Oldsmobile Curved Dash

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Oldsmobile Runabout
Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout 1904 2.jpg
Also calledModel 6
About 19,000 built
AssemblyDetroit, MI[1]
Body and chassis
ClassEntry-level car
Body styleRunabout
Engine95 cu in (1,560 cc) horizontal one-cylinder[2]
TransmissionPlanetary 2-speed
SuccessorOldsmobile Model 20
"In My Merry Oldsmobile" sheet music featuring an Oldsmobile Curved Dash automobile

The gasoline-powered Curved Dash Oldsmobile[3] is credited as being the first mass-produced automobile, meaning that it was built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. It was introduced by the Oldsmobile company in 1901 and produced through 1907; 425 were produced the first year,[4] 2,500 in 1902, and over 19,000 were built in all.[5] When General Motors assumed operations from Ransom E. Olds on November 12, 1908,[6] GM introduced the Oldsmobile Model 20, which was the 1908 Buick Model 10 with a stretched wheelbase and minor exterior changes.[7]

It was a runabout model, could seat two passengers, and sold for US$650. While competitive, due to high volume, and priced below the US$850 two-seat Ford Model C "Doctor's Car",[8] it was more expensive than the Western 1905 Gale Model A roadster at US$500. The Black sold for $375,[9] and the Success for US$250.[10]

The flat-mounted, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine, situated at the center of the car, produced 5 hp (3.7 kW),[2] relying on a brass gravity feed carburetor. The transmission was a semiautomatic design with two forward speeds and one reverse. The low-speed forward and reverse gear system is a planetary type (epicyclic). The car weighed 850 lb (390 kg) and used Concord springs.[citation needed] It had a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).[11]

The car's success was partially by accident; in 1901, a fire destroyed a number of other models before they could be approved for production, leaving the Curved Dash as the only one intact.[12]



  1. ^ Location of Curved Dash factory
  2. ^ a b Rogliatti 1973, pp. 270–271.
  3. ^ The name comes from its curved dash or dashboard, like that of a sleigh. See the photo and caption on page 130 of the Popular Science article listed under External Links below.
  4. ^ Posthumus 1977, p. 48.
  5. ^ Georgano 1985, p. [page needed]
  6. ^ Oldsmobile Joins GM
  7. ^ 1908 Oldsmobile Model 20 introduction
  8. ^ Clymer 1950, p. 37.
  9. ^ Clymer 1950, p. 61.
  10. ^ Clymer 1950, p. 32.
  11. ^ Sedgwick 1962, p. 36.
  12. ^ Wright 2000.


  • Clymer, Floyd (1950). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925. New York, NY US: Bonanza Books.
  • Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (January, 1904)
  • Georgano, G. N. (1985). Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. London, UK: Grange-Universal.
  • Posthumus, Cyril (1977) [1977]. "The Motoring Boom". The story of Veteran & Vintage Cars. John Wood, illustrator (Phoebus 1977 ed.). London: Hamlyn / Phoebus. pp. 36–49. ISBN 0-600-39155-8. The 1901 output was 425 cars, and this figure rose to 2100 in 1902, 3750 in 1903, and 5000 in 1904.
  • Rogliatti, Gianni (1973). Posthumus, Cyril (ed.). Period Cars. Feltham, Middlesex, UK: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-33401-5.
  • Sedgwick, Michael (1962). Early Cars. Putnam.
  • Wright, Richard A. (2000-03-08). "detnews.com | Michigan History". Apps.detnews.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. Retrieved 2009-06-27.

External links[edit]