Returning a 1903 Oldsmobile to its former glory...

Ian MacLeod's blog | Created 4 years ago

The 1903 Curved Dash Oldsmobile (CDO)

This vehicle was donated to the Western Australian Museum (WAM) back in the 1950s and is purported to be one of Western Australia's oldest vehicles. Because of its poor overall condition and that the fact that the vehicle was of interest (in respect to it`s transition from a horse drawn vehicle to an automobile), it was decided to carry out conservation treatment to halt any further deterioration. The actual "hands on" treatment was carried out by a respected car restorer under the supervision of Richard Garcia from the WAM`s conservation department. As we began our investigations it  became increasingly apparent that the vehicle was in need of a combination of both conservation and restoration.

Two men seated in a fully restored turn-of-last century automobile.

Left to Right: Richard Garcia, Dave Reid (Restorer) and WA Museum CEO Alec Coles
Image copyright WA Museum

It was apparent that previous attempts of restoration carried out by persons unknown were both very executed out and in many cases repairs were of non original design. Some parts were missing while some non original parts had been added. Body filler had been extensively used in body panels whilst the mechanical components were inoperable due to a cracked crank shaft and broken teeth on gears.

The vehicle was stripped and all components photographed. New parts were manufactured as per the drawings from the original Oldsmobile parts books. A new crankshaft was purchased from the USA and new gears were generated and fitted. Upholstery and hood material was replaced as the original was beyond repair. The car was repainted to the original livery specifications and new tyres fitted.

The engine is of the single cylinder type generating 5 horsepower. Top speed is approximately 20 to 25 MPH (miles per hour) or 40KPH (kilometres per hour). There is no steering wheel, the car being steered by means of a tiller. As can be seen from the photograph there is little protection from the elements, and to ride in the vehicle was certainly an experience. The car was driven for the first time on Monday the 17 June 2013 with the CEO Mr Alec Coles as a passenger. The car will be returned to the Motor museum at Whiteman Park to be reunited with other WAM vehicles on display at that venue.