Members may be interested in this offering at The Henry Ford. THF would do well to include some of the amazing recent findings, by members of this forum, that relate to the pre-T cars.
Uh Oh. Rob is not going to like the truth.
Thank you so much for pointing out the link. The Model N they show is on display. It is a very low mileage and still has the original faded paint. It was an extremely complex paint job that Trent documented but did not replicate on his own Model N.
Thank you for pointing out the errors. I suspect Rob or one of us should contact the Henry Ford and the article/Blog’s author and let them know the preponderance of the early evidence indicates Henry Ford during 1906-1908 spoke highly of the K and that it was a profit maker etc. We could encourage the author & The Henry Ford that they have an opportunity to begin correcting some misleading statements rather than perpetuating them longer. I.e. I would recommend they should delete “…car that Henry Ford didn’t like” when referring to the Model K. I would recommend they place the “slow seller in context – i.e. compared to the N,R, S, and SR cars the K sold fewer numbers. But if Ford had only sold the Model K in the same numbers the did sell, they would have been around the 16th or so largest automobile manufacturer (assembler according to the group that owned the Selden Automobile patent) in the USA at that time etc.
Note like any article etc. there are often some mistakes as the author uses the available information and in most cases they would not have the time to research the early articles as Rob has done. Over all a very good article on the early cars. And the photos are great.
Below are some additional details so you do not have to go to the link to read them:
From John’s link the site says:
“Also of note is the Ford Model K. It has its place in the Ford story as the expensive ($2500) six-cylinder car that Henry Ford didn’t like. He was thinking seriously of his “car for the masses” when the K was introduced, and the Model K led directly to a split with his original backer Alexander Malcomson. Malcomson wanted to build big, expensive cars which generated big profits per unit sold, while Ford wanted to build inexpensive cars and make the profit up in volume. Interestingly, Ford Motor Company would not produce another six-cylinder car until 1941.
From Royce’s link:
The expensive Model K moved Ford Motor Company into the high-priced market, something Henry Ford didn't like. Priced at $2,500, the six-cylinder vehicle was a slow seller, further convincing Henry that low-priced cars targeted to the mass market were the company's future.
Misc items from Hap again:
Note in both of those cases most of what is shared it true. The K was expensive back in its day although not the most expensive automobile being produced. It did have six cylinders. And Ford and Malcomson definitely did not like each other as time went on.
But I believe Rob has produced a substantial amount of evidence that Henry Ford wanted to build the “universal car” and that was the reason he quit producing the other models including the N,R, S, & SR and not that he hated the K. Although I have seen people who when they went through an ugly divorce etc. began hating something that they previously liked only because it was associated with the person they really disliked.
Minor other comments:
The wheels on the Model R Runabout are the 28 inch rather than the 30 inch but the body is a Model R Runabout with the rounded deck.
The photo labeled 1906 Model N and 1925 Model T is really a photo of a Model R or S Runabout 1907-1908. Why? Note the running boards – the N had a step plate and not running boards. Also the Model N did “NOT” normally have a door on the right side of the hood. I suspect it is a Model S as it looks to me like the rear deck tapers away from the rear fender rather than showing the rounded deck of the Model R Runabout body that stays closer to the rear fender. But I do not have time to study that area to make sure.
And the drawing of the Model T Ford used on the mouse pad and coffee cup is not as accurate as some of us would have liked. From : http://giftshop.thehenryford.org/a542/model-t-mousepad.html we have a few areas where the artist used his freedom to interpret the T.
Again overall good article, great photos. We do not need to focus on the few errors and miss the great job “The Henry Ford” is doing. It is a wonderful museum & complex to support.
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If you want to believe that it was a rumor there is usually some level of truth to most rumors. Looking forward to seeing the Model B oh, and the Model K.
The death of Ford Motor Company President John Grey in 1906, Alexander Malcomsons's father-in-law, provided Ford a lot more control. I suspect The Henry Ford items parrot "conventional wisdom",and are not necessarily true.
My personal opinion is this, Henry Ford was a businessman who said and did things for the benefit of Ford Motor Company. What he said publicly may not have reflected his true opinions, but rather what he wanted the customers to believe.
In 1906-1908, he would not speak poorly of anything they were trying to sell. From 1909 on, leading the public to believe that a lightweight, affordable, 4cyl car was all they really needed was in Ford's best interest.
Hey ya'll; The Henry Ford is wildly inaccurate in some of it's presentations. Just look at their representation of their 1914 touring. I'll bet that most pre-war swap meets could fulfill the need for: the correct 12 rivet differential halves, the correct taper leaf front spring and the correct 'non-sloping' lid and coil box. But they claim to not be financially augmented by FoMoCo. But it was a magical and wonderful day I spent there. Probably the very best collection of 19th century steam engines in the world!
