1902 Oldsmobile 5hp Runabout  Chassis no. 7815 Engine no. 7815
Lot 304
1902 Oldsmobile 5hp Runabout Chassis no. 7815 Engine no. 7815
Sold for US$ 76,050 inc. premium
Lot Details
1902 Oldsmobile 5hp Runabout
Chassis no. 7815
Engine no. 7815
*95ci single cylinder
*Two-speed planetary transmission
*Electric starter discretely installed

*VCC 1902 dating certificate
*London to Brighton Run eligible
*Recent, comprehensive restoration

Ransom Eli Olds is generally considered to be the father of mass production with his Curved Dash Oldsmobile, significantly predating Henry Ford's Model 'T'. Although dabbling in steam and internal combustion-engined cars from as early as 1887, it was not until March 1901 that his business seriously took off. A disastrous fire at the factory saw just one gasoline-engined runabout rescued from the blaze. It was a simple curved dash, lightweight, single-cylinder engined runabout that was rescued from the fire – the rest is history. Factory manager Frederick Smith referred to the fire in later years as "the best move ever made by the management."

That runabout featured a rear-mounted, four-stroke engine, driving through a spur-geared two-speed transmission with center chain drive. Two steel longitudinal springs ran fore and aft, forming side members, and the lightweight vehicle checked in at just 700 lbs. The ride was comfortable on its cantilever springs, responding to the thump of the single-cylinder engine and the high ground clearance and wide track were designed specifically for the rutted roads on which it was originally designed to run.

This early 5hp model is liveried in traditional Oldsmobile Red and black with gold pin striping, and beautifully upholstered with deep-buttoned black leather. It sits on correct white tires and has the attractive 28" wire-spoked wheels of the early models. This car was subject to a comprehensive restoration with a goal of making it as reliable and easy to use as possible. The car is even equipped with an electric self-starter, something rarely seen on these cars. The car has seen only light use since its restoration and remains today in excellent condition.

Oldsmobiles are currently one of the most popular early cars and benefit from a strong club of enthusiasts and a cottage industry producing the necessary spares to keep them going. This car's VCC 1902 dating certificate and 5hp capacity ensure that all-important early start in the first 150 or so cars on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the correct chassis and engine numbers for this vehicle is 7185.
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