Continuing on with the earlier thread about the survey in "Motor" Magazine, 1907.
I've collected too much to tie it to the last thread, so .......
Motor magazine conducted a "contest" in 1907. The contest offered a free car to the winner. Any car of the winner's choosing, as long as the car cost less than $3,000.
The contest required identifying pictures of different 1907 motor cars. The cars came in two installments (magazines) and a group of prizes were to be given to the person(s) who named the most vehicles correctly, with the overall winner getting the free car of their choice ($3,000 or less.
I think this was a great way for Motor magazine to stimulate interest (and circulation). The results of this contest also provide us a wonderful opportunity to gauge the interest of the contestants about different cars of 1907.
It's as if we're able to go back in time, and ask 6500 people what car they would like to win in 1907!
I've ran this concept by a few forum members, and a couple of questions they asked were:
Did the 384 respondents who chose Ford chose them because:
1. Ford was on the group of photos they identified, so name recognition was a factor?
Answer; No, Ford car was not in either of the two groups of pics.
2. Did the 384 who picked Ford think they were choosing a Model N or S?
Answer; No. They were choosing any car up to $3,000 in value. Would you chose a $750 Model S or $600 Model N under with your choice? And remember, whoever wins this contest is choosing many car pics correctly, so they know their automobiles.
As anyone reading this knows, I've been "hell bent for leather" trying to convince anyone who will listen that the !Model K was not a "loser" for Ford. I also have found evidence through ads and accounts that show Model Ks winning and placing very high in a multitude of speed, reliability and endurance contests. But, this contest is the best evidence I've found yet that demonstrates what the motoring public really thought of the Ford "Six" (Model K).
Of 6,578 people who chose the car they would want if they won the contest (costing $3,000 or less), 777 Chose the 40 hp Thomas Flyer, the clear cut winner.
The biggest surprise to me (and I bet to you) is that of 98 vehicles chosen, the Ford was placed 5th! AND, THIS IS ONLY 76 VOTES OUT OF 2ND PLACE!
I'm going to lay this out by the numbers. Bear with me, and then let's see if I've made a compelling case that the Model K was a quality vehicle that was well received by the public, and a success for Ford, not a failure as history would like us to believe.
First, the two pages of vehicles. Motor magazine has provided sample surveys with the correct answers. Let me know how you would have done on the test. Remember, the winner gets a $3,000 1907 car,of their choice.
OK, how did you do,naming these cars? I wouldn't have done very well. And this is before TV, color magazines, big auto showrooms. And, there were 255 automakers selling cars in the US in 1907 (Motor magazine, pg 60, May, 1907).
Now, the rules of the contest:
The list of cars on the contest pages follows. Notice that Ford is not among the test cars.
And, now the winners as their names appeared in Motor magazine. Notice only four contestants named all the cars correctly, out of over 6500 respondents.
And, how they voted (remember, you get the car you choose if you win the contest):
Close up of the vote:
Now, I've "drilled" in a little bit more (so someone doesn't say, "we'll, Thomas didn't make a car for less than $3,000, or "I bet they were choosing a Ford Model S. Following are two pages of the first several cars chosen, along with the price according to Motor Magazine in May, 1907:
As you see, these people didn't pick any slouches. And neither would any of us. Also, none of the respondents thought some idiot from Nebraska would be looking at this data 106 years after the contest was held. No car builder (nor historian) could influence or skew these results. And I guarantee, any sales or marketing rep for any car builder would have been looking at these numbers "in the day".
Sooooooo, what do you think now? Or as my Dad would say, "what do you think of them apples"? (Now you know where I get it )
Great detective work Rob! Jim Derocher, AuGres, Michigan
Rob, you are so midwestern.
Fun to look at this contest from over a hundred years ago. I am a bit surprised about some of the cars people chose. A few basic highwheel cars were chosen as cars contestants would want. None of them were expensive, but for many people, they were practical. REO was generally not an expensive car, however in 1907 they came out with a one year only four cylinder model that was a bit pricey. Several electric and steam cars were chosen in relatively small numbers which reflect the changing view of motivation at that time. Quite a few marques that are virtually unknown today are well represented. But most of those were well advertised at that time.
Probably the biggest surprise to me on the car of my choice list, would be the Orient. Don't get me wrong. I have the remains of a Metz, the Orients younger but bigger brother. They hold a unique place in automobile history. They were cheap, sometimes argued to have been the lowest priced "real" automobile ever manufactured. (Just over $200 for the smaller one if I recall correctly) Unlike the highwheelers and electric cars, they didn't have any real terrain advantage anywhere. Many people wanted one, and they sold fairly well because they were the closest thing to affordable for a lot of people. Maybe some contestants were just being honest about what they were wishing for. One did not need to own a car to be really interested in them.
One of the cars that really surprised me to be on the contest was the Sunset. They were built first in San Francisco, then after the '06 earthquake they moved to San Jose. They were never advertised heavily. But they did advertise and sell well locally. Their production was small, and only one is known to have survived. Ironically, it is in Illinois.
Why do I know as much as I do about such a small and little known marque? Because an uncle of mine wound up owning one of the buildings they used to manufacture cars in. I didn't find out about that until not too many years ago, my uncle has since passed on and the property sold. Sad. But he asked me to research them a bit in his last few years.
I wonder if that is the one the top winners missed?
I think that any future books on the history of the automobile are going to have to give a different review of the Ford K than the books I have read in the past. Apparently there are about twenty Ks out there that someone ought to be working on! I wish I could afford one of them.
Also, Rob, I am glad you're doing this on our site instead of the Early Ford Registry site. I have visited it a few times. and it is one of at least a dozen clubs/registries I would join if those dollars wouldn't add up to enough to attend a national club tour. (Pierce Arrow Society is another, I used to belong to that.)
Do drive carefully, and have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! W2
I would hate to send you to Washington DC,you would solve all our problems and we would
not have anything to fuss about.
