...or coffee, or have a few adult beverages, or something like that.
I didn't like the way the last few "Model K" threads went, and thought I'd try to "clear the air" a bit. I've been thinking of this quite a lot this weekend.
First, I'm obviously immersed in the subject of early Fords in general, and Models K specifically. I believe to understand Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company (and the ensuing success of the Model T) one should have a good understanding of the cars that led to the Model T.
Like most of us, I initially thought Models B and K were "losers" for Ford. Not necessarily that they weren't good cars... Well, maybe that they weren't "good" cars. Everything I read, from the MTFCA Encyclopedia to other author reports said the two cars weren't very good, didn't sell well, Henry Ford didn't like them, A. Y. Malcomson and his backers forced Ford to build them, etc. etc..
And, I would believe that to this day, except a few things happened along the way..
First, I met a gentleman in Illinois with a Model K. He said I could stop and see his "K" anytime I was through, and after a few years, I did. The car wasn't running at the time, but I was immediately intrigued by it's size. Not intrigued enough to think about buying one (and never thought I could) but still, surprised at the "presence" of the car.
Secondly, a few years ago, I had the opportunity to ride in Tim Kelly's Model K. At first, I checked to be sure my cell phone was along (because, from all I'd read, I knew we'd be calling for a ride, as these cars were known to be unreliable).
Instead, we were soon driving 50 mph with ease, and I was amazed how smooth and powerful the car was. What was up with this? We all know how (take your pick) bad, poor quality, unreliable these cars were. After, Henry Ford "hated" the car, and didn't want to build them, right?
So, these questions remained in the back of my mind, and meanwhile, the Model K in Illinois became available. Of course I couldn't afford it (we never are able to afford our cars, then we find a way), but, as with every other car we've owned, I begged, made promises I probably couldn't keep, justified, and finally with my wife's consent bought the a Model K.
So, now what? I had a "not so good car" that needed extensive work to get it back on the road (and I won't own a car I can't drive). And then I found Dean Yoder. A mutual friend suggested I ask Dean to "take a look" at the car. I had heard of Dean, even met him at Chickasha, but never really spent any time with him. He didn't know me from anyone, yet when I phoned and asked if he would "look over" our new Model K, he agreed.
The rest is "history". Dean has done wonderful things (that I could never hope to do with my limited mechanical ability) and our K is on the road. When Dean began with the Model K, he frequently told me how impressed he was with the car. The motor seemed strong, the car was well built, and he seemed quite impressed.
During this time, I began to look into the history of the Model K a little more. Probably the "breakthrough" for me was finding the 1907 Motor magazine contest, where the Model K received the 5th most votes of cars contestants would choose if they won the contest (the "prize" was any car, of the winner's choice, costing $3000 or less, the perfect survey). The Ford Model K was the 5th highest choice. Of over 6500 people who entered the contest, as the car they would most like to win! And over 100 makes were voted on. 5th! I thought, what's this all about? There must be more to this story than I originally thought.
Since then, I've learned that the Model K was far and away the "money maker" for Ford Motor Company in 1906. Again in 1907, the Model K made Ford an incredible amount of money, coming in a strong third behind Models R and N.
Then I learned that Model B was actually a good seller too, probably making the lions share of profit for Ford Motor Company in it's primary sales year, 1905. So, what else was "incorrect" about the Model K?
I learned that Henry Ford built, and raced the six cylinder engine before it was intended to be the motor for the Model K. That A. Y. Malcomson was gone before the first Model K hit the market. That Henry Ford had controlling interest and virtual control of Ford Motor Company by mid 1906, yet made extensive design changes and improvements to the Model K after 1906, building the 1907/1908 Model K into a car that would win racing and endurance contests throughout the U.S.., even entering and performing well in the Scottish and Irish Reliability Trials in 1907.
In the meantime, I've acquired almost two thousand articles and news accounts about the Model K. There seems to be a common theme, that this was a fast, inexpensive car in it's class, maybe just as important, the car was well known and respected by the public.
Obviously, I could go on and on (as I've done over the last year). Instead I'll end with a couple of articles (no surprise). I use period articles because, that's what I have available. I'm not able to ask Henry Ford, or Frank Kulick (chief race car driver for Ford, and also head tester of Model Ks (every K had to meet his approval prior to shipping, according to news accounts). I am able to read what these men, and others who owned, drove and rode in Model Ks, said. So, instead of trying to tell you what I think (and I do enough of that anyway), I present what people who experienced the cars reported, at the time.
Two sets of articles. First, two news accounts where James Couzens, Ford Motor Company's equivalent of a Chief Financial Officer, explains Ford's intention to built 1000 Model Ks (which they did, or close to it, over about a 26 to 30 month period when the cars were built):
The "common link" is, on two occasions in 1906, James Couzens tells the press Ford intends to build 1000 Model Ks, and 10,000 Model Ns. And Ford did just that, building close to (we don't know the exact number, but over 950) 1000 Model Ks.
