Oldsmobile Defender

An inveterate tinkerer, Ransom E. Olds began building prototype automobiles in the late 1880s. He experimented with steam, electric, and gasoline engines, and many different configurations – but he was constrained by a lack of money. His financial worries were over when he organized the Olds Motor Works in 1897, capitalized with a $200,000 investment by lumber baron Samuel L. Smith. Over the next two or three years, Olds developed more than 11 different prototypes to evaluate for production, but no decision was made until a fire destroyed the entire plant, sparing only a single cylinder gasoline runabout – the Model R curved dash. Experts later credited the fire with the ultimate success of the company, in that it forced concentration on a single model for production – and an inspired one at that.

Production of an affordable mass-produced car also provided the funding to build fine cars, and in the second half of the first decade, Oldsmobile began producing a line of fine motor cars that many would credit with the long-term success of the company. These four-cylinder models started with the Model S in 1906, and culminated with the Special in 1910-11.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

35 bhp, 299 cu. in. inline “T” head four-cylinder engine, cast in pairs, with magneto and battery ignition, cone clutch and four-speed sliding gear manual transmission. Front suspension via semi-elliptical leaf springs and beam axle, rear suspension via semi-elliptical leaf springs and live rear axle, and rear wheel brakes. Wheelbase: 116"

Source: RM Auctions

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