This is the last comparison of Ford Model K with the car commonly accepted as the best built car in America at the time, Pierce Arrow. When I first began comparing the two cars, model by model, year by year, Ford didn't appear to have much chance against the superior Pierce Great Arrow.
When compared item by item, the cars have some interesting similarities, and differences. First off, I need to acknowledge that the Pierce Great Arrow is just that, a GREAT car. It was undoubtedly a high quality, well appointed car with many wonderful features. It also cost significantly more than the Model K. Below are many of the comments on the forum over the last several months concerning the comparison of these two marquees. These comments along with other information helped motivate me to make this comparison:
"Of course the Pierce outsold the Ford six by a wide margin. Any Pierce was a better car than a Ford K."
"By comparison to its competition the Ford K was a sales flop. For example even Pierce Arrow sold more 45 horsepower cars in the same period, and also sold a similar number of their 30 horsepower 4 cylinder cars which (arguably) offered as much or more performance and style as the Ford K."
"There are a lot more early Pierce Arrows being toured long distances today than there are Ford Model Ks. I'm not talking about day trips but Trans Continental Tours that are a couple of thousand miles, 500 mile Gas and Brass Tours, etc. I never see any Model K Fords on these long distance tours. I think the Pierce Arrow survival rate is higher (which certainly reflects on its build quality) and they certainly demand much more money today than a Model K does."
"A fair number of early (1905 - 1910) Pierce products do show up at HCCA tours. Probably because they have a marque strong club, the Pierce Arrow Society, and they are utterly reliable. Once you get past the purchase price of a Pierce you have a car that will last virtually forever if maintained properly."
"I have yet to see even a single example of a Ford K on tour anywhere. Rob I think you are blazing a new trail every time you take your K anywhere. There are very few Model K Fords around. Even off brand cars like Chalmers and Stoddard Dayton are seen more frequently."
"I don't think Pierce was ever in the top ten car manufacturers, but they built a car that was superior to the Ford K in many ways. The 1907 45 HP model for example had sliding gear three speed transmission, shock absorbers, and sold 500 during the 1907 model year which is more than the Model K."
"Each part on a Pierce has the serial number of the vehicle on it. I rest my case, they can not be compared at all. It is passion fruit and over ripe apples."
"Pierce has four valves per cylinder cross flow T head and Ford is back in the days of the horse and buggy with Mason jars and wicks for carburetors and flints and stones with magnifying glasses for ignition. Be serious when you post . . . . please."
"Having carefully examined both, the Pierce Arrow is definitely a better engineered, designed and built car than the Ford K."
"Remember the horsepower is formula derived - a 30 HP Pierce is about as fast and powerful as a 40 HP Ford model K, perhaps more so."
"Regardless of our modern opinions of which car was better, the buying public bought more Pierce products in that time period, and at significantly higher prices."
Below is a spreadsheet with many categories. I tried to include categories that might have interested an automobile buyer one hundred plus years ago, plus anything I thought interesting today regarding these cars. I've highlighted couple of columns at the bottom of the spreadsheet that I thought quite interesting and significant.
A few comments. You will draw your own conclusions from this information in addition to personal knowledge and opinions. Some of the comments above are incorrect, while others are may fall in the "personal preference" category. Some of the data below may be incorrect, I did the best I could trying to find correct data (not always easy). The "cars remaining" categories are probably off some, as there may be other Pierce Arrows and Model K Fords "out there." Some features may be an asset to one car or the other, such as T versus L combustion chamber.
One Pierce Arrow owner I spoke with said the T head was a detriment, because it required a larger combustion chamber in comparison with an L head. It also requires two camshafts along with the additional bushings/bearings. Again, probably a personal preference issue. As another "old car guy" said to me, there's a reason there are no more T head cars built anymore.
I think the phosphor bronze bearings may be a detriment to Pierce Arrow, and babbitt favorable to Ford.
Finally, the most interesting thing I took away from this work was the number of cars sold, and the number that remain today. When comparing these cars, I think it's only fair to compare model by model. Pierce Arrow did not sell only one model, and as we know, Ford sold three and four models during this same time period. When taken model by model, the sale numbers may appear surprising too.
