I keep finding more and more news stories about Model K. As I do, I'm more and more convinced that Ford Motor Company did not "disdain" the car. In fact, I believe they used the publicity I created by the car to continue Ford's reputation for making cars that "go fast"
Prove me wrong.
(Besides, what else are you going to,do,when the wife's out of town, the girls are sleeping, and there's still a full glass of wine left )
A few interesting items:
First, from the New York Sun, May 1907. This account says seven "sixes" were ordered and about forty runabouts.
This from a California story. Again, the Ford "Six" seems to command attention wherever news accounts place it. In fact, step back, take a look at the pics, and ask yourself, does this car excite? Does it make you want to imagine? It was no different in 1907. And it didn't cost $5,000.
If this doesn't stir the imagination, I don't know what will.......
Rob - Until now, I always thought that the Model K just was not a very good car. I have now changed my mind. I think it was a very good car, however, Henry Ford was also trying to build up a successful business. I think that he soon came to the realization that for his automobile manufacturing business to be successful in the long term, he needed to change his focus. I think that more and more, he saw a very limited market for the very good, but very expensive Model K. I think his thinking became more and more to provide an inexpensive but reliable car to what he saw as a HUGE an LONG LASTING market; the average working man that just needed basic and reliable transportation for work an family pleasure. So many other things seem to me to bear this out; his constant lowering of Model "T" prices, a purchase plan for his workers and the $5.00 day, and also, he had a life long desire to help the American farmer,....(read Fordson).
Yeah, I think he knew the Model K was a good car, but he saw that that car was headed for a soon to be "saturated" market, whereas the Model "T" would satisfy a HUGE American public which would pretty much guarantee a very LONG LASTING market and a very successful business,......which as we know, is exactly how it worked out with the Model "T". At any rate, this has all been very interesting Rob,.......thanks,........harold
Rob, in this picture are those balloon tires and are those demountable wheels? They don't look like clinchers. I don't know anything about a K model as you can tell, did Ford go to clinchers and then back to balloon tires later? Nice looking car and I bet that 60 mph in it was a ride to remember. Thanks for posting it. Jim
Harold and Rob, is the whole idea that Henry didn't like the Model K a myth. Well actually I read he didn't care for the six cylinder engine but never read he didn't like the K car. I can't believe I just called it a K-Car. I think the plymouth reliant was a K-Car. Sorry Rob, I couldn't help myself.
A question for Rob and any one else. We know that Henry drove Model T's as his personal car, and later that he had a '42 Ford in his garage. But the question is: During the 1906 to 1908 period when the Model K and also the Models NRS were being made, what car did Henry drive as his personal car? I've seen the picture of Clara driving an N Roadster, but was that Henry's personal car? Did Henry have a K in his garage? Does anyone know? I've never read anything on this and would appreciate anything that any of you can say about it.
So thankful that Henry Ford understood what was possible at just the right time.
Impressive are the Model K and all large cars of that time. Eventually I hope to have the privilge of owning a large brass car, but am perfectly happy with Ts.
Keith, so glad you asked
Following is a pic of Henry driving a 1907 Model K. Following, an account from a newspaper about Edsel driving a Model K. By the date, Edsel would have been nine years old, almost ten, although the writer says he is twelve.
Again, hard to imagine Henry "posing" in a Model K and allowing Edsel to drive for a reporter if he didn't care for the car. And by this time, Malcomsen (blamed for the reason Henry built the K) has been out of Ford for over a year.
This may be the same Model K, now with an acetylene tank on the running board. I have wondered if this is Henry Ford home where the pics are shot?
Again, possibly the same Model K, in front of the same home (or town home). Earlier style side lamps in the pic. I suspect this is an early 1907/ late 1906 photo due to no leaves on bushes and 1906 style bale handled side lamps.
In this clip, a British reporter talks about Edsel driving the Model K,,and how it handles for the small boy. Notice how the "big touring" is called a 6-40 (Model). I'm finding many more references to the K at this point as the "Ford Six", "Ford 6-40", And "Ford 40" than Model K. As a result, I'm also finding a "treasure trove" of digital ads and stories that my searches of "Ford Model K" did not reveal.
Hap, if your reading this, I suspect you have encountered such things when you research all the good things you find for us and bring to the forum .
Rob, good info all. What does the K have for braking?
Sorry,,Edsel is twelve or thirteen by the time this article appears .
