Royce posted this on an earlier thread that was becoming lengthy. I thought there are some interesting points and am bringing it to a new thread. I'll try to take it to the Early Ford site too.
"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."
Good, I like to be able to work with "real" cars and numbers.
Ok, let's look at what we have. Pierce Sold 500 45 horsepower cars over the 1907 model year.
What I do know, Ford sold over 600 Models K between after their 1906 model run (350 1906 models were bought from the Dodge Brothers. These are distinctly different Models K, with weaker frame, 114 inch wheelbase, and many other first year differences).
Ford did not change the K between model years 1907 and 1908.
Things I don't know, but assume (we know where that may lead). If the 1906 Model year ended October 1, then Ford sold 600 (minimum, we know of a K #953, not sure if we reached 1,000 total production) between Oct 1906 and the summer of 1908. That means in about one and half years the 1907 Model K sold about 600 cars.
We know Pierce (while obviously not a top ten auto producer),was very successful throughout this period, selling a limited number of cars.
Another way to equate "was the K successful" is to ask, if the profit margin was similar to the Models NRS? If the Model K at $2800 equals the same margins (all else being equal) of selling 4.7 Models NRS. Over the entire run of at least 953 Models K is the equivalant of selling 4,447 Models NRS (using an average value of $600 per NRS).
Again, lots of assumptions, but if the "number crunchers" built the same profit margin in, Ford would have had to sell a significant number of additional Models N to equal the dollars of sales brought in by the K. (I believe the actual number of Models N sold over this period were around 10,000, but that's a swag). Lastly on this thought, there is also additional "value" to having a high dollar, sales "leader". For example, when you go into a Chebby dealership, you'll see a Corvette and Cadilac, or Denali on the showroom floor. We know most consumers don't walk out of the Chebby dealer having bought one of these models, but they help bring the public in.
Now, let's "drill" in on the two examples you brought up.
First, Pierce Geart Arrow 45 H.P. Car. Price $5,000
6 cylinder, three speed sliding gear transmission, 124 inch wheelbase.
Things I'd like to know - how much did this car weigh? Another advantage of the Ford K, (as with all Fords into the twenties) was the weight to horsepower ratio to competitors.
So, for $5,000 you bought a great car. However, the major difference between the K and this Pierce is the two speed transmission vs. 3 speed sliding gear. Again, if I knew the weight, I might argue that I'd prefer a two speed planetary for day to day driving, if the weight of the Pierce is significantly more than the Ford. And Royce, I know you believe the two speed planetary is a good system, because I doubt you'd ever consider converting one your Fords (T) to anything other than the original transmission .
The K cost $2,800 comprabably equiped, and was was quite light for a six cylinder 120 inch WB car of the period.
Ok, Pierce Great Arrow 5 passenger touring car: 30 hp, 4 cylinder. dual ignition 9same as K). As with the big Pierce, comparable suspension, the major difference being again, the three speed transmission. Shorter wheelbase at 112 inches. Again, I'd like to know the weight. Cost - $4,000.
Soooooooo, for an additional 178% of price ($5,000 for Pierce 45 hp vs.$2,800 for Model K) you get a three speed transmission, quality name, and undoubtedly higher end car. But, you could have bought an additional three and a half Ns.
The 30 hp Pierce Great Arrow costs 143% more than the K. It has less hp, plus loses the "smoothness" of a six cylinder. Again, more refined, but you could buy two additional Ns for the price difference.
So, apples to apples, you pay significantly more for name, and probably get equal (45 hp 6 cylinder) or less (30 hp 4 cylinder) top end speed for many more dollars with the Pierce.
Bottom line, the K does match up well, and if Pierce sold 500 of the 45 horse 6 cylinder, Ford was no slouch, selling 600 in a little longer time frame.
I'll get back to this in a bit.........soups on.
Royce, I'm beginning to think you don't like the K because it has a water pump
And Merry Christmas!
