Another "spirited" discussion about the Model K. Did Ford lose or make money with the model? I don't know the answer (maybe someone does). However, following are my "theories" about the matter:
(from a previous thread)
i have tried to find information about the Model K and the financial aspects of production. So far, nothing.
However, what I have found, Ford said their goal was to sell 1,000 Model Ks. And we know they sold at least 953 (due to that car surviving). I also know Ford ordered 1,000 chassis from the Dodge brothers for the Model K.
We know Ford initially set the price of the Model K at $2500 in 1906. This tells me (assumption) Ford felt this price would be profitable. We know about 350 cars were sold before the "improved" 1907 K appeared. Then the price was raised to $2800. Again, the "assumption" is, if the car is selling properly, you may raise the price. If sales are subpar, how would you dare raise the price?
Next, we know Ford sold somewhere near the 1,000 Ks originally forecast, and contracted for (Dodge Brothers).
So, why would we believe the K did not meet sales goals? If anything (see sales goals below), sales managers usually set goals higher than an interest really expects to reach.
First, two news releases quoting Ford saying they would build 1,000 six cylinder cars. Both items appeared in fall editions of "The Automobile".
A review of the Model K in "The Automobile", August, 1906. The author says Ford intends to build 500 sixes (the account also says Ford is building eight "sixes" a day). This matches other accounts as to the number of Model Ks the Ford factory is producing.
While this seems like a small number today, there are only about five automakers building six cylinder cars in the US in 1906. For comparison, Stevens Duryea, one of the other leading six cylinder manufacturers, will build less six cylinder cars than Ford over the same time span. Another way to put this production number in perspective, Rolls Royce built just 7,874 six cylinder Silver Ghosts. Over a 19 year period, 1907 - 1926, an average of only 415 cars per year!
Thank you all (or most ) for your patience and discussion. My intention was to bring three points out about the Ford Model K. This has "drug" on, however it has helped me focus in on Model K history. My goal is one more thread following this, that will only be a compilation of accounts by Model K owners and dealers about the actual day to day use of the car.
In 1902, Henry Ford was organizing the Ford Motor Company; Alexander Malcomson was a major stakeholder in the company. The two were seeking additional stockholders; (James J.) Couzens borrowed heavily and invested $2500 in the new firm. Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 with John S. Gray as president, Ford as vice-president, Malcomson as treasurer, and Couzens as secretary. Couzens took over the business management of the new firm for a salary of $2400. In 1906, Gray died and Malcomson was eased out of the business, and Couzens became vice president and general manager of the company. The company made both Ford and Couzens wealthy, due in no small part to Couzens's business acumen. However, the two men gradually grew apart, and in 1915 Couzens resigned his position as general manager, although he retained a seat on the board. In 1919, Ford purchased Couzens's shares in the company for $30,000,000.
There might be more insight in this book:
Barnard, Harry. Independent Man: The Life of James Couzens, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958. Republished by Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8143-3085-1
Rob don't drop the ''K' subject as i'm sure it is the most followed topic [due to your finds] that has ever been on the forum.
As for the price increase of the 1907 series -I feel a lot [or if not all] would have to be attributed to the extra cost of the deeper chassis -thicker radiator together with the more complex guard [opp's fender]construction together with a complete new body design at 1907 prices.
I agree with Bob. Please don't stop posting about the Model K. I believe it is an important part of Ford history as much as the Model T. My thought is that if Henry wasen't making money on Runabuts and "K's" he wouldn't have any working capital to keep the company alive to make the Model T, Model A's etc. He would have gone out of business like the hundreds of other car makers did. I am not computer literate and enjoy being handed these tidbits of Ford history on the forum.
Someday I hope to see a model K in person.
A better question would be to ask why Ford says they did not make a profit on the Model K.
Let's see a copy of the quote.
Or start your own thread with that question.
The Model K was intended to be made at a rate of a thousand units per year. The first year's production profits were squandered when the cars had to be recalled and retrofitted to correct faulty crankcase design and planetary transmission issues (and other problems). Profit margin on the K was slim because the manufacturing of the car was outsorced to Dodge Brothers.
Second year production target again was one thousand units. 1907 was a better year for the K, about 600 units made, but many left unsold. While we don't have ledger sheets the chances Ford made any profit are remote indeed.
Quote from the autobiography of executive vice president of Ford Charles Sorensen (My Forty Years at Ford". Sorensen was there, and was Henry Ford's closest friend and confidant. Sorensen outlines the reasons I stated above, and also how Henry Ford did not like the Model K:
Beverley Kimes writes in her book Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942 about the failure of the Model K. Her co - author was Henry Austin Clark, who knew Henry Ford on a personal level:
"The Model K was a failure, something that can be attributed to both the high price (between $2500 and $3000 - between $65000 and $78000 today) and poor quality. Ford was also known to make inexpensive cars and people who wanted a more luxurious car bought other brands. Production ended in 1908 after 900 cars had been made. The failure of the upscale line, including the Model B and K, caused two critical changes at the Ford company: it would focus for the next two decades on entry-level volume models like the Model T, and led to the departure of Alexander Malcomson, one of the founding partners, leaving Henry Ford as the majority shareholder. Also, Ford himself cared very little for the expensive Model K."
Rob considered this book a 100% accurate account regarding Stevens Duryea production statistics. Therefore it is an apt reference to use for the Model K too. Right Rob?
Let's start with your last sentence, you said:
"Rob considered this book a 100% accurate account regarding Stevens Duryea production statistics. Therefore it is an apt reference to use for the Model K too. Right Rob?"
No Royce, I found the account on Stevens Duryea production from an April 1908 news article, and posted it.
You have been consistently wrong throughout this entire "exercise". You claimed Thomas Flyer was popular in 1907 due to winning a race that didn't occur until 1908. You said Ford and Frank Kulick were through racing after his serious accident in the Model K racer in 1907, and he was racing a Ford machine by 1908. You said the Franklin was not a good automobile, when it clearly was. You called Stevens Duryea a "minor concern" when they were a maker of one of the best automobiles in the U.S., and along with Ford one of the largest manufacturers of six cylinder automobiles in the U.S. between 1906 and 1908.
I'm sure Mr. Sorensen's book contains good information, and relays one employees recollections within the Ford empire. Of course these recollections cover over forty years of work with Ford Motor Company, and only a few pages appear to delve into the period when the Model K was developed and produced.
I will say, it is good to see something committed to print.
Looking specifically at the print (and not the far ranging "assumptions" you make from this), the first sentence in the first clip says the Model F was a touring version of the Model C.
This is far from the truth. The Model C was available as both a touring/tonneau or runabout, as was the Model F. The Model F was actually a mid to upper scale vehicle, selling for $1200, while the Model C replaced the Model A (AC) as Ford's entry level vehicle. During 1905 Ford actually offered three models, the entry level C, mid level F, and upper level Model B. I'm not sure how a writer with intimate knowledge of early Fords would make the mistake of referring to the Model F as a "touring version of the Model C"?
By the way, for most of the C and F production period, the Model C sold for $800 and the Model F for $1200.
As for the assertion "the Dodge Brothers" were behind the production of the Model K, I've not seen other evidence suggesting this. However, we've "heard" that Alexander Malcomsen, bankers, and now the Dodge Brothers were all responsible for the Model K.
I'm going to depart from that, and suggest Henry Ford was completely in control of his own destiny by August of 1906 when Malcomsen's interest in Ford Mo Co ended. If he "hated" the Model K so much, then why invest so much, as you said, to improve the Model K for the 1907/08 production years (and "retrofit" the 1906 version)? Why not just "end it" in 1906? Or let the car "sit on the shelf", instead of investing time and capital re engineering the car. Also, why the large advertising push during 1907 for a car he "hated"?.
While your source has many good points to make, I don't think I'll end my study of the car and period based on one book by a young man (at that time) who was a pattern maker for Ford.
Was he there, yes. Was he privy to board meetings and direct discussions between Henry Ford, James Cousins, the Dodge brothers, and the other movers and shapers of the company (during the years 1905-1908)? I doubt it.
As for profits, where are the numbers? You have none. What we do know is Ford set the price, hit their sales targets, and therefore if Ford knew their costs the car should have been profitable. I've shown through actual accounts from 1906 and 1907 that Ford initially planned to sell 500 Model Ks. Later, they announced the intention to sell "10,000 Model Ns and 1,000 Model Ks (and in fact, came quite close to accomplishing both projections). Furthermore, Ford contract with Dodge Brothers for the production of 1,000 Model K chassis, another "indicator" of their intentions.
Sorry, too many unanswered questions to just let it go. However, I'm glad you are perfectly satisfied with the current version of Ford History concerning the Model K. Maybe now you can go on to something more important, and allow me to continue to compile information.
An afterthought - you mentioned yesterday (I believe, this is all starting to run together) that you began reading Ford books (not me, Dick and Jane were still the offering in Nebraska Public Schools in the early 60's). I've not had the good fortune to "grow up" on Ford literature. I've not been to Detroit or Benson or the Henry Ford to do research. However, I intend to.
And when I go, it will be to research the Models N, K and ealry T. Not sure if you said you were researching the Model K when you had to good fortune to be there, but it appears you must have judging by your adamant insistence on all things Model K. Again, I envy your good fortune, and intend to follow your footsteps and study the Model K at the Benson library, hopefully this summer.