Agree with Derek. Ford was trying to sell the cars that he had already built. He did everything in his power to promote and sell those cars.
Henry's personal opinion is accurately reflected in what his friends and associates have said in their published memoirs. Henry hated the Model K. Henry indeed regretted building the Model K. If Henry had enjoyed the experience there would have been an expensive 6 cylinder Ford car in model years 1909 - 1927.
Note that in no way shape or form am I saying the Model K was a bad car, poor quality, or poorly designed.
The Model K was an exceptionally fast, inexpensive automobile for the price (sound familiar?). It was by far the least expensive, most powerful car available in it's class (sound familiar?). Henry Ford designed, and raced the Model K "platform" before producing it.
Alexander Malcomson financed his own automobile company in 1905 (before the Model K reached production). The first car his company (Aerocar) made had a 24 horsepower FOUR CYLINDER motor. If he had forced Ford Motor Company to build the forty horsepower six cylinder Model K, wouldn't he have built a similar car through his own company?
The Model K was the best selling six cylinder automobile in the world in both 1906 and 1907. Stevens Duryea, Franklin, Pierce nor Rolls Royce sold more six cylinder cars.
The Model K was the only alphabet Ford (Models A,B,C,K,N,R,S and T) to hold a world record. Model K captured the 24 hour endurance record (1135 miles over 24 hours) beating competitors such as the Thomas Flyer 60 hp (same car to win the New York to Paris Race), Pope Toledo, Stevens Duryea, Buick and American.
What more does it take to "prove" that this was not a poorly designed automobile, but another great product from Ford Motor Company that helped pave the way for the Model T?
Accept the fact that there are some people who are so opinionated, so far out in left field, or have their heads so deep in the sand that they cannot see much of anything but their own beliefs.
There are a lot of us that thank you for all the research you have done and time spent on researching the cars of Henry Ford, especially the Model K. You have done us all a great service.
Now have fun at the OCF and show us lots of pictures from A to T.
You might instead accept the recorded memoirs of the first person accounts of the people who were there. I don't offer any opinion except that I believe the accounts of Sorensen and the other people who were actually there in person. To disagree with them is to disagree with history.
I am just shaking my head.
ROB!!! You are at the most incredible antique car meet in the world for this year!
GO ENJOY IT!!!!
Everyone that can be there, drive carefully, and enjoy! W2
John, I should have said it before, thank you for the thread and link.
Hap, thank you for the well stated post.
George, Thomas, Willis, Derek and Dave, all good points.
Wayne, thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to be here to experience OCF.
For an update, both Model K tourings made it through the 220 mile Dearborn to Lansing (and return) tour with no problems. This makes two tours over the last month the Model Ks have participated in, and successfully completed.
On our K alone I estimate we've put over a thousand miles on this summer. We're now running the original Buffalo carburetor on the car (thank you Stan Howe!) and it has much more capacity than the previous carburetor.
And now, off to the OCF,
Let's examine each of the statements on the placard at the Henry Ford.
"The expensive Model K moved Ford Motor Company into the high-priced market, something Henry Ford didn't like."
No way to dispute - the Model K was expensive. Henry Ford actively campaigned against the board's desire to build cars for the high priced market. This is a matter of record.
"Priced at $2,500, the six-cylinder vehicle was a slow seller, further convincing Henry that low-priced cars targeted to the mass market were the company's future."
Again, these are facts, although the K price increased in 1907.
Nowhere does it say that the Model K was poorly made. It does not say that Henry Ford did a bad job designing the car. Not one word is said about poor quality. No one is saying the Model K was slow, or a bad car.
"No way to dispute - the Model K was expensive. Henry Ford actively campaigned against the board's desire to build cars for the high priced market. This is a matter of record. "
I've read all board minutes available, and never was a comment made by any board member, not Henry Ford, A.Y. Malcomson, nor anyone else about the Model K (or B for that matter) being too expensive. In fact, the board did comment about complaints from Ford dealers in the spring of 1905 that the two cylinder cars were becoming difficult to sell (no complaint about the four cylinder Model B, that was a very good seller, as only 500 were made, and most were sold marketed and sold during 1905.
No, the Model K was not "expensive". It was the least expensive car in it's class. The next least expensive six cylinder car was the Franklin at $4000. The median car price (among 255 concerns selling automobiles in 1907) was $2,750.
