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Oldsmobile provided Americans with over a century of automotive service and since it is discontinued, finding replacement parts is more important than ever. If you are in need of a replacement part for your Oldsmobile, you've come to the right place. At 1A Auto, we get you the right Oldsmobile parts for your vehicle, at a great discount. You'll find a large selection of new, high quality aftermarket Oldsmobile auto parts, including headlights, carpets, mirrors, exhaust manifolds, and more. We don't only just sell aftermarket Oldsmobile parts online here at 1A Auto; we also carry a selection of new, genuine OEM replacement parts - the very same parts you would receive if purchased from your local dealer, but without the inflated cost - and performance parts such as high flow air filters and air intake kits for your Oldsmobile vehicle as well.
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Look no further than 1A Auto for your aftermarket, original equipment (OE) replacement, new and performance Oldsmobile auto parts and get your Oldsmobile the new parts it needs today from car enthusiasts just like you! If you happen to be an enthusiastic Oldsmobile owner, have a deep passion for Oldsmobile vehicles, or just want to learn more about the automotive manufacturer, continue reading below for a detailed look at the brand's history and some of its past models.
Oldsmobile was one of the oldest American car brands and one of the oldest in the world, having been a leader and innovator in the automotive industry for over 100 years until its discontinuation by General Motors (GM) in 2004.
The Oldsmobile Origins: P.F. Olds and Son
You could say that Ransom E. Olds had automotive engineering in his blood long before the cars that would bear his name hit the road. His father, Pliny Fiske Olds, had been a blacksmith, pattern-maker, and even a farmer throughout Olds' childhood. In his adolescence, Ransom discovered an interest in the mechanical and technological workings of the time and a pining for life far away from the likes of horses. Much to his luck, the family moved to Lansing, Michigan in 1880, where his Dad opened up a machine shop for maintenance and repairs. Known as P.F. Olds and Son, "R.E." credited much of his skill to his apprenticeship under his father. He spent many hours learning machining and pattern-making while working with his father and his older brother Wallace (who the "and Son" pertained to). His true aptitude for machining earned him a full time job at the shop in 1883.
Two years later, Ransom bought out Wallace's share in the store. He became quite familiar with the steam engine since much of their time at the shop was spent repairing them. He developed a small gas-fired steam engine in 1885 that met considerable demand. But this was just the beginning. After dreading the idea of developing carts and carriages for horses during his childhood, Olds wanted to create something far more efficient.
He tried out his new engine on a few boats in Lansing, but he planned on building a carriage that could support his engine and eliminate the need for horses on the road. Word spread among a few customers and townspeople, but he preferred to keep it quiet should the experiment fail. One morning in 1887, Olds rose early to test his three-wheeled carriage. The carriage looked disproportionate as the boiler and steam engine took up plenty of the rear space. A tiller lever that controlled the lone front wheel made steering difficult.
Olds never stopped improving his designs. He learned that by linking two of his engines he could ramp up the output to 5 horsepower and run at a max of 15 mph. His vehicle was featured in the Scientific American Magazine in 1892 and was later sold and exported to Bombay, India, making Olds the first American to export an automotive vehicle. However, after visiting the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, he was inspired to develop a gasoline engine after seeing many on display. He spent the next few years developing a patent and schematics for an internal combustion engine. His experiments lead to a carriage that could reach 25 mph with his one-cylinder engine and the first automobile carriage patent in the US.
Many were interested in this new phenomenon, so, to meet the increased demand, Olds partnered up with Edward W. Sparrow and a group of investors to establish the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. Sparrow became the president, but the business struggled to take off and failed to produce many vehicles due to a lack of funds. Luckily, Sparrow knew Michigan millionaire Samuel L. Smith, who offered to invest - in exchange for controlling interest. It was also his idea that the two companies, Olds Motor Vehicle Company and Olds Gas Engine Works (previously P.L. and Son, Inc), be consolidated under a new parent company. Olds agreed to the deal, and in 1899 Olds Motor Works was established with Olds as the president.
The Olds Motor Works
The new partnership lead to the first U.S. automobile factory, located in Detroit. Several types of cars were built and experimented with, ranging from electric to gasoline-powered cars. A favorite among the factory was Olds' runabout with its signature curved dash. They sold for $650 each (about $18,000 in today's money) and after a national advertisement, Olds Motor Works had 300 orders. Unfortunately, a fire broke out while Olds was visiting his father in California, and upon his return he discovered the factory had burnt to the ground. A few prototypes were saved, and management agreed that production should be focused on the Curved Dash Olds. The company went on to finish out the year having produced 425 models. The achievement alone was unprecedented and marked the Olds Motor Works as the first company to offer a mass-produced car.
Due to the fire, Olds only offered the Curved Dash for 1902, but there were a few options one could choose from when selecting a model. All cars came with tiller steering, a seat side crank, two-speed transmission, chain drive, and a one-cylinder 4.5 horsepower engine, but options included a rear-facing seat, fenders, a top, and wooden spoked wheels. It also boasted an impressive 40 miles per gallon. These vehicles were also purchased by the American Postal Service and used as the first postal "trucks." Due to their light weight and large wheels, the Curved Dash could travel over nearly anything. Officially, the cars, including the Curved Dash, were called "Oldsmobile Automobiles," but they became known and generally referred to as "Oldsmobiles."