Rob - I enjoy your research and Forum threads on the Models K and N. I also feel that the opposing views posted by others are constructive and force the truth about an issue. Please don't be discouraged by these opposing views.
What you are doing with these posts could become the ground work for a book on Model K's. What do you think?
Anyway, please keep up the good work and your posts on this Forum.
Ok Guys, I think that Henry liked the K but wanted to build small cars. The K gave him great press and in the beginning the investors happy. But Henry wanted small cars and the T proves that.
Keith, thanks. Yes, it might make an interesting book. Too bad only about 20 people would read it, due to the obscurity of the K .
Robert, I agree, Ford was committed to the small ( lightweight) affordable car. The fact that Ford went to one model was not so much a "disdain" for the big car ( since 1904 Ford built at least two model types each year, and three types in 1905/6). I believe the T evolved from both the N(R/S) and K.
I've also found references to the "new light touring model (T) that was to be brought out in the spring of 1908, along with the existing 08 models. However we know this didn't happen and when the T was released to the public it was as their only model for 1909.
Contributions from the K to T included similar differential (bearings instead of sleeves, soon tapered axles), magneto (K was the only "pre" T with mag) and handbrake.
Thanks for the input,
I apologize profusely for my gross error in speculating that the Thomas popularity was based solely upon their win of the around the world race. I read George Schuster's book on the race perhaps 45 years ago. It remains one of the best stories of any automobile race ever.
However, to dismiss Charles Sorensen's account of the Model K is to dismiss the most important - and perhaps the only first person account available of the reasons Henry Ford disliked the Model K, and the honest perception by him of why it was unprofitable. Notice that he does give the K an offhand compliment when he says it was well regarded by the affluent purchasers.
You are trying to rewrite history Rob. You can't blame me for standing shoulder to shoulder with people like Beverly Kimes, Henry Austin Clark, and Floyd Clymer. These folks researched the Model K, and wrote what they found. None of them, nor I has any cross to bear. While you have found a lot of neat racing history on the K, I don't think your findings have disputed any of the other authors work.
Your welcome to your opinion. But, it's not backed up entirely in fact. The truth is, the K sold well (for the market it was intended for). History has not been kind to this particular alphabet letter car, and I believe there is more to the story. That's why I'm attempting to determine what the circumstances surrounding the model K were.
Just because your choice of experts didn't care for the car doesn't automatically negate the scores of accounts (from that time period) about the car.
If the Model K sold well or was profitable then why was it discontinued? Common sense is to continue producing it.
Why was the Model N discontinued? The N series was the most successful automobile in terms of numbers produced ever up to that time. And a person could say the same (why was production stopped) about any model car produced. Models N/S and K were "discontinued at the same time. The N and K began production together and ended together. Ford was moving to their next "phase", the Model T.
There is still no proof anywhere that the Model K was sold at a loss. There were a lot of cars available that sold at a price above $2500, but only a select group of people that could afford them. I believe the average income of a family was less than $1000/year and that has to be taken into account.
The price of the K went from $2500 to $2800. It is safe to assume the costs to produce this car were approaching $2500, so the price had to be raised to make a profit on the car. Now assume you are selling 500 cars/yr at a profit of $300. That nets you $150,000.
You are also selling 10,000 Model N's at a price less than $1000. How many more people will be able to purchase a car at this price? Say you only make a profit of $50 on each car. 10,000 cars x $50/car nets you $500,000.
As an astute businessman, which car are you going to sell?
The Highland Park plant is already under construction. You want to build all the parts yourself and not pay $$ to the Dodge brothers. You spend most of your time in the experimental room designing the Model T. Your plan is to build one car and only one car. Mr Malcolmson is gone. So is the Model K.
I've been thinking about this a good share of the evening. Royce has used Mr. Sorensen (My Forty Years at Ford) extensively to back up his assertion that "Henry Ford hated the idea of the Model K, and would tell anybody and everybody that would listen" (paraphrase).
I've looked into the two pages above a bit more, and maybe my opinions and Mr. Sorensen's aren't that different (still don't know where the "hated the idea of the Model K" comes from).
First, a little context (with my assertions). Mr. Sorensen is undoubtedly young, and evidently becomes a valued and essential employee for Ford over time. However, he demonstrates his lack of early Ford knowledge at the beginning of the passages above when saying the Model F was the touring version of the Model C. Nowhere close.
More importantly for this discussion (see below), Mr Sorrensen says "Mr. Ford was applying to this car ideas he had worked out with Model B and K" (to apply to the Model N). This all sounds fine, except, the MODEL N AND K WERE DEVELOPED AND MARKETED AT THE SAME TIME, the "principles" used with the Model K were also used with the Model N.
However, I agree with the premise that the Models B and K were instrumental in the development of a Ford car, the Model T. (as was the Model N)
A few paragraphs later, Mr. Sorensen writes in his book:
He says "he (Henry Ford) had to compromise. The reslt was the Model K, six cylinders, torque drive, and priced at $2800.
Then Mr. Sorensen says (and this is important to this discussion) "MODEL K ENJOYED A GOOD REPUTATION AMONG PEOPLE OF MEANS".
So, the primary reference used, while saying Mr. Ford did not wish to build the Model K (another debate for another post), does say the Model K enjoyed a good reputation among people of means!
Hello, that is who the car was targeted for!
Have we laid to rest for good the idea that the Model K was not a good vehicle for it's market, or that it was well received by those it was marketed to?
I think that Rob has a point. The K may not have been Henry's car but he needed it prior to the introduction of the T. Ford advertised the introduction of the T in January of 08 but there is ample evidence that the T project was way behind schedule. They flat had to sell cars to continue in business and they had a contract with the Dodge brothers to purchase 1000 K's. Ford could have continued to sell NRS and K cars after the T was in production as none of them would have competed directly with “HIS” car. Henry had managed to gain control of the company and was only interested in producing "HIS" car. He had exhibited this behavior in the other 2 company's that were formed around him in that he only wanted to produce “HIS” car designs and was not did not care in any way as to what the stock holders wanted. He bankrupted both prior company's to prove his point. It was a great coincidence that the third time around that the Ford Motor Company actually made money and he was able to manipulate and buy out the stock holders to gain control. Once that happened he was free to do what ever he wanted. He only wanted to build one car and that is what he did.
GM has always claimed the Corvette is a money loser - for the last 50 years! Profit on a car line isn't everything.
Henry Ford was not always honest, either. He promised to pay royalties on the planetary, but didn't. He manipulated the stock price to buy the others out for less money. Why should he be believed about the K after the fact?
Only if Couzens said it would I believe it.
Also while I have no doubt that the K was not Henry's favorite car I also equally doubt he "hated" it. He simply had to put up with it until he was able to edge the stock holders out of the way by gaining over 50% of the stock. As Rob has posted the K brought in a lot of great press on the racing circuit. This flat sold cars. I think that Ford was smart enough to see the future and made plans to control the company. You have to understand that the production of cars was a risky business at that time and when you ran out of stock holder money you could not just go to the bank and borrow more. The third time around Henry was smart enough to see that he needed to continue to sell cars, make a profit and that he had to accept the stock holders views until he could gain control of the company. I think he had matured to the point where he could see that he needed the stock holders for the time being. When he did gain control he quit listening to them and started investing most of the profits back into the company. He was then sued by the minority stock holders for not distributing enough of the profits as dividends. That cost him a lot of money but he finally was free of stock holders and the family owned the company outright.
Re the debate as to whether the ''K'' was a profitable selling commodity for FORD or not-- no one will probably will ever know. One of the reasons is the complexity of the motor industry and where the flow of monies eventually end for certain accounting reasons. As with most car manufactures they have a manufacturing side and a marketing side to their structure and it was generally known that the manufacturing side was the only side that made the real money. [Now days it’s the finance branch that makes the money]
In the early stages of Ford Motor Comp, it’s board members included the DODGE Bros together with the major suppliers of components for FORD assembly lines and one could well assume that they had considerable influence as to the ‘‘K’s’’ destiny if it was profitable for them. It’s well documented that HENRY worked hard on getting his manufacturing side up as fast as possible and one can assume that he knew well where the profits were. When he did get control of most of the required manufactured items you may note the DODGE Bros. were soon gone.
Somewhere in my old FORD dealership archives there is a quotation made by Henry Ford to his dealers saying ---"That you dealers will rarely make money out of selling new cars but you will make it over the life of the car in your repair shop or in the finance department. This means that should the car be sold at no profit by FORD’s sales company there was still some time in the supply of spare parts that would enable those losses to be recouped.
If you want to buy shares in the motor industry take my [& HENRY's] advice and only invest into the Service /Manufacturing or financing side of the business.
Hold it Rob - Royce Peterson does not say that Henry Ford hates the Model K.
That statement is from Beverly Rae Kimes, Henry Austin Clark, and any number of other automotive historians. Over and over and over, in countless books about Ford history, this statement is made, along with the statement that the Model K was a failure financially, and that the car had many design flaws when introduced that led to mechanical difficulty for the owners.
Henry Ford was most assuredly NOT in charge of the Ford Motor Company in the years preceding 1908. At the time Charles Sorensen arrived Henry was second or third fiddle. James Couzens is the man who was in charge of day to day operations in the 1904 - 1907 era.
Henry - according to Sorensen, his best friend for most of his life - "paid scant attention to the Model K".
