Description

  • In 1901, Olds Motor Works was destroyed by fire and only one car survived, a curved dash model.  
  • Olds returned to production in a new factory using tooling and specifications from this one model. 
  • Advertising greatly influenced the success of the curved dash Oldsmobile, that was produced from 1901-1905. 

Story

Story

“Fire!  Fire!”  Ransom Eli Olds had been operating the Olds Motor Works in Lansing, Michigan, for five years when in March 1901 a fire destroyed the shops, offices, drawings, and all specifications.  Only one car was saved, a curved dash model that was pushed from the burning factory.  Olds would risk his future on that single auto, because he could not afford to re-create all that was lost.  Lansing businessmen raised money to buy Olds a new factory site and, making tooling and specifications from his single car, Olds returned to production.  Through the remainder of 1901, 425 cars were built, but in 1902, with mass-production now being tried, 2,500 cars were sold.

Advertising played an important role in the success of the Curved Dash Olds.  Though some companies had advertised as early as 1898, 1902 marked the beginning of significant automotive magazine and newspaper advertising campaigns.  Ransom E. Olds’ first advertisement appeared in the February 1902 Saturday Evening Post.  Production soared to 4,000 in 1903, 5,500 in 1904, and 6,500 in 1905.  Olds also commissioned two popular songwriters of the day to write a song for advertising purposes.  The result was “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” a song inspired by the Curved Dash Olds and that became an all-time standard.

Oldsmobile was absorbed by the General Motors Corporation in 1908 and continued operating until the last Oldsmobile, an Alero, left the Lansing, Michigan, plant on April 29, 2004.

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