I thought this interesting. The Ford and Aerocar booths were side by side at this December 1906 auto show. The article discusses the two men and their relationship (not in detail). Still, the article makes the assertion that Malcomson did not take an active part in Ford Motor Company events, but is now leading Aerocar.
Interestingly, although Aerocar was well funded, within two years it would be out of business, and Ford Motor Company was about to become the largest manufacturer of automobiles in the world, and hold that position for years to come.
This brings me to a question, has anyone seen, or heard of, an Aerocar still in existence? I'd like to see the construction and learn a bit more about it, but have never seen or heard of one in any museum or collection.
If anyone's interested, a link to the above newspaper article:
If I recall correctly, in May? 2011 there was a brass car auction that had at least one Aerocar. I also remember Kissel Kars in that auction.
Here you go:
Also, if you Google the following, there are at least two other Aerocars out there:
Unbelievable! I was at that sale. I remember the car sitting in a corner. Unfortunately, I didn't know anything about Aeorcar at the time, and certainly didn't know it was A. Y. Malcomson's company (if I even knew who he was).
A good friend bought the Locomobile and tours routinely with it.
I wish I had paid more attention! Thank you for the link and info,
No Aerocars listed in the HCCA roster of members.
Girard might still have the results of who purchased those automobiles. It's in your state. Can't hurt to ask them. All they can say is no. Good luck.
You will be pleased to know that the car still exists and has been fully restored (all except the hood is yet to be done) by a good friend of mine. The car took just over 12 months to complete and has already completed a couple of local rallies here in Tasmania and one major rally in Victoria (Mainland Australia).
As you would know there is a K Model here in Tasmania and the similarity of body design is, I believe, quite obvious. We are yet to get both cars together, but I can see a strong design resemblance between the two. I think that would be Malcomson's influence. Although you could argue though that a lot of touring cars built during this early period all looked similar.
The car is registered with the HCCA and the owner and I are in the process of writing an article for publication, so I hope that won’t be too far away.
The other Aerocar was a model C and was last seen in the Petersen museum in LA in the early 1990s. I have contacted them and they are – rightfully so – coy about its present location.
Through the HCCA magazine an article was published listing registration details for make and model in Washington State for 1911? I think from memory they listed 7 registered models for that year.
Definitely an interesting car and it would be good to find if any others are in existence.
The body looks so similar to the Model K, I wonder if it was not actually made by the same subcontractor as Ford used?
The Model K was the last car assembled by Ford but built primarily by subcontractors. Malcolmson no doubt believed he could be successful assembling cars from components - obviously silly to us today.
The Aerocar engine has a very pleasant, well designed look, I wonder how reliable it is compared to a Franklin or Knox air cooled engine of the same era?
Aerocar was capitalized with $400,000 in late 1905 (a major portion financed by Alex Malcomson) compared with Ford Motor Company's meager $28000 two years before. Malcomson and other investors built a large state of the art factory', and their stated goal was to build 500 cars in the first year (1906) of production. The first car was a 24 hp air cooled car that listed for $2800.
This car had little resemblance to, yet was priced $300 higher than the much larger and more powerful Model K. The body was not the tulip body style of the 1906 K but a straight sided style touring, with half fore doors and partial cowl (picture). At 24 hp and 104 in wb the Aerocar was a much smaller car than Ford's 40 hp six cyl. Model K.
For 1907, Aerocar built two models, the 24 hp air cooled, now selling for $2000 and a 40 hp water cooled touring listing for $2750. All Aerocars had four cylinder motors (another reason the "rumor" Malcomson forced Ford to build the six cylinder Model K is just that, a rumor).
While Aerocar built their cars from the ground up, with a new factory, and over ten times the start up money of Ford, they were broke within three years. While Henry Ford continued to build the Model K, raising the price from $2500 to $2800, and selling almost 1000 over a two and a half year period, Aerocar went the other direction, reducing the cost and building two lighter less expensive cars by 1908, the last year of production. This is another example of Alex Malcomson building smaller less expensive cars, not larger more expensive cars, as he is credited with forcing Ford to do.
I believe the secrets to Ford's success were good design, little overhead and little debt (in large part due to assembling cars until Ford had market share to justify building their own manufacturing facilities).
