Sept. 17: The first transcontinental drive in an Olds ends on this date in 1903

September 17, 2013

The summer of 1903 sparked three separate attempts to cross the United States by car — all starting in San Francisco. The first two used expensive touring cars, but the third venture by Lester Whitman and Eugene Hammond drove the far less powerful, and far less costly, Olds Runabout, sponsored by Ransom Olds. The trip took 79 days, including 12 days lost to repairs and several days lost to conditions that ranged from floods to sandstorms. Technically, they didn't make the entire trip under their own power — they had to be towed by horses in Nevada — but Whitman and Hammond set a world's record for longest drive, and delivered the first transcontinental letter by car, or what we'd consider today a slow riding lawnmower.