I combined 1907 and 1908 because there weren't separate sales numbers for Pierce Arrow in 1907 and 1908. I did not include the Pierce Great Arrow Model 40-S (small six cylinder) because it came out in late 1907 as an 08 model. The numbers for it were similar (in terms of sales) to the other Pierce models.
The model K is still a great car, clearly proven to be comparable to the greatest cars of the time. All this time it has been thought that the trans would explode if low is used. Also thought that the frame would twist and the engine would break apart, or that the axle would remove itself from the car when driven. So my question is...... After the time you have spent with the model k, are any of these problems true of your car. Is it reliable as other brass cars, is it easy to operate, how well does it run against the other cars on tours. How does the model k that tours on the east coast reliable ect?
The frame issue seems to have been primarily a 1906 Model K problem. The 1907/08 version had the frame "beefed up" extensively. As with the Model N, and I suppose any car with aluminum crankcase bolted to the frame or cross members (Pierce Arrow also used an aluminum crankcase) could break with twisting.
I think part of the problem with the Model K is, there are enough left to still judge them, while many of the "high end" cars of the era are not touring, and so their weaknesses are not exposed. If you noticed, one of the forum comments said many Pierce Arrows are on long tours. That may be true, but as you can see from the numbers, they aren't the 1906-1908 Pierce Great Arrows that are out touring today.
I will say our cars (including Tim's on the east coast) are an absolute pleasure to drive. Don Mates, the most knowledgeable K owner I know, said they (Model K) drive like a "big puppy dog". They have Model T style planetary gear steering and a joy to drive. Even the planetary transmission is easy to get used to. The torque of the six cylinder engine allows the two speed transmission to be used as a "start out in low for a few feet, push to high, sit back and drive" experience with the K.
As for reliability, the dual ignition along with typical Ford engineering (reliable, simple, as few moving parts as possible) make the engine seem almost "bullet proof."
As a reference, three Model K currently tour extensively, two 1907 models, and an early 1906 in Australia. At least five other Model K I'm aware of run and could tour, although their caretakers don't currently tour them. Several others may be operable, however are in museums or static collections so we don't know.
That is awesome, that's the confirmation many look for to know the model k is a great car!
I own and tour the Model K on the east coast.
I purchased it in August of 2010 and have driven it a few thousand miles. It has never failed to start, or stop, or bring me back to the point of departure.
Last summer my wife and I participated in the New England Brass and Gas Tour which by some standards was a bit of an endurance test. Every day we saw cars, sometimes "high quality" cars, being scooped up mid day and returned to the hotel by the vulture wagon due to significant issues such as broken transmission gears.
Often individuals unfamiliar with my car were genuinely surprised each day when they observed the Model K touring rather effortlessly day after day.
I have also driven the car on a couple of New London to New Brighton Runs. Both times I arrived at the end of the 120 mile run on the last day of the event rather well rested because the car is so easy to drive.
I am sure, however, that....sooner or later...something will break and I'll have a turn on the vulture wagon. And when that happens I'll be ready for the "I told you so" that the pundits will offer. Such is life... In the meantime I'll carry on touring in my Model K.
Thank you both for your knowledge with these magnificent cars, hopefully the good service from your cars will get the others with model k fords out and driving, clearly they nothing to be afraid of. I did go up to at least see the cars in the New England tour, as I live close, maybe someday I will finish my brass t speedster, maybe the hcca will let me tour and if something does happen, I will give you a hand!
All of us will end up on the vulture wagon. If you never ride the vulture wagon you haven't driven your T very much. I've come close but always seem to figure out how to keep going with the stuff I carry under the seat. One day I won't have a spare crankshaft or a spare something.
Pierce made a very reliable car, so reliable that it won the Glidden trophy year after year, often with a perfect score. While you might think there was some advantage in one alloy over another, the fact was Pierce had a stellar reputation for durability and reliability.
Ford had a number of notable defects in the charts posted by Rob, significantly the 2 speed planetary transmission and the Hyatt wheel bearings, both low quality design elements. While you could get away with that sort of thing in a Model N or a Maxwell Model A, the shear weight and size of a Ford Model K needs a three speed transmission, and it would not have cost much to upgrade to a decent wheel bearing.
