(I''m posting this on the Early Ford Registry too)
I'm gathering information for a future article for "The Early Ford Registry" and have some interesting articles that I'm using to draw conclusions about Ford Models N, R, S and K vehicles, the direct predecessors to Model T.
In the process (and because of my biases) I'm coming to the conclusion that both the NRS Models and the K were very good vehicles, and very well received by the press and public by 1907 and 1908. THIS INCLUDES MODEL K! (Ask the man who owns one , OK, I stole that from Packard). Also, I'm reaching the conclusion that Henry Ford did not dislike the K, instead, I think it fit his "need for speed".
Below are several articles that mention racing results that either Models K, or Model K and N performed very well in, and were then published in various automobile and news magazines and papers. What I've found is that the "Ford Six" appears in many races and endurance trials, and not only finishes, but often finishes first or second, often beating much larger, more expensive contemporaries.
I'll try to mention each accomplishment after each article, since my scanning/posting skills are limited .
Hope you enjoy.
In this race, Frank Kulick wins a 24 hour endurance, setting several records, and beating several larger high dollar autos in the process. Ford used the results of this race for several months in ads promoting Ford cars.
In the above race, a "Ford Six" scores a perfect score over a two day course, capturing one of seven prize cups. Also, on the last page, the results of a different contest, the Rhode Island Hill Climb, two Fords (Model N/R) place first and second for cars costing under $1,000.
In this contest, cars are "sealed" and no parts are to be adjusted, changed or tampered with on a lengthy reliability run. Two Ford Sixes are entered, one being the pilot car pictured. Unfortunately, the Ford Pilot Car develops carburetor trouble and doesn't finish. However, the other Model K finishes with
A perfect score.
This is a weekly review "tour" where an automobile is toured over a lengthy route then reviewed. This, the ninth tour in the series, uses a Ford Six. The tour travels over hills and rough roads. It ends without any problems, and provides another good public review of the reliability of the Model K. The second picture is a blown up view of the Model K used. It is the only photo I've found showing Ford script on the front of a K radiator.
The above article describes a two day race meet in New Orleans. On the top right column, a "Ford six" wins the five mile race for cars costing less than $3,000.
Above is the "Connecticut Endurance Run". A 174 mile test. The only Model K (Ford Six") entered finished with a perfect score. At the end of the article mention is made that all six cylinder cars entered scored a perfect score.
Now, for anyone still following (this sure became longer than I expected), an article about Edsel Ford driving a Model K. At this point, Edsel is nine years old. Again, if Henry Ford didn't care for the Model K, I doubt he would offer up his nine year old son to operate the car, in this case before a British reporter.
Finally, I'll finish with This photo and story from the Ocean to Ocean race of 1909. While a 1909 Model T won the race (and was later disqualified) I was surprised to learn that a Ford Model K was selected as the Pace Car to lead the contestants from New York to St. Louis. It seems to me that if Henry Ford did not care for the Model K, he would not have allowed (or chosen) it to lead the contestants (including two of his new Model Ts) to St. Louis, carrying a race official.
I'm adding a portion of the story from the Ocean to Ocean race that includes comments from the race master, riding in the Ford 6-40 shown above.
"The start was made at 3 P.M. June 1st from City Hall, New York City. President Taft at Washington touched a golden key which simultaneously opened the Alaska Yukon-Pacific Exposition at Seattle and started the race from New York. Mayor McClellan announced the start with a shot fired from a golden pistol. The race was on.
A Ford Model K6-40 roadster had been selected as official pacemaker's car to St. Louis, and this car, driven by F. W. Teves and carrying Pacemaker John Gerrie, preceded the cars on this part of the journey.
By referring to the rules as pointed on page 24 of this book [see below] it will be noted tha the first day's run terminated at Poughkeepsie - only 73 miles - but it lay in the mountains and the 3 hours and 40 minutes required to traverse that distance reflects credit on all the cars. The Ford car No. 1 arrived there with the Pacemaker - the other entrants all arrived within 20 minutes.
The run to St. Louis arranged by daily schedule passed without incident unless the arrival of both the Fords together and from two to six hours in advance of any competitor at the various controls can be cited as interesting incidents.
Buffalo to Cleveland, 196 miles, was made by the two Ford cars in seven hours and 30 minutes, these cars passing all contestants and arriving at Cleveland one hour and 15 minutes ahead. Then leaving Cleveland, all contestants together and in the rain, the 125 miles to Toledo was a drive through the mud. Here the light Ford cars had the advantage, and arrived in Toledo ahead of schedule, the only cars to arrive on time and four hours ahead of [the] Shawmut, the next to arrive.
Quoting Pacemaker, John Gerrie:
"The tenacity of the little Ford contestants was an eye-opener to me," said Mr. Gerrie. "Though I made the pace I a six cylinder car that took the grades as easily as the levels I found it impossible ever to get away from the midget competitors. On the famous Tribes Hill in the Mohawk Valley and the heartbreaking Camillus Hill near Syracuse, Ford car No. 2 actually beat the pacemaker to the top." - N.Y. Herald"
Thank you very much, Rob! Even when I was being told how lousy the model K was forty years ago, they fascinated me. I am gladdened to know the truth about them now.
