Ransom Eli Olds (June 3, 1864 – August 26, 1950) was a pioneer of the American automotive industry, after whom the Oldsmobile and REO brands were named. He claimed to have built his first steam car as early as 1887 and his first gasoline-powered car in 1896. The modern assembly line and its basic concept is credited to Olds, who used it to build the first mass-produced automobile, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash, beginning in 1901.
Ransom E. Olds
Portrait of Olds, c 1920
Ransom Eli Olds
June 3, 1864
|Died||August 26, 1950 (aged 86)|
|Spouse(s)||Metta Ursula Woodward|
|Parent(s)||Pliny Fiske Olds and Sarah Whipple Olds|
Olds was born in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio, the youngest son of blacksmith and pattern-maker Pliny Fiske Olds and his wife, Sarah Whipple Olds. His parents moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio, when Olds was still a boy. He eventually settled in Lansing, Michigan, where he married Metta Ursula Woodward on June 5, 1889. He was of English ancestry with the first paternal line coming from Dorset, England in 1667.
He founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, on August 21, 1897. The company was bought by a copper and lumber magnate named Samuel L. Smith in 1899 and renamed Olds Motor Works. The new company was relocated from Lansing to Detroit. Smith became President while Olds became vice president and general manager.
By 1901 Olds had built 11 prototype vehicles, including at least one of each power mode: steam, electricity and gasoline. In 1934, he received a patent for a diesel engine. He was the only American automotive pioneer to produce and sell at least one of each mode of automobile.
On March 9, 1901, the Olds Motor Works factory burned to the ground. Only one model, the little Curved Dash runabout, was saved from the flames. Ransom Olds claimed it was the fire that made him select the runabout, from among his many other models, to put into production. His biographer questions the veracity of this story. He points to an Olds advertising blitz that had already led to more than 300 Curved Dash orders even before the fire took place. "Olds did not need the one rescued car from which to reconstruct the plans and patterns for the runabout."
Later that year, Olds had his company's test driver, Roy Chapin, drive a Curved Dash runabout to the second annual New York Automobile Show. Along the way, Chapin opted to drive up onto the Erie Canal tow path to escape the mire of New York state roads. After eight days of driving, he reached the Waldorf Astoria hotel but was turned away at the door. His mud-spattered attire was so disreputable that he was sent to the servants' entrance in back.
During the auto show Olds pushed hard to make sales. When one dealer offered to purchase 500, Olds retorted, "I would like to see you make this order for a thousand cars. Then the public would drop its jaw and take notice."  The deal was signed, and though the dealer ended up selling only 750 to the public, it was the original number that everyone remembered.
The Curved Dash Oldsmobile sold for $650, equal to $19,575 today. About 600 were sold in 1901, about 3,000 in 1902 and at least 4,000 in 1904. It was this car, rather than Henry Ford's Model T, that was the first mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle.
As Smith's son, Frederic L. Smith, came into the business, he and Olds clashed frequently until Fred Smith removed Olds from the position of vice president and general manager in 1904, and Olds left his company. He went on to form the R.E. Olds Motor Car Company. Its name was quickly changed to REO Motor Car Company to avoid a lawsuit from the Olds Motor Works. The name REO came from the initials of his name as an acronym, but was pronounced as a word. Sometimes it was spelled Reo to emphasize this pronunciation. Olds served as president (until 1925) and later chairman of REO. The band REO Speedwagon took their name from the REO Speed Wagon light delivery truck, an ancestor of pickup trucks, though the band pronounces REO as letters rather than as a word.
The Olds Motor Works was bought by General Motors in 1908. General Motors discontinued the Oldsmobile brand in 2004, after a production run of 96 years.
Olds was the first person to use a stationary assembly line in the automotive industry. Henry Ford came after him, and was the first to use a moving assembly line to manufacture cars. This new approach to putting together automobiles enabled Olds to more than quintuple his factory’s output, from 425 cars in 1901 to 2,500 in 1902.
In 1916, Olds purchased 37,547 acres (152 km²) of land by the northern part of Tampa Bay in Florida and developed the area into what is now the city of Oldsmar. He traded his land for the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida in 1926.
In 1906, Olds organized the Capital National Bank, later called Lansing National Bank, and Michigan National Bank. Olds was also involved in the organization of the Michigan Screw Company and Atlas Drop Forge Company, all in Lansing, Michigan.
Olds was the primary financier of the Olds Tower. When completed in 1931 it was the tallest office building in Lansing and retains that distinction today. Located at 124 West Allegan Street, the building is now called the Boji Tower.
