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Pack Automotive Museum

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History of Oldsmobile

OLDSMOBILE 1896 – 2004

1864: Ransom E. Olds is born in Geneva, Ohio. His family moves to Lansing when he is 16.

1887: R.E. Olds develops a steam-powered car.

1893: Olds’ steam-powered car becomes the first American car sold abroad – but the ship sinks on the way to India and the car is lost.

1896: Olds builds a gas-powered car and starts motoring around Lansing.

1897: Olds and Lansing business people start the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. and build four cars. The Lansing-based manufacturer is the first company organized specifically to produce cars in quantity.

1899: Olds’ second company, Olds Motor Works, moves to Detroit.

1900: The Oldsmobile name is first used.

1901: Detroit plants are destroyed by fire and Olds returns to Lansing.

1905: The Curved Dash Oldsmobile is immortalized by the song “In My Merry Oldsmobile.”

1908: Oldsmobile joins the newly organized General Motors Co. as one of its first two operating divisions. The other is Buick.

1916: Oldsmobile uses the first V-8 engine.

1927-29: Olds employment skyrockets to 7,000 with 12 new buildings.

1935: One millionth Olds is built.

1942-45: Car production stops and Olds workers make 48 million rounds of ammunition, 140,000 aircraft machine guns and tank cannons.

1949: The Rocket V-8 engine is introduced.

1950: R.E. Olds dies.

1958: Olds becomes the nation’s 4th largest automaker.

1965: Employment tops 15,000 in Lansing.

1968: Hurst/Oldsmobiles roll off the assembly line and are shipped over to Demmer Tool and Die for conversion.

1978: With the dedication of a new Cutlass plant, Oldsmobile’s Lansing operations become North America’s largest passenger car assembly complex.

1979: Engine plant opens in Delta Township. GM employment tops 23,000.

1984: With the reorganization of GM, Oldsmobile becomes a sales and marketing division in the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Group. Oldsmobile sells more cars this year than any other year.

1992: Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac disappears as a GM name. Lansing’s factories become part of the Lansing Automotive Division, which made its home offices in the city.

1996: GM announces Olds will move to Detroit.

1997: Olds celebrates 100th anniversary.

1998: Olds moves from Lansing to Detroit. In mid-1998, Olds starts to build the Alero in Lansing.

1999: A GM vice president says the automaker could build two new assembly factories in the Lansing area.

2000: GM announces it will phase out its Oldsmobile division.

2001: Oldsmobile dealers begin receiving settlement payments from GM to avert lawsuits related to the Oldsmobile phase out.

2004: An amendment to a pending federal tax bill may give Oldsmobile dealers two years to spend their GM settlement checks before tax on the money is due.

April 29, 2004: The last Oldsmobile to be built, an Alero, rolls off the line at Lansing Car Assembly.

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