Pierce on the other hand used a three speed transmission and ball bearings on its rear axle, as any high quality car of the era would be expected to have. It is not so notable that Pierce has these elements as it is to note that the Ford K is lacking these basic minimum requirements for a quality car.
Pierce went on building prestigious 6 cylinder cars for 20 years after the Model K was unceremoniously dropped from production by Ford. During each of those years there was a six cylinder Pierce used by the White House for Presidential transportation. During the next ten years the White House used straight 8 and V12 powered Pierce Arrows.
1907 was a transition year for Pierce, with the Pierce family spinning off the car business and the production moving into the new Pierce factory. All that hurt their ability to produce cars that year, and 1908 as production ramped up in the new facility.
It should be noted that Pierce manufactured their cars including the engines, transmissions, bodies, axles and frames. Ford made none of those parts for the Model K. Ford was an auto assembler, not a manufacturer. This is why Ford was denied membership to the ALAM. Read about the difference in the excellent book "Monopoly on Wheels".
Comparing the coachwork on the Model K to the Pierce line is another stark contrast in quality. Ford bought wooden bodies from a subcontractor because Ford didn't make anything. Pierce on the other hand made their bodies in the Pierce plant from cast aluminum, yielding a much stronger body that was also quite light weight and with a much more durable paint finish.
I think Rob's chart above clearly shows that the Pierce and the Model K were not in the same class. I doubt many Pierce buyers would have even considered a Ford Model K. Certainly none would have cared about the cost per horsepower when buying a Pierce or for that matter, what type of bearing material or alloy of the iron used to cast the crankshaft.
Many may not be aware of this as it happened so long ago, Elmer Bemis an early collector ran one of his two Model K's on the Anglo-American Rallys (there were two, one in 1954 in the UK one here in 1957 ). He did have a rear axle issue that put him out one day in England it but after an all nighter fixing it, I believe he made it the rest of the way. Don't remember if he ran it in 1957 in the US version.
Watch it on video here: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/anglo-american-vintage-car-rally
Photos of the 1957 event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsphotos/sets/72157594180001633
While I may well be mistaken, it seems to me that your opinion of the Model K Ford has changed a lot over the past many months it has been discussed here on the forum.
Based upon my recollection, your opinion of the Model K at the outset of the discussion was, consistent with what was written in the history books, a lousy unreliable car and a financial failure for Ford. Today, you point out that owing to a few shortcomings the Model K doesn't quite stack up to a Pierce.
I for one am not surprised that you don't think the Model K is in the same category as a Pierce. I doubt anyone ever thought the Model K was on par with a Pierce.
The financial records of Ford have proven beyond any doubt that the Model K was anything but a financial failure. And, the fact that Rob and I tour frequently in our Model K's without difficulty must stand for something.
The next a 1906 or 1907 Pierce is on tour, please let us know.
Thank you. There are numerous magazine articles about Mr. Bemis and the Anglo American tour and it sounds like a grand tour. I haven't had time to explore your links yet but will mention there was a 1915 Pierce Arrow on the tour too. I think anyone who has dealt with vintage cars, there is a world of difference technology wise between 1907 and 1915, but still interesting the two cars both made the tour.
Now, on to Royce.....
Royce, your "observations" in the past are to some degree the reason for this thread, so it's fitting you raise issues.
First things first, you said:
"It should be noted that Pierce manufactured their cars including the engines, transmissions, bodies, axles and frames. "
Actually, I believe Pierce originally, and through 1903 or 1904, used a De Dion engine. please correct me if i'm wrong. Henry Ford designed his engines from day one, from the motor used for the Detroit Motor Company, to the first two cylinder engine designed in 1901, refined and used for the first Ford Model A in 1903.
Henry Ford designed and built his first six cylinder engine in late 1904, racing the engine (prototype for the Model K engine) throughout 1905. Ford offered the six cylinder Model K beginning in 1906. Pierce followed with a six cylinder car a year later as a 1907 model.
Henry Ford and Ed Huff designed their own high tension magneto, offered as standard equipment in 1906.
Pierce followed a year later, placing a Bosch high tension magneto on their cars for 1907.