Olds was also involved in the Hotel Olds at 111 South Capitol Avenue in Lansing. Today this is known as the George W. Romney Building, where the office of the governor of Michigan is located.
Olds was also famous for his auto racing on the beaches of Florida at Ormond and Daytona. He had the first timed run on the beach in a solo run sometime between 1894 and 1897. In 1896 or 1897, rich automobile pioneers Olds and Alexander Winton (Winton Motor Carriage Company) staged an unofficial event; Winton beat Olds by 0.20 second.
In the early 1900s, Olds built an elaborate Queen Anne-style mansion[notes 1] on South Washington Avenue in Lansing. Among the home's many technological innovations was a turntable in the garage which allowed Olds to pull in at night and leave again the next morning without driving in reverse. The mansion was demolished in 1966 to make way for Interstate 496, which was then named for Olds himself. The architectural drawings of that house are in the archives of the State of Michigan.
Events from the year 1897 in the United States.Bates (automobile)
The Bates was an automobile manufactured in Lansing, Michigan, by the Bates Automobile Company from 1903 to 1905. The Bates was the brainchild of M.F. Bates, who was vice-president of the company.Benjamin Briscoe
Benjamin Briscoe (May 1867–26 June 1945) was born in Detroit, Michigan, and was an automobile pioneer and industrialist.
Briscoe entered business for himself at age of 18 with capital of $472, organizing the firm of Benjamin Briscoe & Co. to manufacture sheet-metal stampings. This later became part of the American Can Company. He then invented a machine for the production of corrugated pipe for the Briscoe and Detroit Galvanizing Works, later the Briscoe Manufacturing Company.Capitol Loop
The Capitol Loop is a state trunkline highway running through Lansing, Michigan, in the United States that was commissioned on October 13, 1989. It forms a loop route off Interstate 496 (I-496) through downtown near the Michigan State Capitol complex, home of the state legislature and several state departments. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has labeled it as Capitol Loop I-496 or CL I-496 on some maps, similar to the Business Loop Interstate nomenclature. However, unlike other business loops in Michigan, it has unique reassurance markers—the signs that serve as regular reminders of the name and number of the highway. It is known internally at MDOT as Connector 496 for inventory purposes. The route follows a series of one-way and two-way streets through downtown Lansing, directing traffic downtown to the State Capitol and other government buildings. Unlike the other streets downtown, the seven streets comprising the Capitol Loop are under state maintenance and jurisdiction.
The loop was originally proposed in 1986 as part of a downtown revitalization effort. Almost from the beginning before the highway was commissioned in 1989, it was affected by controversial proposals. Several suggestions by community leaders to rename city streets in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. were rejected. In the end, Logan Street was given a second name, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and the original name was eventually dropped.
Meetings beginning in 1999 dealt with rebuilding the streets as part of a downtown beautification project. The project was delayed to accommodate replacing the sewer system under the roadway at the same time as the streetscaping. The downtown business community protested the original scope of construction, and the Lansing City Council threatened to cancel the project in response to the controversy. Instead of losing the investment in the downtown area, the scope of the project was reduced in scale, and the project was completed in 2005, three months ahead of schedule. In 2010, additional controversies surfaced regarding the posting and enforcement of speed limits on city streets in Michigan, including the streets that make up the Capitol Loop. The newest controversy over speed limits is related to compliance with a 2006 state law aimed at eliminating speed traps.Central Michigan
Mid Michigan, occasionally called Central Michigan, is a region in the Lower Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. As its name implies, it is the middle area of the Lower Peninsula. Lower Michigan is said to resemble a mitten, and Mid Michigan corresponds roughly to the Thumb and palm, stretching from Michigan's eastern shoreline along Lake Huron into the fertile rolling plains of the Michigan Basin. The region contains cities of moderate size including Flint, Saginaw, and the state capital of Lansing.Clarkmobile
Clarkmobile was an automobile first built in 1902 by Frank Clark of Clark & Company in Lansing, Michigan. The first model became available in 1903. A newspaper article referred to the automobile as the 'Unbreakable Clarkmobile' and showed it surviving an accident.
Before the Clarkmobile, Clark & Company Carriage Works built the body for the first test car produced by Ransom E. Olds.Production ceased in 1904. The Deere-Clark company purchased the company's tools and machinery. Frank Clark went on to make the Clark car in Shelbyville, Indiana.Darius Moon
Darius B. Moon (1851–1939) was an architect in Lansing, Michigan, United States. A largely self-educated poet, artist and craftsman, Moon built over 260 structures, most of them in the area of Lansing and East Lansing, Michigan, during a prolific career that stretched from 1860 to 1923.
