Hobson, Montana Auto Dealer (1907)
Treasure State Plates
Registration of motor vehicles went into effect in 1913 for the purpose of raising revenue for the construction, maintenance, and improvement of public highways. A license fee of $5 to $20 was charged (depending on the horsepower of the vehicle), and owners were required to display their license plate.
The original 1913-1914 Montana license plate was white with embossed black numbers and an “M” at the right. Rear plates were solid metal, while the front plates had to be perforated to allow air to pass through a vehicle’s radiator.
Semiautomatic transmission. Single-cylinder engine. Two forward speeds, one reverse. Top speed of 20 mph! Seats two passengers. No windshield, doors, or top. Asking price: $650.
This was the Oldsmobile Model R (aka the Curved Dash Oldsmobile), the first mass-produced gas-powered automobile. Sold to consumers as a “city car,” it was designed for short distance driving, and its cost was lower than that of the rival Ford Model C. In 1901, Oldsmobile produced 425. By 1907, approximately 19,000 had been built.
The vehicle’s popularity was a huge relief to the Oldsmobile company, which had sustained a devastating fire in 1901. Every prototype except the Model R had literally gone up in flames, making it the company’s one shot at success.
Wheels for the Working Class
From the Volkswagon Beetle to the Pontiac GTO, Twentieth Century traffic was bumper to bumper with iconic cars. But of all the fast, fierce, and downright unusual vehicles produced in the 1900s, few rival the fame of the Ford Model T.
Named the “Car of the Century” by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation in 1999, the Model T is generally regarded as the first automobile for the middle-class. It was inexpensive, easy to operate, and durable, making it accessible to the majority of American consumers. The Model T was manufactured on the assembly line at Ford’s revolutionary Highland Park Plant beginning in 1908. In total, more than 15 million were sold.