And finally, for anyone still with me on this, probably the most significant accomplishment by a Ford Model K (or possibly any pre 1932 Ford for that matter), the Model K is the only stock Ford I'm aware of, to set a world's record in either speed or endurance. On June 23, 1907, the Model K won a 24 hour endurance run. In doing so, the Model K, driven by Frank Kulick and a co-driver, beat a 60 hp Thomas Flyer, 50 hp Pope Toledo, 40 hp American, Stevens Duryea and Buick and Wayne, setting a world's record for miles traveled over 24 hours in the process. This achievement alone sets the Model K apart from all the other Alphabet Fords.
I apologize to anyone who feels inconvenienced, or otherwise put out by these threads. I enjoy this forum, one of only two I regularly read. I only read about ten to twenty percent of the threads, however those I read I choose because the subject interests me, usually those threads involving brass Ts and other cars. Hopefully anyone still reading this lengthy post appreciates my motives, to she'd new light on early Ford history, and improve our knowledge of the circumstances that led to the creation of the Model T.
As always these are my opinions, no more, no less.
I enjoy reading all your posts.
Thanks for sharing all this information with us. I've also learned some things about doing research that makes it even more interesting.
Thanks Rob, Very interesting. I am always interested in these little "time capsule" reports from you regarding Ford pre T activity/history.
Rob, I'd like to say I have always enjoyed your early Ford posts here. I don't think sharing pre-Model T stuff is "off topic" at all. It's the foundation that lead to "the car that put America on wheels"
They need to rewrite the history books, thanks to you, Rob.
Just think how much you have improved the image - and the dollar value - of the Model K cars remaining.
I always enjoy your Pre-T posts, Rob.
This is all very interesting stuff. It's certainly challenging the conventional wisdom, and it's great that you're getting so many people talking about the topic.
Have you considered doing a piece in the "Vintage Ford," or even presenting your research to the Society of Automotive Historians? It would be great to get this information out to a wider audience, especially considering the work you've put into this.
I too can only echo the sentiments above. I thoroughly enjoy reading and learning about the cars and company before the Model 'T'. Research is often a thankless task, so thanks guys!!! Keep it up!!!!
Rob, you investigations have revealed some most fascinating aspects of the history of Ford in its early days. I am sure that everyone with a sincere interest in the company and its vehicles in that period will continue to benefit from your research. Very many thanks, Dane.
I had no way to put my finger on it, but for many years, I doubted what I had "always read" about the model K. The little bit I could see, it really didn't look that bad. And there is a phrase; "Methinks (they do) protest too much?"
From the beginning, I have thoroughly enjoyed and followed your postings on the subject (I won't say I have read every word, but pretty darn close).
I do believe that the K was not the car Henry wanted to build. I do believe that once the T was ready for production, Henry put all of his resources into that effort. One of his resources was the model K. It provided design and testing along with income and a lot of good advertising. I believe Henry used it all for the model T. We know that he was able to sell every car he could build from the beginning of the T until the great war (WWI). He would have been foolish to have devoted limited resources for a continuation of a high-end car at that time. He had way too much going on making millions of dollars and building the largest manufacturing plant in the world at that time.
I do not think he hated the K at that time. But I do not know what was inside Henry's head. I do know that Henry himself was a bit of a "revisionist". He did sometimes say one thing at one time, and then later say something a bit different. A salesman? Yes. A master at manipulating the press for his own benefit? No doubt. Would this person later claim he "hated" the model K as he was trying to write his own history? We can only speculate. But he would have to have been a fool to have "hated" the model K. He built too much from it. And I do not think he was a fool.
Also, only a handful of years after that great war, Henry bought Lincoln. Maybe it was "only for Edsel to play with". Maybe not. But if he was dead-set against ever building a high-end car again? I don't think he would have bought it for anything. Okay, maybe revenge against Leland? No, I think he would have just let Lincoln die.
I have often considered Lincoln to be the resuming of the model K.
The first ten years of Lincoln automobiles followed the Leland design. They were known as the model L Lincolns. They were in turn followed (1932? '33?) by the model K Lincoln. Curious.
Thank you Rob and many others! Now, play nice.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thankyou for your thoughts! As I have said before I hope you are able to add all you Model K info into one volume to be printed and distributed. Your original thoughts and observations about the Model K have been changed by your thorough research backed up by the facts. We have all enjoyed coming along for the ride and being part of recent historical wrongs being corrected!
Just for interest sakes I have copied in some text printed on the Hemmings website associated with an article about Edsels 6cyl speedster.
