For anyone still interested (we've beat this poor horse about to death.
Let's back up and look at the automotive climate in 1907. Below is the first excerpt from a 1907 "Motor" magazine 07 review.
Motor says there are 255 manufacturers actively selling cars in the U.S.. It also states these automakers make "pleasure cars".
Following this clip, from the AACA website are numbers of total cars produced in the U.S., 43,000 autos. You'll also see the number of six cylinder cars are listed as increasing in the second insert.
If we do some simple math, with 255 automakers producing 43,000 cars, the average production per company would equal ONE HUNDRED SIXTY NINE (169) CARS PER YEAR.
If you recall from earlier threads, Ford was averaging about TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR MODEL Ks PER YEAR. As I've maintained, this is a very respectable number for an up scale vehicle.
The article goes on to say there are 612 models of cars. This means the average production of cars by model,in the U.S. equals SEVENTY CARS PER MODEL! Again, Ford built over 950 Model Ks over a 27 month period, or an average of 169 Ks per year.
The average cost of these cars (gasoline) is $2,834. The Ford Six costs $2,800.
The average of 1907 motor cars is 2,100 lbs. per vehicle. (Below). The average weight per one horsepower is 70 lbs. to 1 hp.
Ford Six (K) weighs 2,600 lbs. with 40 hp, or 65 lbs per 1 hp.
The Typical Car. Below is a description of the "average" car. The Ford K comes in about average in price, however is larger (heavier) with more horsepower than the "average" (a Henry Ford trait, more horsepower to weight ratio for less).
What I'd like readers to come away is selling 953 cars in just over two years is not a "bad" sales figure. Of course sales of Ks are dwarfed by the sale of Model N/S, but that is the number one selling car in the U.S.. Model K was targeted as a low priced, high powered alternative for the high end auto market.
Tomorrow, I'll compare how the Ford K compared with other cars priced similarity (comparing weight to horsepower and features) and to other six cylinder cars. If your tired of this, don't look.
Actually, I hope anyone following is enjoying the read and appreciates the work (labor of love ).
Happy New Year
I am not sure about the "beating a dead horse" part, he may still be going. I do know that I am still enjoying reading your findings from your research. But, then, we all know that I am crazy. I often suspected the K was a better car than I was told and read about forty years ago. It has been too long since I have seen one up close. I may have to make a trip next summer if I can get away that long.
As to selective shift gear type transmissions being a "major trend" (stated from the AACA website?) it needs to be remembered that when it comes to "gear type" transmissions, there are more than one. The "selective shift" type allows shift movement from any gear range directly to any other gear range. The other common type is the "progressive shift". I had known for a long time that these were used in early automobiles. However, I was surprised to learn that Packard used progressive shift at least as late as 1913. You cannot brake to a stop from 3rd or 4th gear and just slip the transmission back into 1st. You must slip through 3rd and/or 2nd before putting the transmission into 1st.
I noticed the shift lever only went forward and backward as my friend drove his then newly acquired touring car while I sat comfortably in the back. So I asked about it. He replied "Oh, you didn't know? Yeah, Packard was still using progressive shift then". Many lesser cars were using the "H" pattern "selective shift" before that (I know another friend's 1912 small Buick did). I do not know when Packard used the progressive shift last.
The problems this brings up, is that newer researchers may not be aware of those differences and may report inaccurately. Also, original reporting, especially around 1907, may not be clear on which type of gear type transmission a car has, because the "progressive shift" was often referred to as a "selective gear" transmission before the "H" pattern "selective shift" became common enough to need to be more specific.
Did I make enough sense with that? It really doesn't matter much for the Ford model K discussion. Just something some people should be aware of.
There were a few other types of gear transmissions, including some really crazy ideas in earlier cars. Some of them had the speed gear selection mixed in with the differential. Those are patent drawings that will make you crazy trying to figure out. (Maybe that is what happened to me? I always thought it was being an RF field tech for so many years.) I looked at a lot of that really early stuff when I was researching my gasoline carriage. It, however has "belt and chain" drive, so I didn't make or keep copies of some of the far out stuff I found in those early magazines.
Anyway, more great stuff Rob! You keep posting, I'll keep reading! Thank you.
Happy New Year! W2
Thank you for the encouragement and comments.
I'm planning on putting a thread together (groan, another thread comparing Ford Sixes to it's major competitors of the day . I'll compare price, weight, horsepower and transmission types. I've often thought the two speed was the "weak point" of the Model K ( how many times have we thought the same of our Ts). However, the advantages of the 2 speed planetary exist too, as you mentioned.
It needs to be noted that most of the car makers went out of business because no one could make a profit selling 71 cars a year.
