Oldsmobile was an auto company with many firsts. In its 106 years of existence, it has provided the industry with various technologies that are still commonly used today. Oldsmobile was at the forefront of discovery and innovation until its demise in 2004. But nevertheless the legacy of Ransom E. Olds and his Oldsmobiles lives on in the manufacturing techniques and automotive designs we see in all kinds of cars today.
Oldsmobile's Curved Dash Model R: The first speedometer
The Curved Dash is far from a technologically advanced car by today's standard. But with its introduction 1901, the Dash also introduced a technological advancement that modern cars can't live without-the speedometer. Speed measuring devices have been in use since the earliest years of man's travels. From the Roman's wheel revolutions to Columbus' knotted lines, measuring the rate at which one is going is essential to man's mobility. The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the first car to be equipped with a mechanical speedometer. Thanks to this automotive addition, cars today enjoy more accurate and efficient speed readings.
Oldsmobile 66 and 68: Hydra-matic Drive
While a lot of drivers enjoy the ease of driving an automatic, few are aware of its origins. The Oldsmobile 66 and 68 is considered to be the forefather of automatic transmission. Developed by General Motors engineer Earl Thompson, the Hydra-matic Drive allowed drivers with less skill to drive smoothly. It featured planetary gears and a conventional friction clutch that provided easier shifting. It was even advertised as the
greatest advancement since the self-starter and has helped generations of drivers all throughout its life span.
Oldsmobile Tornado: The first airbag
In the mid-1970s, drivers were less likely to wear seat belts while driving. Oldsmobile was the first to create other safety measures that were more reliable and proactive, particularly the airbag. The 1974 Oldsmobile Tornado was the first passenger car to be equipped with airbags. This technology featured a flexible piece of fabric that inflates during collision, allowing the passenger to avoid head-on injuries from the steering wheel and dashboard. This innovation also sparked international interest in automobile safety and resulted in various other motoring safety inventions.
1996 Eighty-Eight LSS and Toronado Trofeo: The GuideStar
The demand for Oldmobile's started to decline in the early 90s. But this did not stop GM from reviving the Oldsmobile's technological sophistication. One such innovation is the GPS-based navigation system found in 1996 Eighty-Eight LSS. The system, called the GuideStar, was the first navigation equipment to be installed on cars. It gave drivers greater control of the streets and enabled them to become more defensive drivers. While most cars nowadays are hardly seen without a GPS system, it was a so-called "grandpa car" that started it all.