Keep up the good work.
Never guess what I used to do in a "previous life".
While the "brand" on some these remind us of lesser cars, many had higher end models that we don't remember.
I'll go through and pick a few more out, and see if they had a "bigger brother" model. For example, a lot of people wouldn't expect it, but Maxwell had some large very nice (expensive) models.
It takes a while to research some of the cars because they weren't listed under their "brand" name.
I'm adding prices along with the "votes" for the cars listed. A few, like Packard, didn't show a model under $3,000, so I listed the model closest to $3,000 I could find (example, Packard Model 30)
Rob, Congratulations! I have always puzzled over the history book version of what the K meant to Henry as well as what it meant to the public at large. Your research is a valuable lesson to us that history should be built on (wherever possible) documentary evidence, and not just opinions and guesswork. Thank again for what you have found and for all of the work involved in finding it.
One should remember the voters were placing a vote for popularity of the make. Very few people would know that Ford produced anything other than small cars. I bet 95% of the people casting votes had never seen or heard of a Ford Model K.
The Thomas was an expensive, low production car that everyone in the world had heard of. It had just won the New York to Paris race. Unlike the events Ford was entering, this was a race publicised in newspapers worldwide.
I can't explain how a car like Franklin could even make the top 20. It is as baffling as anything else on this odd compilation.
Royce and any others,
I'll pick this up on the other thread.
Ooopppsss, not enough coffee, this is the "other" (later) post.
Now, let's go.....
DANGNABIT ROYCE, what does it take? OK, by the numbers:
1. YOU SAID: The Thomas was an expensive, low production car that everyone in the world had heard of. It had just won the New York to Paris race. Unlike the events Ford was entering, this was a race publicised in newspapers worldwide.
RALPH SAYS: Ralph points out, Thomas "BIG RACE" has yet to occur.
2. YOU SAID: I bet 95% of the people casting votes had never seen or heard of a Ford Model K.
I SAY: These people (respondents) know their cars! Look at the sample photos. Every other "obscure" brand chosen is a "high end" car. I suppose you would have chosen Ford for your winning choice (meaning a $600 N or $750 S) when everyone else has the brains to choose an expensive car with what they hope is the winning test.
Also, using this reasoning, why did Buick rank so low? And Franklin is consistently showing up in the top ten cars sold. And the survey list doesn't correlate with the top brands this attachment (I know, Wikipedia, you challenged these numbers earlier too).
4. YOU SAID: "I can't explain how a car like Franklin could even make the top 20. It is as baffling as anything else on this odd compilation."
I SAY: Royce, this statement "takes the cake". Why would you say information I took verbatim from news accounts and articles is "this odd compilation". I have produced "irrefutable" evidence as to how a contest (and resulting survey) resulted in the "big" Ford being chosen 5th. no more, no less.
Not only are you unable to say "hmmm, not what I (Royce) would have expected", and left it at that. You have the brass (period correct term ) to call hours of my work ""baffling as anything else on this odd compilation".
Royce, You have no credibility on this matter. I respect your knowledge about Model Ts, but on this your out of your league.
Now, what would I do had I taken your side of this. As I said above, I'd have said "that surprises me"or "I"ll have to look into it more" or some such thing, or nothing (hard to imagine me saying nothing ). Then, I'd have gone to work, finding evidence to prove my point of view, or not.
Again, I'm not angry over this. In fact, I'm "stimulated" by the notion that history of Ford and the Model K may need some "refining".
Well, Rob, you've not convinced Royce but you've convinced me, got to sell the ol' Lizzie and get one of those fancy Sixes. May have to sell the house too, come to think of it, but sounds like it would be worth it. The whole saga has made fascinating reading.
Thanks for the encouragement. You know of course I'm just trying to inflate the value of our K for future resale (not).
Willis J., if your still following, I'll post specs for the "big" Maxwell and REO in a while.
Hope you all have a Happy New Year,
Rob, I appreciate the hard work you have put into this. Do you feel that it will be picked up and discussed by other scholars of automotive history? I hope so, and I hope the K name is vindicated!
While you're digging, Rob: how many K and other big cars were traded in for the 1909 Model T?
My goodness Rob. Our debate teacher said we automatically lose if we lose our temper.
It says "Ford". No mention of Model K is there? The contest is for all Ford products below $3000. Right?
Rob -- The answer to your frustration lies in your statement from a post above:
"I've been "hell bent for leather" trying to convince anyone who will listen that the Model K was not a "loser" for Ford."
"...anyone who will listen..." is the key.
Thanks for posting your interesting findings for the rest of us.
As I said above (if you read all the information) I'm not angry (yet ). You can lead a horse to water, however.........
I supposed that would apply to mules too?
Yes, you have your "assumption" that all the other cars chosen cost $2,000 to $3,000 (selected) but somehow the 5th largest group of votes were for a $600 to $750 Ford. Yes, one can assume that, but why? Because one is to stubborn, arrogant, insecure, whatever to accept that no fool who is attempting to win something for free would pick a $2800 car over a $600 car.
Royce, I'm still waiting for you to admit you were "wrong" when you posted above that the Thomas was a well known car due to winning the New York to Paris race. The race that was held in 1908, as Ralph pointed out. This contest occurs during the first half of 1907.
You may come back into the "debate" when you admit you were wrong (hard to do, isn't it?)
Obviously I missed the boat on the Thomas - I was wrong, wrong, wrong - but that leads us back to how on earth the Thomas and the Franklin could place above Ford in popularity?
Again, the contest appears to have no reference to the Model K specifically. I think you owe me an admission of wrongness
Some of the high end cars chosen in the survey. I'm still trying to find the REO (and I will) and will post that with the "big" Maxwell. In fact, there is a big red (Locke Nebraska Football (you Wisconsin guys be quiet ) from MN that tours every year at New London to anew Brighton. It is a big beautiful car (1908 model).
