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Having experimented with steam and electric power, Ransom Eli Olds developed a light runabout with a unique layout. Produced from 1901 the “Curved Dash Olds” was a success due to a simple yet elegant design. A leaf spring on each side connected the front and rear axles with wooden bodywork mounted atop the springs. A transverse full-elliptical spring in front dampened rocking from front to rear. A horizontal one-cylinder petrol engine was under the seat powering the rear axle through a two-speed planetary transmission. The driver steered with a central tiller in the left hand, and controlled speed with the right. By 1903, it was the bestselling automobile in the US, beginning decades of success for the car from Lansing. The 1905 song “In My Merry Oldsmobile” was used in advertising for decades. (Here is Bing Crosby on Decca Records, 1939).
Olds was the first mass-produced automobile built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. Over 19,000 were built.