On this day Ransom Eli Olds formed the Olds Motor Works. The year was 1897. Eli had just turned 33 a few months ago. Although he was then living in Lansing, Michigan, when he was born his family was living in Geneva, Ohio. There his father was experimenting with steam engines.
Five years later the Olds family moved and eventually found their way to Michigan. There young Ransom learned his father’s business and joined him in fabricating more efficient, smaller and more powerful steam engines. Ransom came up with the idea of incorporating a steam engine with a carriage, thus building one of the very first horseless carriages.
A few years later Samuel Smith bought Ransom’s company and changed the name to Oldsmobile.
In 1904, unhappy with the direction the company was taking, Ransom left the company and formed the REO Motor Car Company. Four years after that his original company was purchased by General Motors and became part of that conglomerate. But the REO Motor Car Company continued on as an independent motor company. That company continued to produce quality autos and trucks up through World War II.