Oldsmobiles were first manufactured in 1897 by Ransom E. Olds. The Olds Motor Vehicle Company was based in Lansing, Michigan. In 1901, Olds introduced the Curved Dash Olds which sold 425 cars, becoming the first high volume car of the day. Olds became, for a few years, the top selling car company in the United States. Ransom Olds left the company in financial difficulties and formed REO Motor Car Company. The last Curved Dash Olds was made in 1907, and in 1908 General Motors purchased the company.
In later days, after acquisition by General Motors, the Oldsmobile was marketed as technically sophisticated. It was the first GM car with an automatic transmission, and frequently was early with other features, such as the otherwise forgettable automatic headlight dimmer. Oldsmobile promoted its "Rocket" engines heavily. This came to be a problem when some customers sued after they discovered that their Oldsmobiles had been equipped with Chevrolet engines.
The Oldsmobile is notable for having inspired at least two popular songs about their value as an aid to romance:
Other notable models include:
In December 2000, General Motors announced they would be phasing out the Oldsmobile brand, which at that time was the oldest surviving automobile brand in the United States. The 2004 model year is expected to be Oldsmobile's last with the last new Oldsmobile model being the GMT360-derived Bravada introduced in 2002.