In 1919, Childe Harold Wills, metallurgist and chief engineer for Henry Ford, cashed out his $1.5 million in company stock and set out to build a car of his own. The Old Motor you can see many more photos and learn the story behind the car and its revolutionary SOHC V-8 engine @ http://theoldmotor.com/?p=115758
A friend of mine has a roadster. It is a fine looking car.
A very nice Wills Sainte Claire museum is in Marysville Mich, on the St Clair River 4o miles northeast of Detroit. Marysville was named after Mary Wills, wife of Childe.
The Wills and the Nash are very similar.
C. Harold Wills never actually owned any Ford Motor Company stock. As part of his significant involvement, second only to Henry Ford, with the development of Ford's first car, Wills received payments directly from Henry Ford as part of an agreement in 1902. That agreement lapsed, but was revived in 1917. Henry Ford always "harbored an uneasy feeling that his associate might some day cut loose and design a car of his own"; Ford Expansion and Challenge 1915-1933 Page 12.
Later a dispute erupted about this arrangement and Ford and Wills entered into a legal settlement of all claims and counter claims. Therein was a detailed account of all payments by Ford to Wills. Several years ago one of the notarized copies of this settlement between Ford and Wills was offered for sale for $30,000. It was fascinating reading.
Ron the Coilman
We relied on period press coverage in "Automotive Industries" and "The Automobile". Apparently they chose to sensationalize their coverage to spice up the story.
Any idea were can I find the "legal settlement of all claims and counter claims", and other details as I would like to update the article.
After more research I changed the beginning of the text to read:
"In 1919, Childe Harold Wills, metallurgist and chief engineer for Henry Ford's first car, walked away with a reported $1.5 million settlement from Ford and $4 million he made in other investments and set out to build a car of his own".
It seems to be closer to what actually happened. What have you found to be the settlement?
The $1.5M settlement in 1919 sounds reasonable based upon what I remember of the settlement agreement, but I wonder about $4M "other investments"? Wills was purported to be a bit of a womanizer, liked the high life and had approached Ford other times to bail him out. My opinion is the 1919 settlement was probably the final codified settlement with Wills (and perhaps others, like Edward Huff, with similar claims) after buying out all minority stockholders in 1919 making the Ford family sole owners.
The notarized document I referred has been on eBay several times over the last ten years and I do not know if it was ever sold. It was the first time I ever saw anything definitive about the Ford/Wills arrangement/settlement. When I first saw it the seller sent me a legible electronic copy, try as I might I am unable to find it. I would have loved to own it for my collection, but the price was not one pays for a just a hobby.
If you are intent upon getting to the bottom of this subject I would suggest you contact David Lewis at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and get his views. David is the preeminent Henry Ford scholar and know the history far better than anyone.
Contact me directly for David's email address.
Ron (the Coilman) Patterson
Jim Donnelly a friend who writes for Hemmings reported the following as part of an article he did for Hemmings Classic Car:
"While Ford conceptualized the Model T, Wills conceived and later developed its planetary transmission. Even the script inside the universally recognized Ford blue oval is Wills's handiwork and survives to this day: As a youngster, one of his hobbies was calligraphy. Yet Wills and Ford's relationship would grow distant, and ultimately hostile, as World War I ended. New executives had joined the company, and one of them, a fiery Ford lieutenant named Charles E. Sorensen, was determined to see Wills cashiered. In 1919, Ford began buying out his minority shareholders, including the Dodge brothers, to consolidate his own grip on power. Wills demanded an accounting of the stock and profit-sharing income he had accrued, and he ultimately walked away with $5.5 million, including $4 million of his own savings, largely from investing in steel firms he had persuaded to produce vanadium for the booming auto industry".
You can access the rest of the article here: http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2005/06/01/hmn_feature20.html
Wow, today we throw around "Million dollars" figures commonly; but back then that was a tremendous amount of money! I don't have the figures or calculations, but I'd be willing to bet that that figure would today be over 100 million.
"New executives had joined the company, and one of them, a fiery Ford lieutenant named Charles E. Sorensen".
Sorenson was a pattern maker during the development of the N,R,S,and T. None of the draftsmen (engineers) cared for him. Joe Galmamb, and Charles Balough remained friends with Wills until his death. I can't speak for Jules Haltenberger.