Again, these are first person quotes of a man who was there. Not my opinion - I am only reporting fact.
No Royce, you don't report "facts". You take very general items like those you posted above, then "stretch" them into the statement you made (attributing to "countless automotive historians".
The "fact" is, even in Mr. Sorensen's book, his comments are quite benign. In fact, his comments on the pages you copied (by the way, the first reproduction of material you've offered) actually say the Model K "enjoyed a good reputation.....". That's a far cry from your statement above, "Over and over, in countless books about Ford history, this statement is made, along with the statement that the Model K was a failure financially, and that the car had many design flaws ......".
Again, let's see some of the claims you make in print, where "any number of other automotive historians" make the claims you are.
You are entitled to your opinion (as am I), however to make the claim that every other historical record agrees with your opinion is incorrect.
More in a bit about Ford history......
OK Guys, I cook a lot with cast iron. I just got a copy of cast iron for dummies. Well the gal that wrote the book knows nothing about cast iron. Most everything she said is just plain wrong. But she is making money selling books. So just because someone wrote it does not make it fact. It makes the writer look good if the truth is stretched but not always correct. Scott
Joseph Galamb was the primary draftsman / designer of the Model T. He did much of the drafting and design work on the Model K, as well as the Model N, R and S. He was one of Henry Ford's most trusted associates. Here is a quote from Joe Galamb. From the transcript:
" Henry Ford was definitely against the Model K. He carried it on because the stockholder wanted it. He didn't like the Model B either".
The audio is available at the Benson Ford Archives.
Well Royce, I have three different articles written in 1906-07 where Henry Ford is quoted explaining the superiority and virtues of the six cylinder engine (and have posted them).
No one has posted anything quoting Henry Ford saying he "hated the idea of the Model K".
Guess he was for it before he was against it.
Tell this fellow how much Henry Ford "hated the idea of the Model K". What's the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words
This account, while difficult to read, says "Henry Ford is enjoying a mid winter holiday jaunt in California in one of his big six-cylinder cars. He is accompanied by Mrs. Ford, his 12-year old son, Master Edsel, and Mrs. Ford's parents. The party will tour California from San Francisco to San Diego, and will visit the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton."
If Henry Ford spoke of the superiority and virtues of the six cylinder engine, then why after the Model K was discontinued was the six cylinder dropped also and another six cylinder not produced until 1941?
True to some extent..perhaps that Henry didn't really 'hate' the Model K...heck, he even used a K radiator on his 1907 experimental tractor
..but remains that the 'T' took over completely in his business. Those big sixes were wealthy folks rides, most of the mfg of those big cars took orders, and they were hand made, taking 6-9 mos. to delivery. Henry was building his new factory for the idea of that 'T' all along....no more room in his plans for a big-six.
I can't answer that. I know Ford never produced another two cylinder engine. I really doubt that Ford "hated six cylinder engines" just as I believe he didn't "hate" two cylinder engines. But models change. No model of any automobile lasts forever.
What I do know is, he adamantly defended the six cylinder engine while he was producing them, and this was after he had control of Ford Motor Company. what does that tell you?
I really can't provide more than I have for evidence. However, if you've followed this series of threads, there is a mountain of evidence demonstrating Ford's support for the car.
1. Was the Model K a good automobile? Multiple accounts say YES. Even Mr. Sorensen's book says the car was well accepted by the target audience.
2. Were sales acceptable? The "K" sold better than most six cylinders over the period of time Ford produced the car.
3. Did the Model K continue to build and improve the "Ford" brand? Yes, multiple (over 40 examples provided) times the Model K appears in news accounts winning and placing in automobile contests.
Finally, in the only "survey" anyone will ever find taken in 1907, with over 6500 respondents, the Model K places 5th out of any car costing $3000 or less. And ninety eight autos received votes.
Yes, the T "took completely his business". That doesn't mean he "hated" the Model N (of course not). Both the K and N models began and ended at the same time.
Did Ford "hate" the A, AC, B, F, or NRS? No, he simply moved on to the next model (as all auto makers eventually do)
This should "fire up" Royce, did Ford "hate" thermo siphon? He only made one model with using thermo siphon, and never went back to it.
You said "No one has posted anything quoting Henry Ford saying he "hated the idea of the Model K".
Joe Galamb said: " Henry Ford was definitely against the Model K. He carried it on because the stockholder wanted it. He didn't like the Model B either".
In the excellent book "The Fords" By Peter Collier and David Horowitz you will find yet another very well researched (footnoted profusely to first person quotes) account of the battle between Malcomsen and Henry Ford. Ford was furious at Malcomsen on a number of levels, but his primary beefs were that Malcomsen wanted to build the Model K which simply wasted Henry's time. Secondly, and equally important, Henry detested the way Malcomsen was distributing the company's profits from sales, then borrowing money from his banker friends to expand facilities and production. Henry wanted to suspend dividends and use profits to expand the business without encumbering the company with more debt.
I bought this book perhaps 15 - 20 years ago and it always contains interesting and well documented accounts of the events, with no doubt whatsoever as to their authenticity due to the extensive documentation of nearly every sentence. Including the paragraph footnoted "Henry Hated the Model K".
Let's see it:
"Including the paragraph footnoted "Henry Hated the Model K".
Will do. It will be later today, the book is home. I have at least a half dozen other books with similar accounts of how Henry Hated the Model K but this one is by far the most heavily researched to first person sources and with extraordinarily detailed footnotes.
"What I do know is, he adamantly defended the six cylinder engine while he was producing them, and this was after he had control of Ford Motor Company. what does that tell you? "
It tells me he was a business man with cars to sell. Regardless of how he may have felt personally, what was he supposed to say? ESPECIALLY after he was in control of the company. Ever heard the saying, "Never ask a farmer if his eggs are fresh"? No matter how Henry came to be in the "K" business, the fact is he was in it, whether he liked it or not, (not debating that question here). There would simply be no Ford Motor Company today, or even in 1909, if he expressed anything but praise and confidence for the K, and all his other line-up. All the Henry Ford quotes in the world pertaining to the K would obviously sing its praises. What else could we expect? Even after its demise, it would have been a disservice to the image of Ford Motor Co. if he had cursed the very existence of the K and openly suggested a failure.
If you'll notice, I have not suggested how Henry felt about the car, or about the car's quality, profit potential, or anything else pertaining to the car itself. I'm only offering some perspective, suggesting Henry's motivations for the things he said. That being the case, I would give greater credence to the recollections of those whose fortunes were no longer tied to Ford Motor Co. or to Henry Ford. (I will admit however that some of the recollections of the early Ford employees sometimes seem contradictory and sometimes tend to glorify and overstate their past contributions.)
Again, not picking a dog in this fight, just trying to add some perspective.
I object! Hearsay! LOL Just kidding.
I for one would like to thank Royce and Rob for the spirited exchange, keeps the reading interesting! I hope you both remember this forum is an exchange of ideas, facts and opinions. Well done boys keep it up! looking forward to the next..........
That's it? An index line that says "49. Ford's hatred of the Model K:"
That's your quote from Henry Ford? That supports your statement, "he told anyone and everyone who would listen that he hated the idea of the Model K"?
It's an "End Notes" page. It lists sources and citings of the quotes (in this case).
Gasp! Royce spewing more claims of gospel fact on topics he has absolutely no firsthand knowledge of or experience with; based solely on conjecture and innuendo to support his outrageous conclusions?
Old news to regular forum participants but disturbing such behavior is permitted to continue unchecked on this forum frequented by new entrants to the hobby. It is refreshing to see other folks challenging his unwavering devotion to his craft and demanding greater accountability.
I applaud your research Rob and hope you are not deterred from continuing your work and reporting the findings.
In all fairness, I am very impressed Royce actually took the time to do some research on the topic before commenting. That is a huge improvement and a huge step in the right direction in my view.
I've yammered over a long period of time to get anything to support his BS.
It sure takes away from the enjoyment of the hobby.
It would be so much more fun and interesting if Royce would post about early Fords. I understand he is an authority on them and has lots of information he can share with us. Better than knocking someone else's research.
Thanks to Mike for the e-timer info and Rob for all the Model K info.
I've posted several fist person references that clearly show Henry Ford's position in total opposition to the very idea of building the Model K. I have posted examples from a half dozen different automotive historians who write that the Model K was unprofitable, unsuccessful, and sold poorly as a product of Ford Motor Company. I have shown the footnotes of this book, "The Fords" showing the exact first person reference. Buy the book if you want to know more truth.
The newspaper article you posted at the top of this page dated October 1906 claims that Ford planned to build one thousand Model K's for the 1907 model year. Ford built something like 600 cars - or 40% less than the prediction. Ford missed his production target by a wide margin. Does that mean the Model K was a horrible car? Of course not. It means few were made, and thus few were sold.
The Model K is a magnificent car and certainly comparable in style and grace to anything that was made during the 1906 - 7 period. That Henry Ford hated it is simply a matter of fact. Any automotive historian who has written an account of the Model K says exactly this.
By the way, one of the more interesting things I found in the Benson Ford Archives regarding the Model K was a page that documented a Model K broken down with transmission problems. Apparently the person had the local hardware store wire the factory for parts. I did not pay the $35 it would have cost to make a copy of the page, but if you search my postings on this forum back in 2007 - 2008 you can read what I said about it that evening.
