Antique Auto Insurance: A History of Oldsmobile
We can hardly speak of antique and classic cars without referencing an Oldsmobile. Founded in 1897, as the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. by Ransom E. Old, Oldsmobile was one of the oldest surviving American auto brands in the General Motor portfolio until it’s dissolution in 2004. For over one-hundred years Oldsmobile pumped out classic, reliable and sophisticated vehicles totaling roughly 35.2 million by the end of their production days.
In 1901, just four years after opening their doors, Olds produced a total of 425 vehicles, which gave the brand the distinction of becoming the first high-volume gasoline-powered automobile manufacturer. Although often credited to Henry Ford, it was Ransom Olds who pioneered the first automotive assembly line. His innovative auto production strategies lead to the production of their first major success, the Curved Dash Olds automobile, which was colloquially shortened to the Oldsmobile by consumers. Some 19,000 Curved Dash models where produced over all between 1901 and 1907 at which time they sold for just $650 dollars.
In 1908 the company was purchased by General Motors, and in 1910 Oldsmobile began producing the widely acclaimed “Limited” Touring car. The model was luxurious; it boasted a 60 horsepower engine, factory white wheels, goatskin upholstery, and spacious accommodations for five. The Limited gained notoriety after winning a race against the 20th Century Limited Train which was immortalized in a painting by William Hardener Foster. In the 1920’s Oldsmobile was rebranded as a middle class vehicle line in the General Motors product ladder, it would later be placed above the Chevrolet and Pontiac lines and below Buick and Cadillac products. In 1929 Oldsmobile introduced the Viking line as a slightly escalated caliber of vehicles from the now common Olds however the line failed less than a year later with only a limited number of Vikings produced.
In 1940 Oldsmobile became the first auto manufacturer to offer a fully automatic transmission, called the Hydramatic, which featured four forward speeds, no clutch and a gear selector on the steering column. Olds soon after introduced their two digit model designation system which would go on to be used for all vehicles produced between 1941 and 1996. The designation system was originally implemented to reflect the design and performance elements of the vehicle. The first digit would signify the body size while the second represents the number of cylinders used in the vehicles engine. Original body sizes were 6, 7, 8, and 9, and the two options for engine size were 6 or 8-cylinder. As such, subsequent Oldsmobile models were named 66 through 98.
During World War II, Oldsmobile shifted focus to weapons and munitions production, creating numerous material for the war effort, including large-caliber guns and shells. After the war their efforts returned to vehicle production and in 1949 Oldsmobile introduced the Rocket V8 engine which utilized overhead valve systems rather than the flathead systems which we prevalent at the time. Through the 1950s, Oldsmobile played up the jet plane styling angle, incorporating twin jet pod-styled taillights and “open maw” grills as a nod to its “Rocket” motif. Heavy chrome styling and exaggerated features were staples of the Oldsmobile aesthetic, however there were not always well received.
Over the next few decades there would be a number of firsts pioneered by Oldsmobile including the first turbocharged engine in 1962 and the first modern front wheel drive capabilities. Oldsmobile was a landmark auto producer and earned their rightful place in the hearts of enthusiasts and collectors of vintage, antique and classic vehicles.
At Condon Skelly, we know how exciting collecting antique and vintage vehicles can be. That’s why we specialize in offering complete collector auto insurance. We’re a group of collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals who specialize in insuring all types of collector vehicles. Our team is as passionate about protecting your vehicles as you are about collecting them. We can help you secure affordable, industry-leading collector auto insurance coverage to protect your classic, antique, or exotic vehicles. For more information, contact our antique auto insurance specialists today at (866) 291-5694.