1902 Oldsmobile Model R Curved Dash RunaboutSOLD


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Estimate: $50,000-$70,000 US

Sold: $51,700

4.5bhp, single cylinder engine with two speed transmission and center chain drive, leaf spring and solid axle front suspension and leaf spring rear suspension, mechanical brakes on transmission. Wheelbase: 66"

An inveterate tinkerer, Ransom E. Olds began building prototype automobiles in the late 1880s. However, it was not until 1897, with major financial backing, that Olds Motor Works was incorporated. Over the next few years, Olds developed more than 11 different prototypes to evaluate for production, but no decision was made until a fire destroyed the entire plant, sparing just one single-cylinder, gasoline-powered runabout.

Coded the Model R, the lucky runabout is better known today as the Curved Dash model. Although the fire devastated Olds’ facility, automotive historians today credit the event as the catalyst for the company’s ultimate success. The relatively low price and simplicity of the Curved Dash model allowed a large portion of the public to afford and operate one. In its first three years, annual production of the Model R went from 425 to 3,924 units, and as its popularity grew, so too did its influence on popular culture, as exemplified by Vincent Bryan’s hit song, “In My Merry Oldsmobile”.

This very fine example was restored many years ago by George Green, a recognized authority on the Model R. Steered by a tiller and started with a crank conveniently located within reach of the seated driver, the Model R’s single-cylinder engine produces four and a half horsepower, and ticks over at 500 revolutions per minute at top speed. This example boasts Neverout brass kerosene headlights, and its signature feature, the curved dash or footboard, was directly transferred from carriage design as a feature that protected the car’s occupants from the dirt and mud thrown up by horses’ hooves.

This show-quality restoration continues to demonstrate its superior materials and workmanship. In fact, it may be the finest Curved Dash Oldsmobile extant and may be eligible for the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, widely considered one of the premier events specifically organized for these delightful early automobiles.

All in all, this show-quality 1902 Curved Dash Runabout is a superb early Oldsmobile, manufactured by the sole American marque to be formed in the nineteenth century and survive into the twenty-first.

Reference Number 38611

as of 2/10/2009

Car 1902 Oldsmobile Model R Curved Dash Runabout
VIN 6579 
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