Oldsmobiles were first manufactured by the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, a company founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897.  In 1901, Olds introduced the Curved Dash Olds which sold 425 cars, becoming the first high volume car of the day.  Olds became, for a few years, the top selling car company in the United States.  Ransom Olds left the company in financial difficulties and formed REO Motor Car Company.  The last Curved Dash Olds was made in 1907, and in 1908, General Motors purchased the company.
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The 1901-1904 Curved Dash was the first mass-produced car, and was also the first American car to be exported.  Oldsmobile set a land speed record of 54.38 mph at Daytona Beach in the 1903 Pirate.   


After acquisition by General Motors, Oldsmobiles were marketed for their technical sophistication.  It was the first American car with an automatic transmission (1940) and the first to use chrome (1920), and frequently was early with other features, such as automatic headlight dimmers.  


In the 1940s and 1950s, Oldsmobile used a two-digit model designation similar to that used by the European makes today: The first digit signified the body size while the second represents the number of cylinders.  Body sizes were 6, 7, 8, and 9, and 6- and 8-cylinder engines were offered.  Thus, Oldsmobiles were named 66 through 98.   

Oldsmobile introduced the affordable automatic transmission in 1940 as the Hydramatic.  Their 1949 Rocket V8 engine was especially notable as the first mass-produced OHV V8.

In the 1960s, Oldsmobile's position between Pontiac and Buick in GM's hierarchy began to dissolve.  Notable achievements included the introduction of the first turbocharged engine in 1962, the Turbo Jetfire, the first modern front wheel drive car (1966's Toronado), the Vista Cruiser, a station wagon noted for its roof glass, and the upscale 442 muscle car.


Oldsmobile sales soared in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Cutlass and Cutlass Supreme becoming the best-selling vehicles in the United States. 

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