Friday, July 29, 2022

Temperature 79 Degrees, Sunshine and Clouds

REOlds Transportation Museum

Thursday we decided it was time to begin our sightseeing. We were down a day in terms of sightseeing already in this region and knew we had to get moving.

We had two must see automobile museums to get to but which one to go to first. In the end we decided to go to the smaller of the two first. This way, we figured, we would have an easier day and be home somewhat sooner in the afternoon. So, decision made it was time to go.

Now, when most people think of the automobile in America the first name that usually comes to mind is Henry Ford. But, hold on there, there were others before him who made some significant contributions in the development of the automobile in America.

This gentleman is one of them.

Three individuals, all born during the Civil War Period, Ransom Olds, Henry Ford, and William Durant were destined to play major roles in the fledgling auto industry at that time. All of them shared similar visions of the future of transportation. Of these individuals, Ransom Olds, is rightly considered the father of the industry we know today.

Let me share with you just a bit about this gentleman and some of the many accomplishments of this gifted individual.

Yes, it began with stationary engines but R.E. was already thinking ahead.

When the Smith’s entered the picture because of their location in Detroit, the Olds Motor Works moved into a new factory in Detroit. However, in 1901 a fire destroyed the factory and the company moved again, back to Lansing.

From 1899 to 1900 R.E. struggled with what to make. His goal was to produce a car for the masses, one that would be easy to operate, inexpensive and durable. At this time there were few cars to copy. Most car makers were inventing whatever they were going to make. R.E. after a lot of trial and error finally came up with the car he wanted.

Because of the volume of cars being produced new ways had to be discovered to manufacture them quickly and easily.

In the beginning the cars were mounted to stationary frames, and men came and went depending on the stage of production the car was in. However, this still did not provide for the quick and easy assembly of each car. A new way had to be found.

Casters were added to the previously stationary platforms to allow the vehicles to be pulled to the next operation. This was the advent of the first progressive automotive assembly line and eventually enabled the production of over 5000 vehicles per year. After visiting the Olds plant and the meat packing industry Henry Ford would later mechanize the process with the mechanical moving assembly line.

Olds was the first auto maker to successfully bring together a manufacturing facility, a saleable product, and a marketing approach. Olds marketing plan recognized that the horse, not other car makers, was his real competition. He also recognized that woman needed to be part of the advertising program at at time when automobiling was considered a masculine sport.

Despite the overwhelming success of the Curved Dash Olds by 1904 there was trouble brewing in the company. R.E. wanted to continue to produce inexpensive, easy to operate cars for the masses. The Smiths however wanted to produce large expensive cars for their friends. Since the Smiths controlled the company, this was an impasse. R.E left Olds in 1904 and would go on to form REO and would outproduce Olds for the next 20 years. Olds in turn would begin loosing large sums of money and finally in order to stay alive was sold in 1908 to a new company called GM.

In summary,

We turn now to R.E.’s new company.

Yes, the name Henry Ford is probably better known and he eventually sold more cars than R.E. ever did but the real father of the auto industry in America is hand’s down R.E. Olds.

We’re going to call it for today. Tomorrow, well maybe we’ll cover some of the more special automobiles on display in this museum. Maybe we’ll jump over to the Gilmore Museum which is the largest auto museum in North America. Then too we just may cover our afternoon out at the Cornwell’s Dinner Theatre. Stay tuned, lots more to come.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest. 

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before


  1. I am glad you made it to this automobile museum. I have not heard of R.E. Olds, but now I will not be able to hear the name “Oldsmobile” without thinking of him. I also thought it interesting that he tried to make an electric car. It sounds like he had real vision. I am looking forward to your next post!


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