No you didn't post "several" items. You posted two, then a page showing one line to support your theory.
I'm not interested in finding out about one broken transmission (and am not going to search your old posts). If you have something to bring to the conversation, search your own posts, then bring it. Doesn't that sound a bit "arrogant"? If I want to know what you researched, search your old posts. Unbelievable.
Go find someone else to bother.
Profitable? I can't answer that, but I doubt profitable. From searching the web I find every site I looked at said the K was a failure and sales were poor. Also, the websites I looked at said Henry Ford liked the K very little.
Comparing the K to the N production was a drop in the bucket. The websites said R & S were adaptations of the N with production at 2450 & 3750 respectively. As far as the K there were no adaptations that I could find. With production of the R & S totaled to near the number of Ns produced. So, In comparison K production was a drop in the bucket. Even the six cylinder was dropped from the line until 1941.
Never the less, a great historic automobile for the ages!
Some of the passionate exchanges over academic disagreements make me want to sort of stand back so as not to get caught in the crossfire. But hey, I understand where you're coming from. If anybody suggests that the P-51 Mustang was a better airplane than my beloved P-47 THUNDERBOLT (sound of herald trumpets blowing and angels singing in the background), they'll get an impassioned piece of my mind (Try it, I dare you).
But in this venue, I'll always consider myself a know-nothing newbie because... well, my paltry experience with the car pales in comparison to that of guys on this forum who talk about picking a body off a frame like it's no more complex an operation than yanking tissues out of a box of Kleenex. My hat is ever off to you guys. Speaking from that place, my two cents worth is not so much research as it is a general impression gained by reading a few books. For what it's worth:
Without quoting chapter and verse of the popular historical books I've read, it's fairly safe to say that the authors disagree on some of the basics. I think, in an effort to come up with more interesting copy, some writers are guilty of occasionally jumping to conclusions. But there do seem to be certain consistencies and when I see two books agreeing on an issue, I tend to believe it. In that way, I've come away with the impression that Mr. Ford did have reservations about the Model K. What I don't know is why he felt that way. Maybe it was something about the car itself, or its engine; or maybe it was more a matter of resentment toward the investors who insisted on pointing him down a path he was loathe to take. ALL the books agree that Henry bristled at that sort of thing. Notwithstanding, his public statements regarding the Model K, while it was on the market, are essentially worthless because he had such a large stake in the success of the company. Of course he wanted the car to be as big a seller as possible!
Another impression I've gotten from the books is that the Model K had a structural deficiency; that it was not beefy enough to bear its own weight (which seems a little paradoxical to me, but hey, I'm just a newbie). The neat thing is, we won't have to rely completely on books to find out about this stuff. Rob has been up to his elbows in this car already, and after a couple of years of operation, he's going to be the consummate authority on the Model K. Meanwhile, I'm going to sit by the sidelines and enjoy watching the sparks fly.
While I don't know you personally, you sound like a wise and reasonable man. I enjoy reading your posts.
I am an admirer of the P-51 Mustang, but while I don't know much about the P-47 Thunderbolt, I did enjoy seeing it in action in the air at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England. If you ever get the chance to go you are sure to enjoy it as it contains a lot on WWII both land & air. They have a large hangar where they rebuild the airplanes that you can walkthrough. Many restorations are going on at the same time. There is also an airfield to demonstrate the planes. You can check it out on the web.
Hope you find it interesting.
A few comments (what a surprise )
The 06 version (only on the market from summer until October 1906) had many "deficiencies" including too light of frame (and many other issues) that were quickly remedied by late 1906.
The 1907 version was greatly improved, and Ford also had a program to refurbish 1906 Ks traded for the 07 version. These 06 cars were then resold with a guarantee, that I've found references to saying a one and two year guarantee.
As for sales volume, by selling over 950 Model Ks over about 26 months, the K was a good seller compared with other high end models.
I'm attempting to find the number of "upscale" cars sold by competitive models. What I've found to this point includes:
Early cars production according to Conceptcarz:
Peerless: 1909, all models 1618
Pierce Arrow: 1906 total 1000, Great Arrow 700
Locomobile total for 1907: 627
Winton, 1907, all models: 1100
Cadillac all Models for 1907: 1030
Marmon, 1910 all models: 476
Rolls Royce 1907-1925 7,874
Autocar 1906 all models: 713
I find the Rolls Royce number intriguing. If true, a little less than 420 cars per year total. However I'm sure all RR sales ended during the war years.
Another, Stearns, 1908, 243 cars sold.
I am sure Ford sold more Model K's than any number of other companies. Remember, in the 1906 era there were perhaps fifty manufacturers selling cars in this price range. Just that fact alone tells you there were too many people trying to occupy the same market segment. Most would lose substantial sums, few made profits, if any.
If you look at the contest list that Rob posted on another K thread, virtually all of them failed financially selling cars at this rate (less than 1000 units per year).
Pierce is a notable exception (they were not called Pierce Arrow until years later) but they also were not profitable until the car business was spun off from the rest of Percy Pierce's holdings.
Here's another perspective on the Model K from RM Auctions:
"The company’s 1907 catalog boldly stated that the Model K offered “the silence of an electric with the simplicity and economy of the gasoline motor.” But the car was far and away from Henry Ford’s ideal for a “car for the multitudes,” costing five times what he thought his company’s products should. Ford was selling all the Model Ns it could build and, at the same time, a smattering of Model Ks. Ford dealers were forced to take a Model K for every 10 Model Ns they ordered. The ensuing debate over the direction of the Ford Motor Company and the future of the Model K would ultimately lead to the departure of cofounder Malcomson from the company. But as they say, that’s another story! The Model K remained in production though October 1908 when it was discontinued in favor of the Model T, the car that Mr. Ford envisioned. Ford would not produce another six-cylinder automobile until 1941."
Never one to miss a chance, eh Royce?
By the way, reference your comment above:
"Pierce is a notable exception (they were not called Pierce Arrow until years later) ....."
Evidently didn't get your memo.... This is a 1907 ad. Clearly says "PIERCE GREAT ARROW". And later in the ad "Pierce Arrow". Maybe a bit more fact checking and less fact spewing?
The company name was George N Pierce in 1906 Ralph. Cars displayed the "Pierce" name brand on external badging. The company that made cars was spun off by Percy Pierce a couple years later. The resulting company was named Pierce Arrow.
My facts remain correct.
they weren't called pierce arrow until 1908 or 1909 ........ up till then it was the pierce motor company. Rob, you need to play a little nicer. it's a wonder anybody would ever post to your lectures with an alternative viewpoint. tim
Ahhh....in answer to the actual post topic, I for one would offer a most probable 'yes'.
Were the N and later R-S more profitable? Probably not, on a per unit basis. Quantity v. Quantity could make a huge difference.
We grab at bits and pieces yet I am quite surprised that someone has not hit on a very basic fact! I know I've seen it, but just can not remember where or offer reference 'where'!
The Ford Motor Business Model was built on very simple terms as a 'car assembler'. I've seen where they paid 'W' per radiator per lot, 'X' per chassis per lot, 'Y' per set of tires per lot, 'Z' for the body per lot, and did so for each and every supplier.
Real easy to go from there...add up everybody part... pick a sell price...assemble, pay the rent, and keep the difference. OK so the business model for K was apparently based on 1000 total units and we can only account for maybe 600 of them in year one. Henry and Co were not out the money as such, I'm sure 400 units not received, 400 units not paid for, slow the workers down, etc...but we know they were also working on N. Actually probably good that somehow it worked out slower than maybe anticipated because as Rob points out, '07 was 'improved'. From the numbers I've seen they got close to that 1000 on the K and maybe, maybe not in the original time frame they thought! Yes, we assume they were looking for 1000 in a year because it makes some kind of sense in an MBA way, but...I have never seen anything that actually says that.
Add in the dividend record in the early years and WOW they were getting returns on stock better than anything apparently possible today! They surely could not be diluting the company to achieve such dividends because it had virtually no tangible assets or actual cash in the coffers.
Just my cranky two-cents.
Anyway, thanks Rob for your efforts...I've enjoyed them and will enjoy further reading.
In the first couple of years, Henry was a minority stockholder. In fact, he never brought a dime to the table initially. The K was ordered up when he was a minority stockholder. They had to rework the first several hundred cars in order to get rid of them. If the 6 cylinder Ford car had been their only product, they would have gone the way of 2500 other auto company's, and probably a lot quicker than others, just a footnote in history. The K shares nothing in common with the eventual model T product, except perhaps the planetary steering gear, but that had been done first in the model B. The real breakthrough was the model N ... so much more car than anyone else was offering for the same money. Up until this time Henry and company were learning what didn't work. The N series showed them the way to the future, and making the N series better was what made the T the success it became. These are my views.
i should add the success of the model A, A-C, C, F models enabled the stockholders to enter the luxury car market with the K. The model B sold 1000 units, at $2000, so probably a moneymaker, but with 3 or 4 survivors, hardly what i would call a success.
Don't chastise me concerning this. Royce has been a consistent pain. My intent was and is to show information that challenges the status quo.
Royce jumps with bits and pieces of information, claiming they are fact. Then, when challenged, he continues to assert he is right when he often is not.
The advertisement, bought and paid for by Pierce, was published in the February 1906 Horseless Age magazine. Pierce obviously referred to their cars as "pierce Arrow" in the advertising.
