Oldsmobile Curved Dash

The gasoline-powered Curved Dash Oldsmobile[3] is credited as being the first mass-produced automobile, meaning that it was built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. It was introduced by the Oldsmobile company in 1901 and produced through 1907; 425 were produced the first year,[4] 2,500 in 1902, and over 19,000 were built in all.[5] When General Motors assumed operations from Ransom E. Olds on November 12, 1908,[6] GM introduced the Oldsmobile Model 20, which was the 1908 Buick Model 10 with a stretched wheelbase and minor exterior changes.[7]

Oldsmobile Runabout
Also calledModel 6
About 19,000 built
AssemblyDetroit, MI[1]
Body and chassis
ClassEntry-level car
Body styleRunabout
Engine95 cu in (1,560 cc) horizontal one-cylinder[2]
TransmissionPlanetary 2-speed
SuccessorOldsmobile Model 20

It was a runabout model, could seat two passengers, and sold for US$650. While competitive, due to high volume, and priced below the US$850 two-seat Ford Model C "Doctor's Car",[8] it was more expensive than the Western 1905 Gale Model A roadster at US$500. The Black sold for $375,[9] and the Success for US$250.[10]

The flat-mounted, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine, situated at the center of the car, produced 5 hp (3.7 kW),[2] relying on a brass gravity feed carburetor. The transmission was a semiautomatic design with two forward speeds and one reverse. The low-speed forward and reverse gear system is a planetary type (epicyclic). The car weighed 850 lb (390 kg) and used Concord springs. It had a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).[11]

The car's success was partially by accident; in 1901, a fire destroyed a number of other models before they could be approved for production, leaving the Curved Dash as the only one intact.[12]


  1. Location of Curved Dash factory
  2. Rogliatti 1973, pp. 270–271.
  3. The name comes from its curved dash or dashboard, like that of a sleigh. See the photo and caption on page 130 of the Popular Science article listed under External Links below.
  4. Posthumus 1977, p. 48.
  5. Georgano 1985, p. 
  6. Oldsmobile Joins GM
  7. 1908 Oldsmobile Model 20 introduction
  8. Clymer 1950, p. 37.
  9. Clymer 1950, p. 61.
  10. Clymer 1950, p. 32.
  11. Sedgwick 1962, p. 36.
  12. Wright 2000.


  • Clymer, Floyd (1950). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925. New York, NY US: Bonanza Books.
  • Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (January, 1904)
  • Georgano, G. N. (1985). Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. London, UK: Grange-Universal.
  • Posthumus, Cyril (1977) [1977]. "The Motoring Boom". The story of Veteran & Vintage Cars. John Wood, illustrator (Phoebus 1977 ed.). London: Hamlyn / Phoebus. pp. 36–49. ISBN 0-600-39155-8. The 1901 output was 425 cars, and this figure rose to 2100 in 1902, 3750 in 1903, and 5000 in 1904.
  • Rogliatti, Gianni (1973). Posthumus, Cyril (ed.). Period Cars. Feltham, Middlesex, UK: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-33401-5.
  • Sedgwick, Michael (1962). Early Cars. Putnam.
  • Wright, Richard A. (2000-03-08). "detnews.com | Michigan History". Apps.detnews.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
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