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Frederic L. Smith, Olds head 1904 - 1908


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I am a journalist and author of several books (including MEN AND SPEED: A Wild Ride Through NASCAR's Breakout Season). I am currently writing a book about the early days of the auto industry, with a focus on Ford, Olds and GM.

Despite extensive online research and a week in Michigan libraries and archives, I have failed to find the papers of Frederic L. Smith, whose father was one of the original investors in Olds, and who forced out founder Ransom in a corporate coup in late 1903 - early 1904 to become head of Olds Motor Works. Smith left the industry when Durant bought what was left of Olds in 1908.

Does anyone know where his personal papers might be -- or can suggest an avenue of pursuit? you can reach me at pascoagwriter@yahoo.com or at www.gwaynemiller.com

Many thanks! G. Wayne Miller

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Frederic L. Smith

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If you are going to focus on Ford, Olds, and Gm, you should have a significant section on the Dodge Brothers, who manufactured major parts for Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Ford (both companies) and probably everyone else making cars in the Detroit area in the early days. Sorry I cannot help you on Smith. Best wishes on your book and research.

Thanks, Dave, good advice!

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Wayne, I have never heard of any papers from Smith being in existence. Unfortunately Helen Earley and Jim Walkinshaw are not longer with us but they did extensive research into their book Setting the Pace and probably would have been able to shed some light on the subject. The original minutes books from Olds Motor Works in 1903 or 1904 do exist although they have fallen into private hands and I do not know who currently owns them.

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Steve, thanks for the prompt response. I have read Setting the Pace, which sheds some light on the Smith/Ransom feud. Also, when I was in Michigan earlier this year, I found more, including a few Ransom and Smith letters, at Michigan State University, which has an Olds collection. Alas, no Smith papers there, Detroit Public Library, or anywhere else I looked. I fear there may not be any -- if indeed he left papers. All I have seen that sheds light on his thoughts in his words is his Motoring Down a Quarter of A Century, published in 1928 -- a memoir of a sort. He had chocie words for Ford, his longtime nemesis, in that one...

Can anyone out there identify who owns the original minutes books that Steve refers to? I would be deeply appreciative! Wayne

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