High demand for the cars caused the company to source engines and transmissions from other automotive companies like the Dodge Brothers. They just needed a system to put everything together quickly and efficiently. As Smith became the president, Olds became VP and went back to Lansing to be the General Manager of the plant. Instead of having his workers assemble cars separately, he placed them in a progressive order, and he is credited for implementing the first assembly line, something that Henry Ford refined into the moving assembly line. By 1904, Olds Motor Works was the country's largest automobile producer.
While the company became the top selling automobile manufacturer in the United States for a few years and the popularity of the Curved Dash soared, Olds left his own company, now known as Oldsmobile, in 1904 due to financial squabbles with the company's investors. Fred Smith, Samuel's son, who had been running the Detroit plant, urged the company to make a larger and expensive touring car in place of the economical and simple Curved Dash and to improve certain amenities that customers complained about. The disagreements between the two became unfathomable, and, in response, Olds started up the REO Motor Car Company that same year. Since Olds did not own the trademark to the name "Oldsmobile" - that belonged to the Olds Motor Works - he decided to use his initials as the name of his new company, hence the REO. After the departure of Olds, Oldsmobile struggled until General Motors came knocking.
As you can guess, the name "Oldsmobile" is a portmanteau of Olds and automobile. Oldsmobile never really officially changed its name, but the public grew accustomed to calling them "Oldsmobiles," and by the time William Durant purchased Oldsmobile as one of two companies (the other being Buick) in 1908 to be the subsidiary of his newly formed General Motors, the company had simply inherited the name.
The first Oldsmobile car produced under GM was the Oldsmobile 20. Powered by an inline four-cylinder engine with 22 horsepower, it was largely based off the Buick Model 10. It turned out to be a hit, accounting for 5,325 of the 6,575 Oldsmobile models sold. Surprisingly the model was scratched for 1910, and the Special and the Limited series replaced it. The 1910 Oldsmobile Special came with a 4-cylinder engine with 40 horsepower and the Limited came with a 6-cylinder engine with 60 horsepower. These, however, were simply sold as chassis, and buyers could opt for whatever body they desired - ranging from a touring car to a coupe to a roadster to a limousine body. The roadster and limousine bodies were made of aluminum, while the coupe and touring car were made of wood.
As the market for automobiles grew, it became practical to include more model options for buyers. The Limited sat on 42 inch wheels and was known for its affluent owners and abnormally large size. 1911 brought the 4-cylinder Autocrat to even out the price difference between the Limited and the Special. A year later, the Defender series, with its 298 cubic inch engine with 35 horsepower, replaced the Special as the base model. The Autocrat bumped up the engine size to 471ci and the output to 40 horsepower. In 1912, GM pushed Oldsmobile away from luxurious cars, after the success of Cadillac and Buick, to focus on a mid-range offering. This decision led to the Model 42, also known as the "baby Olds" for its small size. The Model 43 joined the lineup the following year as its replacement. In 1916, Oldsmobile offered its first V8 in the Light Eight Series.
Up through the ‘20s, Oldsmobile remained below Buick and above Oakland (later known as Pontiac) in GM's price hierarchy. In order to narrow the gaps between each make, each make adopted a "companion marque." Oldsmobile's was known as Viking. After a long hiatus through the ‘20s, when the brand only offered 6-cylinder engines, it introduced the 81 horsepower Viking monoblock V-8, the first of its kind.
The ‘20s did not pass by heedlessly. Oldsmobile's first of many innovations included chrome plating - the first of its kind in the automotive world - surrounding parts like the radiator and headlights. As the years passed by, and each GM division became known for the distinct qualities it could offer, Oldsmobile would become known as the "experimental division."
A True Innovator
As you will see, you can thank Oldsmobile for many modern amenities and technological advancements ubiquitous in cars today. In 1932, Oldsmobile offered an automatic choke, which was also the first of its kind. Many of its models throughout the ‘30s were designated bland names such as the Six Convertible or the Five Passenger Coach, but they delivered a considerable bang for their buck, often times gilded in chrome and very stylish for the price. By 1935, Oldsmobile had produced its one millionth vehicle.
Innovation for the ‘30s didn't end with the automatic choke. In 1937, along with Buick, Oldsmobile cars could come with a four-gear automatic safety transmission, which was not fully automatic and still required some shifting. They got it right in 1940 with the "Hydra-Matic" - the first mass-produced automatic transmission for passenger cars. It could be had as an extra option on any 1940 Olds model. GM also wanted to include the option in Cadillac models, but feared that if, for whatever reason, the experiment should fail, it should be with a much less expensive brand - not to mention that Olds pumped out more cars than Cadillac at the time.
