From the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection
1903 Oldsmobile Model R Curved Dash Runabout
Engine no. 18003
4 1/2hp 95ci single-cylinder
Two-speed planetary transmission
Excellent preservation candidate
Single family ownership for three generations
Eligible for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
Ransom E. Olds started America on its path to being a nation on wheels with his Curved Dash runabout.
It was the Oldsmobile factory in Lansing that developed the concepts of mass automobile production on continuous assembly lines. Olds fostered the development of specialist suppliers like Leland & Faulconer, Dodge Brothers and others that in turn supported the burgeoning auto industry that would soon make Detroit the center of automobile manufacturing in North America. The many trips and exhibitions staged to promote the Curved Dash helped create the public image of the automobile as a viable, economical alternative to horse-drawn transportation.
The Curved Dash, as this delightfully original and complete 1903 from the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection so amply demonstrates, was a lightweight, simple machine that made graduating from horse to gasoline power a manageable step, not a daring leap.
Powered by a horizontally-mounted single-cylinder 4½ hp 95 cubic inch engine with mechanically operated valves the Curved Dash drove through a 2-speed planetary gearbox with single chain drive to the rear axle. Initially offered only with a transmission brake, experience soon taught that a mechanical brake on the rear axle was indispensable in the event the drive chain broke. Many other changes were incorporated in the Curved Dash during its production from introduction in 1901 through 1904.
This 1903 Oldsmobile Model R Curved Dash Runabout from the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection is a later 1903 with roller chain drive, bolted differential housing and finned radiator tubes. While the basic Curved Dash was basic indeed, the Miller Collection's has a number of optional features, notably the full top and dos-a-dos rear seat with fold-down footrest, the latter a $25 option. A pair of kerosene sidelights survive with it.
This is an intriguing Oldsmobile in charmingly original condition that could easily be returned to running, driving condition with presentable cosmetics without a major expenditure. Its 1903 dating is secure on the basis of both its identification number and its mechanical features, giving it good prospects for being a rapid, reliable participant in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
This is a desirable example of America's best known and most recognized veteran cars. While the prospect of spending 77 days on it traversing the continent from Los Angeles to New York as Lester Whitman and Eugene Hammond did in 1903 may no longer be attractive, it will make short work of the 54 miles from London's Hyde Park to Madeira Drive in Brighton.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.