Over the last several years there have been a few threads on the forum about a six cylinder Ford Model NRS car. I stumbled on the article below, discussing Henry Ford's joke he was playing on larger car owners by passing their big fast cars with a "little Ford Runabout". The artlcle proceeds to explain that it looks like a typical runabout, but actually has a six cylinder engine. The article appears in the July 1908 "Automobile" magazine.
The only legitimate six cylinder runabout I'm aware of now resides in Australia. In all likelihood, this is the same car that Henry Ford is seen driving in 1908. This also provides some evidence that maybe Henry did not have such a severe disdain for six cylinder cars if he is still experimenting with this car in July 1908 (remember, he has already been seen driving the T prototype around Detroit by this time).
What a hoot! It was "possessed of practically unlimited speed and power". The world's first hot rod?
Henry Ford was recorded as saying that car racing began as soon as the second automobile was built!
Many forget, Ford's early success was a result of his racing wins. Henry must have been somewhat of a daredevil, such as setting a speed record on the ice of Lake Michigan.
He is the head of the largest auto producer when this article is written, and he is "blowing the socks off" bigger cars. He is 43 years old at this point, and still "racing around"'in this souped up Model N.
Clive Cussler is an author and car collector. In some of his books he writes about old Fords with 6 bangers, I always thought he didn't know what he was talking about--guess I was wrong, Don.
Actually, Ford raced on Lake St. Clair, the smallest of the Great Lakes. Story is he got up to 92 miles per hour or so and couldn't stop. Finally hit a snow bank and tipped Ford out of the car. That is when the Ford Motor Company directors told Henry "no more racing."
All American Racers has a short item on 999 and the race on the ice.
Ahhhh...a high speed beauty!
I remember seeing a 6-cyl NRS (just don't remember which Model is was..I think it was an S) in Colorado maybe about 1994. I thought that owner said he got it out of the Henry Ford Museum when they were getting rid of their excess vehicles. Later I heard it went to NZ/OZ.
That is the N pictured above. It had an S body, and the "new" owner replaced that body with the one shown. It's hard to tell from the angle of the pic, but the hood is quite a bit longer than a standard NRS hood. Obviously the frame is longer too.
The owner told me at Hershey that he toured the car last summer. Also on the same tour was one of the Australian Ks. That would be an interesting pair of Fords touring together.
Thank you for starting this thread and also for all the work you have done in finding information for my car.
I thought that I would put some engine photos up to show how different the engine is from N R and S's
Can anyone tell me, why on this car is the exhaust manifold upside down like the early K? Because all the trouble they had in 1906 with the K's cooking the magnito which was straight underneath the exhaust manifold?
And when you look at the engine you can see that Henry had made provision for magnito, the transmission frame is different to the standard transmission frame and also the crank case at the back to match up to the transmission frame.
Good to see you posting here. Also good to see that your car is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Best regards, John
Some interesting things about your engine. I see the N style oiler, as opposed to the R/S McCord oiler. It looks like the timer is "standard". If so, I'd say Ford realized the problems with the NRS timer (back of camshaft) and made the correction.
Also, the timer body looks just like our original K timer.
It's intriguing to think of Henry Ford driving this car around Detroit "outrunning" larger more expensive cars. It appears from the articles and ads that have survived that Ford tried many different variations before settling with the alphabet cars we all know of.
There is information of Ford prototypes at car shows that never make it to production, such as a 4 cylinder air cooled car in 1905. Cars with strange wheelbase and HP combinations, and a few examples like your 6 cylinder N that survived intact.
It's unfortunate all of Henry Ford's inventions/innovations weren't cataloged and documented for future knowledge. Then again, maybe that's half the fun .
Another point or two. Unlike the K, it looks like a mag would be underneath the exhaust manifold enough that it shouldn't have been a problem. I like the "stovepipe" from the carb to manifold.
Also, I wonder if they thought the intake over the exhaust manifold would help with keeping a hot consistent mixture to all the cylinders on a 6 cylinder engine?
The cylinders must be early, with the Welsh plugs and larger bosses on the left side of the engine.
Love the fine "Ford Motor Co" wording in the in the exhaust manifold sections. Do you have any closer pics? Did the K's have that or only the very early K's?
The manifold looks slightly tapered, as the later Model Ns. Our N (#3) has a non tapered manifold (they must have quickly discovered this reduced HP).
You may want to look up the author of "The 5 dollar day"
Most don't realize it but he did his research as part of a Doctoral thesis and was I believe actually a BFM "Fellow" for a while.
Where he differed from other researchers was he did not just rely on the official archives, he had an idea and ran it down with some success.
