Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
Known as the 'Curved Dash' for obvious reasons, Ransom Eli Olds's gasoline-powered runabout was first offered for sale in 1901, following a fire at the factory that had destroyed every other prototype. Over 11,000 of the three Curved Dash models ('R', '6C' and 'B') were constructed before production ceased in 1907, making it the first volume-produced American automobile. The Model 'R' runabout was powered by a single-cylinder, 1.6-litre engine of 114x152mm bore/stroke, mounted horizontally at the rear and producing 5 horsepower at 600rpm. Later '6C' and 'B' models benefited from a more-powerful (7hp) 1.9-litre engine and all featured two-speed epicyclic transmission and chain final drive.
Several improvements to the design were made during the course of production, but the engine's basic layout remained unchanged. Two mechanically operated overhead valves were set side-by-side at 90 degrees to the cylinder axis, and the rocker arms had roller ends. An ignition contact-breaker was mounted on the end of the camshaft, and sparks provided by a trembler coil. By 1902, the mixer-type carburettor had been replaced by a float-less design, while a manually adjustable valve in the exhaust system vented exhaust gases via the silencer box or more or less straight to the atmosphere, the two settings presumably being intended for town and country use respectively. Cooling water was contained in a reservoir above the engine and circulated by a crankshaft-driven pump, mounted on the side of the chassis. The radiator's copper piping wound its way back and forth beneath the floor.
Despite appearances to the contrary, the suspension's leaf-springs which linked the front and rear axles were not true half-elliptics like those fitted to the later model 'B' cars. On the 'R' and '6C' models, only the bottom leaf ran from front to rear, so it would be more accurate to describe these as four quarter-elliptics. Steering was by means of a tiller, a common enough method in the early 1900s, while there was a choice of brakes: one acting on the transmission, the other on the differential. The wheels were un-braked.
This Curved Dash Runabout was purchased new by Mr Edward Williams, of Bromyard, Herefordshire in 1903. Mr Williams, who was 38 years of age at that time, had a de-mountable, upholstered platform made and fitted on the rear of the vehicle, which he used as a taxi, with two passengers facing rearwards. The passenger-carrying compartment was entered through a small door similar to a horse trap.
Thus the car has the option of being driven with four seats or two.
Clearly a man with more than his faire share of entrepreneurial flair, Mr Williams installed an electric generator in the shed in which the Oldsmobile was garaged, and sold the electricity it produced to his neighbours. In 1948 Veteran Car Club member, Geoffrey Smith found the car and the electric generator in the shed, which had by that time collapsed on its contents. Two years later Mr Chester Smith, of Pembroke Motor Museum, persuaded Mr Williams to sell the car and immediately set about restoring it. The restored car was taken back to Mr Williams in 1952 for him to see from his bedroom window - he died very shortly afterwards.
From 1954 to 1982 the car was on exhibition at Chester Smith's Pembroke Motor Museum and during this period took part in the London-Brighton Run annually. In 1982 the museum closed down and the Oldsmobile was sold at auction to a dealer when the collection was dispersed. It was purchased from the dealer by David Leach, its third private owner, who completed four London-Brighton Runs with the car.
'AB 28' was purchased by its present owner in 1987 and subsequently completed the LBVCR every year up to and including 1993. (The finisher's medals and flags are included in the sale). While in the current ownership the car has always been serviced by Brentclass, of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, a firm recommended by the previous owner. Sadly, the pressure of other commitments has made it difficult for the current owner to continue his participation in the Run with the Oldsmobile, which has been kept garaged except for the occasional crank-up and run. The vendor advises us that 'AB 28' is running very well at the moment and was driven to the MoT station a few weeks ago to obtain its certificate, which expires in September 2011. All invoices relating to previous and present ownerships are included in the extensive accompanying files together with the original logbook, instruction manuals, memorabilia items and VCC dating certificate (number '946'). The car is offered with Swansea V5 registration document.
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