff did very little research and did not even let the audience know that the car was an Oldsmobile Limited. In the late 1970s, the late Joe Loecy purchased the car from the museum during a fund-raising period to expand their facilities. In fact, Mr. Loecy bought the car twice (another story). In 1982, Eldon Eby purchased the car from Mr. Loecy with the idea that he would build a traditional Oldsmobile body, as he was led to believe it had been rebodied. In the 1980s, Mr. Eby did extensive research on Oldsmobiles, with the help of his late friend Dick Neller, who at the time was head of the R.E. Olds Museum in Lansing, Michigan. Mr. Neller found the 1911 and 1912 factory records of production of Oldsmobile automobiles. This production list by month shocked Mr. Neller and Mr. Eby, as it showed the number and type of cars built each month. These records revealed that, although most of the chassis produced carried touring and limousine bodies, custom and special bodies were also supplied by Oldsmobile, as shown by the following list: 1. One Limited race car—built in June 1911 2. One Limited torpedo—built in March 1911 3. Three 1911 and one 1912 Limited chassis were sold for custom bodies 4. Twelve Limiteds were designated as special jobs by the factory 5. Two 1911 Limiteds and one 1912 Limited were built as fire trucks 6. One 1912 Limited fire promotional car was built 7. Two 1911 and four 1912 Limited Roadsters were built 8. Six 1911 and eight 1912 Limited Tourabouts were built Supporting Documentation Throughout the 1980s and 1990s to the present, Mr. Eby has collected hundreds of photographs documenting custom cars built by Oldsmobile from 1908 through 1912. Mr Neller also found the only known parts interchange book listing all the numbers of each part for Oldsmobile Limiteds and Autocrats. Until this book was found, no one knew exactly how the Limited roadsters or tourabouts were built. While doing research on Bob Burman’s 1912 Cutting Indianapolis race car, Mr. Eby found an advertisement in the 1913 Motor Age classified section listing a 1911 Oldsmobile Limited 90 hp race car for sale in Louisville, Kentucky. The ad reads: “I am obliged to sell my 90 hp Oldsmobile Limited Racing Roadster, speed 85 miles per hour. It is built low equipped with 38 x 4-1/2 tires on demountable rims, tires new with two carried on rear, large gasoline tank, also oil tank. Every part of this car guaranteed in perfect condition. This is the classiest speed car in the country and is a bargain for quick sale. Send for photo. P. O. Box 565, Louisville, Ky.” (Reference 3.) It is not hard to believe that this advertised car could have ended up on a used car lot in Cleveland by 1937, and since no other race cars were built in 1911, Mr. Eby believes the advertised car and the current car for sale are the same automobile. Speculation as to What Happened to the Limited from 1911 to 1937 With the arrival of the overhead cam Peugeots in 1912 at Indianapolis, this type of engine made the old large T-head engines obsolete for racing. Therefore, many of the large Fiats, Mercedes, and possibly the Oldsmobile Limited were converted to fast, high-powered gentlemen’s roadsters by adding fenders to make them comfortable to drive on the road. It is impossible to document at this time whether the fenders on Mr. Eby’s Oldsmobile Limited were installed by the factory or were added on later than 1911. What is known is that they had to have been on the car for a very long time to be heavily rusted by 1937. We do know that the construction of the fenders is typical of that used from 1909 to 1914. Fenders constructed after 1914 were made differently than the fenders on this car. Mr. Eby believes that the original wood wheels were replaced by steel disk wheels in 1916, as this is the patent date on the disk wheels. These disk wheels were the rage when they were introduced and were the type used on Case race cars of the 1916 period. The disk wheels, being smaller in size than the original wood wheels, would have made it easier to obtain tires during the war years and after, as tire sizes were generally smaller on cars in the teens and twenties. Without a doubt, the Oldsmobile Limited was used for a long time, as it would still outrun a 1929 Auburn or any Mercer of the period. Looking at the picture of the car as purchased in 1937, it is estimated that the car would have set for 10 to 15 years to eliminate all paint and become as rusty as it was in 1937.

Reference Number 13588

as of 9/29/2007

Car 1911 Oldsmobile Limited Factory Race Car
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