Ford used Hyatt roller bearings as standard equipment for all models by 1906. Pierce Arrow used a ball bearing for load bearing of the axle between 1906-1908. Below is a diagram from the 1907 PA Model 65 operator's manual:
In 1909, PA made the switch to tapered roller bearings. Below is a diagram from the 1909 PA op manual:
Reference the post by Royce, it appears PA may have chose to use some of those "low quality Hyatt bearings". It appears both the 1907 66 hp Pierce and the 1909 48 hp Pierce used what look to be Hyatt bearings in crucial spots in the drivetrain. However, H.B. may not indicate "Hyatt Bearing", so I may be wrong. Please point it out if that is the case:
Yes, Pierce Arrow built a quality car, at a quality price. The Ford Model K was designed as a low priced, high quality, advanced alternative to car like the Pierce Great Arrow.
I find it interesting (at the least) that Ford sold more Model K than any model of Pierce Arrow (and most other high end models of the period). It may also speak volumes that are so many more Model K in existence today than most other high end cars of the period.
Rob, you absolutely must write an article for the HCCA Gazette. Contact them first for guidelines and maybe help.
They will accept only unpublished work, so do not submit it here first. They wanted my article on wheel chocks, until they found out I had it on my website.
Thank you for the kind compliment. I have enough trouble putting a few coherent sentences together to post here. Hope your week goes well. I'm traveling through sunny west Kansas this week,
'I haven't had time to explore your links yet but will mention there was a 1915 Pierce Arrow on the tour too."
That was the ex Austin Clark Model 66 Roadster, which has an original body on it that is believed to have been made by Brewster.
I have handled it for a client in the past and have spent sometime behind the wheel. It is quite a thrill drive one as they are 825 CI.
I know I'm not alone in giving you a big ATTA BOY for all your research and posts here about Model K Fords.
You are a true gentleman in responding to your detractor.
If you write an article for the HCCA Gazette then I wonder if said detractor will write an article to pick yours apart?
Contact HCCA, Rob. They will guide you. They will edit whatever you write, anyhow.
Your investigation is far more important than 98% of the articles they publish. It should go to the Henry Ford, too.
Heck, send all your info, and let them write the article. They get the glory, and you get satisfaction.
The diagram shows ball bearings at 408 and 410 locations. I don't see any Hyatt bearings in any of the diagrams in any location. Pierce imported their ball bearings from Germany.
The 1907 - 1908 cars in question are entirely manufactured with all major assemblies built by Pierce, except small items like hardware and bearings. The Model K was assembled by Ford using major assemblies provided primarily by Dodge Brothers. This is why ALAM would not allow Ford to join - Ford was only an auto assembler, not a manufacturer.
A few points:
First, this excerpt from a 1904 board of Ford directors meeting.
This board entry says Ford Motor Company is declining the contract offered by Mr. smith of Oldsmobile on behalf of the A.L.A.M.. Sure sounds as if A.L.A.M. offered a contract, and Ford said "no," as as we know, it was "game on" as the A.L.A.M. sued Ford Motor Company, Panhard and others over their refusal to pay royalties as AUTO MANUFACTURERS.
I don't know, what does H.B. stand for, Hard Bearing?" I don't know, but it might be Hyatt Bearing?
Ford designed the car and most components, and parts were manufactured by Dodge Brothers, who were by the way, partners with Ford from day one.
And now, back to my real job.....
Please do not forget that C.H. Wills was very involved in the designs of the early Fords.
I don't believe HB stood for Hyatt Bearing. The bearings shown are definitely ball bearings. H.B. may suggest a manufacturer's name or just "hard ball", or ????.
As Bruce alludes to above, it's probably not 100% accurate to say that Henry Ford designed & built any particular engine. While I'm sure he had a large input in the matter, I don't believe we can credit him personally designing & building any engines, except for maybe that of the quadricycle.
Royce, a couple of things. What is your opinion about the fact Pierce Arrow continued to use phosphor bronze main and rod bearings while Ford changed to babbitt with the Model B Ford in 1905? Could this help explain the survival of so many Model B and K in relation to other "superior" cars?
And, I may be wrong (certainly happens a lot), but it appears by 1910 (ad below) Hyatt bearings are used by Pierce Arrow in some capacity.