Yes,, I'd like to think some opinions are changing. Tim Kelly has toured his K extensively and I intend to do the same. Many times when I have the K I'll overhear people comment that "that wasn't a very good car", or "Henry didn't like the K" and to tell the truth I thought the same thing.
However, when I was around Tim's K my opinion started to change. Then when Dean Yoder was "deep in the bowels" of our engine and drive train, he repeatedly commented about how impressive the mechanical aspects were.
When the body was off, I was really impressed with the "beefiness" of the chassis. We all have heard about how when you had the K on uneven ground, the crank couldn't be turned due to the flimsy frame. Well, that was the 1906 version, not the 07/08 K. This chassis looks like a truck chassis. Also, the first Ks didn't have the pivot point (u joint flex) that the 07/08 did.
Dean, if your reading, we'd love to have your two cents worth.
Following are some of the top featured cars in the survey:
Interesting and informative to read the results of your research.
The story I always heard was Henry didn't think a car needed more cylinders than a "cow had teats." That it wasn't until 1906 when John Gray, President of Ford Motor Company, dies that he "killed" the Model K and renewed efforts on the smaller cars. Last night I finished a biography of Ransom Olds where the author mentioned that about that same time Alexander Malcomson also left Ford to go to Aerocar. Maybe it took both influential men's departures to let Henry do what he wanted. Has your research shed any light on why the Model K was discontinued?
Your right, respondents who identified Aerocar and American Mors and Triumph and Grout and Dorris....... didn't know the leading auto maker in the US had a big six cylinder touring equalling the other selections in price. Instead of choosing the big Buick, they wanted to take home the $600 Ford.
Give me a break. How about it, anyone still following this exercise in futility, what do you think?
I've put Ford advertisements on the forum from late 1907 showing both the N/S and K for 1908, and saying Ford will also bring out a new, light touring. Some ads show a Model S cowled, T touring bodied, NRS radiator waterpump/shift lever car. The specs say 97 inch, 20 HP touring (no mention of mag). This hybrid (I call it a Model ST) appears to be the initial car Ford planned to market in early 1908.
However, as we know, the car evolved further (there is a report in one of the period journals about some of the future T s being assembled alongside the N/S cars in June 08).
Anyway, the point is, it doesn't appear to me that Henry "locked" himself away in the upstairs room and created the T in one fell swoop. More likely, it evolved over many months from the successful lines of cars (remember, Ford is already far and away the largest auto manufacturer in the US by 1907) Ford was producing.
The ads I have showing this new car also say Ford will continue to produce both the N and K lines alongside the new car (and why not?).
I think what happened was Ford had so much invested in "the future" at a factory already cramped (Piquet) that the N/S/K lines fell away. Remember, all three Models, N/S & K ceased production at the same time.
Finally, an interesting side note. Malcolmson, who is "blamed for forcing Henry to build the K" was out of Ford (stock purchased) by 1906. Henry had complete control of the company in 1906. If he disliked the Model,K, why did he continue to build through 1908? Why did he "upgrade" it in 1907, even offering what is probably an industry first "guarantee" (warranty) if he disliked the car?
Lastly, about Malcolmson, the reason he was forced out of Ford ownership was because he was already heavily invested in Aerocar. Interestingly, Aerocar shows up 14th on the list of cars that these 6500 contestants would prefer to own! AHEAD OF CADILLAC, BUICK, RAMBLER, MARMON AND STANLEY, among others!
Now, back to my day job.....
Thomas Tourings and Pope Hartfords are regulars at the Holiday Motor Excursion, and they and others will be there again this Sunday, if it doesn't rain. Wifey still talks about the cream colored Thomas we saw there ten years ago.
Rob, if Nebraska ever gets to the Rose Bowl again, you'll have to bring your K to the HME.
First Chebby V8
Ralph, Ouch! (If they ever get to the Rose Bowl again?. Wow, kick a guy when he's down )
Willis, the Big Maxwell. A 40 hp car selling for $3,000 in 1907. Or do we think the contestants would have chosen the two cylinder Model RL ($825) because the public was more familiar with it?
And,,the "big" REO, retails for $2,500.
Hi Rob, As most know your are from the midwest. So with that in mind you maybe a little behind the rest of the world. Yes you can make a horse drink water. All you need to do is add a water pump. And if you want to have your horse start smoothly and change gaits with out notice is add the World Famous TH400 clutch. If you need further assistance please just ask. Thanks, Scott
You realize, of all the car models Henry Ford was responsible for bringing on the market, only one did not have a water pump. And Henry never made another model without a waterpump. Guess that one was a failure .
I came across this in the April,1915 "Automobile" magazine. A subscriber writes in asking why the Ford six cylinder car was discontinued? I thought it was interesting that before the spin, hype or revisionists got a hold of the question, the simple answer was that "it was decided to concentrate the attention of the plant on one model....and low priced car.
the Editor doesn't throw,out all the theories we accept now; "Henry didn't like it, "Investors made Ford produce it", "it was a sales flop", or any other such explanation. In fact, the Editor says a large percentage of the "sixes" are still in active service". Again, this is 1915. One noticeable error, the Editor says the car (K) was only in production one year. The K is already "sinking into history". Notice how the K is still referred as "Ford six".
I think this debate has gotten a bit off track. One must remember that technology was changing at an incredible rate in those few years. For forty years, I have argued that the greatest single-generational leap in all of human history, both technologically and sociologically, was in about thirty years from somewhere in the mid to late 1890s until the mid to late 1920s.
Yes, there were a hundred years of development that had to happen before. And, like most things statistical analysis, there is a sort of "bell curve" to it. The specific beginning year could be debated till doomsday, as could the final year of that leap. However the "top of the bell" is about 1905 till 1915. Consider the Curved Dash Oldsmobile. Before Ford Motor Company was formed, it was the first truly mass produced automobile in the world. It was, for if I recall correctly two years, the largest selling car in the world. By today's standards, even by 1915 standards, it was little more than a go-cart. But in 1903, it was the biggest selling car in the world and was considered to be an automobile, albeit a small one.
