I am curious. I wonder how many on this forum at one time thought that the Model K was a loser on some level and has changed their opinion recently based on evidence that Rob Heyen has brought forth?
I have changed my opinion from loser to pretty good car.
I was a blank slate - no opinion either way because I had never heard of one until seeing Rob's photos of working on it.
Of course since then I've thought they were absurdly cool. It's not a T in terms of being simple and/or easy for the common guy to work on, but I think it was and is a good car, especially considering what was available during its time. It seems to me that the K just wasn't the direction that Henry wanted to go. Short of reading "The K just isn't really the direction I want to take Ford Motor Co." in his diary, I don't form much of opinion (or think much of other's opinions) on what someone none of us ever knew wanted or liked.
Unfortunately we've long past the point where someone who was alive and old enough to remember that era could tell us what public opinion of the car was.
Tom,Please add my name to the list as to a money maker for Ford and proably also as good as there was for the time.Bud.
I'm with you, Tom. The "loser" moniker was pervasive in all the books for many years. I think Rob's diligent research has shown otherwise. The Model K was a great car, and it was important for Ford Motor Company and the eventual introduction of the Model T. I expect that all of us here (with one exception) who have been paying attention to Rob's posts will agree as well.
My opinion of the Model K has not changed on bit!
I still think it is a very cool car.
However, my belief of the financial woes, Henry Ford's personal dislike of the Model K, and the loss-leader myth that has been perpetuated has been (as Adam and Jamie would say,) "busted."
Thank you, Rob for helping me become more informed about the Model K.
*< : ^ )
I'm with Seth. I too am a blank slate but Rob is helping me to understand that without the development of the K, the T would have never evolved, so we should all be grateful to the K for blazing the trail to the T. Jim Patrick
PS. Plus, I have developed a genuine appreciation of the sleek appearance of the K and can understand Rob's affinity for it.
I always thought of the Model K as an also-ran or footnote in Ford history but Rob has definitely changed that.
Now I think it's very cool and a dependable, fast
car which led the way in it's time.
Keith...I like your grinning Santa!
I have seen Rob's K up close and personnel on several occasions, and it is awesome. Robs car itself is incredible, but the K model itself really is something to be seen. The thing is massive. To see it with it's hood open and the engine running..... hard to describe. It is hard to believe something like the T followed the K
The really important thing about the T is the incredible numbers that were manufactured and sold at such a low cost, making it affordable to the masses, thanks to the advent and perfection of the assembly line.
I assume that in 1907, each Model K was made by hand, so was very expensive. Much more expensive than the masses could afford, which possibly led to its' downfall.
Do you suppose that the K would have been as successful as the T had it had the benefit of the assembly line and mass production and resulting low cost? I tend to think so as it is a very appealing car. Jim Patrick
The model K had far to many parts to even be considered for a mass-production vehicle. Henry had problems keeping parts for his Model T which had @1500.
I'll bet with young Edsel's help, Henry could have made it happen, especially since Edsel didn't mind dear old Dad stealing all the credit. Jim Patrick
!903-1911 were the development years for the Ford Co. Ford bought most all of the Ford parts at that time from suppliers. The K chassis was bought out complete as was the body. The Ford auto was an assembled auto until Ford started to make some parts itself. Bodies were basically bought out way into modern times. Ford Co. did not own a ferris foundry until about 1909. The Ford company may have designed the parts that went into Fords, but even the development of the bodies was done by others. The Fisher Company design or developed the bodies for the 1915 open cars. Henry depended on a great net work of suppliers. While the K was very profitable, it did not fit into his plan for the mass production and sale of almost identical cars. Make a small profit each on a million autos to him was better than a large profit each in a thousand cars.
I saw my first Model K at the Fresno Concours about 26 years ago.... Very Impressive. Could not understand the negativity I had read previous to that time.
My highlight at that event was meeting Gordon Buerhrig, famed automobile stylist of Auburn, Duesenberg, Cord fame and later stylist for Ford.
I think I am with the majority who believed the statements of others - often without attribution or authority - as to the value of the pre-Model T Fords.
Why this was so is open to conjecture. Was it a conscious effort by Henry Ford to denigrate the large cars (not just the Model K) in favor of his smaller Model T to boost sales? Or, was it a case of one purported authority on the Ford Motor Company making a statement from ignorance or malice that was then spread by others trusting his or her scholarship?
I'm with Rob now believing the Model K was not only an OK automobile but a very good one. Another great product from the little Piquette Plant.
At the time I purchased my Model K I was looking for a big brass Ford. The field was pretty small; pick between a 640 Roadster or a Touring Car. I opted for the Touring and as luck would have the only cars that I found for sale over a number of years were Roadsters. A few years ago I was able to purchase a Touring Car with a neat history. Elmer Bemis owned the car from ? until the mid to late 1950s at which time he sold the car to Bill Harrah. While he owned the car he drove it to and from Glidden Tours, starting in Vermont, as well as participating in the tours.
