Segments in this Video

Pioneers of Michigan (02:48)


Lansing factories built agricultural tools during the late 19th century. Ransom Eli Olds advanced gasoline and steam engines, as well as automobiles. Oldsmobile incorporated the first modern assembly line for mass-production.

Birth of the Auto Industry (05:16)

Automobiles helped mobilize society. The Detroit plant was built to assemble horseless carriages. After its destruction by fire, Lansing business people convinced Olds to create a new plant; he wanted to build a car that was affordable, easy to operate, and simple.

Assembly Line Development (03:26)

Henry Ford secretly examined Old's assembly line and powered the idea. William C. Durant purchased Olds Motor Works after Frederic Smith ran it into receivership. Officials recreated Lansing to incorporate automobiles.

REO Family (03:21)

The REO plant was not as large as those in Detroit. Workers helped each other and most of the men also farmed the land. The plant provided social services such as health insurance, mortgage assistance, and a clubhouse.

Influence of Olds (03:30)

Working for General Motors provided a better life for minorities who came from the south. The auto industry, state government, and Michigan State University comprised the majority of Lansing's economy. Olds altered farming methods, invested in land and oil reserves, and created a foundation.

Subsequent Sales (03:05)

During the Great Depression, REO created the Royale; bankruptcy followed. Olds severed connections with REO. White Motors purchased the company in 1958 and Diamond T Truck Company in 1960.

Oldsmobile Weakens (02:35)

Management channeled funding and profits into other ventures. General Motors promised to build the Alero in Lansing.

End of Oldsmobile (02:58)

Workers watched the last Olds product complete the assembly line. Flint lost 50,000 union workers. Lansing was the first city to open a new factory in over a decade. Olds made the manufacture of automobiles possible in Michigan.

Credits: R.E. Olds and the First Auto City (00:46)

Credits: R.E. Olds and the First Auto City

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R.E. Olds and the First Auto City

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $129.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $194.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



This documentary tells the story of Ranson Eli Olds, known as R.E. Olds, and the city where automobiles were first mass-produced. A pioneer of the American automotive industry, both Oldsmobile and REO were named after R.E. Although folklore claims it was Henry Ford who created the auto manufacturing industry in Detroit, this documentary shows that R.E. Olds, in fact, did it first in Lansing. Using historical photographs and film, interviews, and live footage, the story unfolds of a visionary thinker who created the basic concept for the modern assembly line, and a skilled labor force who transformed modern transportation.

Length: 29 minutes

Item#: BVL183580

ISBN: 978-1-64481-857-2

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.