Drive carefully, and enjoy the holidays! W2
I meant to also mention I enjoyed the part about the model K filled Henry's need for speed. Everything I had read years ago on the subject indicated that Henry raced early on out of necessity. Recently reading of his exploits with the six cylinder model N and this seems to paint a different picture of him.
No doubt Henry did everything he could to try and make a success out of the K. It didn't work out to be profitable in spite of his best efforts.
A Locomobile was a favorite with the ladies.
Where did you come up with that? The K sold more than most large cars of the period. It is consistently coming in first and second in time trials and reliability tests. I've laid out a detailed chronicle of consistency and excellence of this vehicle, supported by third party reports.
Those aren't just Ford ads above, they are all news and sporting reports. Ford repeatedly performs well. The K was a good seller, and Henry promoted right up through the advent of the Model T.
Malcolmsen was out by early 1906, if Henry wanted to "pull the plug" on the K, or if it "just wasn't working out", he would have done so well before mid 1908, when the last Ford K and N/S ads appear. And I guarantee, if it wasn't "working out", he sure as hell wouldn't have had the K leading the way in the spring of 1909 (when most cars would have been obsolete as a two year old model) on the Ocean to Ocean tour as the pilot vehicle.
You are entitled to your opinion, but without specifics, it's just that, opinion. Anyone can "follow the pack", and recite history the way it's been reported, but without facts that doesn't make it accurate.
If this seems personal, it is. Since first riding in Tim Kelly's Model K, and having seen the workmanship and capabilities of our K first hand, I found it hard to buy into "conventional wisdom", that the K was a poorly made car. And, since researching first hand accounts, I'm convinced that it was a remarkable car.
And why not, Henry Ford built the K using the same principles he used with the Model N. Light for it's class, good weight to horsepower ratio (allowing use of an inexpensive and easy to use two speed transmission), best materials available (vanadium steel) and best price for the class of vehicle. (Other six cylinders cost $3500 and up).
I have a challenge for you. Show me five or six other comparably priced six cylinder cars with more sales than the K.
There, how about that!
Now, Merry Christmas!
I don't disagree the K was well built and successful compared to its peers. It just was not successful compared to the NRS - and Henry could see that his future was better served by building a single Ford model that could replace the horse and buggy. Building a niche car that appealed to the well heeled gentry could make a small profit. Henry wanted a big profit.
that's why there were just a thousand or so Model K Fords built.
Expensive six cylinder cars did not present the market base that the cheaper car did. Compare Wal Mart profits to Saks Fifth Avenue.
A few more tidbits (I've taken my meds, everything is getting better ).
The first is an ad by Holley placed in one of the 1907 auto journals. It is a copy of a letter from Henry Ford complimenting Holley for their mag used on the Model K during the "win" in the 24 hour distance race won by the K.
Seems to me another company wouldn't spend advertising money associating themselves with a vehicle (Model K) that was not accepted, or even known by the motoring public.
Would you advertise that a part was used on a Gremlin, or Pacer? I doubt it.
Next two "news reports", one touting the good showing of both Models K and N in trials in Ireland., the second mentioning that a Ford six came in fifth in a test in England. In fact, it appears the Ford K placed highest among American cars, with a REO placing behind it. It seems the Model,K,was performing well internationally too.
Finally, most of the Ford advertisements from 1906-1908 lead with, or give equal billing to, the K over the NRS. I suspect the K was the "lead" because it could attract the curious, and they would leave the dealership with the much more practical and inexpensive NRS.
A few examples:
This ad is promoting the Ford K victory in the 24 hour race mentioned earlier.
Not sure what more I'm able to provide to support my theory. However, we can always believe what we've heard, because that's what we've always been told. The Ford six is on recorded beating many of it's larger, much more expensive competitors, such as Thomas, Pope, Cadillac, Marmon,and many more.
..oK, enough for tonight.
Opps,,wrong ad for the last one, it's the T ad using the 1909 victory on the "Ocean to Ocean" run. A few more Pre T ads:
I don't disagree with your last post. In fact, I'm more convinced the T was a combination of the T and K (I used to believe the T was primarily a bigger better N). Now I'm more inclined to believe the K provided some input, magneto, larger, well built and strong.
In 1908/09, the T was not a small car (light weight, but not small. It was well,built, had excellent horsepower to weight ratio, and at $850 by far not the "cheapest" car out there.
Below is the 1909 Auro price list. As you'll notice (second pic is a "blowup") the T in long way from the "cheapest" car on the market.
Having ridden quite a bit in Rob's K at the Savannah tour, I have to say that I was very impressed with it. Power was excellent, ride was excellent, the car was smooth and quiet. I dunno how it measured up against the other cars of the day but I found it to be a very nice car.
Hey, the 1909 Model T Touring was more expensive than both a Lincoln and a Cadillac!
