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1903 OLDSMOBILE MODEL R 4½HP 'CURVED DASH' RUNABOUT For Sale by AuctionBonhams are delighted to offer at our forthcoming Collectors' Motor Car Auction on Friday 3rd November at The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Sale, New Bond Street, London, 26 veteran motor cars – plus 200 lots of automobilia. The full online catalogue can be viewed at www.bonhams.com/24123. For further images and information on this lot, please follow the link.
1903 OLDSMOBILE MODEL R 4½HP 'CURVED DASH' RUNABOUT
REGISTRATION NO. BS 8601
CHASSIS NO. 1803
* Formerly part of the Pierce A Miller Carriage Collection
* Highly original
* Engine and transmission rebuilt by NP Veteran Engineering Ltd
* Completed the LBVCR in 2015
£35,000 - 45,000
€39,000 - 50,000
Known as the 'Curved Dash' for obvious reasons, Ransom Eli Olds's gasoline-powered runabout set the United States on its way to becoming a nation on wheels. Olds' 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. Indeed, Olds' many promotional trips and exhibitions helped create the public image of the automobile as a viable and economical alternative to the horse.
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 4½ horsepower at 600rpm. Later models benefited from a more-powerful engine, and all featured two-speed transmission and chain final drive. At first there was only a transmission brake, but experience soon showed that a mechanical brake on the rear axle was indispensable if the drive chain broke. Several improvements to the design were made during the course of production, but the engine's basic layout remained unchanged.
Formerly part of the Pierce A Miller Carriage Collection, this Curved Dash Runabout is a later 1903 model with roller chain drive, bolted differential housing, and finned radiator tubes. While the basic Curved Dash was relatively primitive, this example has a number of options, notably the full top and 'dos-à-dos' rear seat with fold-down footrest, the latter priced at $25. It also features a pair of kerosene sidelights.
The current vendor purchased the Oldsmobile at Bonhams' Scottsdale Sale in January 2013 (Lot 383). Having spent its entire life in Northern California the climate has assisted the cars preservation. It still retains its original paintwork and coach-lining on parts of the carriage together with what appears to be original Oldsmobile painted emblems, original coach-lining on the running gear and wheels, original leather upholstery and Rexine roof with traces of the original lining.
Since the car's acquisition by the vendor, the engine and transmission have been fully reconditioned, and a new water tank and water pump installed by NP Veteran Engineering Ltd of Horam, East Sussex, the rest of the car being maintained in good original condition. While in the vendor's care, the Oldsmobile successfully completed the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 2015.
A highly original and desirable example of America's best known and most readily recognised Veteran car, this delightful Curved Dash is offered with a VCC Veteran Passport (valid until December 2017), V5C Registration Certificate, and NPVE's bills relating to the aforementioned rebuilds of the engine, transmission, etc. There is also a nice email on file from the late Gary Hoonsbeen (founder of the CDO Club in the USA) remarking on how original the car was.