Oldsmobile Defender 1912 Touring

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Defender 1912 Touring





The years between 1911 and 1914 proved to be a renaissance of sorts for Oldsmobile, with a range of exquisitely built, stylish, high-performance machines. The mighty six-cylinder, 60-horsepower Oldsmobile Limited topped the line, followed by the big four-powered Autocrat, with the smaller four-cylinder Defender joining the ranks in 1912. Powered by a 35-horsepower, 298-cubic-inch T-head engine, the Defender played the role of a sporty young sibling, offered in five body styles. Records show that Oldsmobile produced a mere 325 Defenders in 1912, of a total production of only 1,075 vehicles. With the Defender, Autocrat, and Limited, Oldsmobile enjoyed enviable status in the select world of prestige automakers.

The Limited was the most prestigious, and perhaps aptly named, Oldsmobile of its era. Its arrival was announced in the 1910 catalog: “such a car cannot be produced rapidly, therefore a limited quantity can be built.” Based on the Model Z, the Limited rode the same 130-inch wheelbase but with a more impressive stature, due to immense 42-inch wheels. Its engine, initially the Z’s 505-cubic inch, 60-hp six, grew to 707 cubic inches the following year when the wheelbase was stretched to 138 inches. A roadster and touring car were offered, as well as a top-of-the-line limousine, at prices from $4,600 to $5,800, territory previously the province of the prestigious “Three Ps,” Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow.

Curiously, the 1911 engine, 40 percent larger than its predecessor, was rated at the same 60hp. Prices, however, had not been limited, now ranging from $5,000 for open models to $7,000 for the limousine, an extraordinary sum of money in those years. A new four-passenger “Tourabout” joined the open cars. The Limited returned for one final season in 1912, on an even longer 140-inch wheelbase, but Olds management had realized that sales success probably lay in less expensive cars. A new, smaller four-cylinder car, the Defender, had replaced the previous Special entry-level model, while the Autocrat, a flagship four-cylinder car introduced in 1911, continued to lead Oldsmobile production. For 1912, the Limited was even more rare with fewer than 140 built.

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