Same as our Ts and the NRS. The hand brake controls rear LINED brakes. And the right pedal is a transmission brake. Just like our N, I brake minimally with the tranny brake (to prolong transmission life) and brake with spark and gas first, then hand brake when possible. It's much cheaper and easier to replace brake lining than triple gears/bushing/shafts/drums.
As a result, when your driving the K, there is a "flurry" of motion. 1st, up with the gas and spark levers (the original "Jake Brake" ), 2nd, pull the high/low lever up to neutral (can't pull the hand brake until the shift lever is in neutral), 3rd, back on the hand brake lever.
Sounds like work, but fortunately the steering and ride are so steady you are able to give all your concentration to the above actions. Anyone who steps up on a K is surprised by the sturdiness of the suspension(the car hardly moves when a 200-300 pounder steps on the running board), and then how smooth the ride is, due to the 120 inch wheelbase and large wheels/tires.
This is a pic someone sent me of a few of us "sporting around" Hershey last fall, it's hard to tell, but I'm controlling the movement all with my right hand, "creeping" with a little slipping on low lever or feathering the hand brake. The K is amazingly easy to drive.
I have looked through a book I have that pretty much covers all of the places and homes that Henry and Clara were living in those early years and none of them show the one depicted in your pictures of the K. The book " CLARA " by the well known Ford author Ford R. Bryan.
Thank you. It seems they are "staging" K pics at this home. All three pics are taken at different times, with changes of or to the K shown each time. Maybe someone knows where in the Detroit area the setting is.
BTW, very nice Fordoor in your profile pic,
Thank you for the compliment on our Fordor.
Edsel was born on the 6th of November 1893. That would make him age fourteen in Nov. 1907.
Answering earlier posts:
Jim, I don't know anything about the roadster pic. The car looks a little "raggedy" and those look like aftermarket wheels, such as Firestone demountables.
Ford cars in 06-07 appear to have clinchers and another type with bolts/clamps that secured the tire to the wheel (our 06 N originally had these other type wheels, and were converted to clincher rims. You can still see the plugs in the feloes where the bolts were.
Harold, I agree to an extent about Henry dropping the big car to produce only the T. The stories I've recovered/found recently seem to indicate an evolving to only one model. In late fall 1907, Ford ads are talking about a new 20 hp "light touring" to be offered with the existing lineup of N/S and K models.
Some ads even show a Model S cowled T looking touring. A 1907 car show lists a Ford 97 inch wheelbase 20 hp four cylinder touring, taxi and roadster bodied model for 1908 production. I think originally Ford hoped to bring the T (or an ST variation) to production by spring 1908.
Meanwhile. Sales of NS//K continued strong into the summer of 1908.
I think by the time Model T finally comes to market in Oct 08, Ford has "evolved" to only producing one model. I think judging by the Ford models that are built but never make it to production (1904 air cooled car, 1906/07 6 cyl NRS type, etc) that the direction Ford chooses to go is not always "mapped out" years in advance.
Meanwhile. Many makers (all majors) produce at least two models, a less expensive and higher end cars during this time, including Ford since 1904 (Models AC, C and B).
By 1922 Ford is back in the luxury car market again, buying Lincoln in early 1922. So, in reality Ford only left the "luxury" car market for 13 years, 1909 thru 1922.
Rob - Thank you for posting the "British Comment" article above. It mentions that "the first of the four cylinder runabouts, which is still his father's favorite car for city driving" referring to Henry. The article also seems to imply that Henry had a Model K to drive too.
This is very interesting, but isn't conclusive proof that Henry preferred driving a four cylinder runabout or a Model K. We all know that newspaper accounts are sometimes woefully inaccurate.
Rob, thanks very much for all the work you're doing on this Model K history.
Rob, do you prefer your K, or your N, "for city driving" in Milford?
By the time the K warms up, Rob has already started at one end of Milford and left the other end far behind.
Here is a picture of Henry with one of his early experimental tractors. Now in the Henry Ford. The Model K in the background seems to indicate that is what he was driving at the time.
Hi ROB Re, request as to SOME ONE SHOW ME PROOF AS TO WHY HENRY WOULD DISLIKE THE ''K''.
Well ROB-- it does not look as though you have any takers and i do not want to spoil any image of the car .--but--i must say that all the good things said in articles and from my experience and observation of the ''K''s here in AUSTRALIA and USA [especially with CECIL CHURCH when he owned your car] I must say that the second series in 1907 is a much superior car to my series one 1906 ''K''.