Yes, we know Henry Ford had a host of talented individuals such as Wills and Huff working for him. I assume the same may be said of any of the major car builders of the time. I would guess that HF was more "hands on" than most marquee namesakes of the day, including George Pierce, but again, that's just a guess.
That's a very good photo of C.H.
How about this one? Looks like he hasn't aged well......
I presume his parents or in laws?
That's spooky Rob!
Yes, I would agree he was definitely more "hands on".
Jerry, I hope it didn't take that long to get it started.
No, just a very long exposure photo.
Looking at that crank makes me wonder why they didn't make engines turn the other way, to avoid all those broken arms?
Unfortunately, I don't have much "head to head" competition between Pierce and the Ford six. I have found two reliability contests where both Ford sixes and Pierce Arrows scored well. Ford did not enter the Glidden tour during the Model K years, and Pierce doesn't place in any contests I recall where Model Ks competed.
While Pierce Arrow won the Glidden tour several years in a row, the Model K won several speed and hill climbs. The Model K Ford greatest wins were setting a world record in a 24 hour race in 1907 and winning both the runabout and touring classes ($2000 to $3000) in the prestigious 1907 Stucky Hill Climb.
I have found a few "Used Car" comparisons, but again, with so few cars made and resold, it's hard to find many examples. Following is one, but again, one ad really doesn't tell us much, although it's interesting:
If your looking at the other cars, there are some doubled up (I had to double post to get a clear copy on the forum, and clipped the pic in the wrong place). If you notice, Franklin is listed twice, as are a few others.
A smaller complete version:
I'm not sure that removing any rose colored glasses as to what history followed...
Way back when…..ball bearings were specified using a 3-digit number. The first digit would be for the class of expected use…(extra light = 1; light = 2; medium = 3; heavy duty =4) and the last digit correlated to the bore size. (17mm bore = 3; 20mm bore = 4; 25mm bore = 5; etc)
So the bore was pretty well fixed by the last number…the OD varied, as did the size of the balls and the quantity of balls and therefore also the width of the ball bearing. I don’t have my old reference books with me to actually quote what the size and rating would be for say a 404 as shown on the drawing.
HB ‘could be’ for a hardened ball as Jerry mentions, as also way back then the balls had a habit of being high carbon steel and unground, incapable of supporting any axial load or axial thrust and simply slowed down the process of wearing out original parts with the bearing balls being sacrificial. HB could also be the name of a manufacturer…IIRC there WAS a company having two names in the era and it had the H and the B…I just right now don’t recall the name. It ‘could’ have been them and the call-out on the drawing ‘might’ have been a warning to all involved that only one supplier was approved for use…since the bearing industry in America then was much like the Chinese bearing industry of today. You pay your price, you take your chances!
Like a few of the other features in the comparison, it was a bit of a horse-race of technology vs. reputation and ‘tried and true’.
The self aligning bearing of the non-Hyatt type did not come along until 1907...the idea for a barrel roller in 1912. As to the Hyatt type...The year was 1901 and a company decided to give Hyatt a chance on the ribbon rollers in a real ‘mass produced’ environment for the time. They must have worked or at least worked good enough.
The beauty of the early Hyatt’s was that they naturally hardened due to the heat used to roll them into the ‘straw’, they originally were not ground and were off by as much as 0.001”, but no problem they collapsed and rolled in to the space, and in principle they had the effect of just as many ‘balls’ as there were coils with each ‘coil’ self- aligning without causing the bearing roller to crack (and if some did not touch, no big deal as there were many)...and although I can not prove it...my guess would be that the ribbon and the sleeve cost no more than a decent ball bearing...
Thank you for the explanation. Interesting times as the industry was finding their way.
Thank you again for taking the time,
One thing I believe is frequently left out of the discussion of the Model K is the fact that it combined cutting edge technology (one of only two cars costing less than $4000 to offer a magneto, one of only five six cylinder U.S. cars), lightweight and high horsepower for the lowest price in it's class. This early 1906 article alludes to this:
The 1906 Model K was beset by a host of problems related to poor engineering. Examples include weak / easily broken rear differential, frame formed from mild steel that bent easily, and engine crankcase arms that broke from excessive frame twisting.
