Oldsmobiles were first manufactured by the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, a company manufacturing Oldsmobile parts and cars founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In 1901, Olds introduced the Curved Dash Olds which sold 425 cars, becoming the first high volume manufactured vehicle of the time. For a brief time Oldsmobile parts and cars were the top sellers in the United States. Just a few short years later the last Curved Dash Olds was made and GM purchased the company. In its 107 years, it produced 35.2 million cars inconclusive of Oldsmobile parts. When the line of Oldsmobile parts and vehicles was phased out of production, the Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Daimler and Peugeot.
The soaring popularity of Oldsmobile vehicles resulted in a major Oldsmobile parts issue in the late 1970s. At that time, each General Motors division produced its own V-8 engines, and in 1977, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick each produced a unique 350 cubic inch displacement V-8.
It was during the 1977 model year that demand exceeded production capacity of Oldsmobile parts for the Oldsmobile V-8, and as a result Oldsmobile quietly began equipping some full size with another engine instead. Although it was widely debated whether there was a difference in quality or performance between the Oldsmobile parts and the other model engine, there was no question that the engines were different from one another. Many customers were loyal Oldsmobile buyers who specifically wanted the Rocket V-8 Oldsmobile parts engine, and did not discover that their vehicle had the Chevrolet engine until they performed maintenance and discovered that purchased parts did not fit.
In spite of Oldsmobile's critical successes since the mid-1990s, a reported shortfall in sales and overall profitability of Oldsmobile parts prompted their parent company to announce the phase out of the entire brand. The announcement took place just two days after Oldsmobile unveiled Oldsmobile parts for what would be its last new model ever, the Bravada SUV. It is rather ironic that these events occurred in the way that they did, as the new Oldsmobile SUV was a smashing hit for the now defunct brand.
Oldsmobile had a long and rich history dotted with a number of technological firsts in the auto industry.
It was the first American car company to export an automobile. It also holds a number of firsts with regards to Oldsmobile parts development as well; the first speedometer to be offered on a car was on an Oldsmobile, the US Postal Service ordered its first motor vehicles and Oldsmobile parts from Oldsmobile, and Oldsmobile became the first car company to outsource Oldsmobile parts to third-party suppliers. Oldsmobile was also the first company to introduce chrome plating, which it used on some exterior Oldsmobile parts.
The final production day for Oldsmobile was April 29, 2004. The division's last Oldsmobile parts and car built was an Alero GLS 4-door sedan, which was signed by all of the Olds assembly line workers. It is on display at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum located in Lansing, Michigan. Oldsmobile is well remembered today as one of America's oldest marques, for its technological innovations with Oldsmobile parts, for the vehicles' tremendous popularity and sales in the 1970s and 1980s, and its critical resurgence in its final years.