Darius B. Moon was born in 1851 in Cattaraugus County, New York, and moved to Eaton County, Michigan when he was three years old. He was married in 1877, and moved to Lansing by 1883 and began his career as a builder. He was interested in architecture from an early age, and was likely self-taught. Following his interest, by 1888 he was working as an architect. He worked alone until 1909, when he partnered with Raymond Spice to form the firm of Moon and Spice. He continued working until his retirement in 1923.His Queen Anne-style houses range from the Ransom E. Olds residence (demolished in 1971 to make way for the R. E. Olds Freeway) to the Howland House student co-op (originally the home of Chester D. Woodbury) in East Lansing. He also designed residences for Henry Kosltchek, Edward D. Sparrow, Frank Dodge, Judge Person, and H.M. Rogers. In addition to houses, Moon designed four schools, the Olds Motor Works, and the original Sparrow Hospital.Diamond Reo Trucks
Diamond Reo Trucks was an American truck manufacturer. In 1967, Diamond T and Reo Trucks were combined to form the Diamond Reo Trucks Division of the White Motor Corporation. Reo dated back to 1904 when Ransom E. Olds, founder of Oldsmobile, began building motor cars, and Diamond T dated back to 1905 when C.A. Tilt began building vehicles.
In 1971, Francis L. Cappaert of Birmingham, Alabama, bought Diamond Reo from White and formed an independent company called Diamond Reo Trucks Inc. And, at about the same time the Diamond Reo C-116 series was introduced, which featured Cummins NTC-335, NTC-350, NTA-370 and Detroit Diesel 12V-71N engines. Despite new model introductions and excellent reputation Diamond Reo was forced into bankruptcy on December 6, 1974.
One year later Loyal Osterlund and partner Ray Houseal bought the rights to Diamond Reo trucks and made room to continue production in their Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, facility, originally a dealership and maintenance facility. The single model C-116 Giant was continued in production with the Cummins NTC-290 diesel engine as standard power. Production for 1978 was 131 units. By 1985, the Harrisburg plant was expanded to be able to produce 10 trucks per day, although output continued at about two per day. The company continued to build about 150 Class 8 trucks annually through 1995 all as Diamond Vehicle Solutions LLC.
In the early 2000s Diamond Vehicle Solutions marketed the T-Line series described as "a blend of vintage Diamond T heritage and modern engineering" The T-Line's series included one long-nose and two medium-nose models with the company manufacturing frames and other parts, and outfits basic cabs it obtains from Navistar; it offers Caterpillar and Cummins diesels, Eaton and Allison transmissions, and Dana and Meritor axles. These trucks were manufactured until 2010 with parts manufacturing lasting until 2013.Ford Model T
The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie, Leaping Lena, jitney or flivver) is an automobile produced by Ford Motor Company from October 1, 1908, to May 26, 1927. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American; some of this was because of Ford's efficient fabrication, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting.The Ford Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, ahead of the BMC Mini, Citroën DS, and Volkswagen Type 1. Ford's Model T was successful not only because it provided inexpensive transportation on a massive scale, but also because the car signified innovation for the rising middle class and became a powerful symbol of America's age of modernization. With 16.5 million sold it stands eighth on the top ten list of most sold cars of all time as of 2012.Although automobiles had been produced from the 1880s they were still mostly scarce, expensive, and often unreliable at the Model T's introduction in 1908. Positioned as reliable, easily maintained, mass-market transportation, it was a runaway success. In a matter of days after the release, 15,000 orders were placed. The first production Model T was produced on August 12, 1908 and left the factory on September 27, 1908, at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, Michigan. On May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll off the assembly line at his factory in Highland Park, Michigan.Henry Ford conceived a series of cars between the founding of the company in 1903 and the introduction the Model T. Ford named his first car the Model A and proceeded through the alphabet up through the Model T, twenty models in all. Not all the models went into production. The production model immediately before the Model T was the Model S, an upgraded version of the company's largest success to that point, the Model N. The follow-up was the Ford Model A (rather than any Model U). The company publicity said this was because the new car was such a departure from the old that Henry wanted to start all over again with the letter A.
The Model T was Ford's first automobile mass-produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class. Henry Ford said of the vehicle:
I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces.
Although credit for the development of the assembly line belongs to Ransom E. Olds, with the first mass-produced automobile, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash, having begun in 1901, the tremendous advancements in the efficiency of the system over the life of the Model T can be credited almost entirely to the vision of Ford and his engineers.HAL (automobile)
The HAL (or sometimes HAL-Twelve/HAL-12) was a Brass Era car made in Cleveland, Ohio from 1916 to 1918. HAL stands for the initials of the founder—Harry A. Lozier.