The engines in the Model K overheated badly. Revolutionary indeed.
1906 cars remaining: Ford Model K - 6, Pierce Arrow, all models - 1
That is a fabrication on your part Rob. At least two 1906 Pierce cars owned by Henry Austin Clark exist, and a third unrestored 1906 Pierce exists as well, which I pointed out to you on a previous thread. I was able to find those by using the powers of Google over a 5 minute period. Just imagine if I wanted to devote an hour how many Pierce cars from 1906 might be found.
I appreciate the lack of disagreement by you on the poor engineering and terrible reliability of the 1906 Model K though.
This makes the third time I've asked you (as you are well versed about other early carmakers). Could the fact many of the "superior" cars used phosphor bronze main and rod bearings be a reason for the low survival rate compared with Ford's move to babbitt bearings for all models by 1906?
The 1906 number is taken from a story about the "only 1906 Pierce Arrow restoration" along with the Pierce Arrow Society numbers. In addition, a well known book covering early Pierce Arrows says the same thing. As I've said before, there may be more cars, both Pierce and Ford Model K than are currently acknowledged or documented. In addition, just as with Ford, some cars may have been built at the end of one calendar year, and are considered the next year model (ex: Ford Model T, 1908).
We do know Pierce Arrow built 700 cars (all models) in 1906. Ford built/sold 301 Model K. Had Pierce cars survived at the same rate, there would be about 14, not 1, 2 or 3.
I've enjoyed reading all of your research info. What are you going to do with all this knowledge? Apparently you are a fairly good writer. I think you should write a book--perhaps on the subject of the early Fords. If it was a slick publication with lots of photos, I believe you could sell quite a few copies. If a book like that was to be on the shelf of the bookstore, I think people would pick it up and become absorbed. I don't think it would be a bestseller but you might make a little profit. If you are like me, the big profits are not that important compared to having a story that must be told.
You can self-publish e-books on the cheap. . Rob, could you get your e-smart daughters to do the formatting?
Yes, and the book you refer to was published in 1980. Lets be serious - why can't you be honest? Why would anyone believe you if you are going to exclude any information you don't like? History is fact. If you are not going to be factual, you will not be considered a valid source of information. The Model K, and the Pierce, both had their drawbacks because both were made a long time ago using then current ideas and materials.
Be honest and people will respect you whether they agree or not.
Rob,Write it and have it printed in a nice looking coffee table book and for a couple of hundred and i'll take a copy!! Remember you can lead a horse to water and make him drink but you have to get the right end of the horse!! Bud in Wheeler.
In your post above you state:
That is a fabrication on your part Rob. At least two 1906 Pierce cars owned by Henry Austin Clark exist, and a third unrestored 1906 Pierce exists as well, which I pointed out to you on a previous thread. I was able to find those by using the powers of Google over a 5 minute period. Just imagine if I wanted to devote an hour how many Pierce cars from 1906 might be found.
Rather than imagining how may 1906 Pierce cars you might be able to find in hour searching Google....consider actually doing so. If the task is of interest to you I will pay you $100 for each Pierce car (piles of parts don't count as a car for this purpose) that can be verified that you find in the next hour over and above the three mentioned in you post above. The clock starts now.
You do not have the right, nor the standing to call me dishonest. If you feel the need to do so, I will be at Chickasha, and you may make such an accusation to my face. However, do not challenge my voracity on this or any forum. Anything I say, or type, I believe to be true.
Secondly, you are the fellow who insists on giving blanket creditability to a few former Ford employees who documented their remembrances in the 1950s, and you are challenging a well known and acknowledged expert on Pierce Arrow because he wrote his book in the 1980's? Why, because his book doesn't fit your opinions?
I checked the Pierce Arrow Society website members area (yes, I paid a club membership so I could have access to the best material possible while checking my facts a few months ago), and they list one 1906 Pierce Arrow.
I went your "google search" method, and found the following article that says this is the only known 1906 Pierce Arrow:
I don't know if the 06 Pierce in the article and the one registered to a Pierce Arrow Society member are the same car. If not, maybe there are two. Maybe there are three, or even four. The fact remains, there are nine known 1906 Model K. There were 300 Model K sold in fiscal year 1906, and 700 Pierce Arrows. I would like you give a plausible explanation for this.
