The Impressive Curve-Dash Olds

Three Oldsmobiles around Prescott, Arizona - circa 1903 (photo credit: Sharlot Hall Museum)
The Olds Motor Works introduced the "Oldsmobile" in 1901. Now known as the Curved-Dash Olds, the company first used the term "Oldsmobile" as a model name before reorganizing the company under the Oldsmobile name around 1904.

The company's fortunes were put in question when their Detroit factory burned - taking there inventory of cars with it. However, The Horseless Age of April 3, 1901 explains, "The destruction by fire of the Olds Motor Works, Detroit Mich., has not so seriously crippled the concern as at first supposed. In a circular just sent out the company state that all their automobile drawings and patterns were saved, and that by the last of April they hope to reach a capacity of ten machines a day. They propose to manufacture 1,000 "Oldsmobiles" before the snow flies again." 

Indeed they did and the car sold well. After reestablishing they Detroit and Lansing tactilities, the Olds Motor Works - lead by the Oldsmobile - would become the largest American producer of automobiles within a year. 

The Horseless Age of November 13, 1901 describes the car and it's very positive reception, "Among the light gasoline vehicles, the Oldsmobile, manufactured by the Olds Motor Works, of Detroit, Mich., is worthy of careful notice. The carriage is equipped with a four horse power single-cylinder horizontal engine… All three speeds are obtained by the movement of a single lever acting upon separate clutches, which give the two forward motions and the reverse."

The car had much going for it relative to the competition of the time. It was  affordable, basic in design and reliable. Further, The Olds Motor Works were aggressive in establishing   representation across the United States and in Europe as well. By 1903, around the time of the photos shown herein, it was the best selling car in America. The Horseless Age of January 21, 1903 notes, "The Olds Motor Works shows one of their 1903 Oldsmobile runabouts, which differs little from their last year's model, except that is has a slightly longer wheel base and wood wheels instead of wire wheels." 

Three Oldsmobiles entering Prescott, Arizona - circa 1903 (photo credit: Sharlot Hall Museum)
The three Oldsmobiles shown here wear wood wheels and are shown motoring about the countryside somewhere around Prescott, Arizona. It is interesting to note the trunks that have been placed behind the seat for storage. Many Oldsmobiles made to the west coast as illustrated by the news that "A single shipment of thirty-six (railroad) cars of automobiles, or 432 machines, is said to have been made to California last week by the Olds Motor Works." in The Horseless Age of April 8, 1903.

Today, driving a Curved-Dash Olds look down right scary compared to modern transportation. However, in the day, nothing could be finer that the freedom afforded those who could travel by car.

The Oldsmobile (photo credit: The Horseless Age, February 12, 1902)


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