March 9, 1901 – Olds Motor Vehicle Co. prototypes destroyed in fire

Ransom E. Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. in 1897 and soon started rolling out prototypes. By 1901, he built as six horseless carriages of different design, all stored inside the Olds factory in Lansing, Michigan. Plans to put multiple models into production went up in smoke when fire broke out at the plant on this day in 1901. The flames destroyed the facility and all but one of the prototypes, a Curved Dash rescued by fleeing workers.

Above: The Olds Motor Vehicle Co on fire in 1901
Top – An Olds prototype destroyed by the fire

With a new factory built and only one prototype to work with, the Curved Dash went into production as Olds’ sole model. The automaker produced 425 of the vehicles by the end of 1901, making it the first company to mass produce an internal combustion engine powered vehicle. The Curved Dash remained a staple of Old’s lineup through 1907. The following year, Oldsmobile, as it was known by then, would be sold to General Motors.

A curved dash Oldsmobile. By Brian Corey