Might it be that the Model K was indeed a well made, well thought of car that stayed in service in large enough numbers for a long enough period of time to that it had a much better "survival rate" than many of it's contemporaries?
Just checked my watch, looks like a missed opportunity to make some easy money.....
This is the "newest" example of a Model K still in everyday use I've found. The article, dated December 1918, mention Ernest G. Gibson being stopped in his "six-cylinder Ford." His offense? Speeding, of course.
I challenge anyone to come up with a 1906-1908 Thomas, Peerless, Pierce Arrow or any other car that is documented still operating on a day to day schedule, and speeding no less. They may be out there, but I've yet to find one.
A simple google search might yield results.
Taking the ratio of Model K in relation to other high end cars a bit further. For 1907 and 1908 there were three models of Pierce Arrow (PA) made, 866 total (and probably some 40 hp six cylinder cars, but I think those came primarily in 1909).
During the same period, 576 Ford Model K were sold.
19 Model K are known to exist. If Pierce Arrow had the same survival rate as the Ford K, there would be 28 left. According to PA research about 7 1907/08 remain. Does anyone have an explanation or theory as to why the difference? Pierce Arrow continued into the late 1930s, so parts and dealers shouldn't have been the problem?
Perhaps they scraped for the war efforts, all that alloy even the body.
I suspect some truth to that. Although I would expect the "death ratio" to scrap drives should have been about equal. I really expected to find more Pierce Arrows existing because of the quality associated with the brand. I would think if you had a Pierce and Model K in 1940, the Ford would be the first to head to the salvage yard between the two.
That give me an idea, I'll be back......
Pierce only sold high end cars, so there must have been fewer dealers than for Ford who sold so many more cheaper cars. Thus it was always close to a Ford dealer who could improvise a solution when the third owner had a problem with his Ford six in 1912, while the Pierces may have been been in a situation many other expensive cars face when they get older - no longer fashionable for the rich and too expensive to properly maintain for the less fortunate.
In poor rural Sweden of the 30's even Model T's were in that category - they were no longer anything those who had the means to buy and drive a car would like to bee seen in, while the ordinary farmer and worker didn't yet have the means to buy tires or gasoline or pay the annual tax even if the car was for free, so most all of the remaining T's were taken off the road in the 1930-34 period to be transformed into horse drawn wagons and threshing engines plus good steel for the blacksmith - a drive shaft makes a great spud bar...
The pierce that made it to the hands of a second owner would eventually need repair and most likely would have cost more than the car itself cost, still happens today. If the cars were lucky to survive into the 40's then the ford would be saved, America has always loved the lore of their old fords! And when someone finds out that the ford scraps for nearly nothing they push it into the shed while the pierce got taken away on the hook because it was worth more crushed to bits. All these cars were once seen as having no value. Just ask my wife, yup old pile of shitty rust waste of money, I would put a smile face there but dont know how!
: no space ) . .
I'm not sure which years of Pierce Arrows featured aluminum bodies, but all that aluminum sure would be a big draw for a scrap yard. The PA's probably reached the crossover between "fix it" or "scrap it" much earlier than did a Ford.
Good points. Pierce did have aluminum bodies during the Model K years (1906-1908). I've tried to find Ford sixes and 06-08 Pierce salses over the last hour, and it's difficult because Pierce continued making cars (as we know) so searching for a particular model and year is difficult..
I did find a range of about $1700 down to $1200 for 1908 Pierce Arrows sold in 1911. Model K during that same period range from $700 to $1200. There appear to be about an equal number of sale ads for both Pierce and Ford sixes in 1911 in the newspaper service I used.
I did find another 1909 ad with both a Model K and Pierce for sale. As you can see, the price of these cars dropped rapidly:
I appreciate the offer, however I have a real job that pays better than $100 an hour, and darned few spare hours to use on important stuff like working on Model T's. Sorry I missed answering you, I've been busy.
Rob I do have the right to call you out when you intentionally mislead or fail to report accurately. I will be at Chickasha to enjoy seeing old friends and perhaps unload some rusty junk to unsuspecting enthusiasts for a sum of money that might pay for my fuel to drive home. I hope to meet you and have a beer while talking about old cars.
