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1918 Oldsmobile

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1918 Oldsmobile
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: P-64378-A


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Automobile Collection — Car collection, 1910-1919

Oldsmobile automobile

Oldsmobile Touring Car
Catalog #: 323,569, Accession #: 241,983
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

This 1918 four-door, five-passenger touring car was built by the Olds Motor Works of Lansing, Mich., and originally sold fo $1,185. It is an Oldsmobile Model 37, bearing serial number 153041 and motor number D-3363. This automobile was donated to the museum in April of 1964. Robert Maytag, of washing-machine fame, bequeathed three vehicles to the institution, but the Oldsmobile was the only one the museum accepted into its collection. Curator John White declared that the car “represents a more modern vehicle than we presently have on display and would help our theme of development.”

The museum regularly lent this Oldsmobile to the Fort Meyer-based Third Infantry who used it in a number of parades. In 1977, the Museum decided to stop letting the army borrow and drive the vehicle. According to Don Berkebile, the museum's Collections Committee had decided that “lending the car for actual use has set a precedent that could eventually have harmful effects....”

Physical Description
This automobile has a six-cylinder engine, cast en bloc and rated at 19 horsepower. It was lubricated by a force-feed system and was cooled by a water pump (on the left side) that circulated water through a cellular radiator capped by a Monitor temperature gauge. A Stewart vacuum gasoline system supplied the Johnson carburator with fuel carried in a tank at the rear. A six-volt barrert under the right-front seat furnished current to the Delco electrical system. There are two spotlights, one mounted on each side of the windshield that are add-ons. A cone-type clutch and a selective, sliding-type transmission, having three forward speeds and reverse, transmitted power to the full-floating rear axle through spiral bevel gears. Both front a rear springs are of the semielliptic type. The car's wheelbase is 112 inches and its tread 56 inches. The wooden wheels have demountable rims and carry 32 by 4 inch tires. A spare tire is mounted on the rear. There is a Stewart speedometer, clock, ammeter, lightine and ignition switches, and choke control on the dashboard. A horn button and spark and throttle levers are above the steering wheel. Clush, service bake, and accelerator pedals are in conventional positions.
Date Made:
From the Estate of Robert E. Maytag

The Olds Motor Works was formed in the late nineteenth century out of the merger of the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. and the Olds Gasoline Engine Works. The car-making side of the business was not very sucessful initially, but the curved-dash runabout helped breathe life into the firm, turning the company into the largest early automobile maker. Founder Ransom E. Olds left the company in August 1904, and it became part of the newly formed General Motors holding company in 1908. The Olds Motor Works was technically a separate company until 1917 when it became an operating division of GM.

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