Project Description

1912 Oldsmobile Autocrat

The Autocrat is an excellent example of an early sports car and reflects the speed, power and endurance that were being sought by automakers at the time. Oldsmobile entered two factory prototypes of the Autocrat in the Vanderbilt Cup Race on Long Island in 1910, releasing the model to the general public the following year. The Autocrat was available in five different body styles and three colors, but was only offered in 1911 and 1912.

Almost everything about the Autocrat is larger than life. The engine holds 12 quarts of oil, the gasoline tanks take 40 gallons of fuel. Cooling is achieved by 28 quarts of water. Each of the tires is three feet in diameter. This car’s huge, gas-guzzling engine was the most powerful 4-cylinder engine ever seen in an Oldsmobile.

About 500 of these cars were built in 1912; only two in this body style are known to have survived.

Title Photo by Richard Lentinello for Hemmings

  • MANUFACTURER: Olds Motor Works, Lansing, Michigan (1896-1908)
  • PRICE NEW: $3,500
  • AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME 1912: $592

  • PRICE TO BUY 2020: $92,807

  • ENGINE: 4-cylinder T-head configuration cast in pairs, 471 cu. in./7.7 l.
  • HORSEPOWER: 40
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In our current exhibit, From Carriage to Classic: How Automobiles Transformed America, we present the origin story of the American automobile through 23 cars from Heritage’s permanent collection of antique and classic automobiles. Come along for a ride from the late 1800s to the 1960s and watch the car evolve from a horseless carriage to a streamlined symbol of freedom and independence.

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