I speculate that Ford under command of Alexander Malcomsen ordered 1000 crankcases, 1000 transmissions, enough cylinder pairs to build 1000 engines, etc. in late summer of 1905 with car production commencing months later in April 1906. Remember, Dodge Brothers built all the mechanical parts for Ford. Ford at the time only assembled the cars, the majority of the parts being purchased from outside vendors. There would have to be considerable lead time between design, capitalization of tooling, and production.
It took Ford nearly three years to sell all the Model K's built from those parts on hand. After selling that batch of less than 1000 six cylinder cars, Ford never built another six cylinder car until Henry was cold in the grave.
Actually Ford did produce another 6 cylinder while Henry was still alive. The G series engines which were first used in 1941.
Right you are, do you think Henry was aware of it or involved in the decision making process?
Here are some other Model K references from automotive historian George Dammann's book "Illustrated History of Ford".
"I speculate that Ford under command of Alexander Malcomsen ordered 1000 crankcases, 1000 transmissions, enough cylinder pairs to build 1000 engines, etc. in late summer of 1905 with car production commencing months later in April 1906. Remember, Dodge Brothers built all the mechanical parts for Ford. Ford at the time only assembled the cars, the majority of the parts being purchased from outside vendors. There would have to be considerable lead time between design, capitalization of tooling, and production."
That is just what it is, SPECULATION, on your part. Still waiting for the "quote" you said you would find of Henry Ford saying he would never build another six cylinder vehicle.
Carl Pate's book says Ford ordered 650 OF THE NEW, IMPROVED MODEL K CHASSIS from Dodge in the summer/fall of 1906. They couldn't be the new improved chassis if Malcomson "directed " Ford buy 1,000 chassis from Dodge, because Malcomsen was already gone before the first "unimproved" K is shipped (Malcomson was already involved with Aerocar in 1905, so I doubt he had a tremendous amount of influence with Ford when he is heavily invested with w direct competitor. In fact, I've read (not speculated) that Molcomson's involvement in Aerocar was the major reason for his selling his stock in FoMoCo.
This account from a December 1906 article mentions MalcomSON's involvement with Aerocar. Aerocar was a competitor of Ford by 1906 (Aerocar was the 14th most pocked on the contest survey chosen by over 6500 respondents I listed earlier.
Also, showing post war pics of Model Ks, with captions saying "still not drawing any great number of buyers" provides nothing to this argument, except that you have nothing to back your claims except the same "historical accounts" I take issue with.
Provide us with actual evidence to corroborate your assertions, but don't just repeat un corroborated "history".
Also, notice how Malcomson is credited in the article with both "organizing and funding" Ford Motor Company. Looks like "who says it" is who writes history. Hmmmmmmm
And on the same day that Malcomson was brought out by Henry Ford, with a loan of $175,000 from the Dime Savings Bank, arranged by Couzen's uncle, and Couzen's endorsed the notes.....Ford is quoted by Fred Rockelman to say:
Fred, this is a great day. We're going to expand this company and you will see that this company will grow by leaps and bounds because this transportation industry as I have it in my mind is to get it to the multitude.
Henry was on the course to make only lightweight, 1500lb autos, where a heavy 6cyl was out of the question, where the wheelbase couldn't be more than 100".
That was an extreme gamble at the time Rob, when you note that larger cars were the 'in thing'. Facts tell us, that Henry was right, the market (millions wanting a affordable auto)....was the car Henry envisioned after the success of the 'N', and the 'R', 'S'....was the Universal Car....
Malcomson was so obsessed with big cars, the AeroCar, air cooled, later water cooled, and washed up by Sept 1907, when Aerocar went bankrupt.....Malcomson held to his belief in big cars,.....had he stayed his shares would have been worth $64million. Instead his big car big head caused him to fall on hard times, and even in 1919 asked Ford to reconsider the price he sold his stock for...you know Henry's answer to that
Official Ford Motor Company history account:
Between 1903 and 1908, Henry Ford and his engineers feverishly went through 19 letters of the alphabet—from Model A to Model S. Some of these cars were experimental models that never reached the public. Some had two cylinders, some had four, and one had six; some had a chain drive and some a shaft drive; and in two the engine was placed beneath the driver's seat. Perhaps the most successful of the production cars was the Model N—a small, light, four-cylinder machine that went on the market at $500. A $2,500 six-cylinder limousine, the Model K, sold poorly.
The Model K's failure, along with Mr. Ford's insistence that the company's future lay in the production of inexpensive cars for a broad market, caused increasing friction between Mr. Ford and Alexander Malcomson, the Detroit coal dealer who had been instrumental in raising the original $28,000. As a result, Malcomson left the company and Mr. Ford acquired enough of his stock to increase his holdings to 58.5 percent. He became president in 1906, succeeding John S. Gray, a Detroit banker, on his death.