Two more interesting clips. By July 1908 Aerocar is bankrupt. The concern was in business from December 1905 until July 1908, two and a half years.
A statement by A. y. Malcomson about his relationship with Henry Ford, July 1906:
A $1500 Aerocar that weighs hundreds of pounds more than a Model T that costs $1000 is of course a failing proposition. Ford taught that lesson to every competitor. The 22 horsepower Model T would easily outperform a $1500 Aerocar.
With the 40 horsepower Aerocar competing against 40 or 50 other manufacturers in the $2000 - $3000 price range he obviously didn't learn the other lesson that Henry was teaching, and the reason the Model K sold so poorly. The market segment was flooded with manufacturers who each could expect to sell a few hundred cars a season. It was not a business model capable of success.
The K outsold the Aerocar, and kept Ford in cash in 1906, without which there may have been no Model N.
Aerocar fails by July 1908. There is no Model T to compete with. My suggestion is try to be a bit more cognizant of the facts before weaving opinions into a story. That's a major part of the trouble with Ford history, opinions are developed and then repeated over and over again without regard to actual events and facts.
A. Y. Malcomson did everything wrong, building a huge manufacturing facility before ever developing market share. The advertising was there (Aerocar appears in national publications frequently). I suspect (this is an opinion) the price kept dropping because sales were dismal and Malcomson an management realized they needed to move cars.
My main points are:
1. Alex Malcomson capitalized Aerocar in December 1905. The Ford Board of Directors immediately requested Malcomson's resignation as a board director. This is months before the first Model K is sold, around mid April 1906.
2. The first Aerocar model was a 24 horsepower, 104 inch wheelbase mid priced (for the time) touring car. The significance of this is Alexander Malcomson should have been well aware of the Ford Model K (had he been responsible for it's development and promotion, as traditional history tells us). However, he (Malcomson) chose to build a smaller, much less horsepower FOUR CYLINDER car. Doesn't seem to me like someone "forcing" Henry Ford to build the Model K would choose to build this car.
3. The announced intention was to build 500 cars for 1906. This "announcement" tells us that 500 cars in a production year was a significant number, and evidently enough to justify the business proposition.
4. Even in Model Year two for Aerocar, their "big car" offering, now a FOUR CYLINDER forty horsepower watercooled car, only listed for $2750. One would expected Malcomson, according to traditional history suggestions, to build a large, luxurious car, not a mid priced car (the median price for a motor car in 1907 was $2750).
A few bits and pieces:
The new Aerocar plant was later used by Hudson.
Malcomson sold his Ford stock for $175,000. In todays dollars that equates to about 4.6 million dollars.
A forty horsepower car priced between $2000 and $3000 is the same formula that sold poorly for Ford. That it had four cylinders instead of six means it was easier to hand crank and cheaper to manufacture than a Model K Ford. It was still in the same size, power, price and weight class.
Ford announced the Model T well before the demise of the Aerocar. It was of course intended to be produced earlier than it finally was. We don't know that Aerocar ever produced any quantity of the $1500 car.
No doubt Malcomson and his creditors knew he could not keep pouring money down a rat hole and expect any success against a competitor Ford, who already realized the folly of producing a 40 horsepower car that cost $2000 - $3000 in the face of dozens of competitors in the same price class with similar offerings.
That must be why Ford continued to build, and profit from the Model K through 1908.
Pictures of the Aerocar in Tasmania
Ford had to sell all the Model K chassis and engines that were ordered from Dodge Brothers in 1905. It took three seasons to do so.
On the other hand Ford ordered thousands of Model NRS chassis in the same period of time and could never meet demand.
Ford did not want to manufacture the Model B or the Model K. The other shareholders forced him to do so.
The fact of Ford ordering the NRS chassis from his own Ford Manufacturing Company and not from Dodge was the reason Malcomson tendered his shares to Ford. Note that the Dodge Brothers were shareholders in Ford Manufacturing Company, but Malcomson was not.
See first person testimony to these facts on page 77 - 78 here:
There is no period information to suggest Henry Ford was "forced" to build the Model K or B. To the contrary, Henry Ford designed the six cylinder engine as a racer before placing it into a production car. Furthermore, every Pre T was a financial "home run" for Ford Motor Company up the Model T.
