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

Ransom E. Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. in 1897 and began building prototypes. By 1901 as many as six horseless carriages of different design were built and were being stored inside the Olds factory in Lansing, Michigan. A few of the cars were set to go into production but a fire broke out at the factory on this day in 1901, destroying the facility and all but one of the prototypes, a Curved Dash that was rescued by workers fleeing the fire.

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

A new factory was built and with only one prototype to work with, the Curved Dash went into production as Olds’ sole model. Olds 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 continued to roll off production lines through 1907 and Oldsmobile, as it was called by then, would be sold to General Motors the following year.


A curved dash Oldsmobile. By Brian Corey

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