As I recall the '41 through '51 Ford 6 was not advertised a whole lot, maybe it was, but when the '52 Mileage Maker 6 came out they pushed it pretty hard and sold a lot of pick ups with the sixes in them as well as cars.
Henry had to know, there may not have been much he could do about it but before the war he surely had to have been on top of things better than that.
I have always thought that when Henry said they would never build another six he really meant another BIG six, or a big car.
Good info all, thanks Rob for posting.
From noted automotive historian Beverly Rae Kimes book "The Cars of Henry Ford"
I'm busy working up factual comparisons but I'll make a few observations.
A room full of Model N/R chassis tells me nothing about Model K.
The Model K was not introduced in 1905. It first is shown to the public at the New York Auto Show, along with the Model N in January 1906. The first Models N and K aren't ready for shipping until June 1906.
Malcomson was already involved with Aerocar in late 1905 and likely a cause of friction with Ford and the other Ford investors. He (Malcomson was completely out of Ford by May 1906.
If you would put half this effort toward something constructive, rather than trying to disprove everything I'm working on, it would be better for you and save me a lot time answering this "stuff".
Reprinting this "tired old" history without any corroboration only tells me your more interested in some ego stimulation rather than challenging what I , and many others feel may be a bit of incorrect Ford history.
Now, back to my work......
Noted Ford historians Bruce MMcCalley and Ray Miller, "From Here to Obscurity":
Have to conclude the Model K lacked the sales records set by the Model N, which was the largest selling car in America.
The big K Touring. launched in June 2006 sold 382 units. Then from 1907 to Aug 30 1908 (according to records Serial #865 was the last one in 1908) Ford sold just a little over 560 units, including the June 1907 introduction of the K-Forty roadster, only 50 units planned for that 'Gentleman's' car. Records for Ford Canada show 37 units were sold, with Serial #813 on Sept 1908. That is about 937 Model Ks ever sold.
Rather nice sales numbers for a high price car, but that even Ford 1907 advertising admitted "price increase to $2800 ,including cost of special material and the fact that manufacturing profit in the 1906 K was not a fair one."
The Big K listed for $2800, but with top,lamps, and gen, price was $3000.
By early 1908 the price was discounted to $1800.
Those Model K's just were not selling well.
So the high price of the Model K, and the resistance in sales of luxury big cars to the new lightweight and efficient, 4cly Ford, which lead to the huge increase in sales of 'N's and then the 'R' just proved the doom to the Big six cyl K for Ford.
So, there are the cold truths, a big luxury 6 cyl car knocked off by the little 4cyl. Sorta of a David and Goliath story At least Henry killed his own big K, and replaced it with the N-R and then the Universal Car.
Better to obsolete your own product than have the competition do it!
All that said.....oh I still could see me as a 1907 gentleman, driving these powerful Ford 6-cyl down the streets and to the fairgrounds with a back seat full of young sporting ladies
The beautiful Ford K Six-Forty...was a automobile!
Ford sold a minimum of 953 Ks (the latest existing K is #953).
We have multiple ads advertising Model Ks for $2800 through the summer of 1908. Many of the stories and myths are simply "folklore" that is continually passed along because it isn't challenged.
Again, the K was not meant to be marketed as the NRS. Of course not, it was the high end entry. What the K did was sell well for a high end model. It also brought recognition for on the road exploits (I've produced numerous period instances where Model K wins and places in a multitude of contests.
The other thing the Model K was, is the only touring car in the lineup for just over two years. If Henry wanted to take Edsel and Clara anywhere, or his business associates, it had to be in a Model K. FORD HAD NO OTHER TOURING CAR TO OFFER FROM1906 until Oct 1908.
Show me another major auto producer who did not produce multiple models, and did not produce a touring car during this time. NONE!
The Model,was a good performer, and sold respectable numbers for the market it was designed to compete in.
Evidently Ford is still marketing Ks along with N/S cars in 1908, or else the advertising department didn't get the memo....
What's more, if Ford "killed" the K, they also "killed the NRS, because both had the same production run.
And Dan, would you explain why the K was chosen as the Pilot Car on the Ocean to Ocean run?
June, 1908 Ad
And Fords are still winning, July 1908. A Ford six comes in 5th of 11 in a hillclimb race.
The bottom line is, the Ford Model K was a respectable seller. I'd like to,have the annual sales records of some other high end cars. I do know that Packard was 8th in sales in 1907, and sold a total of 1129 cars. What I don't know is how their high end model sold (or anyone else's).
Other things I know.