During WWII, Oldsmobile switched to production of war materials including cannons and shells. Much production of automobiles came to a halt, but Oldsmobile was one of the few makes that still offered a passenger car during the War. Uniquely designed (probably from the excess of certain materials), the B-44 jutted a thick "Double Duty" chrome bumper that truly looked like two bumpers. The styling was so gargantuan and unique that ads compared it to the Douglas XB-19 bomber.
After the War, typical production resumed in 1945, with models rolling off the assembly line in 1946. Upon the resumption of pure automobile production, Oldsmobile continued to innovate transportation. Its next advancement shook up the automotive world with their overhead valve, high compression "Rocket" V-8 engine. The lucky beneficiaries included the 88, Super 88, and 98 models. Known for its exceptional acceleration and decent engine output for the time (135 horsepower with the 2 barrel carburetor and 165 horsepower in the 4-bbl), the base model 88s adopted the nickname "Rocket 88" and nearly blew Ford's 100 horsepower flathead V-8 out of the water. Some historians boldly label the 88 as the precursor to the sports car for its light weight body and high performance output, and with good reason. The stock 88s won 6 of the 9 NASCAR races that year. But why stop with the automotive industry? Some also like to call the inspired 1951 RnB song "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats the precursor to Rock ‘n' Roll.
The ‘50s were, after all, a rockin' time for the brand. The hip, stylish, and ever-evolving cars attracted buyers from the thrill-seeking ex-military drivers to the commonplace family man. Additions throughout the decade like a wraparound windshield, hardtops, and an open "maw grille" kept the company relevant, but by the end of the decade many saw Oldsmobiles as outdated compared to the "forward look" offerings from Chrysler. Despite this, Oldsmobile was the 4th largest automaker in the US.
The 1960s ushered in a new era at Oldsmobile that continued to provide industry firsts. After significant redesigns were made to its models at the end of the previous decade and continuing on into the next, Oldsmobile introduced numerous successful vehicles into the marketplace. It released the first turbocharged engine in a production car: the 1962 Oldsmobile Turbo Jetfire. The Jetfire was a performance version of the F-85 Cutlass, itself a sports coupe version of the 1961 F-85 wagon or sedan. Its 215ci V8 could pump out 215 horsepower and could reach up to 110 mph. Sales were not as high as expected, as many buyers complained about the suspension borrowed from the other F-85 models that did not bode well with such a better engine.
The 1960s became a decade for the muscle car, and Oldsmobile started to lose its grip on its position between Pontiac and Buick in GM's lineup. Young buyers wanted Pontiac's GTO, so Oldsmobile focused on developing a few more sport models that today are seen as notable contributions to the era. Some of these include the 442 and the Cutlass Supreme. A few more interesting models, like the extended wagon Vista Cruiser and the stylish full-size Delta 88, were also produced for the average buyer. But one of Oldsmobile's biggest achievements came in 1966 when the company released the Toronado. It was the first modern front-wheel drive car produced in the United States in close to 30 years. Named Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" in 1966, this personal luxury car competed with the likes of Buick's Riveira, and sent Oldsmobile into the ‘70s on a solid footing.
Oldsmobile reached its pinnacle of success during one of the toughest eras for automakers, and it did it without really having to introduce new products. The Rocket V-8 carried a reputation for reliability and performance, and the Cutlass Supreme attracted buyers like moths to a light, becoming the top selling car in North America by 1976. The Toronado offered another industry first with the driver's side airbag in 1974.
Sales soared for the company during the 1970s and 1980s, and it trailed only Chevrolet and Ford in terms of best-selling brands in the US. Unfortunately, this lead to a change in strategy at GM. Previously, each division had been responsible for designing, engineering, and manufacturing their own engines. The Rocket V-8 was so popular that in order to keep up with demand, Chevy's small-block 350ci V8 had to take its place at times. Eventually, this lead to GM abolishing separate engine development.
Things changed very quickly at Oldsmobile. Despite having its bestselling year ever in 1985 at over 1 million, by 1990, the brand's place in the marketplace had evaporated and its popularity quickly waned. Its place amongst other GM divisions had bottomed out as well. Being the first to offer in-dash GPS systems and the first factory-installed video entertainment center wasn't much help.
The company introduced the Aurora in 1995, and this vehicle would become the inspiration for the design of its other vehicles from the mid-1990s onward. In 1997, a new Oldsmobile logo was implemented and many of the existing, familiar models like the Cutlass Supreme were phased out and replaced with newer, more modern models of cars based on the design of the Aurora. While the company rediscovered critical success in the mid-‘90s and beyond, sales and profitability did not. In December of 2000, General Motors announced its plans to phase out the Oldsmobile marque. The Oldsmobile Bravada SUV would be Oldsmobile's last new model ever produced.
In 2004, after slumping sales and financial problems at GM, Oldsmobile was officially phased out. This marked the end of America's oldest surviving car marque and one of its most influential automobile brands. For over 100 years, Oldsmobile was a pioneer in the automotive industry, developing many innovative technologies, producing numerous legendary vehicles, and winning countless awards.