Ransom E. Olds was an entrepreneur who founded multiple companies in the automobile industry. In 1897 Olds founded Oldsmobile. In 1905 Olds left Oldsmobile and established a new company, REO Motor Car Company, in Lansing, Michigan. Olds had 52 percent of the stock and the titles of president and general manager. To ensure a reliable supply of parts, he organized a number of subsidiary firms like the National Coil Company, the Michigan Screw Company, and the Atlas Drop Forge Company.
Originally the company was to be called "R. E. Olds Motor Car Company," but the owner of Olds' previous company, then called Olds Motor Works, objected and threatened legal action on the grounds of likely confusion of names by consumers. Olds then changed the name to his initials. Olds Motor Works soon adopted the popular name of its vehicles, Oldsmobile (which, along with Buick and Cadillac, became a founding division of General Motors Corporation).
Although truck orders during World War II enabled it to revive somewhat, the company remained unstable in the postwar era, resulting in a bankruptcy reorganization. In 1954, the company was still underperforming, and sold its vehicle manufacturing operations (the primary asset of the company) to the Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation of Detroit. Three years later, in 1957, Reo's vehicle manufacturing operation became a subsidiary of the White Motor Company. White then merged REO with Diamond T Trucks in 1967 to form Diamond Reo Trucks. In 1975, this company filed for bankruptcy and most of its assets were liquidated. Volvo later took over White and thus currently owns the rights to the REO brand name.