Ford sold over 950 Ks (953 still exists).
Had Ford sold the same dollars worth of Ns as they sold Ks, they would have had to sell over 4400 more Ns to bring in the same dollars. What I don't know is what profit/loss was built into each model.
Ford was selling an average of less than one Model K during the years 1906 - 1908. During the same period of time they averaged about 39 Model NRS cars sold per day.
It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the floor space at the plant was far better utilized producing cars that sold versus cars that did not sell.
Ford records show no Model K's built during 1908 - all were produced prior to the end of 1907.
Rob regardless of how much you and I personally like the Model K, it was a sales disaster for Ford. Every account written by a credible automotive historian, from Floyd Clymer (who was a Ford dealer in the teens and knew Henry Ford personally) up through Bruce McCalley and Beverly Rae Kimes agree on this.
Use of the Model K as the pacer out of NYC for the Ocean to Ocean, maybe not a Ford sponsor car, don't know. But, yes, will agree the big K was good car to run out front fast, being a fast large roadster.
The big K cost$ more to make than the little N.
Pretty sure the parts were harder to make on volume assembly line, while the 'N' was in that time period being made at a rate of 200 a day.
That took up a lot of space in production, so the low selling Model K, was I guess in the way of Ford's ideals...so he "killed it".
That is why so many 'N's were sold. Ford was creating a $500 car, that many mfg said was silly and he would go bankrupt.
Yes, some valid truth that Ford had no 'family' body style car with the 'N'.
So,....you see he knew that...yet sales showed to him the under $1000 car was to be the way.
Here is a 1908 article
This dealer ordering 4 times as many 4cyl Fords.
Henry knew in 1906 that his new automobile owners were not going to be of the upper crust, high price machines, but he was going to create new automobile owners, who would buy based on how they could run, repair, and handle an economical gas powered vehicle...his Ford.
Proof of Henry's ideals.....1906
Even as late as 1908 the other big guys were fast fixed on 6-cyl big cars....they were proved wrong.
Ford got the idea right, and made the Universal Car, the right car, at the right time.
With the Model T, he had it all, low price, interchangeable bodies to make family cars, doctor coupes, runabouts, town cars all from the same identical chassis....smart man. Put the world on wheels.
THIS YOUR CAR ROB ?
''HAPPY NEW YEAR''
Look guys, history is on the side of Ford and the Model T. We all know that. What I disagree with, (and for some reason a few of you are intent on "proving" me wrong, even if what your "proving" has nothing to do with the portion of Ford history I disagree about) is the mostly unsubstantiated suggestion that the Model K was not a good car.
In fact, that is what I thought from the reading and discussions I've had over the years. Until I had the good fortune to be on, in and all around a few Ks. Then, when I began to dig into public records, an entirely different "picture" of the Model K emerged. And this wasn't an "overnight" conversion.
Model T is KING!. OK, so quit acting as though I'm saying Ford should have stopped production of the NRS line and focused on the K.
I'M NOT SAYING THAT WHATSOEVER. WHAT I AM SAYING IS, THE K WAS A GOOD CAR. THE NUMBERS PRODUCED WERE ACCEPTABLE FOR THE TIME AND MARKET. Many OF THE CARS LISTED ON THE SIX CYLINDER LIST I PUT TOGETHER PROBABLY DID NOT SELL AS MANY AS FORD SOLD Ks.
Also, until Ford brought out the T, he needed another car in addition to the N, or else Ford would be pigeonholed into just a runabout company.
Did Ford always have two models since 1904? Yes.
Did they always offer a touring in addition to runabout? Yes.
Did Ford make more Ns than Ks? Of course!
So, what are you arguing with me about?
The K was a good (very good for the price) vehicle. It sold in high enough numbers to justify it's existence.
If Henry disliked it so much, why did he use effort and resources to dramatically improve it between the initial 350 1906 and the 1907/08 model? Again, don't use the lame argument that it was Malcomsen forcing Ford. He was long gone.
If you can't consider any premise but your own, then don't waste my time and yours on this thread. If you have actual quotes (not phrases and non quotes written down years after the events occured, maybe with an agenda when they were written).
Quotes can be misrepresented. Recollections can be incorrect or altered.
Actual,events cannot. If 953 cars were produced, and we know this because number 953 still exists, then that's what happened. Doesn't matter if "someone said" only 800 or 850 were made.
If the car is being entered in competitions and wins and places, and we have the news accounts, then it happened.
If there are reports and photos of a Model K leading one of the most important events for Ford as he is promoting the model T, then it happened.
If there are multiple photos and accounts of Henry and his family driving the Model K, then he did,
And, it made perfectly good sense for Ford, and every other major auto maker to offer more than one model, even though one model would make more money (if they had the good,fortune to settle on the "right" model)
What a,pain, and I thought this would be interesting to consider.