I don't think I said anything about the Model T being cheapest car of its time at introduction. It clearly was not the cheapest car on the market. It was sold in an entirely different market segment than the Model K. There were a lot more customers for a $850 car than there were for a $2500 car.
The N/R/S was also not the cheapest car on the market. But the market spoke, and many thousands more of them sold than the K. As time went on, The Model T outsold other cars in the same price range such as Buick and Huppmobile. This led to further price drops, due to the economies of scale in some part but also due to the ease of manufacture of the Model T.
I see the Model K as more of an evolutionary dead end for Henry Ford.
I find it interesting that most (all major) automakers were making more than one model. Ford followed this "business model, from 1904 (Models A and B) through 1908. At one time Ford was rolling out three models at one time with the F, N and K for a brief time.
After reading Ford advertising and independent reports, it appears Ford initially intended to produce Model N, S, K and T in the spring/summer of 1908, announcing in the fall of 1907 that a "new, light touring and taxi/Towncar would be available in early 1908. Examples shown at a few fall auto shows appeared to be the Model S style touring car (listed as a 20 hp/97 in wheelbase car).
Then, as we know, Ford produced one Model, although with many body variations (and a truck) until acquiring Lincoln in the early 20's.
The ad below shows a blowup of the ad telling consumers to "wait" until 1908 for the "new" model, in addition to the "standard Ford models.
I guess I don't understand your point. Are you trying to saay the Model K was successful and that Ford was foolish to have abandoned it? I don't see it that way. The K was not the top seller of its 40 HP class, or of luxury cars in general. Success in the auto business is measured in profits.
No, my point is, both the K and NRS were successful in their respective classes. If only small car makers were successful, Maxwell, Orient, Waltham and some of the other obscure automakers would have survived much longer.
As Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and others proved, multi model lines were successful. In fact, when a model became obsolete or out of favor with the buying public, different models might help a company survive as they change the failing model.
Bottom line, I am arriving at the conclusion that the Model K wasn't a financial or operational failure. In fact, the production numbers are quite respectable for the large car market, and the K performed admirably in speed and reliability contests.
Lastly, I think the Model T is a bit of "middle ground" between the NRS and K. A little larger and more horsepower than the N, and like the K, capable of carrying a family.
While Ford settled on was one model chassis (Model T). The platform was large and versatile to allow many different body styles, so the need for a small,and large Model was no longer necessary.
Looks like I might need to bring the "K" to Chickasha to prove my point .
Sounds a little like bait and switch to me.
Thanks for all the info you have dug up Rob. It is an interesting read.
You bring your K to Chickasha......and....
Oh never mind, the distance is too great for me to drag mine that far.
I might suggest that if the K had truly found favor with Henry, the Model T would have been far more "K like" in its design. Not that the K was a bad car or a bad value but, it clearly was not where Ford wanted to take his enterprise. As you state, the T is somewhere in between the NRS & K models. I find it to favor its NRS brethren a bit closer however. But, that's how it looks to my eye...
As NRS & K evolve into T, it's very interesting to see where Ford acknowledged his design strengths and weaknesses and either made corrections or retained existing designs.
You need to enter your K in the Greatrace, Rob, to prove it against the newer competition. It would be one of the oldest ever to enter, let alone finish. I believe it was a 1907 Lozier that Corky entered a few years ago.
Thanks for your insight, Rob. We have all been told that Henry didn't like sixes because of the Model K experience. And the fact that Ford didn't make sixes until they had to in WW-II to get some gov't contracts has often been stated in support of that notion. Your research throws a whole different light on the subject. I'm looking forward to reading your article.
Tim, did I hear "drag". Are we going to finally have that run for pink slips we were talking about at Hershey?
Jerry, I agree, the T reflects NRS more than the K. However, I think the above ads and articles provide a glimpse into the real impact of the K, a less expensive "big" car that looked,,and performed impressively.
Tim Kelly and our K at Hershey, 2012. Mine is the blue one
Rob...did you get an email from me? I didn't get my own copy to show up in my inbox. Maybe the forum jinx is at work again.
If not, send me a direct e-mail, have a note I'd like to share with you on this subject.
If there is going to be a race at Chickasha, then I better find a way to get there!!!
I have learnt a lot form this article. Keep them coming. Thanks!
Timothy, Is this what you mean by drag the ''K''.'
GOOGLE MY CAR
You got it......
The problem is......the track from Connecticut to Oklahoma is just too long for a single tank of fuel.
Maybe the airplane is a better idea and leave the K home.
.....now that's what I'm talking about.......
You should bring that K to this side of the world (after all, that's where it came from) and you, Tim and I will have a "bit of a contest".
Bob's K #2
Should have mentioned, when he "slams" that K in low, you yell " hang onto yer ass".
Well OK, maybe not......
Do i have to wear ''DRAG'' clothing.
I blew away a 1917 DODGE on that run.
Now that the wheel spin has stopped it now into top
I see you won, but he "blew your doors off", the front ones anyway . Pretty impressive for a 1906 car to beat a 17 Dodge (bigger engine, newer technology and three speed tranny).
Thanks for posting,
Sorry, didn't mean to say "bigger engine".