Journey with Olds | August 2012
The primary purpose of the Oldsmobile Club of America shall be educational. OCA shall provide literature, advisors, seminars, and activities to assist members and the public in understanding, preserving, restoring and appreciating vehicles built by Oldsmobile.
Oldsmobile Club of America Bylaw 2.10
Understanding the purpose of the Oldsmobile Club of America provides perspective about the history of the organization, its members, and its direction for the future.
Prior to 1901, Olds Gasoline Engine Works focused its advertising on gasoline engines with a secondary focus on its motor vehicles. Ransom Olds and others at the company claimed that the Curved Dash Runabout could sell itself so there was no need to ask customers to pay for advertising. Later in 1901, advertising efforts were changed primarily to focus on the Runabout. One of the advertising campaigns that year was the establishment of the Oldsmobile Club of America. The company claimed that thousands of people were applying for membership and that all that was required were “good character and an Oldsmobile.” The advertising explained that the company could not furnish “good character” but the Oldsmobile could be obtained with the “payment of the initiation fee, which, beginning on January 1, 1902, will be $650 at the factory.”
In late 1970, a group of Oldsmobile enthusiasts established the second Oldsmobile Club of America. This group was led by Garry Pinckney (President, age 17 at the time) and his brother Hank Pinckney (Director, age 31 at the time). In the first newsletter, Garry Pinckney explained that “It takes work, practice, planning, organization and good leadership to make this club a worthwhile action.” He also noted a need for volunteers. Included in that first newsletter were:
* classified advertisements for “Parts Wanted” (Michael Fusick was looking for parts for a 1952 98 4 door);
* a technical article that described how to replace a convertible top – a reprint from a 1954 issue of Popular Science; and
* a report that there were 100 OCA members after the first month of operation.
Since the beginning of the OCA, the key to success has been volunteers – the individuals who are preserving and restoring Oldsmobiles and have taken the time to arrange for activities and events for their fellow club members. We have a wide range of interests from those who want to preserve the originality of our Oldsmobiles, to those who have an interest in customizing Oldsmobiles and those who are dedicated to demonstrating the superiority of Oldsmobile engines on a racetrack. There are many variations along this spectrum, but we all share an interest in Oldsmobile and need an organization with which we can interact to find parts and get technical advice, support, and encouragement for our projects.
Ultimately, the success of the Oldsmobile Club of America rests with its members. If we are going to grow, it will be a result of members reaching out to others and building their enthusiasm for Oldsmobiles. That enthusiasm is likely to come from an active interest and involvement in the cars. By encouraging others to hear our cars, watch us drive them, or give them rides, they will more likely develop an interest.
If you have friends or acquaintances with Oldsmobiles who are not members of the OCA, please tell them about us and ask what we might do to interest them. Please do not hesitate to relay their comments to your zone director or other OCA officer. We want to know what they have to say.
We are aware of an increasing interest in more dynamic events. For example, we have seen an increased interest in tours and driving cars to shows. We will continue to encourage traditional car shows with judging but are willing to help with alternatives for those who are looking for a different experience.
You are the most important part of the OCA. It is your interest and enthusiasm that are the heart and lifeblood of the Oldsmobile Club of America. We are here to assist you.
New Acquisition at the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum
Bill Adcock, Executive Director of the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, Michigan reports that a 1902 Curved Dash Runabout has been stored under covers at the Michigan State University stadium for more than 25 years. The Runabout was donated to MSU by Ransom Olds. For those who want to see the new acquisition, plans are for it to arrive at the Museum in early August.
For those with an interest in learning more about the history of Oldsmobile, one excellent source is a book entitled R. E. Olds: Auto Industry Pioneer by George S. May which has been a reference for this article. Thanks also to Michael Fusick for providing a copy of the first OCA newsletter.
Best wishes for safe travel this summer.
– Jerry Wilson