"Priced at $2,500, the six-cylinder vehicle was a slow seller, further convincing Henry that low-priced cars targeted to the mass market were the company's future."
The Model K was not a "slow seller". In 1906, while only on the market for six months over 300 Model Ks were sold. Meanwhile, the Model N wasn't available for sale until mid July, so the Model K provided the bulk of income for FY 1906.
In 1907, 457 Model Ks sold, bringing in almost as much profit (net) as Models N and R produced. By 1908, there were only about 160 Model Ks left to sell (the original contract with Dodge Brothers was for 1,000 Model Ks, and Ford Motor Company reported as early as 1906 that they would build only 1,000 Ks.
It's great to see Model K's still around and running. I love all early (pre 1914) cars to me. No need to side with any opinion for me. Rob love the info you give out. In my mind I don't think of or care if any car well over 100 years old was too expensive, sold 25 cars or 25,000 cars. They are all neat and if any one wants to pass one on I will pick it up for free. Grin... Below was my 1912 Flanders Studebaker
I am waiting to see if you have approached the docents at the Henry Ford to try to convince them. I remain unconvinced.
You still refuse to comment on why Henry Ford didn't build any high priced six cylinder Fords during his reign as head of the company. That in itself speaks volumes.
Then you have the problem of the first person statements by Henry Ford's closest confidantes Joe Galamb and Charles Sorensen. Both of them are on record in their memoirs as stating that Henry detested the very idea of building the Model K. Indeed, Joe Galamb's oral testimony is stored at the Henry Ford.
What about the historians Henry Austin Clark and Floyd Clymer? Both of these men interviewed Henry in person prior to writing their version of events. Are you suggesting that people who interviewed Henry would have made false misleading statements about a car produced thirty years prior? What possible reason would they have to do so?
Was Henry Ford buying out Malcolmson part of this story?
Alexander Malcomson was the primary financier of Aerocar. He invested in the company and became president in December 1905. Shortly after this became public, the Ford Motor Company board voted and passed a resolution demanding Malcomson's resignation as an officer of FMC.
While Malcomson did not agree to the buyout of his stock until later in 1906, he was effectively out of any position of influence with Ford by December 1905.
James Cousens biography (the business manager attributed with being a a key person for the success of Ford Motor Company, along with HF) he says Malcomson was no longer a factor in the direction of Ford Motor Company by 1904.
Meanwhile, many Ford historians have written that Malcomson "forced" Henry Ford to design and produce the Model K. I don't agree. It appears to me that Malcomson's influence was minimal at best, and he had departed any decision making role by late 1905. Meanwhile, The Model K was not ready for production until April of 1906. Furthermore, extensive improvements were made by Ford to the Model K for the 1907 model year. Had the Model K been "detested" by Henry Ford, I can't imagine why he would have allowed extensive upgrades be made on the car when he (HF) was the President
and dominant force within the company by 1906.
As to the statements that Henry Ford hated (or detested) the Model K, let's see them (actual print, not innuendo or loose generalizations). If your able to, I'll then produce several quotes by Henry Ford extolling the virtues of the Model K and six cylinder engine.
The statements made by Sorensen are found in his book "My Forty Years with Ford" (1956). You have a copy. I don't need to post it here.
Joseph Galamb's interview is in transcript and on digital media at the Benson Ford Oral History Series, Accession 65.
Rob, you are attempting to substitute newspaper articles portraying Henry trying to unload the unsold Model K's with his marketing and racing skills for the actual documented truth of the matter. Marketing hype is not uninteresting, and it indeed happened, but it does not change anything on the official placard on the Model K exhibit at the Henry Ford.
Those same historians for more than half a century have said that the model K was a total failure as a car and a non-profitable product. They said it was unreliable and a poor seller that the company lost money on. They said it was all Malcomson forcing Henry to built it. All this I have read, for years.
However, certain facts about the timeline and company records seem to fly in the face of all that. I will not restate all of it. At this point it has been shown enough that it makes some sense, or it maybe never will.
I absolutely agree with Royce that the model K was not the production of Henry's dream. Truly, the model T became that car. And Henry probably grew to hate the K more as he became more difficult with age and rewrote the past in his mind. I think he learned a lot from it, and the company gained prestige and sales both from the K. The model K helped sell itself and the smaller cars due to the publicity the K helped bring in.
I suspect Henry may not have "loved" the model K, but I think he probably liked it enough before he hated it. I don't doubt for a moment that he used the model K as a step toward the "Universal Car"
Now, play nice!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
This about that-- If you read My 40 Years With Ford i think most people would think Sorenson did everything himself!! Bud.