When we discuss the Ford model K, we are talking about only three years. 1906 was admittedly not a fully developed model. 1907 and 1908 were greatly improved and are the two years we are referring to as the model K years. Consider how much the automotive technology changed just from 1904 (Oldsmobile was still number one) till 1906.How much more automobile was any Maxwell, REO, Ford? That is a three year change.
I have mentioned a longtime very good friend has a 1906 Locomobile. It is not the largest, but nearly is one of the largest automobiles built in the United States for 1906. I have also mentioned another friend's 1907 Thomas Flyer. The difference between those two cars is striking. There is barely a year between those two cars. And by 1910, that Thomas is dwarfed by dozens of cars. Another three year change.
One must look to the original reporting to gain real insight to the development at that time. One must consider whether a car was on a leading or trailing edge with a specific model. In 1907/8, the model K was on a leading edge. The NRS models were solid sellers and basically good current models. It would be natural to assume they would be continued past the introduction of the model T. However, a year later, the development was taking the model T further than expected. The NRS models were falling behind fast, and the K was due for a major update. This is not because the K "was an inferior car" for 1908. Only because things were changing so fast it was also falling behind. The model T, was by size, speed, (soon reliability), not that far behind the old model K. It was probably a very reasonable decision for Ford to drop all the older models and concentrate on the T for a few years. There he really found his niche. (Till the Lincoln)
I have to go to the store now.
Drive carefully, and have a very Happy New Year! W2
Transferred from another thread:
By John Stokes on Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 11:10 pm:
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)
It's interesting that Ford is once again going after the luxury market with its new "Lincoln Motor Co." NPR Marketplace said there is big profit in luxury cars.
Do I hear an old echo?
If you follow this, I copied your post from the other thread. This thread may have some items to "plead" my case, and I'll add a few. Again, thank you for the interesting and insightful comments above. I'll question a few of them and try to explain my theories.
First, if you look two posts up, you'll see a question and answer column that appeared in a 1915 letter to the editor, "the Automobile" magazine. While not proof by any means, the answer to the question "what happened to the Ford six" (paraphrasing). The editor, who seems somewhat knowledgablei, and because the K was only 7 or 8 years removed from the scene (a seven year old car means nothing to us now, but I think then that was eons in automobile time). I suspect this "innocent" answer is probably closer to the truth than we have been lead to believe.
After reading period ads and accounts, it appears the K and N/S were originally intended to continue, at least for awhile. I've produced winter ads (Oct 1907 thru Jan 1908) saying the same, that a "light touring" would be delivered by spring 1908, ALONG WITH THE RUNABOUT AND SIX. There are also car show lists mentioning the "new touring" along with ads that show a Model S cowled, NS radiator and shift lever, right hand drive touring car, listed with 20 HP engine.
I think that Ford intended to "phase in" the new car while continuing their two successful lines of K and NS.
Now, why do I think this?
Let's talk about Malcomson first. As you point out, he is gone from Ford by May 1906. This is bout the time the first Models K and N are being readied for shipping. Both models were first shown in January, and both were not ready for delivery until,about June.
Let's go through model year 1906. The N is an instant success, four cylinders, when it's peers has one or two, lightweight, boasting high horsepower to weight ratio. And great affordability, costing less than any other four cylinder car on the market, and less than similar horsepower one and two cylinder cars.
Now the Model K. (And remember, Ford, like all major builders of the era, has always had two models to offer, a low end and higher end model. First, the A/C and B. then the C and B. you could even argue three models when the C, F,and B were all offered in 1905.
Now, the Model K. Just as with the N, it was lightweight, had six cylinders compared to it's peers (price and hp peers) and sold for less than any other six cylinder on the market (sounds familiar).
And, Malcolmson is out.....
Now, we get to the 1907 Model year. The K has shortcomings, the frame is too light, the exhaust manifold is under the intake and "cools" the magneto, the car doesn't flex at the trans to driveshaft point. Only 350 of these cars have been sold. AND THE MODEL N IS A RUNAWAY SUCCESS.
AND MALCOMSON IS OUT.
isn't this the point where Henry would have "pulled the plug" on the K? Or at the least, let it "languish" on the shelf? But instead of doing what any strong willed leader who is now in charge of his company, and stop production of the car he "despised", or was "coerced" to build, Henry Ford "doubles down".
He changes the K dramatically, lengthening the frame and wheelbase from 114 to 120 inches. Redesigns the engine and transmission transfer point, ads 20% more horsepower, ads a "guarantee". Then, he leads a major portion of Ford advertising with either the K featured (pictured), or jointly featured with the N/S.
This doesn't seem like a CEO who disdains one of his products.
Next, he places the K in several speed and endurance events, and WHEN THE MODEL K WINS, HE "FEATURES" those wins in Ford advertising.
Again, not how it'd react if I was King (sorry, your still part of the Commonwealth ) and didn't like, or even felt the car was a financial failure.
Meanwhile, have I mentioned Malcomsen lately? He's gone off with another woman, ..... a car company, right?
So now he is making big expensive automobiles,,as the history books tell us he wanted Henry to do, right? Well, actually his company, Aerocar (that by the way he was already invested in before leaving Ford, and I have read that involvement with another auto venture caused the rift with Henry as much as anything) does make a large somewhat expensive car. In fact, it is about the size, horsepower and price as the K, but his new company (as with almost all companies of the day) makes a smaller less expensive car too (Just like they did when he was at Ford.
Aerocar Models: surprisingly (or not) this higher end Aerocar costs about the same as K and has almost the same wheelbase and HP as the 1906 K.
The "lower end" model, while costing over twice as much as an N Ford, offers a 20 hp engine, touring body and 104 in wheelbase (similar specs to the future T).
Still, if Malcomsen left to build only high end cars, his new company still offered a mid level car too.
