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Olds Motor Works
Olds experimented during the 1890s with steam,
gas and electric power for his vehicles. One of R. E. Olds early successes was the
design of a gasoline-fired steam engine (pictured here in the exhibit). Gasoline burners
heated the boilers water-filled tubes to create steam faster than conventional
coal-fired boilers. It earned the family engine works a national reputation.
The third part of Lansings modern economy fell into place with the creation of
the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897.
Ransom Olds built his first gasoline-engine-driven horseless carriage in 1896. Frank G.
Clark of Clark & Company helped by building its body. The sight of Olds driving around
the city sparked interest among local businessmen. In August 1897, a group of
investorsall but one of them from Lansingmet to form the Olds
Motor Vehicle Company. In its first year the company built four vehicles.
It was the Lansing Businessmens Association, successor to the Lansing Improvement
Company, that cemented the connection between Oldsmobile and Lansing. The company moved to
Detroit in 1900, but in March 1901, a fire destroyed its Detroit plant. The
Businessmens Association offered the company the fairgrounds in Lansing, a site that
was much larger than its Detroit location. In early 1902, Olds Motor Works shipped its
first cars from the new factory on the Grand River, a site where cars are still produced
- 1864, Ransom E. Olds born in Geneva, OH
- 1880, Family moved to Lansing
- 1886, Built three-wheeled steam-powered horseless carriage
- 1892, Developed stationary gasoline engine and put it into production
- 1893, Built four-wheeled steam-powered automobile
- 1896, Successfully demonstrated gasoline-powered vehicle on August 11
- 1897, Founded Olds Motor Vehicle Company with Edward
L. Sparrow, Eugene F. Cooley, Frank G. Clark, Arthur C. Stebbins, Alfred Beamer, Fred W.
Seibly and Detroiter Samuel Latta Smith
- 1899, Formed Olds Motor Works on May 8
- 1900, Production began in Detroit in March
- 1901, Detroit factory burned on March 9
- 1902, First cars shipped from new Lansing plant on February 22
- 1904, Left Olds Motor Works
- 1904, Formed REO Motor Car Company
- 1908, Oldsmobile became part of General Motors
- 1911, REO started building trucks
- 1936, REO stopped building cars, continued making trucks
- 1950, R. E. Olds died in Lansing on August 26
- 1975, Diamond REO closed