To come somewhat back on topic, on the thread I started, I'd like to find some way to determine profitability of early Ford cars. I don't know if early Ford board meetings were documented, or any account records would give us that information. Does anyone have an idea of where to look?
Also, not sure how one is able to assume the Model B, that only sold about 500 cars over a two year run, is considered "successful", and the Model K, with almost twice the sales in a little over two years is considered a failure?
Before I get rid of them, another ad for "Pierce Arrow". This one appeared in the February 1906 of the "Horseless Age".
They look like a wonderful early car, and also carried a healthy price tag.
Rob's description is right on mark as anyone familiar with the E-Timer threads is well aware; especially the scores of satisfied owners.
Opposing views are a normal and welcome part of any debate. They can be offered in a constructive way where the opposing party is open to discussing the validity of their views and acknowledges flaws in the supporting data or logic. It can also be done in a belligerent, in your face way where flaws in data and logic are closed to discussion or seldom, if ever, acknowledged.
The tragedy is too few people are willing to stand up and challenge belligerent behavior so that false, misleading or unsubstantiated BS gets accepted and propagated as fact. The consequences can range from a skewed understanding of history to the unavailability of T products not deemed worthy of use if enough people are exposed to the BS; like on a forum discussion board.
I still cannot figure out why Rob rejects the multiple accounts from the world's most reputable automotive historians. They are the ones who have always written about the Model K being a failure as a product, and that Henry Ford hated it, and that the car was only built at the insistence of Malcolmson et al.
Rob, can you not accept that all those historians in fact might be right and you might be reading too much into the amateur racing ( and a few pro races) that you have found in your Google searches?
Those historians in many cases sat in the same room with people like Charles Sorensen and Joe Galamb. Please, tell me why they would lie about it? Why would Joe Galamb say that Henry Ford didn't like the Model K if it was not true? Why would Charles Sorensen say nearly the same exact thing to a different historian on a different occasion?
Is there some sort of conspiracy among Henry Ford's closest confidants to portray the Model K in a bad light? Why would they pick the Model K instead of the Model B, or the Model F?
Your two pieces of "evidence".
.this is your "evidence" that "Henry Ford hated the idea of the Model K, and told everyone and anyone who would listen". A couple of lines?
And "every historical account". And this is it? Sorry, that's not enough for me to discount all the positive things Ford had to say about the car. Yes, I do think "history" has given the Model K a bad rap. What difference does it make to you what I believe. Why the need to try to have the last word on every thread I've started on the subject.
As long as we're on it, have you started a thread lately? Just curious.
Rob, i'm not chastising you, buddy. I'm just concerned every time you respond to Royce , i'm afraid you are going to blow a blood vessel ! I'm just looking out for you.
On your initial question, I for one do not believe the K was profitable. As an assembled car with many huge problems in the first version, i would think Henry was glad to be finally rid of it, after they committed to 1000 units and a weaker company couldn't have survived the adventure. I also think he made the best of it, and certainly what you have brought to the table proves that, along with the racing and endurance history. It is also fascinating to see the advertising propaganda that was put forth. Henry was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, and had very smart people around and close to him.
I will state again I think they could not have survived the K without the success of the earlier models put forth.
Let's see what Bruce McCalley says about the Model K:
The Model K was a six-cylinder car available as either a touring or a roadster. Expensive ($25-2800), and not too good, it was a poor seller and generally credited for Henry Ford's dislike for six-cylinder cars.
First sale April 16, 1906. Last sale September 30, 1908.* Approximately 900 were made, beginning with serial number one.
What is your point about the above statement? When did Bruce get a chance to speak with Henry Ford on a face to face basis? All Bruce is stating is the same that everyone else states. Are you just going to continually make statements based on what others have said?
You bash Mike Kosser and his e-timer. You bash Rob and his Model K. Anyone that mentions a water pump - you bash them, too.
Like Rob says, please go post your own posts and stay off of his. I am enjoying all this new information about the Model K.
Is it REALLY that difficult to understand?
If the Model K was profitable why was the production of this Model K so short?
I keep seeing references to the dealers being forced to take one Model K for every ten Model Ns. Has anybody ever found any documentation of this as official policy?
I have regularly visited Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village since the early sixties and always went to Sports Cars on Review which was held along Edsel's Street of Shops. This of course was next to the "used car lot" where many cars were on display behind a brown pipe. Ever since I could read, the description plate on the Model K mentioned that it did not fare well in the market. The description under the plexiglass was undoubtedly written by the curators who were born much earlier than I.
Today I looked in the Ford Motor Company archives (not the Benson Ford collection) to see what is mentioned in regards to the Model K. I found one document presumably from a post centennial press packet that is a ten page summary of Ford's history. Here is a snapshot. So regardless of whether the Model K was competitive with other makes and models, it does not appear to have been the right car for the market at the time.
Note: These are my personal observations and I do not represent the Ford Motor Company or The Edison Institute.
Bruce McCalley and Trent Boggess (Trent actually wrote that page in Bruce's Encyclopedia) were the two people who have (had in Bruce's case) the most experience and knowledge of early Ford history. Are you saying that you know something they have written is in error? If so please show us your research to back up your statements.
I support the work that Trent and Bruce did. It has been very accurate from my experience. Both Bruce and Trent were most helpful when I had questions on where something could be found in the Benson Ford Archives. Everything I found there was generally in accordance with their research, although my research into 1911 - 12 shipping records does dispute the accuracy of Bruce's serial number data in his book.
We are all capable of adding to the legacy left by these great men. Rather than trying to tear apart the history of the Model K I wish Rob would accept what has been proven by all the folks who came before him. Their work is generally sound, truthful, and accurate.
In 1908, Pierce Motor Company was renamed The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.
In 1904 they produced the Arrow, A Pierce Arrow as produced by the George N. Pierce Company.
Liken it to a Model T. A Ford Model T as produced by the Ford Company.
From Wiki.... http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Pierce-Arrow
The forerunner of Pierce-Arrow was established in 1865 as Heinz, Pierce and Munschauer. The company was best known for its household items, especially its delicate, gilded birdcages. In 1872, George N. Pierce bought out the other two, changed the name to George N. Pierce Company, and, in 1896, added bicycles to the product line. The company failed in its attempt to build a steam-powered car in 1900 under license from Overman, but by 1901 had built its first single-cylinder, two-speed, no-reverse Motorette with an engine licensed from de Dion. In 1904, it produced a Pierce-Arrow. This became Pierce's most successful product. The solidly built cars with powerful engines two-cylinder car, the Arrow.
In 1903, Pierce decided to concentrate on making a larger, more luxurious car for the upscale market, the won positive publicity and the Glidden Trophy in 1905, an endurance run to celebrate the most reliable car. Thirty three entered the race from New York City to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, which Percy Pierce won in a Great Arrow.
The noted industrial architect Albert Kahn designed the Pierce Arrow Factory Complex at Elmwood Avenue and Great Arrow Avenue in about 1906. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. George Norman Pierce sold all rights in the company in 1907, and he died three years later. In 1908, Pierce Motor Company was renamed The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.
Ii understand "accepted" history says the Model K was a failure (low production, poor acceptance by the public, poorly made, take your pick).
I believed all of the above until I began to delve into the "history" of the car. What I've found is included over the last many Model K threads. Findings seem to disprove most of the above.
1. Sales were good. We are used to Ford sales numbers of thousands to eventually millions of cars during the Model T era. However, that was not the case in 1906-1908. Selling over 950 Model K was a significant number. Earlier on this thread I posted some numbers that show production numbers of period cars. If you notice, well known marquees such as Locomobile sold less cars (total, usually more than one model) than were sold of the Model K.
2. Public perception. For anyone who recalls the post, there was a "contest" held in 1907 by Motor Magazine. With 6500 people responding, the Model K was the 5th highest "vote" getter, as the car they would most like to own, costing $3000 or less.
3. I've posted over 40 articles where the Model K came in first or finished in the top of competitions and races. These contests were a way foe manufacturers to prove their cars to the public when reliability was a major concern.
4. I've also found two different articles, written by two different commentators (1913 and 1915) where the authors say the Model K was a good car, and only discontinued due to the movement to the one Model T.
The production for the Model K was about 26 months (give or take a month or two). By comparison, the Model A - 1903-1904, Model B - 1904-1905, Model C - 1904-1905, Model F - 1904-1906 (carried across three calendar years, but I should check actual months), Model N -1906-1908 (same as Model K, only assembled longer into 1908, as the Model T was also being assembled (July 1908 article), Model R, 1907, Model S - 1908.
Eric, I've spoken with both Carl Pate and Trent about this "story". In fact Carl offered to me when this "journey" began, that he found no document to support this myth. Trent also has seen no documentation to support this idea.
Tom, I know that "everything"we read essentially says what you posted. Why, because often history is a compilation of things written before that are perpetuated as time passes. Kind of like stories handed down generation to generation. This doesn't make them wrong, nor right.
My point is there is a mountain out there that might make a person think "accepted" history may be incorrect.
Royce, have you spoken with Trent about this matter? I have recently. If he wishes to make his points known on this forum, let's allow him to do so. Apparently you are comfortable speaking for Bruce (rest in peace), however as of two weeks ago, Trent's opinion of the Model K is not what you represented.