It was common in the era for people to keep day journals, personal day journals, and he took all of the brand names, the shop supervisor names etc. and went looking for family progeny. In many cases he found what he was looking for.
He was the one who was able to pin-point to the day when the individual department assembly lines happened...and also confirm that the Model 'X' was indeed a reality and not a pipe dream...the radial engine just didn't get out of the lab because they couldn't make it work. He did both of these through day journal correlation from those actually involved.
FWIW, just an idea.
I like the idea of looking under rocks not formerly looked under.
A new way I'm finding "tidbits" is searching using specific expressions for cars we no longer use. One example is when I search Model K Ford, the results are limited. However, when I saw Ford ads referring to Model K as Ford six, Ford 6-40 etc, a "whole new world" opened up in online searches.
This is how I came across the bit about a six cylinder light runabout (Model N 6 cyl now owned by Dave D.).
This ad is another example. From a 1908 Horseless Age magazine, it mentions "Ford Model L, S and R". The "L" is probably a typo for "N", although by 1908 the Model N is the highest selling car in America, and proof reading should have caught it. I have found two ads referring to "Model M". One said "Model M and N" in the same sentence.
All I'm sure of is, "I know that I don't know" so much about early Ford history.
There you go...I for one have always felt the entire 'letter' series just had to have existed...even if it was a one shot or two shot wonder...finding them is going to be the difficult task as apparently Ford strove to bury their non-successes.
Very interesting - and incredible that the sixcylinder "N" have survived.
What I find remarkable is the 6 cylinder Model N that Henry Ford drove was sold off by The Henry Ford Museum.
I agree. Quite a few important items were let go over the years. We have a "spare" Model K engine that was housed at Ford. Some very unusual engines, such as a T 6 cylinder prototype were sold off (some at The Museum of Speed in Lincoln NE).
Great 1906 article about the 6 cylinders from E R Thomas.
You must have great eyesight to pick the Ford Motor Co on the exhaust manifold of the 6 cylinder.
Rob you may be able to answer this for Mark,did the K Model Ford have the Ford Motor Co stamped into the exhaust manifold or if there is any early K Fords can we look and see,
Bob T you have the earliest K in the world, is there a stamping of the Ford Motor Co on your exhaust manifold?
Mark the exhaust manifold is made in 2 parts so that it can expand with the heat of the engine and there is a Ford Motor Co stamped on the both halves, we have posted a few pictures of some of the other numbers and letters stamped on the manifold.
Has anyone out there ever seen Ford Motor Co stamped on any other Ford alphabet car?
Mark, the first thing you spoke about is the welsh plugs to the right side of the top of the barrels,I wonder if anyone knows why if we are saying this 6 cylinder car was made in 1908 why would Ford make brand new patterns to cast 3 barrels when he has already been making the same barrels for 3 years with no welsh plugs?
I have added some pictures of the welsh plugs also.
Thanks for the photos, Dave. That "Ford Motor Co" certainly is fine!
Hope you find out more on the history of this beauty.
I guess I thought it is a 1908 due to the article about Henry being seen driving the six in the spring/summer of 08. It seems to me if it was built early and Henry is still "playing" with the car in 1908, that there would have been more instances where it was mentioned, either in Ford history or independent sightings like the article.
What really impresses me is how much we still are unaware of with Pre T history.
Things we know (that I wasn't aware of earlier)
1. Ford built (at least John Wanamaker, Ford agent in New York advertised) a Model H in June, 1905.
2. Ford shows a four cylinder air cooled car , mentioned in a Feb 1904 independent article covering cars shown at the Detroit Auto Show.
3. The six cylinder NRS not only is mentioned, there is a beautiful example still touring "down under".
4. In Oct, 1907, three "mystery" Fords are displayed at the
Grand Central Palace show. They are listed as being 4 cylinder, 20 HP 97 inch wheelbase cars, also listing storage battery (but not magneto). Listed as shown are a runabout, touring and cab (taxi). This is a full year before the 100 inch wheelbase T hits the marketplace.
5. There are minutes from a Ford meeting board meeting designating a "Ford Delivery Wagon" as Model E for 1905. However, by the time the car is sold, the letter designation is not used.
Lot's of "mysteries" still out there.....
Anyone who is interest in copies of some of the ads and specs supporting these points may find them on "The Early Ford Registry" site:
Just scroll down to the threads mentioning these items.
I don't think earlier Fords are OT at all, Rob. They are part of the evolution of the 1927 T, just as much as the 1908 T is.
I want to stay "politically correct" .
Like the pictures. That car is great, and to think Henry Ford drove it! I love the early 1903-09 Fords.