I should have fact checked this before, but I didn't. Royce accused me of fabricating the 1906 Pierce Arrow car remaining number (I used a current Pierce historian and a 1980 book reference for the number). Royce said Austin Clark had at least two 1906 Pierces, and again, I should have checked.
His comment from above:
"That is a fabrication on your part Rob. At least two 1906 Pierce cars owned by Henry Austin Clark exist,"
Again, I should have checked the facts. Below is a Hemmings article about the Austin Clark early Pierce Arrow. Only problem, IT'S A 1905 MODEL! Of course this does not preclude the existence of other 1906 Pierce Arrows, but this one is not a 1906:
The other clark owned pierce the one in the seal cove was brought up in the model b comparison, it is also a 1905, the larger 40 hp model
There is however what I think may be 1906 in the aaca museum, not sure on the one though. I would need to make a 12 hour round trip to get the info. Ooo reason for a drive! The problem with these early pierces s that no one drives them. So they cant compare them to a model k
That car is no longer at the aaca, still going for the trip though....
Are you for real Royce? a real job that pays better than $100 an hr, is your garage like J Leno's?
Either the Hemmings article is incorrect (and I believe you used the same photo), or you are wrong. You said I was being dishonest and misleading reporting (and that's what I'm doing, reporting) that only one 1906 Pierce exists.
You owe me an apology. The car you posted is not a 1906, and likely as not, you were aware of it (or should have been).
While I know nothing about Pierce automobiles, I do know that the car depicted in Rob's post above was sold at a Bonhams' auction on June 2, 2013, in Greenwich Connecticut. And, it was sold as a 1905 model.
Also of interest is the fact that it sold for $243,100 which included the buyer's premium. This seems like a rather modest amount for such a great car with such a great provenance.
Can I add in here that perhaps the reason for the variance in survival is just an anomaly? These were low production cars and the destruction of a couple dozen Pierces really may just be a matter of happenstance.
Anything is possible. However, by the point cars begin to "fade from view" they would be spread across the county (and beyond) making it difficult for me to understand how one calamitous event destroyed the entire remaining inventory of one brand.
I don't believe there are many of the other "high end" cars remaining of several other well known (at the time) brands. I've seen one 1907 Stevens Duryea six cylinder on tour, and they were made in almost the same numbers as the Ford Model K). No six cylinder Franklin, Peerless, Stearns, National, Thomas Flyer, Pope Hartford or other "big car" on tour. I'm sure there are some that tour, but the numbers appear to be low.
If its a 1905 built 1906 Pierce is it still a 1905 or is it a 1906? Pierce did sometimes introduce next year's model at the Glidden Tour. They had a 6 cylinder Pierce at the 1906 Glidden for example.
Either way it is a great car, it exists, and it is worth more than a Model K Ford of any model year. If it's a 1905 then Rob was off by 200% in his statement of Pierce 1906 survival. If you call it a 1906 then Rob is off by 300%.
You have to remember Rob that Royce is never ever wrong about anything.
I may have to go to Chickasha just to see the next Ali- Frazier bout. The last one was on March 8, 1971.
i was thinking the same thing. that space normally occupied by the college kids who assemble a model t from parts is large enough for a boxing ring or a wrestling mat. either one would of course have to be roped secure due to all the valuables near by, and the high potential for violence
Sorry guys, no geriatric fisticuffs. Any discussion I have with Royce regarding these issues will be private and congenial.
It's only a hobby...
It's only a hobby to you, Rob.
My money's on the Army Ranger.
Ralph, I'd like to say I'm old and wise enough to avoid confrontation. The truth is, I'm too old, too slow and have too many "aftermarket parts" to even consider such foolishness.
Besides, Royce is a gentleman and we should be able to agree to disagree.
Royce is practicing to be an FAA inspector for his retirement job. Arguing with the FAA is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
You finally figure out the pig likes the mud.
I'm already an FAA inspector.....its a curse and a blessing. Tomorrow is 8 hours of boredom listening to NTSB instuctors........
You're an FAA designee, Royce, not an FAA employee. I should have made the distinction.