Even though some of you will never acknowledge that Royce is actually right at least some of the time, he is correct about the Pierce Arrow. The company changed it's name to Pierce-Arrow in 1908. Before that, the Arrow was the model name of the car built by Pierce. Just like the K was the model name of a car built by Ford.
Look in the add posted by Rob. It mentions the Pierce Arrow, but it also talks about the Pierce automobile, and it even lists the George N. Pierce Co., Buffalo NY.
Even the add which Craig re-posted indicates the Pierce car and lists the Pierce dealers - not the Pierce-Arrow dealers.
The early references to the Pierce Arrow are referring to a specific model of car. The later references to Pierce-Arrow are referring to the company.
Is it REALLY that difficult to understand?
Is it REALLY that difficult to understand?
It looks that way David. This is a bidding war at an auction and these two gentleman have bid up the price of a stick of chewing gum to a few $100's. No one can walk a way a winner no matter what, they both have lost! What's the saying, "Like beating a dead horse!"
Not a question of "difficult to understand". The name "Pierce Arrow" is synonymous with Pierce Motor Company. Just as Ford by 1907 is synonymous with Ford Motor Company. I'm not the one who "corrected" the other, it was Royce with his "poison pen" who had to throw in a "correction" above to show that the company was Pierce, and not "Pierce Arrow". Doesn't make a darn bit of difference to me, and this thread didn't have anything to do with Pierce, except that they produced cars competing in the upper level.
By the way, this isn't about Royce being right or wrong. It has become about his petulant need to attack anyone who disagrees with him.
I quoted Trent from the encyclopedia on this website. If there is an error I believe Trent knows how to fix it. Until then it represents the best information I know of - attributable to Bruce McCalley and Trent Boggess.
In regards to your comments. The Model K was a good car but not necessarily the right car for the market. For instance, the Lincoln Blackwood pickup was a wonderful luxury offering that many admired. Many people replied in surveys that they would want to own one. I've always wanted to own a Lincoln KB convertible sedan and will probably never realize this desire.
1) Sales were good for a car in that price range and size I'll agree. But the public voted with their pocket books by buying the Model N. They purchased seven times as many of a car that cost one fifth as much. This was during the same sales period.
2) It's easy to answer a survey or mail into a contest. How many respondents actually purchased any of the cars on the contest list? How did the contest reflect actual sales? This is not just Ford, how did sales of the top four reflect the contest results?
3) No argument. Other than the hearsay cracked crankcase stories I've heard over the years, I have no reason to believe the Model K was unreliable.
4) In my Lincoln Blackwood example, Ford Motor Company offered a fantastic product with exceptional reliability. There are several consumer articles online saying it is a great truck. The market responded accordingly.
Note: These are my personal opinions and I do not represent the Ford Motor Company.
Last I knew, a Long Beach T club member had a Lincoln pickup for sale, just in case anybody wants one...
I'd rather have a K, N, or T.
And I'd really love to have a Zephyr.
There must be twenty or thirty comments that need correction in the previous twenty postings (roughly since I last read through this thread).
Questions demanding an answer that have been answered multiple times already.
Party line statements repeated and refuted many times already.
Statements of "I am right and have been right" that offer nothing supportive or new.
I would make comments on some? But why?
I have been, and still am, enjoying much of this journey into the history of the model K Ford. But I would enjoy it more with a bit less "in your face" debating.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne, good comments as always.
Tom, I've worked to bring hundreds of examples from the period of the Model K to our attention. I've found many many examples written by many authors, admen and ordinary people that reflect well on the car. In addition, I uncovered a little known survey in which people from the period selected the car they would choose (remember, the winner was to receive the car they chose) if they won the contest.
Meanwhile, we all know what "history" tells us. If you choose to believe history as it has been passed on to us, fine. If, on the other hand, all the information that is now available causes one to "second guess" history as we've known it, OK. Makes no difference. I know what I believe, and that has changed dramatically from where I was six months ago. Of course I'm living it, seeing the large number of articles, quotes and other information first hand, as well as experiencing the quality of the automobile.
Tom, just as with the Model B (and F to an extent) the Model K was not going to be "everyman's car". It, like the Model B before it, was meant to be the upscale leader. It had the magneto, roominess, power and looks to place the Ford brand at the top of the list in its class. It was the least expensive, lightweight, best horsepower to weight ratio car (sound familiar?) in it's class. Ford did not intend to sell thousands of the car. In fact, he ordered 1,000 chassis from Dodge Brothers, and that is about how many were sold.
What the Model K did do, was sell well in comparison to other $3000 cars. And compete well in speed and efficiency trials. And compare favorably in a survey in 1907 for cars costing $3000 or less (that was an incredible find, and if you don't agree, then you shouldn't be reading this).
Show me one other "survey" or contest from the period with no incentive by the voters to choose a car, other than the one they want to win. A person can't make stuff like that up.
Lastly, why would the historical accounts of the Model K be wrong?
As we know,,Henry Ford, and many of his surrogates, built and massaged the Ford legacy (as any of us would). I've encountered two instances where Henry Ford tells two different writers he built his first car in 1889 and 1891. And he said these "misstatements" between 1905 and 1915, when he surely knew when his first car was built.
Why did he clearly "misstate" fact? Was he lying? Was he just mistaken only 15 years after the fact? We'll never know (although I have a few theories). Was he already "massaging" his legacy and Ford history. Again, I'll never know, but facts were being altered.
Could the same thing have happened with the "history" of the Model K. Did the "need" to perpetuate the story of Henry Ford desiring to build the car for every man cause the need for the Model K to be a "sacrificial lamb" or whipping boy?
I don't know. I do know Henry Ford surely selected, or allowed the Model K to be the pace car on the 1909 Ocean to Ocean tour. Why? If he "hated" the car, and it was a financial and performance failure, why place it at the forefront of a race you knew was going to be publicized world wide, and that you intended to win to gain the publicity benefits from. If you were finally out from under the yoke of Malcomsen and other investors, and rid of the car that was such a bad experiment for the company (and no longer being manufactured or sold) why give it such a prominent role?
Doesn't make much sense, unless.............
If we did not question history we would still believe the world is flat!
History is constantly rewritten because someone dares to go against popular opinion and dig for facts.
You posted "I do know Henry Ford surely selected, or allowed the Model K to be the pace car on the 1909 Ocean to Ocean tour. "
Henry Ford or Ford Motor Company didn't sponsor the Ocean to Ocean Race. That event was overseen by the Automobile Club of America.
"John H. Gerrie, representing the Automobile Club of America, would act as a 'pacemaker' from New York City to St. Louis. One source identified him as an automobile writer for the New York Herald. To check the speed, Gerrie would ride ahead fo the racers in a non-competing 6-cylinder Ford, which the contestants were requested to follow. His role was largely ceremonial, for he allowed cars to pass him and to speed, as well."
Above from the book 'Coast-to Coast Auto Races of the Early 1900's', p.160.
** "..the others had hard battles with the mud, the result being that the Fords reached Toledo four hours ahead of their rivals"
*** Gerrie in the 6-cylinder Ford was also late arriving Friday. Thus "the pace making car for the most part made only it own pace."
** Chicago Daily Tribune June 6, 1909 III, p,1-5
*** Automobile Topics June 12, 1909,p. 658
I don't know about all that Rob. By the 1950's I cannot see any reason for Charles Sorensen and Joe Galamb to say anything except the truth of the matter. No one cared less about anything remotely involving the Model K by then, other than those two guys. Why would they say anything other than the truth?
It's my belief that Henry Ford did not care for the Model K. He didn't care for the Model B either which was also a heavy big car. As seen here, photos exist of Ford driving a K, but that is not any indication he preferred that model. When you have a financial stake in the company, you do what you can to promote your offerings even if you personally do not like said product.
I doubt Ford personally ordered those 1000 chassis from the Dodge boys. This project was favored by both Malcolmson and the Dodge Brothers.
I also have a hard time believing the K was profitable. On a 1000 units there can't be much profit to be made. It wouldn't surprise me if it lost money, much less broke even.
As for Sorensen, Galamb & the others. I agree with Royce. What did they have to gain by talking up the car 40+ years after the fact? From my own personal research, Sorensen shot from the hip when he gave his oral reminisces and later writing his "Forty Years with Ford". Sorensen was extremely close to Ford in those formative years(and later) of the company. He was one of the very few Ford executives whom Ford maintained a personal friendship with. Ford even sold him land that was owned by his grandfather to build a house just north of Fair Lane. (What is now part of Rouge Park)
Galamb was arrogant & pompous, but from everything I've researched, he didn't mince words while Owen Bombard recorded his Reminisces in Henry Ford's old bedroom at Fair Lane.
To get a feel for Ford history, you have to look beyond the cars and look into the people that helped build the company.
Magazine clippings from the era are neat to look at, but I call their accuracy into question. Do you believe everything you read in a current Car & Driver or Newsweek magazine?
I'll respond to the latter first. No, I wouldn't believe "everything I read" in any magazine, book, or probably any other source. However, when news piece after news piece concur, over a period of time, then it has my attention. Besides, what are the alternatives. Recollections and history repeated over and over again, with nothing to back it up in the way of accounts, documents or other corroboration?