I have no idea why you persist in posting on every thread I start or post to. Is there something going on I should know about?
Tonight I'll post some information (in a new thread) about the pre T alphabet cars I've been working on. It will include financial info on the 1903-1906 cars. I expect you no doubt will post immediately afterward.
If an eyewitness, Charles Sorensen, who was there and was Henry's closest confidant for decades afterwards is not a good source of information I don't know who is. Mr. Sorensen had no reason to falsify history. He was simply trying to testify as to the facts - he had no cross to bear.
A similar account was given by Joseph Galamb, who was NOT a close confidant of Henry Ford, in an entirely separate interview. How would these two men have near identical memories recorded when neither had been published? It seems to be the truth, doesn't it.
Take a look at the October 27, 1907 New York Sun. Page 10 I believe. I tried to copy that add by Ford during the Auto Show but I come up with a pdf and I don't know if it will post. Ford is calling out a new 20 hp touring car for February 1908.
What model was the point of that announcement? T?
Ken in Texas
Royce, why don't you post those "definitive comments" for us. Both were written decades after the fact. Mr. Sorensen was a young pattern maker when the Model K was being produced, hardly a close confident at the time. As for Joe Galamb, his reminisces are filled with errors.
On the other hand, we now have hundreds of statements and information from the time the car was being produced suggesting otherwise.
Scott, great pic. It looks like a good car
If one could stand to read My Forty Years With Ford,you would wonder who did build Ford!!Cast Iron Charly must have had a ego larger than even some on here!! I think he was the one who invented the fake Rolls Royce hood and shell for Volkeswagons?? Worse yet if they only came in yellow! Bud.
Ford advertised a "New Light Touring" and Landaulet for late 1907 and kept pushing the delivery date back as time went on. This is the earliest ad describing the "new light touring", dated mid October 1907. Late November and December 1907 ads describe the new car, sometimes called "Model T" as a 97 inch wheelbase 20 hp light touring car. Specs do not show a magneto yet. Some ads, such as those for the Detroit and New York auto shows held in late 1907 say the cars will be demonstrated at the shows.
Ford financial records show a "Rumble Seat" and "Landaulet" (not Models NRS) sold during October 1907. Also, Ford Ledgers researched by Trent Boggess mention several "pre-Ts sold between January and May 1908.
It appears as production issues or design modifications (I think the magneto development probably held up production as well as added three inches to the initial wheelbase specifications, but that's just my guess) kept pushing the delivery date back, until Ford decided not to release the new Model T until the new fiscal year, October 1, 1908.
This October 13 1907 ad includes a letter from Stanley Roberts, Ford Motor Company, (Oct 8, 1907) telling the dealership Ford will be coming out with a light touring car, confirming the dealerships letter sent October 5th).
This is the ad, and yes, this is what I call the Pre T. Also advertised are Models N, S, and those "hated" Model K tourings and Roadsters:
Much as I hate to play this game, if you read your reference above, Charles Sorensen says little about the Model K. What he does say concerning the K (he worked on patterns for the K when first moving to Ford Motor Company, not exactly a position among the leaders of the company at that time) follows:
From page 77, "My Forty Years With Ford" by Charles Sorensen:
"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 is hardly an indictment by Henry Ford, spoken directly to Charles Sorensen about the Model K (and definitely not the Model B). Mr. Sorensen claims the Model K was built as a compromise with the other investors. Not that Henry Ford "hated" the car. Not that he was unequivocally "forced" by the other investors, but that it was a "compromise". It also says the Model K "enjoyed a good reputation among people of means."
Well, that is who the car was built for, and marketed to. This is not enough to make the wild claims you continue to make about the Model K being hated or despised by Henry Ford. It is hardly negative, let alone condemning the model. And, this is a newly hired pattern maker making the claim years later.
As soon as Henry Ford could do so, he completely abandoned designing and selling large high priced cars. There was no descendant of the Model K - it was unceremoniously dropped when Henry could sell of the remainder of inventory.
You won't win this one. Royce has dug himself so far into a hole that even a Model T will not get him out of it.
Maybe a Model K, but Royce wants nothing to do with any Model K.