No Pain No Gain!
Stay with it....I really like where you are going, and finding good things to say about the Model K.
Just must be a lot to each side.
To me really, Henry wanted to concentrate on the 'little' car, and go after a simple vehicle that many many could afford.
Agree that more needs to be found out on the reliability of the Model K. Must have needed work out of the box, in 1906...as lots of improvements for the 1907 year (and final year of production). But...you can say the same for the first Model T's , that 2-pedal changeover, and dumping the water pump, and on and on...
Keep at it.....I too would like to find quotes from Henry that the Model K was bad, or not good, or something along the lines of later revisionists....don't seem to find any primary data. A trip to Benson Ford Library and dive into the personal files of Henry would be fun on this subject. It is known he kept letters from customers on things to make the 'N' better.
Just for more data, here is a classified from 1908. Seems this owner was preaching the virtues of his K.
Found this data on Six Cylinders cars that were dropped by the mfg...in going to 4 cyl smaller cars. 1912
and this final comment by the editors of The Automobile Jan 11, 1912
Note the kind words about Ford Motor Co and six cylinder autos
But......how soon the buying public forgets
This letter to the editor, Motor World, 1913
In just 6 years, the Ford K was forgotten by the motoring public. Ouch!
So, Rob..stay at the wheel of that Model K...and have a Happy New Year!
At the time of the 1909 Ocean to Ocean race, Ford was no longer making Model K's. The race was partially sponsored by Henry Ford so it is possible he provided the pace car for the Automobile Club of America. One will never know.
Ford had dealerships all over the country including the west. If anything went wrong with his race cars there would be a dealer somewhere that could help with repairs. This would almost ensure that Henry would win the race and all the publicity that went with it. The winning of the race is probably one of the reasons that sales of the Model T increased tremendously.
It would appear that Henry decided he was going to sell one car and one car only. He would offer it in more than one style, but they would all be Model T's. He knew about economies of scale and would soon develop the assembly line.
The Model K was too expensive for the common man who only made $200-$400/year and Henry wanted to make a car for the multitude. I don't have a timeline for this, but it seems most likely.
It is not that the Model K was a bad car. Henry just set his sights on a different goal and that goal was the Model T.
I was reading the information you posted (back on the meds now) and I noticed you print a portion from Ford "expert" George Dahmmann's book. I noticed this immediately, it says "a new car, Model R was produced to replace Model F".
I am not familiar with this gentleman or the book, but if this is your "expert" to help explain Ford models, you need to look elsewhere. Model F was primarily a touring (although it could be used as a runabout with the tonneau removed ) car. It was one of Ford's multi line models, and actually was a "mid priced" car at $1200 (12 hp) between the $800 (10 hp) Model C and the (24 hp) $2400 Model B. by the way, Ford only made 500 Model B cars, but I've not heard the "howling" about what a failure it was.
The F was carried into the 1906 year, in part (I'm speculating) because the N and K were lagging in development, and Ford had already discontinued the C and B (replaced by the N and K).
Back to the point, Model R was simply a "dolled up" Model N. same chassis, seat, just a different shaped trunk, 30 x 3 tires, and running boards instead of step plates.
Anyone who says the R replaced the F doesn't know much about 1906-1907 Ford history.
While we're at it, I would like to see documents or first hand records showing Model Ks being sold for $1800. Ads were still being placed in mid 1908 newspapers listing the K for $2800 by Ford. Used Ks are still bringing $1000 to $2000 in classifieds in late 1908. Again, these are documents "from the day", not revisionist or third hand reports.
Finally, I'll post this again. And rely on a first hand account, by an Editor of a major automotive journal. When he is questioned in his column, he replies that the only reason K was no longer produced was to make way for the new Model T. He has no axe to grind, no legacy to build, no myth to establish. And he is an "industry insider" who should be aware if the K was Ford's "dirty little secret" that just didn't stack up.
Instead, this Editor for "The Automobile responds to a write in question about the Model K. This letter to the editor was published in April, 1915, just seven years after the last K was sold by FoMoCo (not 40 or 100 years after production ceased).
I don't disagree at all. Where I "bristle" is due to the "bad shake" the K has received over the years. Once I got into the accounts I've been throwing out (along with personal experience with two of the cars) I've undertaken an effort to "reopen" what really happened with the K.
I believe there was much less "drama" than is now believed, and the K and N/S were retired because of the Model T. Also, Ford was still operating out of the Piquet p,ant, and I'm sure space was a issue (that is why Ford was moving).
