From the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection
c. 1907 REO Model B Runabout
Engine no. 5654
Versatile 2/4-Passenger Runabout
Charming, unrestored early REO
Offered from long-term family ownership
Ideal preservation or restoration vehicle
Ransom Olds left Olds Motor Works in a dispute with the mercantilist Smith family over product plans. Olds thought the economical, reliable, simple automobile offered the best chance of market success. The Smiths saw bigger unit profits in luxury automobiles along with less capital investment and management complexity.
The Smiths owned more of Olds Motor Works than its founder, though, and followed their own inclination. Olds departed reasonably well compensated, leaving the sassy little Curved Dash, and his name, behind. But not for long.
In only a few months Olds formed the R.E. Olds Company in Oldsmobile's home city, Lansing, to manufacture an updated version of a low-priced automobile. His former partners reminded him that his name, at least applied to automobiles, now belonged to Olds Motor Works. Olds counted by using his initials, REO, and making sure everyone know what they represented.
The first REOs were two cylinder runabouts which Olds designated the Model B with obvious reference to an earlier model he'd left behind at Oldsmobile. The 16hp twin was soon joined by a small, simple 7 1/2hp single competing directly with the Curved Dash.
The 8hp Model B had a single cylinder motor mounted under the body floor driving through a 2-speed planetary gearbox and single chain drive to the rear axle. In a concession to contemporary design trends, the Model B's used a conventional-style hood with the brass radiator at its front. Priced at just $1,250 it offered exceptional value at the time, value which REO demonstrated with the stunts, tours and expeditions which Olds had used effectively to promote the Oldsmobile.
This c. 1907 REO Model B Runabout from the Miller Carriage Collection is a largely complete, original automobile with right-hand drive wheel steering, brass-trimmed hood, blue body, red coachlines and black mudguard fenders. Lighting comes from a pair of kerosene lamps mounted to the hood. The wheelbase suggests it was built in 1906 but the engine number indicates it was from the following year. The driver will be busy as a tap dancer with the four foot pedals. The two rear seats in the tonneau are hinged and fold forward to convert the rear bodywork into a serviceable flat load space.
The completeness and generally sound condition of the body, even the presence of much of the original upholstery and stuffing, make this REO Model B an ideal restoration project. Those of a more conservationist inclination might give it serious consideration as a preservation project with attention to its operation and brakes and the body left in as-found condition.
No matter what course is chosen, this is a charming automobile and a powerful reminder of the debt the American automobile industry owes to Ransom Eli Olds, a story that would be especially powerfully told in combination with the Miller Carriage Collection's 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.
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