From the 1907 "Cycle and Automobile" model review
1907 Ford Model K, cost $2,800
1907 Pierce 45 hp six cylinder, cost $5,000
1907 Pierce 30 hp four cyl cost $4,000
Rob, what is the rear end gear ratio on a model K?
I have to take issue with Rob with the following statement:
And Royce, I know you believe the two speed planetary is a good system, because I doubt you'd ever consider converting one your Fords (T) to anything other than the original transmission .'
I don't know the Model Ts that either of you own but I would argue that the huge popularity of a Ruckstell axle on most model Ts would refute this statement...
Each part on a Pierce has the serial number of the vehicle on it. I rest my case, they can not be compared at all. It is passion fruit and over ripe apples.
Pierce has four valves per cylinder cross flow T head and Ford is back in the days of the horse and buggy with Mason jars and wicks for carburetors and flints and stones with magnifying glasses for ignition. Be serious when you post . . . . please.
There were two ratios offered, I'll,have to check and get back.
I understand they are quite different vehicles. However, that was the comparison thrown out there. One could argue tHat at almost half the cost, the Ford would have been more "accessible to a larger group of consumers.
I have many race results collected where the K beats many big name competitors, or hangs with them, but I've found no head to head comparisons between the Pierce and Ford six.
However, probably in the most publicized race (by Ford), the K beats a Pope Vanderbilt racer and 60 hp Thomas in a 24 hour endurance run.
I'll pull each of those cars specs and we'll see how they compare in engineering and cost. Bottom line, I think Henry Ford accomplished with the K what he did with the NRS line, and was about to do with the Model, build a lightweight high horsepower that was both reliable and a much more economical to market peers.
And now, off to Christmas Eve Church. Then chili that I made (hope no goes to the hospital as a result) and a nice evening home with relatives.
The Ford K beat many of the cars your talking about head to head. If you think the K is "primitive" you haven't been around one, pleaseeeeee.
Boy,doesn't take much to wind me up, does it
There are a lot more early Pierce Arrows being toured long distances today than there are Ford Model Ks. I'm not talking about day trips but Trans Continental Tours that are a couple of thousand miles, 500 mile Gas and Brass Tours, etc. I never see any Model K Fords on these long distance tours. I think the Pierce Arrow survival rate is higher (which certainly reflects on its build quality) and they certainly demand much more money today than a Model K does.
Having carefully examined both, the Pierce Arrow is definitely a better engineered, designed and built car than the Ford K.
The 1906 Pierce "30" (actually rated by Pierce at 32 HP) weighs 3100 Lbs for the touring. Of course Pierce offered a wider selection of bodies than Ford on any of their cars, and of course any color you wanted. There were 400 Pierce 30 HP fours built in 1906 alone.
Remember the horsepower is formula derived - a 30 HP Pierce is about as fast and powerful as a 40 HP Ford model K, perhaps more so.
Regardless of our modern opinions of which car was better, the buying public bought more Pierce products in that time period, and at significantly higher prices.
If you want to count Oldsmobiles or Cadillacs there are far bigger numbers involved......
By the way Pate's Early Ford book says the Model K touring was $2800 or $3000 fully equipped - which I am guessing means including headlights and carbide generator and speedometer. The Pierce of course included all that.
The pics I posted above show price, and what is in clouded. The numbers shown above are with lights, not tops. Read them.
Ya you clown, go back to your tent and bury your head in the elephant... Everybody knows you can't compare all that other scrap iron to a Ford. Ya, so there. Now what have you got to say.
Did I help Rob?
Royce, lets get back on topic. If Pierce sold 500 45 hp cars in 1907, that is comparable to Ford K selling 600 some from Oct 1906 thru summer 1908 (improved 1907 K).
The Pierce 45 hp costs almost twice as much (equipped the same, head and side lamps). I don't have any "head to head" competition data, however, I do have quite a bit of head to head competition data with other period "big" cars of the era. You chose the Pierce, not me. If I had chosen a comparison, it would be with a major builder of expensive cars with data available, so.......