Now, an article about four vs, six cylinder engines. E. R. Thomas (Flyer fame) takes up the argument for four cylinder engines. Guess makes a very technical, and convincing argument for six cylinder engines? That's right, Henry Ford.
This is an "interesting" read:
I really believe the account given by an unknown editor for "The Automobile" sums it up.
No, mysterious machinations by investors, not financially burdensome if each dollar spent created the same profit, either on Model N/RS, or Model K, the 953 (the highest number K I know of), then building/selling 953 Ks in just over two years (June 1906 thru summer 2008), that is the equivalent of building/selling about 4500 Model Ns. Not a shabby number.
Yes, had Ford sold the same dollars worth of Ns that he sold dollars of K, (meaning if Ford made the same profit dollar for dollar with model K as N, he would have needed to sell 4500 more Ns to equal the number of dollars brought in by a $2800 K.
I forgot to mention, Aerocar comes in at Number 14 in the "contest" printed above, beating out well known (today) marquees such as Buick, Rambler and REO.
Wayne, careful with your statistics. The top of the bell (if in fact it follows the normal curve) can't be a spread. If it's truly normal the top of the curve will be at the mean. However I would go along with your assessment if you would care to make 1910 the mean and then +/- 1 standard deviation at 1905 and 1915. Then it could be said that 68% of the technological advances would have occurred within the 68%. This would put another 28% of your advances happening at +/- 2 standard deviations which would occur on the curve at 1900 and 1920. At 1895 and 1925 you'll account for another 3.73% of the curve and 99.7% of the total occurrences will fall within +/- 3 standard deviations. Therefore 3 out of 1000 occurences would happen outside the curve. That's of course assuming a normal Gausian shaped bell curve that doesn't show an over-abundance of kurtosis or perhaps display a tendency to be bimodal or a distribution that's one sided and nearing a tendency to approach a skewed (Gamma) or Weibull distribution. But if you've got your raw data we can do a chi-square test for normality, then for a visual report actually plot a normal probability plot on normal probability paper. However a histogram is certainly a good enough representation. And if we're actually going to attempt to prove what appears to be one mans nonscientific theory without analyzing data then your little fallacy becomes worthless conjecture on your part. And until you can prove your theory utilizing actual raw data perhaps you'll want to be a little more careful with you predictions. Not bad for an uneducated idiot with only a high school education huh.
And don't make me bring up the fact Ford is still on the road. And that ain't no prediction.
I couldn't sleep, til I tried reading all that
Pleasant dreams Rob and all the rest of youse bums.
This is a great debate! Clearly you have been doing some reading.
In my research, one thing I have learned is that the standards of journalism and accuracy in writing (choice of words) back then was very high (especially when they are compared to today's standards, perhaps brought about by deadline pressures and under-resourcing, producing sloppy work). Do you know when The Automobile "Ford Abandoned Six for Four" letter was published? I note that the editor has stated the cars (Model Ks) were manufactured in 1906.
His claim that Ford abandoned the K (and the other Models, for that matter) to concentrate on just the one model is accurate and well known. History also shows it to be accurate, with just one model made worldwide from 1909 until 1932.
Fuel consumption was also part of the equation for Ford. A six drinks more than a four. Not only did the car for the masses need to be inexpensive to buy, it needed to be inexpensive (NOT cheap!) to operate. The discovery of vanadium steel allowed Ford to build a car that was quite large, as the T was, with a relatively small motor and still get along at a reasonable pace. Vanadium steel was first used in the Model N - the same era. To the best of my knowledge, it was not used in the K. No longer was it necessary to have a six-cylinder motor to drive, economically, a large car.
As far as the New York to Paris Race, in my opinion, the German team automobile Protos won. I can't remember exactly, but they arrived in Paris some 26 days before the American team automobile Thomas. It was a screwed up race from the start and officials imposed penalties against the Protos leaving the Thomas the winner.
Ford really only conducted business with one model for 13 years, 1909 (model year) to 1922, when Ford purchased Lincoln and again produced upscale cars.
Again, this is "exception" for major automakers, producing only one model. I believe because the Model T platform (chassis/engine/drivetrain) was so adaptable, Ford didn't see a need for multiple models, just multiple purpose body works.
However, by the early 20s Ford realized they needed more models (purchase of Lincoln) to keep pace with multi model companies. During this time, the "black T" while selling in the millions, was becoming an outdated inexpensive car, instead of industry and technology leader.
From the yet to be released book, "Henry Ford According to Rob" (not to be seen in stores near you ).
Happy New Year,
Almost forgot to answer your question. This was in the April 1, 1915 "The Automobile",
For Rob – great discussion – thanks for starting it and the other pre-T threads. I wish I had a little more time to participate – but it has been busy at work (and it is good to have a job).
Willis – from the web site Sports Car Digest at: http://www.sportscardigest.com/the-greatest-race-1908-new-york-to-paris/2/ it has a nice summary and more importantly some great photos of the 1908 race. It has:
“In Utah, the Protos had engine problems and on-the-spot repairs proved not possible. Lt. Koeppen asked the committee if he could ship the car to Seattle. Without an official ruling, he took the car on the train. In so doing, the Protos skipped 1,000 miles of difficult terrain. This would become an important factor in deciding the winner. When the Protos arrived in Seattle, Koeppen explained that the Protos had to be sent to Vladivostok where a new engine could be installed. The Protos as well as the DeDion were shipped directly to Vladivostok. The rules committee assessed a 15-day penalty on each and placed another 15-day penalty on the Protos for missing the 1,000 miles in the U.S.” [Hap again: why 15 days for shipping direct from Seattle to Vladivostok? Because they skipped the part of the route through some of Alaska and Japan.]
