The Curved Dash Oldsmobile (aka CDO!) was launched in 1901 and is often regarded as the first properly mass produced vehicle as it was built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. They have become one of the most popular veteran cars with over 130 Brighton Run eligible vehicles listed in the Veteran Car Club’s Members Handbook. Many of the owners are enthusiasts who have had their CDOs for many years and simply will not part with them and the model is also frequently chosen by people as their first London to Brighton car.
One obvious appeal is that they are excellent value for money but it isn't only their price which makes them attractive as they are very good cars in their own right. Apart from being quite charming to look at they are very easy to drive, they have more than adequate power, very simple to use gears (you don't have to worry about double declutching) and light precise tiller steering which may seem a bit unfamiliar at first but soon becomes second nature. They are also, like most American cars of the period, relatively simple to maintain and very robustly made.
This particular Model R, with car/engine number 6732, is one of the earliest Curved Dash models still extant and has been in long term family ownership. It carries a Veteran Car Club brass plate stating that it was manufactured in 1902 and comes with a copy of its VCC dating certificate number 1268 issued in February 1965 with the only variation noted from its original specification being it’s Henderson motor cycle carburettor! The file also includes copies of CDO guru Gary Hoonsbeem’s “Curved Dash Manual” and Philip Seigler’s “Collection of Olds Motor Works Factory Drawings”.
The car is well presented with very nice paintwork and smart upholstery plus it retains its correct early wire wheels without mudguards and its plain tube radiator! Its 1½ litre single cylinder mechanically valved engine has a cylinder decompressor so hand starting is easy though some people do fit electric starters to Curved Dashes if they feel so inclined. Out on the road the engine (which is still being run-in following a comprehensive rebuild by a well-known early car specialist) is quiet and pulls well. The refurbished gears are also quiet and very easy to use, the steering is precise, the suspension is good so the ride is comfortable, the brakes are up to their job and all in all the car feels reassuringly well put together.
Originally intended to be a runabout for relatively local use the Curved Dash soon proved its long distance credentials with Hammond and Whitman's 1903 run from New York to San Francisco. In fact the model proved immensely popular selling in relatively large numbers from the outset and a good look at and drive in this car will soon explain why!