"Follow My Heart" Part 3

QUESTION:  Which of the following vehicles was not a model produced by the Reo Motor Car Company?
A)  Flying Cloud
B)  Royal
C)  Victoria Eight
D)  Model M Touring

We've been talking about Ransom E Olds and the second automotive company he created - the Reo Motor Car Company.  Beginning in 1905, Ranse began producing cars in direct competition with the previous company he established, the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. While never surpassing the initial popularity of his Curved-Dash Runabout, Olds definitely did good with Reo. In 1907, Reo was considered one of the four most successful automobile manufacturers in the country.  Unfortunately, he was unable to keep up with the successes of the emerging General Motors and Ford Companies, both of which did extraordinarily well. By 1910, Reo got into the truck production business.  Ranse proved he could re-invent himself in the automotive industry, but had clashes with his investors again. Rather than fight, he appointed Richard Scott as general manager and focused on his real estate and other ventures. 

Meanwhile, Reo continued to innovate.  1915, the same year Olds bowed out of command of the company, Reo introduced the Speed Wagon.  It became a well-regarded truck, adaptable for numerous uses, it was a dump truck, fire truck, tow truck, hearse, ambulance, and pretty much whatever its purchaser wanted it to be.  The "Gold Crown" engine was admired for its reliability and power. Speed Wagons were produced until the early '50's.  While the trucks continue to be admired by afficionados, the words " Reo Speed Wagon" have become better known by a band that took them on.  We are, of course, referring to the 1970's and 1980's rock band Reo Speedwagon.

ANSWER:  B)  Royal.  Okay, this was a little tricky.  The actual name was Royale.

"Don't Let Him Go" Part 2

           Frederic L. Smith

           Frederic L. Smith

QUESTION:  Ransom Olds is the only major innovator in the American automotive industry whose experiments in propulsion included three of the following technologies.  Which did he not use?
A)  Gasoline
B)  Pneumatics
C)  Water
D)  Electricity

Yesterday's blog examined the early life of the great automotive entrepreneur Ransom E. Olds. Today, we pick up with the formation of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897, in which Olds was the creative genius, and Sam Smith was the money man. We had hoped everything would be happiness and rainbows between the two, but that was not to be. They started out brilliantly, though, especially with the development of the Curved-Dash Runabout, which Olds created with an affordable price point - $650 for the two seater with the distinctive front. They were first produced in 1901, after a fire that March devastated their factory.  Olds was able to produce four hundred despite the setback, and they sold out quickly.  In fact, they became so popular they could barely keep up with demand. Olds developed an effective assembly line to build cars - the first of its kind and the inspiration for a later innovator named Henry Ford - and did so well that, by 1904, he annually produced close to five thousand Runabouts.  His cars were insanely popular, he was an internationally famous innovator.  What could possibly go wrong? Well, Sam Smith, Olds' financier, had a son involved in the company named Fred. Fred and Ranse did not quite see eye to eye.  Fred accused Ranse of getting sloppy in production of the Runabouts and, where Ranse wanted to continue producing cars for the common man, Fred saw luxury vehicles as the way to greater riches. So Ranse sold his stock in the company that bore his name and went independent.  

The Reo Motor Car Company began production of their first cars in 1905.  Since Olds was not permitted to use his own name for his new company, he used his initials. Reo would produce affordable cars and light trucks for seventy years.  Olds would retain Ranse's name, becoming Oldsmobile.  Although Oldsmobiles were produced until 2004, they gave up their independence in 1908 when Fred Smith's vision for a luxury car company failed him. That year, Billy Durant bought out Oldsmobile and incorporated it into General Motors.

ANSWER:  B)  Pneumatics.  At least, insofar as we know.  

"Can't Stop Loving You" Part 1

QUESTION:  What did the "E" in Ransom E. Olds stand for?
A)  Eli
B)  Ellicott
C)  Eric
D)  Emerson

Happy Monday, and welcome back to the American Treasure Tour blog.  Our blog entries leading up to the Wurlitzer 165 from Griffith Park was such a huge hit a few weeks ago that we have decided to provide you with another sprawling adventure.  It all began on June 3rd in the year 1864.  A horrible fight was occurring near the capital city of the Confederacy.  In fact, Cold Harbor was only fifteen miles from Richmond, but it could have been five hundred for the progress made by the Union soldiers under Sheridan. Meanwhile, a baby boy was born in Geneva, Ohio to a blacksmith and ironworks manager named Pliny and Sarah Olds.  They would name him Ransom. Young Ranny moved with the family to Lansing, Michigan, where he joined his father and older brother Wallace at P.F. Olds & Sons, a company that produced and repaired steam engines. He was only a teenager when he became a part of the management, quitting high school to be able to engage in business affairs. Ranny even designed his own steam engine, one that incorporated a gas burner, which proved substantially more efficient than the then-popular coal or wood burners in use. Within five years, he turned the family business into a strong company. 

By the time he was twenty-three, Rancy (no longer Ranny) attached an engine to a carriage and he embraced his life's calling. He was using gas-powered engines by 1896, and formed the Olds Motor Vehicle Company the next year, with financier Samuel Smith as its president and owner. Olds would be vice president and primary automotive designer. We would like to say he lived happily ever after, but it didn't quite work out that way.  Tune in tomorrow to find out what became of the company Ranny built on the money of Sam Smith....

ANSWER:  A)  Eli