We use cookies to remember choices you make on functionality and personal features to enhance your experience to our site. By continuing to use our site you consent to the use of cookies. Please refer to our privacy and cookie policies for more information

Skip to main content

The Quail Auction / 1903 Oldsmobile Model R 'Curved Dash' Runabout Chassis no. 17575

Lot 8
1903 Oldsmobile Model R 'Curved Dash' Runabout
19 August 2022, 11:00 PDT
Carmel, Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Lot to be sold without reserve

US$65,000 - US$80,000

Ask about this lot

1903 Oldsmobile Model R 'Curved Dash' Runabout
Chassis no. 17575

95ci Single-Cylinder Engine
7bhp at 600rpm
Single-Speed Planetary Transmission
Full Length Leaf Spring Suspension Front and Rear with Solid Axles
Single Mechanical Drum Brake on the Axle

* A popular example of early motoring
* Well-maintained, usable example
* Perfect for Horseless Carriage tours
* Displayed in various museums


Quite literally, a Curved Dash Oldsmobile was what the old popular song called "My Merry Oldsmobile." If ever a car was cheap and cheerful, it was the simple and very effective Oldsmobile Model R, single-cylinder runabout. Although the concept of mass production wasn't entirely new, Oldsmobile used the principle with the Model R to turn out 425 cars in 1901, approximately 2,500 in 1902 and an estimated 3,924 units in 1903. That production also made Ransom Olds a very wealthy man. The Model R's horizontal single-cylinder engine was mounted under the body and drove the rear axle via a chain from a two-speed transmission. Suspension was very basic, with transverse leaf springs front and rear. A floor mounted pedal operates the transmission break and throttle is also controlled by pedal. Steering was by a right-side-mounted tiller.


This stunning example has been well maintained and cared for from when it was purchased and delivered new to Colorado in the latter portion of 1903. The document file accompanying the car indicate this Model R Runabout was restored in 1958 which seem to have involved careful preservation of many original components. The engine was rebuilt in 1999 and the surrey top was recovered a few years later using proper period materials. It has a lifelong history in Colorado as it has been registered in Colorado since its original purchase in Telluride. Prior owners displayed the vehicle in various museums so the purchase will include some museum informational display boards and documentation.
This vehicle provides the new owner with many opportunities, being eligible for Horseless Carriage Tours and Veteran Car Runs. As one of the icons of early motoring, it could simply motor around as a head turner on the road or conversation piece in any collection charting the history of the automobile.

Additional information