A meticulously preserved and iconic example of the very early days of American motoring, with its own amazing story, this 1901 'Curved Dash' Oldsmobile is ideal for display
Cars like this one do not become available often. This 1901 Oldsmobile Model R 'Curved Dash' Runabout is a wonderfully preserved and famous example of the very early days of American motoring. It is ideal for display and further preservation, and this particular model has a charming story of its own.
It’s being offered at auction without reserve at the RM Sotheby’s Hershey event, taking place in Pennsylvania on October 11 and 12, and is estimated to sell for between $50,000 and $75,000 (£38,413 to £57,620).
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Astonishingly it has had only two family owners since new, the latest being the Richard L. Burdick Collection, and has been painstakingly preserved including in its paint and upholstery. It is ideal for the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Historic Preservation of Original Features class.
The ‘Curved Dash’ – the name derived from its curved, sleigh-like dashboard – Oldsmobile is iconic and instantly-recognisable on its own terms. Yet this particular model has plenty of distinctiveness of its own, including that its original owner was a five-year-old. Yes, you read that right. Young Indiana resident Victor F. Hitz was attending the Chicago Automobile Show with his parents, paid a nickel for a raffle ticket and won the car!
Clearly he had wisdom beyond his years too as he recognised his fortune and held on to the car for the remainder of his long life, eventually joining the Curved Dash Olds Club with it.
Richard L. Burdick, founder and former CEO of Thermon Industries and someone with a great love of antique and vintage automobiles, acquired the Oldsmobile from the Hitz heirs decades later in 1984. It has remained in his collection ever since, preserved exactly as it was purchased. All of the original factory finishes are still present, including the original bodywork, upholstery, and rubber floor mat, of course with considerable patina, and the car is accompanied by its original Indiana state registration disc. Only the wheels were replaced, with wire wheels shod in black rubber tires.
While no identification number was found on the vehicle, in cataloguing it has previously been inspected and “dated” a 1901 by the Veteran Motor Car Club of Great Britain, as noted on a brass plaque, no. 172. This means it is one of the earliest examples of this very old car.
The gasoline-powered Curved Dash Oldsmobile more generally has its own special place in history, as it is credited as being the first mass-produced automobile – made on a production line with interchangeable parts. Introduced in 1901, by 1907 over 19,000 of them were built. The car's success was partially by accident though as in 1901, its first year of production, a fire destroyed a number of other models before they were approved for production, leaving the Curved Dash the only one intact.