Come away with me Lucille In my merry Oldsmobile, Down the road of life we'll fly, Automobubbling you and I. To the church we'll swiftly steal, Then our wedding bells will peal, You can go as far as you like with me, In my merry Oldsmobile (Oldsmobile publicity song)
Named after its distinctively shaped footboard, the Curved Dash Oldsmobile was introduced in 1901. Adopted as the marque's sole retail model the following year in the wake of a near catastrophic factory fire, the two-seater became America's first mass-produced gasoline-powered car. Featuring a water pump, trembler coil ignition and overhead valves, its advanced rear-mounted single-cylinder engine was allied to two-speed planetary transmission. Displacing some 1.6 litres (later 1.9 litres), the eager powerplant was reputed to develop some 4.5bhp @ 500rpm and to emit one chug per telegraph pole. Designed to negotiate unmade roads, the Oldsmobile's sturdy yet lightweight chassis featured so-called 'Concorde' leaf springs and tiller steering. While, the two brakes provided acted on the transmission and differential respectively. Initially priced at $650, the Curved Dash proved a runaway success. Though, the Runabout's popularity was not only due to its affordability but also to a clever marketing campaign that encompassed everything from songs (such as the one above) to various headline grabbing publicity runs (one of Ransom Eli Odls's diminutive cars made a coast-to-coast crossing of America in 73 days during 1903).
Finished in black with black upholstery, this particular example is understood to be one of the rarer 'Southern Tread' models (so-called because a wider than standard track enabled them to better traverse the deeply-rutted unmade roads which were then typical of America's Southern States). Resident in Australia for decades, the Oldsmobile was a dismantled restoration project by the time that Dr David Martin of Woodforde, Adelaide acquired it during 1982. Painstakingly renovated over the next two years with assistance from Glyn Lucas (enamel paintwork) and Gordon Eames (buttoned leather upholstery), the Curved Dash was subsequently awarded the 'Advertiser' trophy for Veteran cars by the Advertiser newspaper group of Southern Australia. Regularly exercised by Dr Martin thereafter - including several 'Bay to Birwood Runs' - the two-seater also graced the pages of numerous publications. Seemingly well-kept by its subsequent custodians, the Oldsmobile was issued with the UK registration number 'BS 8536' on July 1st 2010.
Riding on wooden artillery wheels, this delightful 'Southern Tread' 5hp car is offered for sale with a wealth of correspondence between Dr Martin and Gary Hoonsbeen of the Curved Dash Oldsmobile Club, an album of restoration photographs, two folders of Club literature (newsletters etc) and assorted technical paperwork.