Although I was well aware of the "bad press" associated with the Model K, I proceeded undaunted in my quest for a Touring Car. Even after I bought the car I had serious collectors openly question my judgement. As recent as last summer when my wife and I participated in Brass and Gas Tour in Vermont, which was much more like an endurance run or torture test. Participants were amazed when then saw us take off for the day's tour. They were even more amazed when we returned home each afternoon in one piece under our own power....which could not be said for all the cars.
Is the Model K built like a Rolls Royce, or a Pierce or Locomobile or ????? No, it's not. But it does perform well, and far better than it's reputation.
If neither Rob nor I get caught short on time, we'll embark upon a journey in our K's that will take us from ??? to ??? Time will tell.
Seth said it best (to my way of thinking):
"Unfortunately we've long past the point where someone who was alive and old enough to remember that era could tell us what public opinion of the car was."
Like many historical issues, one can probably find (or manipulate) any number of "facts" to support ones opinion about the Model K.
That's the reason I personally put quite a lot of validity in the results of the "Motor" magazine contest held in early 1907. This was before the "heyday" of the Model K (the "K" won many contests and sold well in 1907, but primarily in the summer). While the model has only been out since April of 1906, by the time this contest was held in February-March 1907, it (K) was well enough known and thought of to place 5th among over 100 cars contestants would choose if they won the prize (any car costing $3000 or less).
Look at the list of cars contestants chose, and see what you think?
I find this list remarkable because it is essentially a "survey" of the cars people entering the contest would choose to own. And, they (contestants) did not know this list would be published, so no reason to choose given car because "cousin Tom or uncle Fred" sold a particular brand, or any other reason to skew the results. This is what really began my search for more information about the Model K at the time it was on the market.
If in only my mind people talked about the lavish coachwork on some of the very high end cars,were those cars the finnished product or were just chassis sent out for custom coachwork?? Same as the model T,better cars were built but they still had to be sold.Bud. PS,I wonder if a Raninier exist?? Bud.
I was in the blank slate category until Rob shared his research on the K. Interesting research in many regards. Thanks for sharing it with the forum.
Had it been built on an assembly line as the Model T, the K could certainly could have been sold at much higher volumes and at a lower price. However, the Model K was designed for the upper classes, but Cadillacs and Lincolns are built on assembly lines with modern methods, yet they have never outsold Ford or Chevrolet.
Here is a summary so far, as best as I can make out.
pos = positive
neg = negative
neu = neutral
unk = unknown
Tom C. neg > pos
Seth: neu > pos
Bud: unk > pos
Mike W. neg > pos
Keith: pos > pos
Jim: neu > pos
Bob G. neg > pos
Jack: unk > unk
Doug unk > unk
Darel unk > unk
Bob J. neg > pos
Thomas: neg > pos
Timothy: unk > pos
Rob: unk > pos
Mike K. neu > unk
Ted: unk > unk
neg > pos = 5
unk > unk = 4
unk > pos = 3
neu > pos = 2
pos > pos = 1
neu > unk = 1
if I counted right.
Dan Haynes, on the "Long & Short of It" thread: neg>pos.
I also believed Henry didn't like the "K", but after all of the research Rob has done, I'm sure Henry did like it.
Tim and I have talked of a long distance tour with the "K" s. I think Dean Y. might also be on board (Chief Mechanician).
One idea is to retrace all or part of this vacation taken by the Charles Miller family in 1908. If we do so,etching significant, we have talked about inviting other Ford owners and brass car owners to join us for a portion of the tour. Just an idea at this time, but something I'd like to do. Another idea is to take them coast to coast (or as far as they go...):
Tom, you can count my opinion as "interesting". I didn't see enough data to sell me either way. I suspect several things tried out on the K were used or not used on the T. For example, when you look at the K rear axle housings, they have the same appearance as the the 1915-1927 T rear axle housings. They make you wonder why Ford used a built up riveted axle housing design on the early T's.
That sounds like a great tour! Can I come in a mere '13 T?
Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ
PS - Yes, my view of the K has "evolved" for the better. Maybe if I sold my Stanley - - -
My opinion has gone from negative to positive on the Model K. There are lots of opportunities for people to study early automobile history. Rob has made this point with his research. Google Books is a great place to find out all kinds of information from early literature. I have been doing some non-Ford studying on the Oakland Motor Company. It contradicts what is written in the "modern" literature.
I suspect the 1909 Model T rear axle housings were a case of "we can do it so let's do it", since Ford just bought a Buffalo manufacturer who could do deep steel drawing. Very soon, I understand, they discovered this was not yet a reliable process. There is talk that many of the original housings had internal welds from the factory to correct tears in the metal. It took them a while before they basically went back to the rear axle housing used on the MOdel N and K.
This sort of thing still happens. How else would you explain many of the changes Microsoft makes in their user interface (Word, Excel, PowerePoint, etc.) that make it a real struggle for old users when a new version comes out?
I have had the pleasure of riding and driving two Model K's and they are ball terrors. I do however believe that persistance is a virtue as with any early car well done to my good friends Rob Heyen and Bob Trevan, As they say in the classics I would offer my left Model T in exchange to have one.
Microsoft, Apple and Ford have something in common today: Planned Obsolescence