And summarized: The German Protos arrived in Paris on July 26. The Thomas arrived at 8 pm on July 30 (about 4 days later – not sure about how many hours). Due to the penalty of 15 days for shipping to Vladivostok rather than taking the longer land route or the 15 day penalty for shipping the car the 1000 miles by train from Utah to Seattle, the Thomas was proclaimed the victor. If the Thomas had arrived 29 days after the Protos it still would have been declared the winner – but of course then the fairness of the penalties would have been debated more. But with only 4 days difference -- and not to mention the Thomas team pulled the stuck Protos out of a bog – I think the Thomas-Flyer won the race fairly by the rules. Note if the Protos had not had to have the engine replaced it could have worked out differently (i.e. it would not have had to been shipped by rail and it would not have had to be shipped to Vladivostok for the replacement engine.) And of course with any of the cars from that period the failure of a critical part (engine, transmission, rear axle, etc.) could have taken any of the cars out of the race. There were not a lot a dealers of any make world wide and there was not a FedEx available either. Of course if I was of German decent I might feel differently. Just like many Ford folks tell the story of the 1909 race across the USA saying the Ford came in first. That is true – but after the inspection the car that arrived second was finally declared the winner because one of the major parts on the Ford had been replaced/tampered with.
For all – thanks for keeping it civil.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Willis, one car was disqualified for bypassing the land crossing of Japan, and went straight to Russia, saving about 30 days. That was probably the Protos. I have the book, "The Longest Auto Race," written by George Schuster, who started out as mechanic on the Thomas, and soon became #1 driver and team leader. It's been a long time since I read it, however. Great book.
Being in the lead, the Thomas sailed from Seattle to Valdez, only to learn there was no way to get across Alaska and on to Siberia as advertised, so had to return to San Francisco for the boat trip to Japan. I don't believe the other cars made that detour.
The National Auto Museum ran the original Thomas in part of the Greatrace one year, probably 1999. It was shocking to stand next to it, along with the unwashed masses who had no idea of its history. It's on prominent display in Reno.
Bill Harrah bought what he thought might be the original Thomas in the 1960s, and brought it to Schuster, then living in Nevada, who verified the weld he had done on the frame in Russia.
It appears the Franklin was doing well in the press back then. From: http://www.franklincar.org/about/history/herbert-h-franklin.html we see they made two trans-continental trips. One in 1904 in a four cylinder and the second in 1906 in a six cylinder. Of the second trip it says:
“In 1906 the press of the nation hailed the Franklin. The Scientific American said it was doubtful if any but a powerful lightweight car could ever equal the new Franklin record.” That record of 15 days, 2 hours and 15 minutes was still standing when the 1908 great race occurred [taken from the web site Sports Car Digest at: http://www.sportscardigest.com/the-greatest-race-1908-new-york-to-paris/2/ ].
And from page 138 – 139 of “The American Car Since 1775” published by the Editors of Automobile Quarterly, they listed Franklin in the top 10 car manufactures calendar year production for 1902 to 1908 with the exception of 1903. The best ranking was number 5 for both 1904 and 1905 behind Ford that was listed number 4 for both of those years. The rankings and numbers vary a little from those in Wikipedia but both represent the Franklin as one of the top 10 production automobiles during that time frame.
Respectfully submitted (it sure beats doing yard work!),
Hap l9l5 cut off
I wondered about you (that's a good thing ). We've missed you well researched and reasoned posts. Glad to hear all is well with you (other than that nasty thing you mentioned that plagues many of us, work ).
Thank you for the info,
Forum, Are we locked up? Test
I realize that Franklin was a fairly well known make. What I find odd is that it placed above Ford and several other well known makers. It seems that Ford's reputation was not as good as Franklins, perhaps because of all the mechanical problems the Model K had in its first model year.
I imagine that is what hurt sales of the K in its second and third model years. It never recovered from the bad press caused by the crankcase failures and transmission failures of the 1906 models. (reference Pate's book)
Royce, both Ford and Franklin finished in the top five OF NINETY EIGHT CARS CHOSEN!
And the K DID sell well in it's second year (remember, the K , as the N, were only delivered from June 1906 until the summer of 1908, JUST OVER A TWO YEAR RUN.
The 1906 style sold 350 cars. The 1907/08 K sold over 600 (953 known engine numbers). This was not a bad sales number for a high end model during this period. 1907 the number eight auto producer in the US, Packard, is credited with only 1,129 cars produced (Cycle and Automobile Magazine, Sept 1907) all models total! And Packard is listed as the 8th largest auto producer in the U.S. on 1907. that means of 255 auto makers selling cars in the US, 247 of them sold less than 1129 cars per year (all models)!
The FORD SIX (K) SOLD 600 CARS FROM LATE 1906 through the summer of 1908, only one and a half years to sell 600 cars.
Again, this is a good sales figure for a higher end model.
Here is the text from Pate's Early Ford Automobile Encyclopedia. Link here:
Henry Ford designed, built and raced race cars to learn what worked best and became a recognized automotive engineer. To offer a large and prestigious model to compete with the other expensive automobiles, the 1906 Model K was introduced in January 1906, at the NY Automobile show.
Due to company production issues, the Model K and the smaller Model N were not released for sale until July 1906, even though Models B, C and F were discontinued by May. The drive train and engine for the Model K were made by the Dodge Bros. and the car was assembled at the Ford Piquette Plant. The car had a wheelbase of 114¡¨ with a tulip style touring body and a larger 6-cylinder 40 HP engine with dual ignition and a magneto. The auto had dual rear brakes in addition to a transmission brake, larger 34¡¨ x 4¡¨ wheels, new planetary gear steering reduction and initially a ¡§pig¡¨ head radiator which was quickly changed.
The Model was difficult to sell and its reliability gained a poor reputation. The Model K was initially offered at an expensive price of $2,500 and after 30 months only 950 automobiles were produced.
Issues and Improvements Needed:
Car frame too weak (Addition of truss rods ¡V 1906 & 1907),
Old body styling (Old curve Tulip style changed to straight lines - 1907)
Improve cooling system (Added fan and larger radiator ¡V 1906 & 1907),
Reliability issues (Engine too powerful for transmission),
Model not consistent with Ford¡¦s vision
(Simple, Strong, Light, Reliable and Affordable)
Carl essentially concurred with the popular view in this book. He told me, for example, he was unable to find anything in writing that said dealers had to take 1 K for every 10 NRS cars.
