1902 Oldsmobile 5hp 'Curved Dash' Runabout  Chassis no. 7819 Engine no. 7819
Lot 537
1902 Oldsmobile 5hp 'Curved Dash' Runabout Chassis no. 7819 Engine no. 7819
£34,000 - 36,000
US$ 57,000 - 60,000
Lot Details
1902 Oldsmobile 5hp 'Curved Dash' Runabout
Registration no. to be advised
Chassis no. 7819
Engine no. 7819


  • 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 4½ horsepower at 600rpm. Later '6C' and 'B' models benefited from a more-powerful (7hp) 1.9-litre engine, and all featured two-speed 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 By 1902, the mixer-type carburettor had been replaced by a float-less design, while a manually adjustable valve in the exhaust system vented exhaust gases via the silencer box or more or less straight to the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.

    Imported from New Jersey, USA, and previously forming part of the Meldonfoot Historic Vehicle Collection, this 'Curved Dash' Oldsmobile was purchased as a dismantled, part-restored project and since acquisition has been fully restored by the vendor. Offered with MoT to June 2013.

Saleroom notices

  • This vehicle is now offered with the registration number RG 3 which is non transferable and a Swansea V5C.
  1. John Polson
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 5803
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5802