Any bad things said [be it then or now] about any car are generally promoted by the opposition marque sellers or motor writers not on the take that can make or break a car e.g.the EDSEL.
As i have expressed my opinion prior as my experiences with my early series mark one 1906 ''K''in print [and i think you are aware that the two series are very different cars i must and will stand behind what i have said.
John, this tractor has a Model B engine. I'd like to find one "on the farm" like it .
Keith and Ralph,
That's a great question (drive the N or K). It depends on "the mission". If it's a bunch of kids to the coffee shop, or just me "loitering" about town. The N is definitely a quick, easy driver. However, the short wheelbase and slower speed are a drawback. The N is much rougher riding than a T, probably due to the rear transverse springs and shorter wheelbase.
The K takes more room to turn, and more effort for short "stop and go" trips. When your in the N, other motorists look at you and think "how cute or quaint". If I pull up beside a 4 wheel drive pickup, the driver looks down at me and smiles.
When I pull up beside a 4 wheel drive pickup, the driver looks straight across or up at me and looks confused .
I saw a story once about someone back "in the day" who had both, and they said the K was for family trips, the N to go to work in.
I understand the two Ks, the 1906 and 1907/8 versions appear quite different. We know there were many obvious changes made, apparently for good reason. I think the article about Ford Eastern US manager talking about Ford "refurbishing" 1906 Ks and giving a two year guarantee upon resale "speaks volumes". Not only does it acknowledge severe shortcomings in the 06 version, it also DEMONSTRATES FORD' COMMITMENT to the Model.
In this account, Gaston Plaintiff, Ford East Mgr, mentions Ford's refurbishment program, taking 06 Ks on trade for 07s, upgrading and guaranteeing them upon sale
This ad, while hard to read, is a listing of several of the "reconditioned" 06 Ks for sale, along with mention of Ford's guarantee.
This last bit is a portion of account by Gaston Plaintiff discussing how the 24 hour race win has had an affect on the good sales for Ford sixes in 1907. At the bottom, he mentions that the K now has a two year guarantee. I think afford took significant engineering and public relations steps to repair the K brand.
I've also noticed the 1906 Ford K had virtually no racing news items (I've routinely searched 1905 through 1909). However, as soon as the 1907 Model K arrives on the scene in the fall of 1906, the racing and reliability trial wins start to appear.
Back to the question of the best driver, N or K?
It just depends, sometimes the N, for example on the Georgia tour this fall.........
We are cruising around the parking lot. Riding with me is Mrs. Roorda. Had I chosen the K, Milt (seen on the left with a red solo cup) would have been along with us.
However, if it's a trip to town with four pre-teen girls, the K is the only choice.
Thank you ROB for those articles
As for driving the ''K'' --''N'' -- ''T'' or ''A''
''N'' ----An ideal town car
''K'' -- Any were that i do not work the transmission hard.
''T'' --- Best overall car
''A''c---Ideal 1&2 cylinder rally car
early Ford experimental tractor with many Model K parts, what parts can the experts pick there are a few in it!
rear view early Ford experimental tractor
Good pics, thank you for posting. Wonder if they'd notice if we "swapped" out that Model B motor for an NRS?
I've driven (but not close to owning one) a Model A and was impressed with how well it drove for the vintage. I have a friend who owned both a 1903 Ford and Cadillac. He said the Ford, with it's 2 cylinder engine was a much better car to operate than the 1 cylinder Cadillac..
for what it is worth:-
going back to your three photos of the cars parked outside the house(s):-
to my architectural eye it looks to me as if the first house is not the same house as that in photos 2 & 3.
Different porch, different windows, different bricks.
Also note that the first photo shows 4 front doors indicating a block of 4 apartments, 2 up & 2 down. I can only see 1 door definite in pics 2 & 3 though that could be the fanlight over a second door to the left of the obvious door.
The apartment Henry lived in during 1907 was at the corner of Brush and Harper. Unfortunately the building is no longer there. The experimental tractor design and its construction is covered in the oral reminisces of Joe Galamb.
By comparison to its competition the Ford K was a sales flop. For example even Pierce Arrow sold more 45 horsepower cars in the same period, and also sold a similar number of their 30 horsepower 4 cylinder cars which (arguably) offered as much or more performance and style as the Ford K.