Many of us enjoy all the research and posting you are doing about the early Ford cars. Please keep it up.
Let's see how Henry Ford reacted to the six cylinder car after production ended and Model T sales began,
In June 1909, two Ford Model Ts and three other competitors left New York for the start of the Ocean to Ocean Race. Henry Ford saw his Model Ts off, would meet them in St. Louis, and again in Seattle at the completion of the race.
The car selected to Pilot the racers to St. Louis? A Ford Model K Roadster (pictured below). The driver, Ford Agent F. W. Teves. Also pictured is Racemaster John Gerrie:
Pages from the Ford Times cover the race:
It appears Henry Ford doesn't have a problem with one of his six cylinder cars being in the limelight as of June 1909. The Model K led the procession of racers out of Grand Central Park and through New York City to begin the race. Photographs showing the racers beginning the race appeared in newspapers across the country, with the Model K leading the way.
Following the Ford win (later to be disqualified), Henry Ford is asked, and accepts, an invitation to race in the inaugural Indianapolis Speedway Races scheduled for late August 1909. Ford says he will race the Six Cylinder Racer.
In a more in depth article (June 27, 1909) Henry Ford explains that Frank Kulick wanted to rebuild and race the six cylinder racer, and He (Ford) agreed following the Ford Ocean Two Ocean victory. Henry Ford goes on to say "I have always been satisfied the car would be a record breaker...". If you read nothing else on this post, i recommend you read this article.
Seems Henry Ford is still a fan of the six cylinder racer he designed:
C. A. Miller, one of Ford's most successful agents, says of the racer being prepared for the race on August 6, 1909:
While I don't know why, the Ford six cylinder racer failed to make the race. However, if Henry Ford disliked the six cylinder car (Model K) or racer, why would he have approved the Race Pilot Car being a Model K. Why would he have agreed , and proceeded forward, with the the six cylinder racer project, as late as August of 1909?
I think a reasonable person is able to come to one conclusion, Henry Ford was still proud of, and a believer in, his six cylinder car.
Any idea why Malcolmson decided to make an air-cooled car? That seems a little behind the times, even for 1906.
I absolutely love Model K's!!!! If there was a way I could afford one I would love to own one. It's a very rare car; they didn't sell many in the first place.
I think Bruce and Trent got it right when they wrote this:
The Model K was a six-cylinder car available as either a touring or a roadster. Expensive ($25-2800), and not too good, it was a poor seller and generally credited for Henry Ford's dislike for six-cylinder cars.
First sale April 16, 1906. Last sale September 30, 1908.* Approximately 900 were made, beginning with serial number one.
Bore/Stoke 4-1/2 by 4-1/4 inches
Wheelbase 114 inches
Tread 56 inches
Price 1905-06, $2500 plus gas lamps
1907-08, $2800, $3000 with top and lamps
There were "rumors" that the initial Model B was to be an aircooled car. I've speculated that A. Y. Malcomson for some reason liked the idea, because, just as with the Model B (Ford) the new Aerocar was a four cylinder 24 horsepower car.
James Couzens, equivalent of a Chief Financial Officer for Ford Motor Company, said Malcomson had no influence over Ford after late 1904, so maybe Malcomson wasn't intimately aware of the plans for the Model K, and built the initial Aerocar simulating the Model B?
The engines for Aerocar were designed by a Mr. Reeves who was already an engine manufacturer. It;s interesting that for 1907 Aerocar brought out a larger 40 hp four cylinder car, and kept the 24 hp air cooled in their now less expensive touring car (and added a 24 hp runabout).
A couple of areas that could use research in my opinion are the Aerocar venture and another often forgotten Ford endeavor, Ford Manufacturing Company.
We should ask Trent if his opinion of the Model K and it's impact on Ford Motor Company have changed. Much new information has come to light regarding the Model, so maybe instead of just repeating stale history, one should utilize the new information and re evaluate. Of course, this may be too progressive an idea for some.
I forgot, following an exchange earlier with Trent B., he sent this email. He also gave me permission to post the it on this forum (which I did some time ago). Since Royce is using Trent as a resource above, I'll re post what Trent said via email this summer. The email is in response to an article in which Henry Ford lists the reasons he designed the six cylinder car: