OLDS, RANSOM E.
Designer and manufacturer of the first American car ever sold for export, Ransom E. Olds began his career as a machinist specializing in small steam engines in Lansing, MI. He changed automotive technology forever with his invention of a gasoline-run steam engine. With the 1897 patent for the first true Oldsmobile, and a design for a second model, he moved the newly formed Olds Motor Vehicle Company to Detroit. Marketing his Detroit-built cars for $650, Olds became "the father of the popular priced car," and helped make that city the automotive capital of the world. Retiring at age 40, Ransom organized a new automobile company to make a car called the REO, a name based on his initials. Olds ran the Reo Motor Car Company for the next 20 years. Upon his second retirement, Olds left behind the legacy of the Oldsmobile and the Reo, along with other companies that made everything from screw gears to the Olds power lawn mower, a hotel chain, the Reolds farm, the town of Oldsmar at Tampa Bay, Kold Hold refrigeration, Ransom Fidelity insurance, and a collection of charitable works.