Harry Lozier stated in June 1915 that "only an accident... prevented the formation of my company last summer." Harry Lozier was upset that Lozier Motor Company stockholders had taken his decidedly luxury self-named car downmarket. So he did what Ransom E. Olds and Harry C. Stutz did before him—create a new car company using his initials as the name of the car. Thus was the H.A. Lozier Company formed. A prototype using a Weidely V-12 engine was displayed at the New York Automobile Show in January 1916. Production of the $2100 car commenced in Cleveland that summer, though the price would rise as time went on. The former Royal Tourist factory was used, which had been leased from the F.B. Stearns Company. Harry Lozier left the company in September 1916 for health reasons. The company was now renamed the Hal Motor Car Company, with A. Ward Foote of the Foote-Burt Machine Company as president.
Company brochures stated that even though the engines of the HAL-Twelve were rated at 40 hp, they actually developed over 70 at 2000 RPM, and 100 at 3000 RPM. Among the prominent owners of HALs during this period was none other than Warren G. Harding, though he would switch to Locomobiles by the time he became president. The continuing war resulted in materials shortages. There was a rumor in October 1917 that HAL would merge with the Abbott Corporation, recently moved to Cleveland from Detroit. Unfortunately, Abbott declared bankruptcy in January 1918, while the Hal Motor Company was petitioned into involuntary bankruptcy the next month, on creditors' claims of only $1500. The Hal assets were auctioned off in April, thus ending Harry Lozier's 2nd automotive venture named after himself.Interstate 496
Interstate 496 (I-496) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway that passes through downtown Lansing in the US state of Michigan. Also a component of the State Trunkline Highway System, the freeway connects I-96 to the downtown area. It has been named the R.E. Olds Freeway (sometimes just Olds Freeway) for Ransom E. Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile and the REO Motor Car Company. I-496 runs east–west from I-96/I-69 near the downtown area and north–south along a section that runs concurrently with US Highway 127 (US 127). The trunkline also passes a former assembly plant used by Oldsmobile and runs along or crosses parts of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers.
Construction of I-496 started in 1963, and the freeway opened on December 18, 1970. Segments of the freeway south of downtown Lansing were built in the location of a historically black neighborhood. This neighborhood was formed based on the segregationist practices of the early 20th century. Community leaders worked for different housing opportunities for the black residents displaced by I-496 rather than fight the freeway. As the trunkline neared completion, competing proposals to name it resulted in two similar, but separate designations applied to I-496. The city originally approved one name in honor of a former mayor. The local historical society proposed that the state name it as a memorial to Olds after the demolition of the Olds Mansion. The city renamed it the Oldsmobile Expressway, the name under which it opened in December 1970. Two years later, the Michigan Legislature restored its preferred name and it has been the Olds Freeway since.Olds
Olds may refer to:
Oldsmobile, a brand of automobile manufactured in the US from 1897 to 2004
F. E. Olds, an American brass musical instrument manufacturing company named after its founderOldsmar, Florida
Oldsmar is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 13,591. The Oldsmar name dates to April 12, 1916 when automobile pioneer Ransom E. Olds purchased 37,541 acres (151.92 km2) of land by the northern part of Tampa Bay to establish "R. E. Olds-on-the-Bay". The name was later changed to Oldsmar, then to "Tampa Shores" in 1927, and finally back to Oldsmar in 1937. Ransom Olds named some of the original streets himself, such as Gim Gong Road for Lue Gim Gong.Oldsmar includes several parks along Tampa Bay, historic bungalows, a downtown, and a commercial area along West Hillsborough Avenue. The historical society operates a museum in Oldsmar, and the city erected a new library in 2008.
