November 23, 2004

Today in Automotive History 1897

Today in Automotive History

1897 Olds Issued Patent For "Motor Carriage"

On this day, Ransom Eli Olds of Lansing, Michigan, is issued a U.S. patent for his "motor carriage," a gasoline-powered vehicle that he constructed the year before. In 1887, when he was only 18, Olds built his first automobile, a steam-propelled three-wheeled vehicle. However, Olds soon recognized the advantages of an engine powered by gasoline, an abundant fuel source that was safer and more reliable than steam. Two months before receiving his patent, Olds had formed the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, a company that grew into the Olds Motors Works, in 1899, with the assistance of private investor Samuel L. Smith. After designing a number of prototypes, Olds and his company finally settled on the Olds Runabout in 1901. The Runabout was a small, motorized buggy with a curved dashboard and lightweight wheels, and was powered by a one-cylinder engine capable of reaching 20mph. Perhaps out of financial necessity, Olds contracted with other companies to construct various parts for the Runabout, a production technique that differed from the current industry practice of individually handcrafting each vehicle. Olds' new production method, a prototype of assembly line production, proved a great success, and Olds Motor Works sold 425 Oldsmobile Runabouts in the first year of business, 2,500 in the next, and peaked in 1904 with sales in excess of 5,000 vehicles.

Posted by Quality Weenie at November 23, 2004 01:02 PM