In October 1907, Frank Kulick Ė Fordís first factory racing driver and a close friend of Henry Fordís Ė found himself hurtling toward the outside wall of the track at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in a big six-cylinder Ford Model K-based racer. Kulick survived the ensuing crash, barely, escaping with his life and a severely broken leg. In response, Henry Ford himself scrapped the car, withdrew from all racing activities for the next couple of years, and decreed Ford would never build a six-cylinder car again. Edsel Ford, however, never got that memo, and a six-cylinder Ford Model T-based speedster heís believed to have owned will head to auction later this year. Itís long been known that Henry Ford despised the six-cylinder engine configuration, ostensibly due to the Kulick accident (even though a blown rear tire directly caused the crash, not the engine), but more likely because the Model K became a commercial flop and because his competition turned to six-cylinder engines while he stubbornly stuck with a four-cylinder. He convinced himself that six-cylinder engines wasted power and idled rougher than other engine configurations and even fired his brother-in-law, Ernest Kanzler, for suggesting that the Model T be replaced with a six-cylinder car. Yet Edsel Ford had experimented with six-cylinder engines in his personal hot rods and speedsters, building his first such car in 1910 at the age of 16, and in later years, after he was elevated to the presidency of Ford Motor Corporation, he pushed a flathead six-cylinder into production in 1941 by telling his father it would only be used for trucks. - See more at: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2012/07/24/edsel-fords-six-cylinder-model-t-s peedster-heads-to-auction/#comments Edsels 6cyl speedster. How many incorrect opinions are reinforced as fact just because they are in print and have been passed on for the last 40 to 50 years?
Warwick said it very well. Enjoyed reading your research and hope it is captured to contrast with history as written.
Rob, you can add me to the list of people who have appreciated and enjoyed your research.
I can't help but wonder if that one report by Floyd Clymer that Henry Ford didn't like the Model K is the basis for "incorrect opinions .... reinforced as fact just because they are in print and have been passed on for the last 40 to 50 years"
The car that almost killed Frank Kulick survived as the wreck was kept in storage until it was resurrected by the restoration staff at Greenfield Village in the 1950's. So that story is suspect.
Ernie Kanzler was fired in the 1920's. He was suggesting that Ford build a new car to replace the Model T, and that it should be a six. That didn't end well for him, as Henry of course would never build another six as long as he was in charge. So that story is true.
I have been impressed by the depth of Rob's research. Like many folks, I have been quick to parrot the folklore about the Model K. In the future, I may think more, parrot less, and qualify what I say.
I wonder why we should be so surprised at finding new things about old history. There are new books appearing all the time about Lincoln, Jefferson, Lyndon Johnson - people delve into original resources and come up with new facts, new insights, new points of view. Are the old ones wrong? Maybe. Maybe they're incomplete. Maybe they reflect changing attitudes, like what we think about Jefferson' slaveholding or Ford's antisemitism. I, for one, find it fascinating.
So thank you, Rob, for publishing the results of your careful research. And please keep doing it!
Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ
Rob....Keep up the great job and I will keep my eyes open for K material for you while doing research.
Chris Paulsen posted this roadster photo on T.O.M. a couple of years ago.
Rob I enjoyed this thread very much, but I had to remark about how we find a way to get the cars we want. My Bride's (We've only been married 32 years) favorite thing to tell new friends is that when we got married "He told me it was either going to be Bars or Cars and either way we would probably end up flat broke, Him being a sailor I think he was leaning toward the Bar thing but I made him choose Cars". So if I want something she just ask can you pay for it without cancelling "Date Night"
Thank you for all the words of encouragement.
Warwick, I believe I get your point, reference the quote. There are many historical events that are misstated, or incorrect, that seem to self perpetuate over time, in some cases growing more egregious as time goes on (kind of like a snow ball rolling downhill).
Of course I can't always be right either, but hopefully some of the material and assumptions I've arrived at are closer to actual events than history tells us. Time will tell.......
Thank you again for the kind thoughts and words.
Gee,I woke up late and missed all so all i'll say is keep up the good work!! Bud.
I appreciate all your 'OT' posts on the pre-T cars. That information is what leads us to the creation of the Model T.
The Ford Canada Archives indicates 37 Model K assembled in Canada between serial #153 and #813. If anyone wants a copy of these ledger sheets send me an e-mail
Thanks guys. David, I forgot to mention, thanks for the pic of the K Roadster. Too bad we're not able to see the colors. The Model K was available in "custom" colors too. Some advertising said a buyer could choose any color combination they wished. Another described a gray roadster with red leather upholstery.
I must confess to not even knowing what a Model K was until buying a T three years ago and then finding this site. And now I can hold a pretty good general conversation about them should the opportunity arise.
I've always enjoyed and been fascinated by your articles and research, Rob. They're informative AND fun to read. Thanks for posting them.
Rob, this is neat stuff, keep up with it and ignore the negative comments.
From Warwick above: "He convinced himself that six-cylinder engines wasted power and idled rougher than other engine configurations ..."
That would be in direct conflict with what he and the world knew. They say an inline six is naturally balanced. For real smoothness you have to put counterbalance shafts in inline Fours and V6s. They play other games in V8s.
As you know, I have collected cars, principally Fords, for 40 plus years. During that time many, many individuals have joined me and my wife for tours as well as short rides in our cars. Most often the tour or ride ended with a polite and sincere thank you and that was the end of it. Occasionally, individuals caught the bug and began the search for an antique car that fit their needs and desires. Never before, however, has anyone become as fascinated with and intrigued by any particular car in my garage as you have become with the Model K.
I had no clue that a couple of rides in my Model K a few years ago in Paynesville MN would trigger such an interest in and research effort regarding the Model K. Even more fascinating is that your extensive research has taken us down a path quite different than expected in light of the previously reported and generally accepted historical accounts regarding the Model K Ford.
No doubt there will be individuals who prefer to cling to the often repeated historical account of the Model K, notwithstanding the preponderance of the evidence that suggests a different conclusion. Their steadfast views simply can not be changed. And, that is quite OK as everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, for those who have an open mind and inclined to stand back and reflect upon all that you have unearthed, they will likely walk away with a view of the Model K that has been modified, maybe greatly, by your tenacious research.
Please keep digging......
Timothy, when you eventually sell your K, what percentage will you give to Rob as commission for increasing its selling price by maybe 50-100%?
"Unfortunately, the folk wisdom that surrounds Henry Ford's life and work has precluded any serious scholarship on the day to day operations of the Ford Motor company"
David Hounshell...historian...author...curator, Hagley Museum Delaware.
I think that kind of sums it up...keep up the good work Rob...
I met Rob when he picked up the K at Buds house. and thought that he would be a great caretaker for the K. Bud drove this car a lot and enjoyed it very much, I rode in the K almost ever year that Bud owned it(over 20 years),I always thought that it was underrated
Rob, Enjoy the K and keep up the good work in your research and keep posting .
Rob - I, too, enjoy your articles and appreciate that you are setting the record straight on Model K's. Please keep up the good work.
I too enjoy your posts Rob. You are fighting an uphill battle, and a very steep hill to boot.
Some "facts" are too well known to be corrected.
1) "you can have any color as long as it is black"
2) packing crates were specifically sized to make floorboards (what a funny shaped box that would be)
3) Model T's were designed to be run on alcohol
4) Henry hated the Model K
5) etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
I think I was probably in the majority in that, with regard to my impression of the Model K, I believed the negative data that was consistently repeated and repeated in the hard-cover books we keep on the coffee table. Apparently, one author came up with the idea and the rest, rather than doing primary-source research, simply repeated it. There's something gratifying about seeing a popular myth exploded.
Somebody once said, "Don't believe everything you read." Good point. In this case, even more pertinent might be that which Packard used to say about evaluating the quality of a caróand what a simple formula it was: ďAsk the man who owns one!Ē
You question: "Timothy, when you eventually sell your K, what percentage will you give to Rob as commission for increasing its selling price by maybe 50-100%? :-)" is an interesting one. I don't however, expect the situation to arise.
Even if Rob's research has changed some opinions with respect to the Model K Ford, it will never be anything more than a Ford, and as such the upside potential is, I believe, rather limited.
Rob: Keep up the good work, I enjoy reading the truth about the K. If the few others can read something else. The only time I was around a K was in Montana on a model T Trip. We left the highway and drove about 20 miles back to an old mine that was not working. The road into the mile was gravel with rocks as big a large potatoes. The K made if in and out fine. I must admit that if I know how bad the road was I would not have taken my Center Door back there.
Rob: I forgot to say that I believe the K belonged to Cecil Church. I am not sure as that was many years ago.
"it will never be anything more than a Ford, and as such the upside potential is, I believe, rather limited. " Yes, most people will associate value with a name. Value can mean many different things. One value is appreciation of what something was and is. All early Fords carry an interest and a monetary value. An early 1903 A , a Model B, a Model K, an early 1909, all open value Ts, have much more than $$$ value. Owners have that personal appreciation of a very special Ford. Later Fords also have that attribute. Take the B400 1932. I owned one back in 1955. In high school I owned a 1932 Model K Lincoln for one summer. Let it go when I could not afford a new clutch. While a Ford is still a Ford, who among us would turn done the opportunity to own a big Model K such as Ron owns?
Darel,Maybe Royce?? But as Stan say's the loudest boos come from the cheapiest seats! So far i haven't bought the right lotto ticket so K prices really do not cause me much concearn!Bud.
Please do not misunderstand my comment. It was not meant to knock Fords in any way. In fact, I am fascinated by them.....and over the years a number of them, all 1931 and older, have followed me home.
Ten or so years ago I purchased an antique auto that is on the opposite end of the spectrum ..... and my Ford friends thought I was gone forever. Such was not and is not the case. Since then I have purchased several other Fords, one as recent as two weeks ago.
So while I believe that the upside for old Fords is somewhat limited, I do not collect them as investments. Rather I appreciate them for what they are; no more, no less.
The up scale for Many Fords is somewhat limited. The regular Model Ts from 1920 or so in so-so shape are very reasonable. They sell for not much more than 10 or 20 years ago. The early Fords are selling well. It is the big brass antique autos that bring the big $$$. The Thomas Flyers, The Oldsmobile Limiteds, The Wintons, The Alcos, Stuz, Locomobiles and so on bring top dollar. I know that the owners of those big dollar cars also appreciate them for the great automobiles that they are. Some of the big, big $$$ are bought as an investment. What is really fun is driving an early automobile. While they are a bit latter in years, when I drive my 1931 Model A Standard roadster or my 1931 wide bed Model A pickup I attract much attention. Ny 1910 Model T touring always attracts attention. All are fun to drive.
I have enjoyed learning more about the K also but I have a question for you Rob: If the Model K made so much money and was such an excellent car, why would H Ford have cancelled that car and started producing the Model T? Was it just because he wanted a car for the masses instead of a high end car or what is your thought with all the studying you have done? If nothing else just like your opinion on it!
My opinion (and that's all it is) is Henry Ford was moving toward the Model T for years. In 1904 Ford showed a 16 hp four cylinder touring (air cooled) and I suspect it may be the same car that appeared in a 1905 NY ad called a Model H. I think he was already searching for the light touring he wished to produce. I've always wondered why he didn't make a light touring with the Model NRS chassis, but it doesn't seem to have happened (other than a few S prototypes).
As early as mid 1906 Ford was rumored to be bringing out a light touring car, and as we know, by late 1907 Ford had prototypes of the future Model T (with a few sales showing up on Ford financial records).
By 1907/1908, Ford was selling the Model K touring and roadster, Model N runabout, Model R runabout, Model S runabout and by March 1908 added the three passenger Model S roadster. Add in an enclosed Model S coupe and it seems like a lot of very different models and styles to manage.
Although I believe the Model K was a remarkable car in 1906, 07 and 08, by 1908 I think it was becoming "dated". Thomas and others were bringing out 60 to 90 hp cars, and technology (especially for the "big cars") was progressing rapidly.
I think Ford planned to build 1000 Model Ks, and did, just as they planned to build 500 Model B, and a set number of their other models (10,000 Model N, etc). When examining Ford's model "history", no model except the T lasted more than three model years. A, 1903-1904, B 1904-1905, C 1904-1905, F, 1905-1906, K 1906-1908, N 1906-1908, R 1907, S Runabout 1907-1908, S Roadster 1908. Not many years per model (sales overlapped somewhat, but for the most part I think model years followed what I listed, without looking it up).
I think "it's time was up".
Again, these are my uneducated guesses,
It has been written many times over that Henry's quest was to build a car which the common man could afford. I don't know when he supposedly first said it, but it seems to me that he probably did at some point. While he dabbled in many different directions, he kept coming back to that central idea. He built the small Model A, then some larger ones, then some smaller ones again. I don't think this shows a lack of direction in his mind, he was just trying different markets to see what would be the most successful. While the larger cars made him more money per unit and were successes in that way, the smaller ones were larger volume sellers, which probably reinforced his idea that the "affordable" car was the way to go. Of course, the Model T proved him to be correct about that.
This is just my observation based upon rumors and other people's speculation; I really know nothing about any of it.
Rob, is there a video of any K running, driving? Didn't you share one a while back? Is it available?
There are a few videos of running Model K's on Youtube.
I don't always have time to read everything Rob posts so I end up skipping it a lot of the time but when I do find the time, WOW do I enjoy it!
How could the discussions on the K be possibly OT for without models A through to S there would be no T. It has long been proved that because it is in print it isn't always correct. Future enthusiasts need guys like my yankee mate Rob Heyen to correct the wrongs as research provides the correct answers. Despite his horrible attempt at an Australian accent Rob is one of natures gentlemen and I for one am grateful for what I learn from his incredible efforts. Down under we are at times a little short on available material for checking the true facts from the fiction. Travel to your wonderful country the home not just of the free and the brave but also of Henry Ford and the Model T has taught me that we are all limited in our knowing's of the early days at Ford. Instead of being a boofhead appreciate people like Rob and our own David Chantrill who have put the effort in for us to reap the rewards of knowledge
A few I did, one with our K and one about the six cylinder racer:
Was Henry kept in the dark while the Ford 6 introduced in 1941 was developed? It was really a good engine, especially when in 1949 they used a conventional side distributor. The OHV 6 introduced in 1952 was a far better engine than the flat head V8 used in 1952 and 1953.
What do you mean "Despite his horrible attempt at an Australian accent". I thought it had it down perfect, mate?
Thank you for the kind words,
I must agree with all who have given Rob his just deserve in his painstaking - time consuming research that has lifted the image of the FORD K no end.
I will personally will thank him if it proves to be the case with its increase in $$ value as it may well pull my early series K along with it .
As the only other 'K' i have driven is of the later [1907-8] series - i must say that apart from the obvious improvements with modifications done for the 07-8 car- there is an enormous improvement for the comfort for the occupants with the lowering of the seating heights that stopped a lot of sideways pitching for the passengers on undulating roads. This together when combined with the lengthening
of the wheelbase that stopped the front end up & down pitching made it a far superior car to the early series car in which i'm sure was were the bad image of the ''K'' came from.
Bob Trevan makes some interesting observations. Maybe not all K's were created equal. Maybe the very early cars had some noticeably undesirable qualities and, by the end of production, the car was dramatically improved.
So maybe we shouldn't draw any hard and fast conclusions by evaluating just one example.
Ted, I don't think there is anyway Henry didn't know about the six cylinder. He spent a lot of time around the factory, engineering departments, etc..
There is no way he couldn't have known
For those that don't know, Bob Trevan authored a great article several years ago on the design deficiencies of the first several hundred model K fords built. ( it is available online, at the EARLY FORD REGISTER, $10 annual dues and well worth the price of admission. they have an award winning newsletter, and where all this pre-T stuff belongs ) Among them were frames that cracked, back doors that opened and closed by themselves, engines that didn't cool, expensive magnetos that were cooked by the poor placement of the exhaust manifold, and i could go on and on. In my opinion, this adds to the charm and history of these early cars, but put yourselves in the shoes of the maker, who was under capitalized to start with, and then had to recall hundreds of these big cars to add trusses, gussets, stiffening, motor improvements etc. ......it is my firm belief that Henry and company never wanted to deal with a big car like this again. That is, after they got rid of the 1000 they had contracted for. Keep in mind, too, that Henry was a self taught machinist and engineer. In some things he was a genius. He was also semi-illiterate, writing and spelling about like a 3rd grader would today. Henry was handled for the press almost all his life. The few times he was on his own were disasters( the peace ship, the anti-jewish writing, the libel trial ) The real important story that Rob has brought forth, in my opinion, is how FoMoCo used the press to their advantage, especially early on. There are unsung people that took care of this for the company, and if you look through a lot of early trade magazines, it is very evident. He was an empirical inventor, and with weight always in his mind, would build things just strong enough. A couple of times this famously bit him in the arse. The first 1000 model T ford frames come to mind. Every one of those had a fishplate added to the inside, to strengthen them up. You think they would have learned the lesson on the model K frames, that had to have a truss added to the underside. There are many more examples, but it is important to remember that they kept moving forward, keeping what worked and changing what didn't. They kept working ahead to the Model N design, which is the only true granddaddy of the model T. Nothing else they built had very much in common with the model T. I am not sure what windmill Rob is chasing, and i don't really care. I do believe if he drove a K ford like Henry & co. produced, he might not be such a big fan. By this i mean with no electric starter, with the original carburation and magneto, an original design rear axle, driving on muddy, unimproved roads of the day, etc. It certainly wasn't the car for the masses, that made FoMoCo famous. If the K had been the only product, Ford would now be just one of the the other 3500 auto companies that didn't make it.
As many above have said, I really enjoy your articles on the K (Probably partially because I realize I'll never be able to own one!).
However, I think the most important fact is that you are enjoying your K so much. Life is too short to not take advantage of this type of opportunity when life presents it. It's frosting on the cake to be kind enough to share it with those of us who will never get the chance first hand!
Thank you Bob. All good points.
I have never thought, nor suggested, that Henry Ford intended to, or should have only built a large car. As hindsight tells us, he literally created a market where non existed with the Model T. However, I don't think he would have arrived at the Model T without the combination of cars he built on the way.
The Model B interestingly, provides Ford's first experience with a four cylinder, front mounted engine, along with an enclosed shaft driven rear. When one "takes the skin" off a Model B, you have some similarities to the future Model T
The next shaft driven car, the Model K, combines the Model B features, along with a magneto, and Ford's unique steering system. All to be used on the Model T.
Models NRS then add the unique three point front suspension along with wishbone, and the stage is set for the Model T.
Meanwhile, I don't believe Henry Ford ever wished to build only runabouts. I think Ford Motor Company intended to keep a touring car in the lineup (as they should). I don't think a major manufacturer wanted to only offer a two seat car, and I think public perception that a car maker was one dimensional would not have been good.
As for the Model K, yes, the 1906 version had a lot of problems that were addressed by late October 1906 with the 1907 K. the wheelbase was expanded six inches, horsepower was reportedly increased 20% (supposedly by higher compression), and I think most importantly, the frame was really beefed up. For those who have not seen a 1907/08 Model K frame, it is almost identical in thickness and size to a Model T truck frame. And, the under frame truss is kept too.
Unlike the stories of jacking one back wheel up on a Model K and the engine can't be cranked, this may be true on 1906 models, but I know from experience you can jack up one back wheel on the 1907 K, and crank the engine with no binding.
I think Henry Ford built the six cylinder engine to race, probably with the idea of eventually placing it in a car (racer - 1905). The first Model K (at least prototype) is reported at the New York Ford Branch store in late December 1905. Then, a Model K (probably the same one?) is shown at the 69th St. Armory, NY, in January, along with a K chassis, and the new Model N.
Model Ks are first reported sold in April 1906. By October 1, Ford reports 301 Model K sold (the most six cylinder cars sold for 1906, by all accounts). The first Model K is raced (that I've found) outside Minneapolis in the summer of 1906, placing 3rd in it's class. Meanwhile, Ford financial records show the Model K is by far the highest profit maker for FMC in 1906.
By 1907, the Model K wins numerous races, sets a world record for miles traveled in twenty four hours, beating well known brands and drivers such as a 50 hp Pope driven by Herb Lyltle, an American (Underslung) driven by Eddie Bald, and a 60 hp Thomas Flyer driven by Coey. The Model K wins both the roadster and touring car classes at the prestigious Algonquin Hill Climb, outside Chicago.
The K is also the 5th most frequently chosen car in a Motor magazine contest, where over 6500 entrants chose the car costing $3000 or less they would like to own, if they won the contest. 5th out of over 100 cars selected.
However, I think the writing was on the wall for the Model K by 1908. Ford announced in the summer of 1907 they would make no changes to the Model K for 1908. This was during a time when cars were changing dramatically year by year. By 1908, there were many high powered, medium priced cars on the market, and where the Model K had been one of the highest powered six cylinder cars (only 5 sixes on the market in 1906), now the Model K was one of many sixes and big fours, and not as powerful as many competitors.
Of course, we know by late 1907 Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company were experimenting with the future Model T, and no further changes were made to either Models K, N, R or S, mechanically.
The point, the Model K wasn't the "end all". It also wasn't the red haired step child that couldn't get a date (no offense to red headed step kids ). In my opinion, and that's all it is, the Model K was another important and successful model put out by Ford Motor Company on the way to the universal car.
Well said Rob ,''K'' in a nutshell so to say.
Thank you Bob. The 1906 announcement by Ford about the 1907 lineup.
I find it interesting that FMC said almost from day they would build 1,000 Model K. I think Ford knew the market was "mature" for the Model K, meaning not many 1st time car buyers were going to step up and buy a car of that size and cost. The Model N on the other hand.........
I'm with Royce, i'll never drink the koolaid. One must read between the paid propaganda. I believe the historical account of someone who was there, "Cast Iron Charlie" Sorenson. I will stand by my previous statement that nothing about the K went on to the birth of the model N , except for perhaps the planetary steering gear. The K was made just about like any assembled car of the day. Nothing unique , all the uniqueness was to come with the N series, and then our beloved T.
As for the financial info, a company can make that all add up to serve any purpose. It's just numbers that have to add up.
Rob: I have a feeling my posting on another thread may be lost in the shuffle.....
Thank you for your research on the Model K.
For many of us, you have become the authority on the Model K in many ways.
Looking forward to your writings and future publishing of your research.
This "fact" forum has been enlightening to us who have been educated in the new findings of Model K production.......
Thank you for all you have done and will do in the future.
Thank you Bob.
Tim, you choose to place all your "marbles" with what "Cast Iron Charlie" said in his memoirs, and give no credence to financial documents (they've been altered), race and contest results, and others who were there and said the Model K was a good car in many ways? OK, everyone has an opinion. I felt the same way, until I owned a Model K, drove in them, then found so much evidence to the contrary. As for what Mr. Sorensen said about the Model K, let's review it:
There are six references to "Model K" in the Sorensen book. Four are primarily model references, the two that actually discuss the Model K (to a very limited extent):
First, this. The caption seems to suggest Henry Ford wanted to build the Model T, while the Directors wanted to build the Model K. Only problem, the two cars were never competing. The other problem, Henry Ford had the largest block of shares (equal with A.Y. Malcomson) and Malcomson was out of any leadership (December 1905) role before the Model K went into production. Then, Malcomson shares were bought out and Henry Ford was the majority shareholder by the summer of 1906, early enough to end the Model K run had he (Ford) chose too:
Second; on this page, Sorensen makes his most "scathing indictment" ( and not much so) of the Model K, saying the the Dodge Brothers were really behind it and that "Ford was never in accord with it". Not exactly a blistering exposť of the car. He (Sorensen) goes on to say "MODEL K ENJOYED A GOOD REPUTATION AMONG PEOPLE OF MEANS!"
Did I just read that correctly? The book many use to indict the Model K says "MODEL K ENJOYED A GOOD REPUTATION AMONG PEOPLE OF MEANS."
Hmmmmmm. Anyway, my other questions (and this page raises more questions than it creates answers for me) are, first, Charles Sorensen is a 26 year old pattern maker. How, in 1906, does he have these insights into what the Dodge Brothers, other Directors, or Henry Ford really plan to develop? There are over 300 employees at FMC, and the author is one of the junior employees.
The second question, he says he is a pattern maker, and his first patterns are, for,.....the Model K. So, Ford is not just an "assembler" of the Model K, Charles Sorensen's first work is making patterns for the Model K. Ford is indeed designing the car. In fact, the only thing Dodge Brothers are doing is delivering chassis. And they (Dodge) receive $437.50 for these chassis, we know that from the Dodge Brothers book and Ford Directors Meeting minutes. Lots of questions that really don't add up to me, but that's just my opinion.
Finally, another passage about a Model K in the book. However, this reference only mentions that John Dodge jumps in his Model K to run someone down. Sounds as if John Dodge preferred the Model K. We also know John Dodge had another "specially made" Model K ($5000) that was stolen, but that's another story for another time:
To each their own. However, to deny the Model K first had the steering, magneto and differential on the market that the Model T would follow with is simply not the case. The same goes with the Model B differential. First for a Ford, and it would follow through to the Model T.
By the way, our Model K does have the original rear end, magneto, Buffalo carburetor, and I do crank start it now that I have the "bugs" out. I'm not sure why you thought it wasn't an original car?
On denying the financial records, they are internal Ford accounting reports. Shareholders received copies, and dividends were based on them. They (audits) were prepared by an outside audit firm. If you choose not to believe them, this entire discussion is pointless.
This is what another fellow said about the six cylinder car, in it's day. Of course he had a vested interest in the car. Come to think of it, he had a vested interest in the Model N too. I think I'll go with what he says:
Bob, sorry, i wouldn't look good in a cheerleader outfit. I'll leave that up to you, everything anti-royce.
Rob, i really don't have the energy to debate you point by point on this issue. When someone disagrees with you, you feel we are attacking the model K. The K, in my opinion, was just a so-so car of the day. Nothing revolutionary, like what was to come. Frankly, i guess i am getting a little weary of having to stumble over K stuff on a model T website. But, some important things you conveniently overlook. The directors minutes state $437 for K parts.... not a complete chassis. When you compare apples, compare them to apples not oranges. I certainly believe Charles Sorenson was making patterns for K parts , as the company wasn't buying complete chassis. I also believe he was the genius behind the N patternwork, which WAS revolutionary for the time. If Ford didn't know him in 1904, he sure did by 1905 when the N was developed!!!
The planetary steering gear is the only thing i can see carried to the N ( if you don't count 4 tires and schrader valves )...and this was developed earlier for the model B.......outside magnetos were used on many, many cars of the day, and the K magneto was nothing like the revolutionary system devised for the T. It is the same on many makes of the day, although the original holley magneto was a bust. To my knowledge, most surviving K's use a bosch DU-6, which i do not believe was original to the car. To keep stating that is laughable. I have been inside an original K rear axle. If yours is original inside, i would be skeered to death to take it to the speeds you talk about. They resemble a model T rear axle only on the outside, as did many other rear axles of the period. That's it, i'm tired, i will crawl back under my rock now.
The Model K axle is almost identical to the T, unlike the NRS that does not have the carrier bearing, only a bushing. As for debating point by point, I thought you were.
If your tired of these threads, please don't click on them as I always begin them with OT. I disagree on many of these points, and based on experience and research feel the Model K, as with all the Ford models, was a tremendous value, with innovations that set them and Ford apart from the rest.
But, just my opinions. And I appreciate your opinions and the experience you bring to the table.
Actually Ford held the world land speed record with the "999" racer before the six cylinder racer set its "record". The record set by 999 was internationally sanctioned and recognized.
From Beverly Rae Kimes book "The Cars of Henry Ford" edited by Henry Austin Clark:
What does the post above have to do with this thread? Anyone familiar with early Ford history is well aware of Henry Ford's remarkable record driving his racer 999 on a frozen lakebed in January 1904. In fact it's been discussed on this forum numerous times over the past year.
However, not being a production car, 999 's record and the world endurance record set by the Ford six cylinder stock car have no relationship, other than that they were both world records, and created by the same designer, Henry Ford.
Rob, I'm pretty new to this forum and the hobby but wanted to let you know that I, for one, enjoy reading about the early history and am in awe at your research and the amount of material you have at your fingertips. Keep up the good work!