I was puzzled by the "R replaced the F" statement, too. They were (are?) quite different vehicles. The F was two cylinder opposed (like the A, AC and C, just 12 HP) and came in a touring body. The R was an offshoot of the N (four cylinder inline vertical) and only came in a runabout. If the gentleman had said the N replaced the F, he could make the point, even though they were different body styles.
We know the Model N at the January 1906 New York show couldn't run. We have the engine at Piquette and it lacks crankshaft and pistons. It looked good on the floor. Later in 1906 they actually made and sold some.
Seems like there are several thoughts running along in this thread that may not be mutually exclusive: (Of course, some of these conventional wisdom items may not even be true.)
- Ford disliked big cars
- Ford disliked the Model K
- The Model K was not a successful automobile
- The Model K did not perform well
- Ford wanted to make an affordable car for the multitude
- Ford seemed to like driving a six cylinder Model S and beating larger cars.
- The Piquette Plant was too busy to make the Model K, and Models N/R/S at the same time.
As I see it, Henry Ford could easily make the Model K and improve it for the second model year and still want to make smaller more affordable automobiles. When they looked at production figures and profit, they may have decided to concentrate on the Model N/R/S but needed the Model K to keep a touring car in the lineup. When they dropped the other cars (K/N/R/S) and concentrated on the Model T, they did have both runabouts and touring bodies.
It seems possible to me that the Model K was a successful automobile, and a good deal for the price compared to the competition. And yet, Ford decided not to continue its production based on other factors.
That's how I feel about it too. And I think there are many pieces of proof to bear that out.
Ford quit building all his other letter cars too. Why, because they were failures, no,,quite the opposite, it was just time for the next model.
Also, if Henry didn't like big, expensive cars, why did he buy Lincoln 14 years later?
I have a quote to add, "History is more or less bunk".
Henry Ford, as much as any person living in that past century, was truly a legend in his own time. Like most legends, there are parts of their stories that are very true, and some things not quite so true.
Henry Ford was also the right person at the right time. He was not the only person with the idea to produce automobiles for the masses. And he was not the only person with that idea to lose a manufacturing company to the bankers and investors that had other ideas. He was the tough old bird who pushed hard enough to force those investors out of his third automobile company so he could go on to do what he wanted to do.
In later years, I would imagine that Henry himself altered the stories a bit. Most people do. The Ford motor company and his biographers repeated some of those "mis-remembers"
It is legend that the model K was manufactured because Malcomson forced it. No doubt there is much truth in that (at least the early development of it). However, how is it possible for Malcomson to be the total force behind the model K when he was beginning to run another company (late '05) nearly a year before the K was being delivered (June '06)? Henry was still learning a lot and breaking new ground with both the N and the K. But having had to deal with Malcomson for a few years no doubt left a bitter taste for Henry and he may have later likely downplayed the importance of the K along with Malcomson.
Original published reports make even Henry's later-told tales seem questionable.
Most of what has been written since 1930 about Ford history has just been repeating what was being said and written by others. Kind of like follow the leader. I just reread some of the Ford section in the Kimes and Clark Standard Catalog of American Cars. It seems to tout the company line "nor especially the 40hp six-cylinder $2500 Model K introduced later in 1905, a car Henry Ford positively detested".
Perhaps it is only semantics. Could the car have been introduced in later 1905 and still have not left production till June '06? Or does even "Kimes and Clark" have the year wrong?
As for "positively detested" the model K? That doesn't sound like the Henry Ford that wrote the response to (I believe it was?) Alexander Winton on the superiority of the six over the four. It does sound like something he may have said ten years later when he is solely in control of one of the largest companies in the world. After he has totally beaten Malcomson, a man who may have helped found that company, but gotten in Henry's way for three years after that founding.
Absolutely, Henry Ford envisioned building the car for the masses. But it took ten years of development, testing, and sales, before the model T could become that car. Much of that ten years was the models A, B, C, F, N, K, R, and S as well as the first few years of the T.
As I have said before. The model K must be compared with the other larger cars of its years. Not the larger cars of 1915. For many people, that "terribly weak" planetary transmission may have been the saving grace for them to be able to drive a large car. Clutches and transmissions improved a lot in the years following 1909. Most large 1908 automobiles were very difficult to shift.
As for "having to change the bands often"? Most large cars of 1908 required daily maintenance if they were driven much. The Thomas Flyer in 1908 required frame welding, steering gear and transmission replacement before it even finished crossing the U S in 1908. I have read many articles over the years about major trips in the early days of the automobile. That sort of thing was common.