The information I'm drawing from includes personal experience (not many have driven and worked on a K) along with actual accounts taken from the era.
In what Carleton wrote above, what is not factual? The 1906 models did indeed have bad design issues, and they were indeed fixed as he says in 1907. As Carleton says, there were only 950 built over three model years - a poor showing even compared with much more expensive cars like Pierce Arrow.
The styling was odd and outdated in 1906. And the big Fords were eliminated because Ford didn't want to build any more cars that were not Simple, Strong, Light, Reliable and Affordable.
In what way is this not 100% accurate and true?
Carl also reports that the first Model K (and N) were delivered in July 1906. The last were built in the summer of 1908 (again N , S & K.). That is about a 2 year span (27 months max).
We also know the 06 model was "updated and improved" for Model year 1907. 350 1906 models were sold. Carl's book also mentions 650 K chassis were ordered from Dodge Bros
For 1907. I know of car 953, so at least 953 Ks were built, possibly 1,000 Ks built, over a two year to 27 month period.
That means, if we use the 27 month figure, and 953 Ks built, that is an average of 35 cars per month, or 424 per year. When the number eight car builder only produces 1129 cars (Packard, all models, 1907) then 424 per year of the high end model from a manufacturer is not a bad sales number.
Now, the styling of the 1906 K. Look at a 1908 Cadillac car, still tulip body. This style was not outdated in 1906.
I've got a lot of bigger fish to fry than wallowing around in the mud over these nit picky issues.
The K was a good car. It competed in many contests, and recorded many top finishes. Production numbers were good for an automakers top car.
I've found corroborating information to support all these suggestions. I'm not sure why you insist in arguing every point I make, but it is becoming "tedious".
I have not heard one thing that places any of Carl Pate's statements in dispute.
I work hard to find information that supports my theories. I have not said a damn thing about disputing anything Carl says (don't drag someone else into this).
You are a constant contrarian. I'm not sure what pleasure you derive from "sniping" at others work, but I'm damn tired of it. Start your own threads. You have a lot of knowledge and talent, but for some reason you choose to use your efforts to prove others wrong, or start paper fignts.
I've talked with you on the phone, taken your advice, and you were pleasant and informative. However, it seems when you are near a keyboard, your "evil twin" takes over.
If you don't have something constructive to bring to a conversation, or can't research/copy/verify information, stay off my posts. You've proven your not a Franklin, Thomas or Ford Model K expert, yet you keep coming back to pick at my posts. I'm damn tired of it.
On a lighter part of this topic about halfway up is a reference as to why Nebraska cannot make it to the Rose Bowl. This red sweatered ground dwelling animal won't allow it.
I needed that . Hope Georgia doesn't beat us by 100
I enjoy greatly all the historic documents you have posted. I also enjoyed Pate's Early Ford book. I just don't see that anything you have posted is in dispute with Pate's work. Henry did discontinue building big expensive cars because he was not successful at it. It is really that simple. I don't see how you can argue otherwise.
I would trade all my T's for a Model K, but nonetheless the truth is staring us in the face.
You're part of the Big Ten now, so we want Nebraska to WIN! We all want the Big Ten to win wherever they play. Go Big Red.
I am sure Henry supported the wolverines in his time.
Hey Dave, does that ground rat plan on developing a hockey team anytime soon?
Royce you can't blow it all off that easily. You have to present some real evidence that what you're saying is right. I think now the burden of proof is on you. To base an opinion on all Model K's on the 1906 design before any design revisions were made isn't a fair assessment. The 1907 and 1908 cars were far superior because of those revisions. However Hank was hell bent on making a lighter car and focused on the T. But I doubt he didn't like the K and he probably realized what a superior car the K was at it's price point Ford didn't want to stay in that market. So even though I have no idea of what I'm talking about you can recognize the fact I'll never say anything was superior to the Ford car prior to 1957. After that; who cares?
A local guy has a 1907 Pierce touring, a 1907 Peerless touring, and a 1907 Packard touring. He parks them right next to his 1929 Duesenberg J Derham touring. He owns no other collector cars.
I can tell you there is not much that can compete with those three 1907 cars cars at any price.
Which of those companies are still in business?
Rob- Thanks for sharing all the research you have done on the Model K. I along with most other's believed the inaccuracies published on this car. That’s the problem with a lot of history. If someone has an ax to grind, and they are in a publishing position, this is what happens. Good example is, what’s going on in the media today. Hopefully, years from now someone else will correct what is published now.
Throughout history Ford has been a media target by many who just don't like the brand. Possibly because it is a family owned business.
I like Mikes response. If these other brands were so great, where are they?
FORD - found on road dead
FORD - fix or repair daily
We have had a few problems with Ford over the years, but they have evolved into as good a car as anyone elses.
Many people recognize the Model T even if its a buick, a che....let, etc. The first words to their mouth, 'Is that a Model T?'
Rob has done a lot of work and it is a pleasure reading it. Wait until he gets to the archives and really digs up some neat stuff. Thank you Rob for sharing all this with us.
Mike makes a great point. Those other brands concentrated on high priced, low volume cars. Ford got smart and concentrated on volume production and became the world's most successful entrepreneur. The guys building high priced cars eventually went out of business.
The popularity contest in that article still confounds me because Ford was already the #1 car maker on earth due to the sales of the Model N and R. Nowhere does it tell voters to only vote on expensive cars - quite to the contrary, it tells them to select cars priced under $3000 and (again confusing) a tire brand.
Why on earth would anyone choosing in this survey pick Ford, thinking their choice was a $600 runabout, when the contest says "you may choose a car costing $3,000 or less"?