Comparisons I've found:
In June, 1907, a Frank Kulich driven Ford Six won a 24 hour endurance run near Detroit. Cars Ford beat included a Pope Toledo and a Thomas 60 hp. Those cars specs are shown below. What we do know,,and stay with me on this, the car shown below, the Ford 6-40, beat both cars following in a well publicized 24 hour endurance race.
The Pope Toledo was a well built, excellent automobile of the day, costing significantly more than the Model K.
The 60 hp Thomas Flyer was a well received well known car of the day. In 1908 a 1907 Thomas Flyer would win the New York to Paris "Race Around the World".
Some details from that 24 hour race:
More things I know about Ford Six racing/hill limb/reliability competitions:
In this contest, the Ford "six" is one of several cars to receive a perfect score.
In this race, Ford wins the five mile contest for cars costing less than $3,000.
In this review, a Ford is reviewed on a lengthy tour. It was one of nine selected for review.
Ford Six is "Pilot Car for "sealed bonnet" competition.
While the pilot car (Ford six) drops out, another Ford Six finishes with a perfect score.
Another reliability run, another Ford Six perfect score.
Ford Six wins one of seven cups in race.
Article about Ford four and six doing well in Scottish and Irish races.
Mention of Ford Six placing 5th in British event, highest American finish.
Ford Six coming in 4th from standing start, $2,,, to $3,000.
In this account, a Ford Six places 6th, just 8 seconds behind a Pope in the $2,000 - $3,000 class. Another Ford K finishes 5th in six cylinder class.
Ford Six finishes 3rd in. Mile race. Also, the NRS Fords do well in the lower dollar category.
Ford Six finishes 3rd in class....
Ford Six wins heat, unable to go to final, but beat other heat winners time.
Ford Six 6th in hill climb, $5,000 and less cars.
Last one for tonight. This is a compilation of tour and speed records for 1907. The Glidden Tour (and it is a tour, not a race) is 1500 miles. It says Buffalo team, so I don't know if there is a Buffalo car, or this is a Buffalo car (anyone still following along, Royce said a Pierce won the 1907 Glidden Tour (I think).
The Ford Six icons all distance in the 24 hour competition, against some very good and expensive cars. In fact, I'll bet the Ford is the least expensive car on this page.
San Antonio advertisement for a large upcoming race. In the four featured races, a Ford Six is listed in the fourth race, along with a Stoddard Dayton and Chalmers (no slouches). One caption says "these are the highest type cars made".
Ohio Hill climb. Ford Sixes win the touring and runabout classes for cars costing less than $3,000.
OK, things we know: the Ford Six (K) finished very high against a multitude of cars in a variety of contests. For this to happen, several things MUST APPLY.
1. There must be a significant number of Ford Ks out there to have so many competing.
2. The owners/dealers entering these Ford Sixes mud
St have complete confidence in the quality and capabilities. Otherwise they wouldn't enter them
3. The cars themselves must be darn good. I am only able to search about 25 magazines and journals. Think how many more stories like this are in other papers.
Oh, last item. Following is a list of 1907 Auto sales.
Packard is listed 8th in US sales with 1400 cars sold. Ford sold about 400 Models Ks (600 over an 18 mont period, late 06- summer 08). This not a bad sales number for the high end model maker in 190$.
Why would you expect Royce to let facts get in the way of his predetermined results?
I thought Dodge built a K car. Maybe Royce was talking about that one?
I donít know anything about the pros and cons of Model Kís or any of the other cars being discussed on this tread. The only thing I can say is, Ford Motor Company is still around, these other companies are not. Ford obviously has been doing things right from the beginning.
If Ford had decided to quit building his successful line of small cars to concentrate on his unsuccessful venture into big cars we would not be here.
Henry knew when to pull the plug on the K. With only 400 Model K's sold versus 14,487 Model N and R's sold in 1907 it was obvious there was no future in making big cars. Racing success obviously had no impact on showroom traffic, and the Model K's reputation for unreliability (again see Pate's early Ford) probably was the reason.