I don't think Pierce was ever in the top ten car manufacturers, but they built a car that was superior to the Ford K in many ways. The 1907 45 HP model for example had sliding gear three speed transmission, shock absorbers, and sold 500 during the 1907 model year which is more than the Model K.
Pierce won the Glidden trophy every year it was competed for, eventually retiring the trophy to Pierce Arrow's factory in 1909 after five consecutive victories. I believe Ford entered a Model K in 1907, being bested by Pierce both in sales and in the event that year.
I've been far too busy at work to contribute to your Model K posts, but I'm enjoying them. Today i have a break and I hope no-one minds me resurrecting this thread, as that really is where these thoughts of mine belong.
I do not believe I have ever heard that the Model K was an engineering flop. All I have read is that Henry Ford despised the six cylinder engine, saying it defied the laws of engineering logic.
I think the Model K is a magnificent beast. But it is not what Henry Ford was all about. To try to work out what happened, in accurate historical terms, I think one really must look at what was happening within the Ford Motor Company.
Without Alexander Malcomson, who was a prominent and highly-successful Detroit businessman, possibly the Ford Motor Company would not have existed. It was he who found the shareholders, including his cousin, John Gray, who was brought in as president. He also introduced Henry to a man who would become one of his greatest allies, James Couzens. The understanding was that Ford would be the engineer, and Couzens the salesman.
Ford’s ambition was to bring the joy of motoring to the masses. I have never ever seen it written anywhere that he wanted to make a big heavy car – indeed, that is what most others were making and is exactly what Henry Ford didn’t want to make! At that time, cars were largely hand made, just as wagons before them had been. Car makers were largely just car assemblers who assembled components made by outside suppliers.
Very early in the piece, Henry is quoted as saying that the way to make a car is to make them all alike – just as a pin comes from a pin factory.
The Models A, AC and C were light and inexpensive – just what Henry wanted. I know little about the Model B other than it was expensive and heavy – and that it was not a big seller. The Model F was designed as a light and inexpensive car and it also sold well.
When the time came for the company to evolve from the Model F, Malcolmon wanted a big and heavy car. In Henry Ford’s mind, the advent of the large and luxurious Model K was a step in the wrong direction. But Malcomson’s thinking was traditional – the highest profits in industry lay in supplying the rich and more affluent middle classes. But Henry Ford had sensed that a profitable but much larger market lay elsewhere, and sales of the earlier Models supported his view.
This point exposed fundamental differences in philosophies between the directors, and was to be the undoing of Henry Ford’s relationship with many of those directors. And he went public with his views at that time, famously being quoted in the Detroit Free Press that he wanted to make “ten thousand autos at $400 a piece.” In other words the Model K was a distraction from his already declared ambition of building his “car for the multitudes”.
As you know, the result was a showdown for control, which Malcomson lost. He “resigned” his directorship in May, 1906.
One of the things we don’t know was when the Model Ks were actually built. We know when they were sold – for how long did they sit around unsold? We also don’t know what contractual obligations the Ford Motor Company may have had to outside suppliers, who would’ve tooled up to built the K. Please correct me if I am wrong about these two unknowns.
Model K was sold (not built) between April, 1906 and September 1908. 900 examples were sold. The Model N was sold concurrently – between July 1906 and December 1908. 7,000 examples were sold. One could buy five Model Ns for the price of one Model K.
Model R and Model S sales began in 1907and also outstripped the Model K.
Rob, it is so good that you have had the conviction to question what the history books tell us. But I don’t know that they’re so removed from the truth. It’s not that the Model K was necessarily a bad car! Rather it’s more that the Model K was not what Henry Ford was all about.
(Model K - Free Zone, sadly)
Always good to have a reasoned stimulating conversation about the Alphabet Fords.
A few things I believe the history books missed. I'm trying to consolidate this to the last thread (with the "Motor" contest laid out a bit better. I'll post your note and this to that thread to bring it to the top, then respond.
And all that being said the Model K has still got more going for it than the Pierce Arrow, simply because it has the Ford name on it. There's no comparing any other car that's ever been on the market to a Ford. They're just superior. Besides, when was the last time you saw a dozen or so Pierce Arrows in one parking lot. And yet I can drive up to the closest factory to me and there will be over a dozen Fords sitting out there waiting for their drivers to take them home.