June 3, 1864 – Ransom E. Olds is born

Ransom Eli Olds is born on this day in 1864 in Geneva, Ohio. Olds would go on to found Oldsmobile, which at the time it shut down in 2004, was the oldest functioning American car brand, as well as REO, which was in business from 1905 to 1975. He founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, on August 21, 1897. In 1899 company was bought by Samuel L. Smith, a copper and lumber business man. He renamed the company Olds Motor Works and moved it from Lansing to Detroit. Smith became President while Olds became vice president and general manager. By 1901 Olds had produced 11 prototype vehicles, at least one was gasoline, one was electric and one was steam. A March 1901 fire burned the factory to the ground and legend has it that a single Curved Dash Runabout was saved from the flames. Olds claims that because this car survived he decided to put it into production. However, he already had orders for 300 of the cars before the fire broke out. The Curved Dash Oldsmobile sold for about $650, equal to close to $18,500 today. About 600 were sold in 1901, around 3,000 in 1902 and at upwards of 4,000 in 1904. This vehicle, not the Model T, that was America’s first first mass-produced, low-priced automobile. Olds is credited as being the first person to use an assembly line for automobile production. Ford developed the moving assembly line. Olds is also given credit for having the first timed solo run on Daytona beach, which occurred between 1894 and 1897. He passed away on August 26, 1950 in Lansing, Michigan. Photos. Ransom E. OldsRansom E. Olds in the Olds Pirate racing car in 1896 or 1897

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