As for 1,000 cars being "profitable" (or not). We don't know (yet). One would think with the board meeting information and account records someone at the time the Model K was being built would have made mention of the "dismal" economic performance of the K. No such record(s) seem to exist. However we know many car makers produced less cars, and stayed in business for years. We also know Ford Motor Company stayed in business (made money) while selling similar numbers with the previous models. With only 500 Model Bs sold, and about 800 Model Cs, Ford made money through 1904 and 1905.
What's more, Ford set the price for the Model K. I would like to believe they had an idea of how much to charge for the car to be profitable. Also, Ford put much more in the model at the end of 1906 when upgrading the car, and also lead with advertising (I did a quick "check" wondering how many Ford ads led with the K, how many with the N/R/S, and how many ads led with both. Of the first twenty ads I checked for 1907, seven led with the K, seven with the Model N/R, and the remaining six ads led with with both).
Seems as far as advertising, Ford was content to advertise both equally. Why is that? You can't have it both ways and say he led with the K because it was a poor seller. Both were marketed the same. This suggests to me both were viable models that pulled their own weight.
Isn't it possible the much more expensive K actually made significant money for Ford?
The primary number of parts are similar (one motor, one transmission, one differential) to the Model N. yes, the weight and pounds of material are higher for the K, but actual assembly time and total materials not so much more compared with the sales price. We know the chassis for the Model N was about $200. The cost of the Model K chassis was a little over $400. If everything else cost two to three times as much as the Model N (for the K), and the K had more "extras" such as the magneto, the sales price of the K ($2800 in 1907) is still many times more than the Model N ($600 - $650). Without more information, it is possible to argue the K may have made quite a lot more per unit than the Model N.
These are all things to be investigated, but as of now I don't have the answer, and apparently neither does anyone else.
Yes, the race was sponsored by Guggenheim and the ACA. Henry Ford was one of the few contestants that finally entered the race, and the only car maker with two entries. The reason the Fords were numbered one and two is because Ford had the two first entries. Ford also notified dealers along the route and had them prepared to assist the Ford entries. Ford also had an extensive dealer network in place and this allowed quite a lot of assistance during the course of the race (and probably led to the eventual disqualification of the original winner, car number two).
I think to suggest that a Model K was chosen as the Pace Car, with no involvement by Ford is a tough sell. Otherwise, the Model K was such a well respected car it was selected by the ACA or Guggenheim people based solely on it's merits as a premier automobile odd the day.
Can't have it both ways, which is it? Ford had a hand in selecting it, or it was such a great car that even after a full year beyond the sales date, the K was chosen as Pace Car. Also, Gerrie was the race official, not the driver. Gerrie's comments mention the "six", and lead one to believe it wasn't his personal car (I've searched the driver name, but not found any other connections to Model K before or after the race).
Anyway, many "coincidences". After enough coincidences, it seems reasonable to search further.
The profits of the Model N were made more easily because Ford was manufacturing more components of the car.
The Model K required that every component be purchased from an outside supplier. Ford did not make any part of that car, only assembled it. Coupled with the recall and repair of the 1906 Model K, the low sales (less than 1 car per day on average) there can be little room for profit.
Couple that with the fact that Ford Motor company states that the car did not make a profit, there seems little reason to even consider the question.
It has been a great discussion Rob, and I am glad you made me re - read a lot of the books on my shelves to reinforce what I thought I remembered.
The newspaper story with the popularity contest is fun, but again very strange. Another observation - Elmore placed ahead of Pierce? I am one of the few people who has seen a 1907 Elmore. It is a very large two cycle car. Not too well designed, very strange, and unreliable. Why would anyone vote for one of those?
Pierce and Thomas cars of 1907 compare well to each other, because of course they were built in the same town. Both were big, well designed, reliable as hell. Pierce made virtually every part of their car save the tires and the brass lamps, so their unit profit capability was far greater than an assembler like Ford.
There seems to be many opinions about the K going around, thought I might as well add mine. As no one has come up with a direct quote from Henry Ford that he didn’t like this car, I have a few comments.
First: it seems there are quite a few pictures of Henry in and around the Model K.If Henry had an extreme dislike for this car, I don't think he would have used it or have been seen around it. In later years with the Lincoln, I can only remember seeing him in one picture promoting the Lincoln, and that was a Zephyr. For his personal use it was always a regular Ford. My thought is if he didn’t like the K, he would have had nothing to do with it. These negative opinions from Sorenson, etc., are from maybe the fact they didn’t like the car themselves. There are many opinionated publishers out there that don’t know the facts and publish inaccuracies, and even the news media for that matter. I see nothing direct from Henry Ford himself.
Second: to correct history, the facts that you have found, should be compiled and published for history sake. If for nothing more than a fair and balanced review of this car. I think that once you’re done compiling all the information you can find, you should seriously consider publishing it. I know you mentioned there wouldn’t be that much interest, but if you notice all the responses you have received on this forum, there is interest. There are small publishers that could deal reasonably with publishing this. I’ve seen families publish inexpensive books about their family history for other family members.
As far as some of the severe negativity that has been posted on this thread, some people enjoy tearing down what other people do. Every time they can get you going, you have made their day. I have a relative like this. He is an expert on anything; all you have to do is mention a topic and he will tell you so!
Dan, good points. As for the previous post, again, nothing concrete says the Model K did not make money. Nothing at all.
This bit is from a three page story in "Cycle and Automobile" magazine. I find it interesting that Henry Ford (or a representative) interviewed for this three page story about Ford Motor Company would choose to bring up the Ford "six" if the car were unprofitable, or "hated". I know if I'm doing a story for the media about my business, the last thing I'm going to mention is a business failure. This article is written in December 1909. A short period after the Model K production run, yet recent enough that recollections are still fresh.
Also, interesting that the Ford six "were turned out in large numbers in 1907" according to the story. Doesn't seem the K is considered a "failure" by Ford yet.
"The newspaper story with the popularity contest is fun, but again very strange. Another observation - Elmore placed ahead of Pierce? I am one of the few people who has seen a 1907 Elmore........."
Royce, if you read about the contest "thoroughly" you'll recall, the rules said the winner of the contest would receive any automobile of their choice COSTING $3000 or LESS.
Pierce did not make a car costing less than $4000 in 1907 (and that $4000 car was only a 30 hp 4 cyl auto). The few contestants who chose Pierce were wasting their "choice" because they could not have received the Pierce had they won anyway.
This Automotive Trade Journal contest is not just "fun". It gives probably our only true unbiased survey of the cars a significant number of respondents (over 6500) would have chosen to win (own). There is no other such survey in existence that I'm aware of.
This is an opportunity to reach back in time and examine a survey of American Automobiles and the choices people at that moment in time made. That's remarkable, and regardless of whether a person likes the results, tremendous information to find.
Below are the Pierce cars offered for 1907:
Another piece of 'hearsay' if you wish. And comment on the unprofitable Model K.
From: 'The Big Race', Jack Scott p. 31
Remembrances of C.J. Smith, employed by Henry Ford in 1906, at Piquette, running boring mill , made cams for the Model B, then asked by Ford to join the experimental department. His comments on the early work of the Model T.
"The main innovations in the Model T were the transmission and the magneto. At that time Flanders was there as production boss. A man named Thomas Walborn was also there. When the Model T came out, Flanders and Walborn didn't like it. They wanted a bigger car. I think though that the drop in sales when the Model K was put on the market was the final convincing argument for the light car."
I agree with Dan's comments about compiling the information on the Model K once you feel you have an accurate, authentic and complete account. It doesn't matter that it be published in the formal sense, just so it is somewhere so folks can reference it. Nor does it matter that there are few folks who actually own or desire to own a Model K.
I submitted my article on the Perfecto not because there would be many readers who would actually restore a Perfecto, but because it furthers the general knowledge base about the Model T.
You've done a ton of research on the Model K and it'd be a shame not to organize it and make it available to the general public, along with your impressions.
You seem to be able to write well and I think you could put together an impressive account.
Richard and Dan,
Yes I hope to organize all this "stuff" at some point. Fortunately I'm still in the "finding" phase of this (that's the fun part, the organization will be the tough part for me ).
Dan, like a lot of things in life, it's probably easy to find someone who said something about the Model K. What I'm relying on is a "preponderance" of period information that seems to paint a different picture of the Model K than what we've all heard.
As with all car models, including those Ford built, they have a "shelf life", then it's time to move on. This was particularly true in the pre teen days of automobiles. I've noticed the K was one of the first six cylinder cars in 1906. Then with refinement, the 1907 K did extremely well in competitions ( and in the "survey"). By 1908, there were many six cylinder cars available, and most with more hp than the K. This all transpired in less than two and a half years.
Meanwhile, more and more of Fords efforts were directed to finishing the Model T. So, the Ks time had come and went. But during those couple of years, the car made a significant impact, quite a different story than what we've heard over the years.
I shouldn't have "given you a pass" above when you said:
"The newspaper story with the popularity contest is fun, but again very strange. Another observation - Elmore placed ahead of Pierce? I am one of the few people who has seen a 1907 Elmore. It is a very large two cycle car. Not too well designed, very strange, and unreliable. Why would anyone vote for one of those? "
I came across this I wonder what the owner of the Elmore you saw would think of your description? newspaper article featuring an Elmore. Looks like a large, very attractive car for the day. I also captured the specs on it. I'm not sure how your able to dismiss the car as "not too well designed, very strange, and unreliable".
Seems you know an incredible amount about just about every old car. I don't, so must rely on period reports and information. Anyway, the other reason the Elmore "beat" the Pierce in the contest was because, as I said above, the Pierce cost too much to be eligible.
