Oldsmobile was an early automaker in United States history. It was part of General Motors for the large portion of the life of the brand. Ransom E. Olds founded the company first as “Olds Motor Vehicle Company” in 1897.
While not the first, Oldsmobile was one of the first automobile companies in the world. It was known for its innovative designs and technologies. In 1901, Oldsmobile introduced the Curved Dash Oldsmobile, which was the first mass-produced automobile. The Curved Dash Oldsmobile was a simple, affordable car that was easy to operate and maintain. It was a huge success, and it helped to make Oldsmobile one of the most popular automobile brands in the world. The company even had a popular song written about it.
In 1908, Oldsmobile introduced the first fully automatic transmission for a mass-produced automobile. In 1910, it introduced the first car with a V8 engine. And in 1926, it introduced the first car with a chrome-plated body.
Joining General Motors
Oldsmobile became part of General Motors on November 12, 1908. William C. Durant, the founder of General Motors, purchased the Olds Motor Vehicle Company for $540,000. It was the second brand, after Buick, to become part of General Motors.
There were 8 automobile brands under the General Motors umbrella by 1930:
By 1926, General Motors had purchased the Oakland Motor Car Company and renamed it Pontiac. In 1927, GM introduced the LaSalle brand as a companion make to Cadillac. During 1929, GM introduced the Viking brand as a companion make to Oldsmobile.
A Log Run Before Parting the Scene
Robust sales, along with these acquisitions made General Motors the largest automobile manufacturer in the world by 1930.
Oldsmobile continued to be a popular brand throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. However, in the 1980s, Oldsmobile began to lose market share to Japanese automakers. In 2004, General Motors discontinued the Oldsmobile brand.
Here are some of the most notable Oldsmobile models:
Curved Dash Oldsmobile (1901-1907): The first mass-produced automobile.
Runabout (1902): The first car with a speedometer.
Tonneau (1903): The first car with a closed body.
Model 40 (1908): The first car with a fully automatic transmission.
The Model 66 (1910): The first car with a V8 engine.
Model 44 (1916): The first car with a four-wheel-drive system.
Rocket 88 (1949): The first car with a V8 engine that was designed for high performance.
Cutlass Supreme (1966): One of the best-selling cars in the United States in the 1970s.
Toronado (1966): The first American front-wheel-drive car with a V8 engine.
Aurora (1990): A luxury car that was designed to compete with European automakers.
- Year Started: 1897
- Year Ended: 2004
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder / Descriptive
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Ransom E. Olds
- Owner While In Use: General Motors
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Chevrolet
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan USA