Oldsmobile was one of America’s most popular automobile manufacturers and goes as far back as 1897 when it was established by Ransom E. Olds. It was also one of the oldest automobile manufacturers in the world, falling a little behind popular brands like Ford, Opel, Mercedes-Benz, and other pioneers.
Starting out as “Olds Motor Company,” it was majorly owned by General Motors and was referred to as “Olds Automobiles” by its owners, but the name didn’t stick as people preferred to call the carmaker Oldsmobile. Before powerful muscle cars like the Dodge Hellcat or Demon of our time, the Oldsmobile company built some of the most powerful muscle cars of its time with high-performance engines. Here we highlight some forgotten feats, facts, and history created by a brand that shaped America’s auto industry.
10 What America’s Oldest Automotive Brand
America’s automotive industry which began in the 1890s has experienced the emergence and disappearance of a handful of promising automobile companies. Oldsmobile, originally called “Olds Motor Vehicle Company” was founded in 1897, not long before other American automobile manufacturers stepped out.
It only falls second to the Duryea Motor Wagon Company founded by brothers Charles and Frank Duryea in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1893. Unfortunately, the last Oldsmobile came off the assembly line on April 29, 2004, signaling the end of the brand.
9 First Brand To Manufacture Fully Automatic Transmissions
We can’t deny that comfortable feeling we get from driving vehicles with automatic transmissions. No shifting, clutching, or extra strenuous driving activities. Oldsmobile played a major role in the development of automatic transmissions when it released the “Hydra-Matic”.
The Hydramatic was the first mass-produced fully automatic transmission by Oldsmobile produced between 1939 and 1956, a time when drivers were growing weary of constantly exerting the much-needed effort for shifting a manual gearbox. It was undoubtedly a breakthrough for the company as it further made their vehicles highly desirable.
8th March 9, 1901, Factory Fire Incident
Automobile manufacturers are plagued by a variety of unforeseen circumstances that can cause them to halt production or completely go under. Oldsmobile had its share of ill luck when its factory got razed to the ground by a fire incident.
A mistake by a worker triggered a terrible fire that burnt everything to ashes. Fortunately, some fleeing workers were able to save one of the prototypes, a curved dash prototype.
7 1968 Oldsmobile 442 Was Its Fastest Production Car
Oldsmobile had produced some wonderful models that stood out in different ways, but its 1968 Oldsmobile 442 made quite the mark during its time. The defunct automaker partnered with Hurst Performance Research Corporation to further enhance the 442.
The result of this collaboration was a powerful model equipped with a 6.6-liter V-8 engine rated to discharge up to 390 hp. It was Oldsmobile’s fastest at the time as it made it from 0-60 in just 5.4 seconds and rounded the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds.
6 Produced Three Diesel Engine Versions Between 1978 – 1985
During its time, Oldsmobile ventured into diesel engines and was able to come up with three versions. The first was a 5.7-liter 350 cu in V8 that was produced between the 1978 – 1985 period. However, the 350 cu in V8s failed woefully as they had reliability issues.
There was also a 4.3-liter 261 cu in V8 in 1979 and a 4.3-liter 263 cu in V6 from 1982 to 1985. Of the three engines produced, the V6 was more of a success than the horrible V8s.
5 1910 Oldsmobile Limited Won A Race Against A Train
The 1910 Oldsmobile Limited was a large touring car that depicted luxury and style. It was expensive compared to its competitors but was worth every dime. The Oldsmobile limited was equipped with a six-cylinder T-head engine and used a 4-speed manual transmission.
A rather fantastic feat accomplished by the Oldsmobile Limited was winning a race against a famous train, the 20th-Century Limited train. The race was from Albany to New York. A painting of the race was made by William H. Foster to immortalize the special event.
4 Produced War Materials During WWII
Some important and rare feats of the Oldsmobile company may be forgotten over time but one of the most patriotic acts of the company came during the second world war. Along with other major car manufacturers, Oldsmobile played a vital role in supporting the American military by producing weapons for the war.
The Oldsmobile Lansing plans dedicated its time and efforts to producing cannons and shells. Their motto during WWII was “Keep ’em Firing” and was pasted all around the factory to motivate workers.
3 Oldsmobile Rocket V8 Engine
Oldsmobile was on a streak of record-breaking achievements even after the second world war. In its 1949 model, Oldsmobile introduced the Rocket engine that used an all-new approach. Rather than the flathead straight-eight design that was prevalent at the time, Oldsmobile used an overhead valve V8.
The Rocket V8 was the most powerful engine of its time and was highly sought after for race cars as it produced the power needed for racing activities. The Rocket V8 was installed in the Oldsmobile 442 making it a high-performance car.
2 Competed In NASCAR
With Oldsmobile delving into the racing scene, The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was the brand’s first vehicle to feature in NASCAR competitions. Oldsmobile proved the versatility and overall capabilities of its models as it introduced some of its famed muscle cars into the competition.
The Rocket 88 was later replaced by the 442 but the main star vehicle for Oldsmobile in NASCAR was the Cutlass. Driven by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass was a championship vehicle.
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