Was the Ford model K the best car of 1907? Probably not. Sorry Rob. I would probably chose the Thomas first, Pierce second, Locomobile third. But the Ford was less money than any of those. For the money, the Ford K was likely one of the best cars of 1907 to sell more than a few hundred. Besides which, if you are going to take the "money" out of the equation, I am going to change my vote. I want the Mercedes, followed by the big Fiat.
Now. As to why I was looking in my "Kimes and Clark" book?
Am I wrong? Do I mis-remember something?
Sunday, 12/ 30/ 2012, 2:14 pm, Royce posted some clippings including photos first (lots of Rs) and last (loaded K). The second text clipping includes "But the sturdy little N was rather a novelty. It was priced at a mere $500 - and look what it had. A four cylinder engine, first of all, the cylinders measuring 3 1/4 X 3 1/2, cast in pairs, set in line and mounted up front under the hood" (now take note!) "The cast iron flywheel with fan-shaped spoke (recalling the air cooled model B) was mounted in front of the engine."
I do not recall ever hearing that the model B was air-cooled. I will admit that I do not know for sure, but I have seen a model B up close (the one that used to belong to Edward Towe). I knew the fellow that built that engine for the car and got to see it very close, however, that was a long time ago. I won't swear it was water cooled, but I sure didn't notice otherwise. If "Kimes and Clark" says, I missed it. (Also possible)
So Rob, as you can see, I am still actually reading this stuff. And still enjoying it. Thank you!
Do drive carefully, and have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! W2
See! I CAN remember things wrong! It was E R Thomas that Henry responded to about the superiority of the six! Not Alexander Winton. I just found that thread.
Happy new Year!
I think a Model K Ford should be put up as a shrine in the Model T Ford museum. There should be kneelers around it. Proper behavior when walking into the room where the Model K resides will involve genuflecting at the door upon entering and exiting.
The national average annual salary for 1906-$571 1907-$593 and in 1908-$564*. Only car sales of $2800-$3000 were to the wealthy, a limited sales market. Henry knew that and built smaller cars for the masses. So why would he continue with the big car development when he was changing his focus to "a car for the masses" as he said several times.
*(national average salary not including farmers by Bryant University)
The T was a car for the masses, unlike the N, as it was large and versatile enough to be the "UNIVERSAL" car.
Come on guys! Rob has proved his point beyond a doubt, with the factual information, and research that he has produced. He has corrected misconceptions in a part of Ford history. As you read his threads, appreciate his research, instead of trying to fault what he has found.
The R certainly didn't replace the Model F in Ford's line. That doesn't mean everything the author wrote was in error though. The R was a financial success, and the K was a failure. That neither of them was made in 1909 was not related to either's success or failure. Both were outmoded designs by 1909.
Ford lost a ton of money on Lincoln too, particularly during the 1930's. Like the Model K, there were some admirable qualities in nearly all of the classic era Lincolns, and some of them can be regarded near the top of their class of car. Still, at the end of the day, you can't deny they lost gobs of money. If it were not for Edsel Ford the Lincoln brand would have been killed off 75 years ago.
Rob, the K was an impressive car and certainly competitive with its peers. That does not change the fact that Ford lost his shirt building it.
Last sentence should have read:fault and deny what he has found
Dan, if your still with me on this thread,
You posted a quote by Bruce (we all wish we could still ask him directly, he would probably have an interesting reply )
"By early 1908 the price was discounted to $1800.
Those Model K's just were not selling well. "
This is a blurb from the "social section" (remember when newspapers reported who had dinner on Sunday at someone's house) of "The Brownsville Daily Herald", printed November 23rd 1908.
Apparently this poor smuck didn't get "the memo" that Model Ks were selling for $1800. He's quoted saying he bought his "new six cylinder Ford machine, one of the finest in the valley" for several thousand dollars (and this is a well over a month into the sale of Model Ts).
Had I written about Ford history before owning a Model K, and subsequently seeing the engineering built into the car, and then having the "power of the Internet" to find bits and pieces like this, I would have written the same thing. That's what we've heard and read for over 50 years, why wouldn't we accept it as "gospel".
Another "six-cylinder Ford, still on the road, Feb 1910.
Driving through Tempe on his way to L.A..
"Race and Win on Sunday;
Sell Cars on Monday."
"Draw buyers in with the convertible; and they'll buy coupes and sedans."
The K could have been a direct cost loser, but still a winner in bringing buyers in the door. It's almost assured a lot fewer NRS would have sold without the K out there competing and winning.
Can't you just hear a Ford salesman: "You see here, Mr. Petersen, the thrifty Model N has the same type planetary transmission as the race winning Model K."
Another K still making the newspaper. This time driving from Oklahoma City to Kansas City, October 25, 1908. The description says mud in places up to the hub (they should have taken I 35 ).
Maybe they were coming back from Chickasha?