.I wonder what the owner of the Elmore you saw would think of your description?
You are right, I do knoww quite a bit about a lot of old cars. And I know very little about others.
There can't be more than one or two 1906 Elmore owners, so if all of them disagree with me then I am still welcome to my opinion, and they theirs.
The same guy owns a lot of pre - 1910 cars. The Elmore is not on his list of cars to drive very often, if ever, even though it is in operable condition. He has some stunning Packards and Overlands that see a lot of use.
The real test of a car's success is sales. The Elmore is a very strange car, and mercifully it was defunct before WWI started.
I've seen a Elmore on a tour several years ago. I believe it a was a 2 cylinder, 2 cycle. A much smaller car than the ones shown above. It didn't get through even half of the first day of touring. Maybe it wasn't well maintained but, for whatever the reason, it was a dog.
Royce, good points (you don't know how hard it is for me to type that ). However, if it's all about sales numbers, where does that leave your "beloved" Pierce models? Also, doesn't speak well for Rolls Royce (bet you love that marquee name) either, less than 500 per year.
RR is an interesting contrast to the Model T and Ford. Over about the same time span as the T (Ghost, 1907-1925), Rolls also only made one model, the Ghost. The only difference, they only built 7874 cars over the same time span Ford built 15 million Ts.
Jerry, the Elmores shown are the ones the contestants were likely choosing. The contest rules said the winner would receive the car of their choice costing up to $3000.
As with most car makers, Elmore offered several models.
From my iPhone
Pierce lost money on some of their cars due to poor sales. That doesn't mean they were bad cars, or poorly designed. It just means they sold in numbers that did not make economic sense.
On the other hand Pierce made a tremendous amount of money on a few cars sometimes, notably the 65 and 66 horsepower models. They sold 66HP chassis as high as $6000 when Packard sold chassis for no more than $3000. For many of the world's rulers the Pierce (or later the Pierce Arrow) was the only choice.
The White House had at least one Pierce in the garage from the Taft Administration until 1936 or thereabouts. Not because the Pierce was fastest, or had the best power to weight ratio, or because it won any contest. Because it was the most prestigious car in America.
By the way Jim's Elmore is an air cooled three cylinder. Seems like it is something like 45 horsepower or thereabouts. The car is sized like a 1906 Pierce Great Arrow touring, in other words, huge.
Jim must own the smaller, lighter, less expensive Elmore. It is the 3 cylinder car, and the touring had a shorter wheelbase, and weighed 1750 lbs. vs. the 2200 lbs. also, the horsepower was much less, 24 vs. 35 hp for the "big" Elmore that the contestants were surely choosing. The price was also much less for the 3 cylinder car, at $1750 compared with $2500 for the larger much more powerful car.
If this car seemed "huge" to you, then the one the contestants were choosing would have been "really huge" in comparison. The car you are comparing is not the right one. Probably not many of the "big Elmore" made, and maybe none of them still exist (as with most of the large early model cars from the period).
Not anywhere near 45 horsepower. Maybe a little "over reach"? I don't appreciate having my research denigrated and challenged, then having incorrect or misstated information as the "counter" to my work. Again, more fact checking before posting would be helpful.
The three cylinder Elmore is more similar to a Model T than a "huge" Pierce Great Arrow.
I believe the three cylinder is the biggest Elmore . So far as I know they never offered a four in 1906 - 7.
Do read before posting. The info I provided immediately above your post (with pictures no less) show the Elmore cars for 1907. It also clearly says the $2500 Elmore is the 4 cylinder, 35 hp, 110 inch wheelbase, 2200 lbs car.
Clearly shown below that is the less expensive, 24 hp 1750 lbs three cylinder 104 inch wheelbase Elmore, selling for $1750.
Once again, betrayed by your "superior knowledge of old cars", eh?
I hate it when that happens.
The Elmore ad claims "self starting engine". In 1907? Did they use a "prest-o-start" system, using acetylene?
Not sure, their ads don't describe the system well. That would be my guess.
No valves, rollers, lifts, springs, or cams.
I would love to see one of their engines. Did any of these survive???
Royce knows of one. Other than the fact he has the "little" Elmore identified, it's still the original 3 cylinder 2 cycle car. It would be good if he would give us a good estimate of how the car appears compared to any other $1500 to $2,000 car of the period.
Royce, I know your "out there", how about it?
Sorry, my "real job" keeps me from spending much time thinking about Model T's and Elmores all the time every day. The car I saw is huge so it must be a four cylinder. You cannot begin to call anything about this Elmore "little".
Perhaps I misunderstood Jim's little talk on Elmore history while we were looking at his magnificent collection. This car is certainly well over 2000 pounds. Sitting right next to a 1909 Rambler, the two are similar in height, width and enormity.
I may have pictures of it, although the Packard Twin Sixes and all the other more successful brass cars in his massive facilities werre of more interest to me at the time.
Charles Sorensen reported the the Model N body - the first one ever made - cost $50 in labor and materials when made in house at the Piquette Plant.
CR Wilson company (the suppliers of the Model K body to Ford) bid $152 per unit to sell the Model N bodies to Ford.
Eventually the price was negotiated to $72 per unit.
We can assume Wilson made the same 150% profit on Model K bodies that he planned to make with his initial bid on Model N bodies.
So the unit cost of each Model N body was at a net savings of $79 less per car compared to Wilson's original bid, all of which is direct profit advantage compared to the Model K. There were many other ways that Ford cut costs on the Model N, this is only one example. Just the amount of labor per car to assemble the Model K would have been twice that of a Model N, due to the sheer complexity and number of components.
You can read the entire account here starting around pages 77 - 83. :
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=my%20forty%20years%20with%20ford&source=w eb&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbooks.google.com%2Fbooks%2Fabout% 2FMy_Forty_Years_With_Ford.html%3Fid%3Dfv9WPvAXpGMC&ei=ulQKUaunFsqY2AWy54GADQ&us g=AFQjCNHZchuIciWnGUR5YMeafA2eLBaxqw
Why do you "assume" Ford "whittled" down the body cost from Wilson on the N, and not on the K. If I understand your post correctly (not sure i do)?
Regardless, we know Ford was charging $300 for a replacement body for the Model K, and $100 for the Model N (I thought it would be more for the Model K) thanks to Hap's report above. We also are able to "assume" Ford built profit into their retail parts price.
As for assembly time, doesn't matter much. Labor was relatively cheap, and we have accounts where the Model N is assembled in about 30 minutes. We also have accounts saying eight to ten Model Ks were being assembled per day.
Whether you have "time" to post makes no difference to me. When you represent your points and opinions as fact, and dismiss the points and opinions of others, that does make "difference" to me. You have held yourself up as an "expert" and said you know an immense about brass cars earlier.
You don't get the "luxury" of representing information as "fact" to "prove" me wrong, then not be called on it when the "facts" you post are incorrect. If you don't have time to check your "facts" before posting them, well.......don't post it.
Also, I tried to open the link, however the highlighted link wouldn't open.
I need to get ready for my "day job" too, I'll look later.
I was able to open the pages recommended on the other link. Following is the response and a few "conclusions" from the K body thread begun by K number 2 owner Bob Trevan:
I read the pages suggested. If Ford "whittled" down the price for the Model N body, wouldn't he have done the same with the K?
We do know (thanks to Hap's work) that the Model N body costs $100 and the K body $300 on the 1907 parts list. I guess that means Ford built in about a 40% "profit margin" into that particular item (body, dividing $100 part cost by $72 Wilson charge stated in the Sorenson book). If we are able to "assume" the same margin for the K body (don't know that we are able to make this "reach", but it's an interesting theory), then the $300 parts cost might indicate the cost from the body maker was about $220 (per K body).
If there is any accuracy to this "theory" (I don't know that there is), then we would have a body cost of $220 and the Dodge Brothers book saying the K chassis cost was $437.50. That means we now have a possible combined cost for the K of two major components (body and chassis) with a total of about $660.
If this works out, we may find a nice profit existed for Ford from the sale of Model K. If so, there goes another "myth" about the K, that it lost money.
Charles Sorensen's book can be found easily using the magic of Google, just as you found the newpaper articles that you started the thread with. Go to http://www.google.com and put in the search words "My Forty years with Ford" in the search engine instead of "Model K Ford" like you normally would.
You have "that way about you". You have no idea the number of searches I've done, and certainly not just google. You are a small person, and I despise your attempts to belittle anyone who doesn't agree with you.
Do you think before you post? Are you an absolute jerk, or just so inept writing that you are unaware how idiotic your comments sometimes are?
As I've said before, I've searched a "multitude" of bits, pieces, and snippets to find the hundreds of Ford articles and accounts I've produced. You, on the other hand, reference (sometimes) one or two books that have been out there for years. I'm tired of your BS.
I try to keep emotion out of it, and you will find my posts given with due respect. I defend the history as I see it. I don't have anything against you or anyone else who believes differently than I do. I am simply stating what I believe. Notice I have not bothered to respond to your use of derogatory names, slurs, and such. This is about history, and it is important to me.
If you think you have something noteworthy that reveals an entirely reversed history of the Model K, why not publish an article in a peer reviewed publication? This happens to be an opinion forum of the Model T Ford Club. Your opinion gets equal time with the rest of us.