Let's have some degree of common sense about this. I know it confounds (here we go again, damnit)you, but the "reasonable" person is choosing a car that"
A. They like
B. Costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000.
And I'm not sure which order to place A and B in.
I don't know why it's so hard to accept this......except then you might be wrong.
The research you have posted in rather nice to review. The big Ford was perhaps well designed, as you know, while the market place was changing in 1908-1909, as more regular Joe's wanted an Auto!
The high price autos were catering a high end market.....America was changing its attitude to the automobile, and snobby chauffeur large 6 cyl. city autos were on the way out.
Here is a recap from the NY Auto Show, Jan 1909 when the first Ford Model T was shown, Ford only exhibited the 4 cyl, and the majority of autos at the show were 4 cyl, same a previous show in 1908.
Jan 1909 The Horseless Age magazine.
1908 numbers as the prior year's NY Auto Show.
While probably not a clumsy big 6cyl, the Ford K, it just was being out sold by 4cyl autos that the motoring public was buying on price, quality, and reliability....and Ford was leading the race with its high quality 4cyl and the new Ford Model T took the race to flat out beating everyone else....the numbers and history show it.
In July 1909....owners were dumping the big K's
July 1909 The Automobile magazine.
Original owners took a worse beating then than today. Which of those used cars would have been the better extended term investment?
I'd vote for the Stanley as investment, but would prefer the Thomas or Ford to drive.
Good points (with pics, I love pics ).
I'll throw a few other ads and accounts up and see what you think.
First, the ads you researched show the Ford 6 cylinder for $850 (what we don't know, is it the inferior 1906 or improved 1907 K?). In the same ad is a Thomas Flyer, also $850, Cadillac "4 cylinder touring" for $500, Stearns Flyer for $850, and a Rambler 4 cyl touring for only $650.
What does this tell us?
First, if all things are equal (and we don't know that they are), The Ford has held it's value very well compared to it's "peers".
If all four are 1907s, they all cost about the same new (Thomas-$2,700, Ford -$2,800, Cadillac- $2,500, Stearns Flyer - $4,500 (Stearns only shows two bodies for 1907, touring and limousine)
The only thing we know from this ad conclusively is that Ford has held it's value next to other high end used cars.
Some more ads:
What I'm "deducting" from this ad, "Ford Six" is the ad "lead". This party has several we'll known makes offered, and leads with the "big Ford".
Next, an ad from Nebraska (Omaha paper). The Ford 6 is $800. The 40 Horse Thomas Flyer is $575. A Peerless roadster that this ad says COST $3,000 is only $550!
The entire page follows:
Sooooo, what have we learned (probably not much )
1. Ads are difficult to learn a definitive answers about, but can lead us in, a direction (just too little real information).
2. The Ford six is holding it's value compared to the other "marque brand s" of the day.
3. Cars lost value quickly due to fast changing technological advances. We see almost no 1902-1905 cars for sale (and of course there weren't a lot of them to start with).
I'll stop with this ad. I've posted it before, but it "speaks volumes" to me (surprise). In it, Holley Brothers spend significant advertising money to buy a full page ad in "Cycle and Automobile" magazine to show a letter to them from Henry Ford, about THEIR MAGNETO BEING ON THE FORD "SIX" THAT SET A WORLDS RECORD 24 IN A HOUR DISTANCE RACE. And they (Holley Bros) are not trying to influence Ford or Ford owners, they already sell to Ford.
If the Ford six (K) was not a well thought of car by the public, would Holley have spent the money to associate their product with this car? Of course not!
And, if Henry did not care for the Ford Six, would he have allowed Holley to associate their products with the K? Remember, Ford is a big buyer of Holley carbs and mags at this point. I'll bet they asked him before placing a full page ad in a major auto journal using a letter from him (Henry Ford).
(Side note, notice that John Dodge is listed in the address line as Vice President of Ford).
Full page ad:
Boy! I miss a day on this thread and it grew a bunch! I hope it wasn't something I said?
Mike, I very much enjoyed your comments! Maybe you and I should collaborate on some writing?
I found the used car prices fascinating. It would seem that the model K Ford did hold its value better than some of the other marques. However, as Rob said, there is not quite enough information such as years, models, and condition, in some of these advertisements to make solid comparisons. The Cadillac and Oldsmobiles in one of those ads may have been one cylinder cars which despite what "Horseless Age" published in January 1909 were on the decline with major and known manufacturers at that time. They were on the rise at the auto show because companies like Brush and the high wheeler manufacturers were seeking a market before the model T went down enough in price to mostly wipe them out.
Mike! That is my opinion supported only by things I have read in years past. (Winking and laughing!)
They also reported a decline in sixes at the auto show. How many reading here have ever crank started a six cylinder antique? I have. Contrary to some theories offered earlier, they are not easier to crank than a four of similar size due to the 120 degree offsets (as opposed to 180 degree for a four). You wind up fighting two compression strokes. Maybe if you can "spin" one? Even I cannot spin a six of any size, and I spin Ts like winding a watch (thumb wrapped firmly around the handle of course).
A good friend of mine has a 1912 Pierce Arrow six with a factory installed air-motor starter, one of the last. When it was restored some years ago, the engine was rebuilt. I was NOT successful at trying to crank start it. One of my friends who is a Pierce expert told me that the limiting factor on the then increasing horsepower competition was the ability, or lack thereof, to crank and start the engine. Except for cars meant to be driven by professionals, the limit had been pretty much reached by 1910. And many large models were still huge fours. Pierce and others had adopted air starters not knowing the electric starter was just around the corner. Seems silly looking back.
Do drive carefully, and have a wonderful NEW YEAR! W2
Happy New Year,
Hand propping a six in a light airplane is exciting, compared to a four.
Air starters were used in airplanes to at least the 1950s, as the English DeHavilland Chipmunk had one. It took shotgun-like cartridges to spin the prop. Remember the one in "The Flight of the Phoenix?"
Air start is common on jet engines.