This about that! If a person reads My Forty Years With Ford,i think most people would say Sorenson tryed to claim credit for everything!!! Bud.
Responding to a few items posted above. I don't have a copy of Mr. Sorensen's book. However, I was able to do a search of the transcript online. After searching "Model K" and "six cylinder" from the book, the following are references I found that seem relevant (I shouldn't need to find the "evidence" that someone else claims shows Henry Ford's "hatred" for the Model K, but will make the attempt).
From the book, "My Forty Years with Ford", by Charles Sorensen, published 1956"
(excerpt, page 77)
"Ford had now produced two light, comparatively inexpensive cars as well as a four-cylinder torque-driven automobile.
He was on the way but was still far from his dreamed-of goal.
His directors still demanded production of heavier, highpriced cars. They couldn't shake Ford from his stand and Ford couldn't shake them from theirs, but since it was their money that started the company, he had to compromise. The result was Model K, six cylinders, torque drive, and priced at
$2,800. The Dodge brothers were the ones really behind production of this car, and though I know that Ford was never
in accord with it, Model K enjoyed a good reputation among
people of means. "
This doesn't seem like a scathing commentary against the Model K demonstrating Henry Ford's hatred of the car to me. In fact, the text does say the car "enjoyed a good reputation among people of means". I also am taking comments by Mr. Sorensen with a grain of salt, concerning the inner workings at Ford Motor Company at this time (1905-1908). He was a young (mid 20's ?) pattern maker whose first job at Ford was making Model K patterns (according to other excerpts) at this time. It seems to me that it would have been difficult for him to "be there" during board of director meetings when such things as Model K production were probably discussed.
Meanwhile, I do have copies of the Ford Motor Company board meeting minutes. Never once is any mention made about the Model K, other than when discussing production date requirements for Dodge Brothers to deliver chassis, and commissions for agents.
Again, two things that is so frequently forgotten, Henry Ford developed this engine in late 1904, racing the Model K engine racer between January of 1905 (long before plans for the Model K car exist). He (Ford) was the designer and driver of this racer, so it's difficult for me to believe he "hated" or even "disliked" the the platform he is traveling around the country racing.
Secondly, the Model K was the only new model Ford Motor Company sold during the first three quarters of fiscal year 1906 (Oct 1, 1905 through Sep 30, 1906). The Model N was not available for sale and delivery until mid July, 1906. As a result, the Model K provides the majority of income for Ford Motor Company through this period. Again, hard to "detest" an automobile that is keeping dealers on board and providing cash flow, in my opinion.
I don't have Joe Galamb's transciripts either, but will find them, and report what I find, pro or con. Again, all my opinions,
Sorensen's text is one of several first person accounts that Henry didn't want to build the Model K. Which you heretofore have said was baloney. Thanks for admitting the truth on that statement.
No doubt Henry gained some satisfaction from seeing his cars race. That's not the same thing as wanting to go into mass production of a product.
Regarding board meeting minutes, those are edited and voted upon. Many things are said in board meetings that do not become part of the minutes due to members voting to strike this or that. The meeting minutes are visible to stock holders. That does not mean that we know everything that was said.
Oops - I hit enter before I wanted to.
Sorensen doesn't claim those comments were made in a board meeting. Sorensen was very close to Henry Ford and has no reason to fabricate or alter a story about a relatively unimportant product in Ford's long ago past. Why on earth would he have any reason to state anything but the entire truth?
A Model K was a rare sight even when new. The primary reason it was mentioned in so many Ford history texts is that it was a bone of contention between Ford and the other company managers.
Let's change this to the cars at the OCF. Here's my SR. We had at least one of each type, A,B,C,AC,F,K,N,R,S,SR,and T's. I did not see any two leaver T's.
I personally don't care what anyone else thought, or thinks of the model K. To see two of them alongside one another, and watch them drive through the streets this weekend was a real treat for us!
Here are two Model K owners and Trent talking about the early models and Ford Motor Co. on Sunday morning.
Sorry, the picture didn't upload.
Thanks for the photo. Trent has a wealth of early Ford knowledge, and it was a pleasure to discuss our cars with him. Also great seeing you again. Nd of course good to see your beautifully restored Model S make it to the OCF.
Thanks for getting us back on track to the original thread. That is a great looking Model S Roadster that you have.
Does anyone know what make the wooden windshield is on the second Model K Ford? Troy supplied wooden framed windshields to Ford for the early Model Ts and I wonder if they may have also supplied Ford with windshields for the Model K? And of course Troy and several others offered wood framed windshields on the after market.
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