In hopes of returning to the days of "Old Florida", Oldsmar's downtown is currently undergoing redevelopment efforts. Oldsmar celebrates its history every year with Oldsmar Days and Nights, including parades, car shows (featuring the Oldsmobile), and carnival rides. Notable Oldsmar businesses include the nearby Tampa Bay Downs and the production office of Nielsen Media Research.Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobiles produced for most of its existence by General Motors. Olds Motor Vehicle Co. was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. It produced over 35 million vehicles, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory. During its time as a division of General Motors, it slotted in the middle of GM's five divisions (above Pontiac but below Buick), and was noted for its testing of groundbreaking technology and designs, most notably the "Rocket V8" engine. In 1985, over 1 million Oldsmobiles were sold, but by the 1990s the division was tasked with competing with import brands. When it was shut down in 2004, Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Peugeot, MAN, and Tatra.Oldsmobile Curved Dash
The gasoline-powered Curved Dash Oldsmobile is credited as being the first mass-produced automobile, meaning that it was built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. It was introduced by the Oldsmobile company in 1901 and produced through 1907; 425 were produced the first year, 2,500 in 1902, and over 19,000 were built in all. When General Motors assumed operations from Ransom E. Olds on November 12, 1908, GM introduced the Oldsmobile Model 20, which was the 1908 Buick Model 10 with a stretched wheelbase and minor exterior changes.It was a runabout model, could seat two passengers, and sold for US$650. While competitive, due to high volume, and priced below the US$850 two-seat Ford Model C "Doctor's Car", it was more expensive than the Western 1905 Gale Model A roadster at US$500. The Black sold for $375, and the Success for US$250.The flat-mounted, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine, situated at the center of the car, produced 5 hp (3.7 kW), relying on a brass gravity feed carburetor. The transmission was a semiautomatic design with two forward speeds and one reverse. The low-speed forward and reverse gear system is a planetary type (epicyclic). The car weighed 850 lb (390 kg) and used Concord springs. It had a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).The car's success was partially by accident; in 1901, a fire destroyed a number of other models before they could be approved for production, leaving the Curved Dash as the only one intact.R. E. Olds Transportation Museum
The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is named for Ransom E. Olds, founder of Oldsmobile and REO, and is located in Lansing, Michigan. It is one of the top-rated automotive museums in the United States.
The final Oldsmobile, a dark cherry metallic "Final 500 Collector's Edition" (#500 of 500) Alero sedan, was on display in the museum, but the GM Heritage Center took it back where it is now located.
It houses a diverse collection of Oldsmobiles dating from 1897 to 2004. The 1897 Olds, one of four built that year, is on loan from the Smithsonian Institution. There is also a replica of the 1893 steam carriage built by Ransom E. Olds on display, prior to the founding of the Olds Motor Works, which was the official name of Oldsmobile until the 1940s.
This museum also houses automobilia covering nearly a century, including a nearly complete collection of Michigan license plates, early traffic signs and a working 1950s-era traffic signal. A bicycle collection shows the connection between early automakers and cycle makers who had the tools, know-how and creativity to successfully produce an automobile.
It also houses a collection of REO vehicles from the company that Ransom E. Olds created after he resigned from Oldsmobile. A well-known vehicle from that company is the REO Speed Wagon, from which a major musical band got its name. Another well-known truck that was made by a successor of that company is the Diamond REO.
Another significant part of this museum's collection are items from the Ransom E. Olds household.REO Motor Car Company
The REO Motor Car Company was a Lansing, Michigan-based company that produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 to 1975. At one point the company also manufactured buses on its truck platforms.
Ransom E. Olds was an entrepreneur who founded multiple companies in the automobile industry. In 1897 Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, makers of Oldsmobile (later to become a part of General Motors). In 1905 Olds left Oldsmobile and established a new company, REO Motor Car Company, in Lansing, Michigan. Olds had 52 percent of the stock and the titles of president and general manager. To ensure a reliable supply of parts, he organized a number of subsidiary firms like the National Coil Company, the Michigan Screw Company, and the Atlas Drop Forge Company.
Originally the company was to be called "R. E. Olds Motor Car Company," but the owner of Olds' previous company, then called Olds Motor Works, objected and threatened legal action on the grounds of likely confusion of names by consumers.
Olds then changed the name to his initials. Olds Motor Works soon adopted the popular name of its vehicles, Oldsmobile (which, along with Buick and Cadillac, became a founding division of General Motors Corporation).
The company's name was spelled alternately in all capitals REO or with only an initial capital as Reo, and the company's own literature was inconsistent in this regard, with early advertising using all capitals and later advertising using the "Reo" capitalization. The pronunciation, however, was as a single word. Lansing is home to the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum.Ransom (given name)
Ransom is a male given name which may refer to:
Ransom Cook (1794–1881), American inventor
Ransom W. Dunham (1838–1896), U.S. Representative from Illinois
Ransom Dunn (1818–1900), American minister and theologian
Ransom H. Gillet (1800–1876), U.S. Representative from New York
Ransom Halloway (1793–1851), U.S. Representative from New York
Ransom A. Myers (1952–2007), marine biologist and conservationist
Ransom E. Olds (1864–1950), American automotive industry pioneer, for whom both the Oldsmobile and REO brands were named
Ransom Riggs, American writer and filmmaker
Ransom B. Shelden, Sr. (1814–1878), founder of Houghton, Michigan
Ransom Stephens, American physicist and writer