Another one. This time, over two years after Ford Six (Model K) production has passed, the Ford K beats a competitor at a hill climb. Then the Ford dealer (was he still selling Model Ks?) starts in high gear (from standing start) and pulls the hill at slow speed in high gear to demonstrate lugging power.
This is over two years after "Ford killed production of the K" to paraphrase Dan and Royce.
Sept 11, 1909. Even though out of production a year, the Ford Six still is raced, and mentioned as one of the competitors this EMF beat (included in group of other "big" cars, Chalmers, Cadillac, Stodards, Locomobile and Pennsylvania).
Pretty good company to be named in by a car on it's way to obscurity.
(I've got a million of them, if I can remember where they are)
I just noticed your mention of the Model B. Ford only built 500 over two seasons, so I guess it was a bigger "flop" than the K . The B did have a fan in front for cooling (I assume that's what the author meant) and was a water cooled 24 hp car. It was notable for direct drive and a front vertical mounted four cylinders engine, all Ford firsts (and early in the industry). It's remarkable that Ford in only their second year came out with this very advanced car for the period.
The car also has copper "jackets" around the cylinders (water) and so the engines look like a work of art. I've heard there are seven known to exist. I've seen Larry Porter's car and spoken with the owners of two others, but never seen one driving. There was one on youtube running a year or so ago but I don't have the link.
Happy New Year,
HI ROB & ALL THAT ARE INTERESTED IN THIS DISCUSSION.
As i own and continue to use my early series ''K'' and have mentioned prior to the shortcomings of these early 'Ks'' and also how the second series had most of the faults rectified.
I can also say[ having been in the motor business all my life] that when the opposition get hold of something to pull your selling product down they will use it to their best [as i also did to their product if i could].
Sadly by the time the 1907 [second series] was introduced the word seemed to well out about the ''K'' and the SH-T was stuck to the wall.
Another example of a good car killed---EDSEL
What I'll try to do, (have attempted already with no success) is find out how many comparable MODELS were sold by competitors. We in the Ford community are "spoiled" by the fact Ford (by the time of NRS&Ts) was selling in the thousands, then millions per year. I'm of the opinion that K sales weren't so dismal, compared with other $3,000 cars of the time. If they were, why was the K chosen 5th in the contest I brought forward? Evidently the public was aware of the K,and it was well received in the $3,000 class.
By dividing the number of car makers in 1907 into the number of cars built, the average is only 70 cars per brand. Regardless, it looks like I have something to do next year .
To put it in perspective, only 500 Model Bs were sold never heard a clamor that Henry was forced to make the high end model, or that it was a failure.
I would wish you a Happy New Year, but your new year has already begun. Here's wishing you great 2013,
Rob,Thank you! My sanity is thin enough as it is. I did not get to see that engine until after it was in the car and on display. The day I went to the museum, was a slow day, and when I got to talking to the docent, he asked me to go behind the rope to look at the model B. I wasn't going to say no. I had gone on what I knew would be a slow day because I was working on my early '16 center-door at the time and did plan on and asked to get a closer look at the center-doors on display. With the docent's encouragement, I got to look over the center-door more closely than I had hoped. While chatting with him, I mentioned how wonderful the model B looked. That was when he said for me to get a closer look at it (under his watchful eye of course).
I "knew" it was water cooled. However that clipping above illustrates quite well what I have said before. Both the newer and the original reports can be in error and need to be corroborated somewhat. In my brain I could still see the water manifold and radiator hose connection on that beautifully detailed engine. But there it was. Big as life, "(recalling the air cooled Model B)".
Rob, I think that you have done a fine job of showing that the historic view of the Ford model K is less than accurate. That the K was in fact a fine car for its day. I hope that automotive history books can start representing the car much better from here on out.
But do you know what is more important? That you drive and enjoy that beautiful car on a lot great tours! And maybe I can get to one of them and follow it down the road for an hour or two.
Do drive carefully, and have a Happy New Year! W2
As long as we're pushing the envelop on your sanity, take a look at these three items. The first is an ad ran in New York by Ford's biggest NY dealer at the time, for a "Model H". (1904)
Following that is a description of a Ford air cooled engine and car at an auto show in Feb 1904. Then the spot about Henry Ford driving (and passing) larger cars with a 6 cylinder N (one of which resides in Australia now.
When it comes to Ford history, the one thing I've learned is "never say never".
Model H Ford ad
Air cooled Ford description
Henry Ford spotted driving 6 cylinder Model NRS prototype. This article ran in July 1908, only a few months before the T is being delivered, and no more NRSs are built.
Three examples of Fords that none of the former experts on Ford documented (as far as I'm aware).
Still a lot to learn,