Merry Christmas everyone!
I'm in no way saying Ford would have considered dropping the NRS or future T to produce only Ford Sixes (and you don't really think I am). I am saying the K, like the B before (and F to C models) were Ford's lineup. Most automakers (like the Pierce models you brought up) had more than one model. In Ford's case, the K was a successful upscale model that complimented the NRS line. I think the cyberspace I've burned up over the last several posts provide much to consider about the real success or failure of the K. While "history" (written primarily by Ford surrogates) says the K was a failure, I think Model K, based on production numbers and competition results, was a successful part of Ford history (as we're the NRS) until the Model T "overwhelmed" the industry.
We'll agree to disagree. Yes, the 1906 Ford K had significant short comings. However, by 1907 most of the "bugs" were out, and as shown above (to ad nauseum) the 1907 K won and competed very successfully against it's often bigger and more expensive competitors. I don't think the K was a "flop", and have exhaustive documents to support this theory.
Below show examples of Fords commitment to the Ford Six by taking the inferior 06 K in on trade for an 07, and putting a (unheard of at the time) 2 year "guarantee" on both new and refurbished Ks. This at a time when cars were "outdated" within a matter of 2 to 4 years (example,,compare a 1903/1904 Ford or Cadillac to their younger 1906-1907 counterparts. From chain drive mid engine 1 and 2 cylinder cars to 4 and 6 cylinder enclosed drive from engine cars.
In this article, Ford rep Gaston Plaintiff talks about Ford's plan for taking 06 Ks in trade for an 07 and reconditioning, reselling and giving the same "guarantee" as the 1907 K.
This is both standing behind your product and "making it right" for owners. More on this guarantee below (of course ).
Another ad about reconditioning 06s. Several 06s are listed for resale.
Ad announcing 800 "sixes" built by Ford between July 1 1906 and July 1907. Like other manufacturers of the day, I think advertising "stretched" the truth about production numbers.
Furthermore, it appears according to late fall 1907 Ford advertising, Ford seems to say they will bring out their "new light touring" in the spring of 1908, selling alongside the K and N. other ads show this "new" light touring as a Model T appearing touring, with Model S cowl and waterpump in radiator, shift on the lever right hand steering car. Three of these "hybrid" ST Models were shown at the Grand Palace Show in Oct 1907.
My point is, as of winter 1907/1908 I think Ford had every intention of continuing the K and N lines, in addition to bringing out a new line (Model T).
I think the reality is that Ford had lots of left over Model K's that were built, sitting around, and hard to sell. Hence all the advertising.
Your making me crazy.......
Rob just got his K restored and running. I think he's going to be driving it and putting on some miles. Let's see how it rings out.
It will do fine as long as a big PA doesn't appear in it's mirror
That's true, if I had front doors you would have blown them off when you went around us last summer.
I'm having the fuel tank cleaned and coated while the K is getting a set of side curtains and new leather seats put on. All our carb/gas problems go back to very fine rust and scale in the fuel tank.
I'm also trying to get the linkage right to run the original buffalo carburetor that Stan rebuilt (although it looks too good now to put on a greasy old Ford .
We had the same problem with the 1933 PA. I recently had the tank sealed by Gas Tank RenU. The process used was to drill holes in the tank to allow complete access and sandblast it with steel shot. They use a camera to inspect their work and then plug the holes. They add the sealer and put the tank in a large oven to cure it. We installed an electric sending unit and will hide a gauge somewhere in the car.
Rob, history is full of stories of superior products that just didn't make it. Sometimes that where just out too early and sometimes it was just not fair.
Within my own area and much later IBM did a superior operating system for the personal computer called OS/2.
However, because the major producer of office software never made a version of their office package for OS/2 to protect their own operating system business, OS/2 never took off.
The same my be the case with the K.
It is most likely a very nice and well built car, but the target audience just did not care in race results - it was as much the prestige in arriving at the golf club in a fancy mark of car - maybe.