Charles Sorensen was a pattern maker during the development of Model K / N. He went up the ladder quickly, and was anything but a pattern maker by the time the Model T was introduced. He had a car and chauffeur assigned to him during Model NRSK production supplied by Ford.
I would like to see the reference saying Charles Sorensen had a car and chauffeur provided by Ford Motor Company prior to the Model T (Oct 1, 1908).
Cast Iron Charlie was apparently a real tough cooky. All the old auto guys were somewhat of a rag tag group. I have heard stories from sons of sons who tell how wild it was in the Old Days. Sorenson's nephew ran a small machine shop on the east side by Mt.Clemens. He specialized in rebuilding T engines. A Sorenson engine was considered one of the best around the Detroit area. He died a few years ago.
i met a guy a few years ago who was taking over the business, but have not heard from him since.
There's a great book by Charles Sorensen "My Forty Years with Ford". Get a copy and you will find that reference.
Is it too much to ask for you to copy, or quote, the reference, as you appear to own the book?
Rob,It would be hard to find anything in that book but self pormotion!If anyone reads it,they might think Sorenson built Ford himself! If i were to do a book reviue,i would say i prefer that type of paper on a roll! Bud in Wheeler.
Thanks. I've already purchased more books than I need in order to obtain one or two bits of info. It seems reasonable to ask for a copy or quote and page number to a specific claim, but in this case maybe that's too much to ask.
I have a friend that tells of putting a Wills St. Claire crank in a T. The V8 version?
John: Yes the V-8 version was used back in the day in a number of "T" racing engines.
It has been covered in The Vintage Ford and you maybe able to find that info on the N.W. Speedster website.
Let's see if this gets a response to my question above.
Referring to Royce's post:
"Charles Sorensen was a pattern maker during the development of Model K / N. He went up the ladder quickly, and was anything but a pattern maker by the time the Model T was introduced. He had a car and chauffeur assigned to him during Model NRSK production supplied by Ford."
If anyone has a copy of C. Sorensen's book, would you please copy the portion that makes this claim. Below is an excerpt from the James Couzens biography, "Independent Man: the Life of Senator James Couzens" By Harry Barnard. the author wrote the following on page 69 (alluding to the year 1913):
Further down the page the author wrote:
This seems to imply that C. Sorensen was still "far down the ladder." If so, I find it hard to expect he was influential and had a car and driver in the 1905-1908 period. Maybe he did, but I would like to see corroboration.
I apologize for "drifting", however there seems to be quite a discrepancy between the importance and position Charles Sorensen occupied during his (Sorensen) early years at Ford Motor Company, and I would like to sort it out (with help from this august group).
Thanks for any clarification,
Rob,After telling what i thought of the book i will not try to read it again.However like the old adage [no one needs two],i have two! Send me a pm with your snail mail and it will be on the way.Bud in Wheeler.PS,He must have amounted to something because he was one of 8 men who stamped a single number on the 15,000 000'th.He also road in the car with Henry,Edsil,and Peter Marten.Bud.
If and when you read the book...you'll probably be mighty impressed that if it wasn't for Cast Iron Charlie there probably wouldn't be a T!
Apparently...Ol' Henry had this problem that he had these ideas...and those Hungarians could just never get the concept or show them in proper sketch form for Henry to nod, so Cast Iron Charlie would go downstairs and whittle a bit out of pine and bound up the stairs again to show Henry, get the nod of the approving father, and then have Galamb and Balough copy the wood model without the slightest change for use in development of a car!
I'm paraphrasing a bit, but not by far, Bud hit the nail on the head...he might have become mighty rich. he might have been mighty powerful, but he apparently also had one of the biggest 'I' problems of the early 20th century.
The book is a yawn to beat all yawns...which is too bad because as with these things and history...some parts have to be actual fact and it was probably fascinating...but Charlie being a narcissist comes through before all else...at least to me...sorry!
Thanks guys. Bud, I just bought it on line for $8. What I've read, it sounds as though he was an important cog in the development of the T, and even more so (important) with the moving assembly line and planning the plants (after Piquette).
What I question is the importance and influence he had between 1905-1908 (pre T years). Some Ford enthusiasts seem to give undue credit to him at a time when he was in his twenties and just beginning to work his way up the ladder at Ford. As with many things, the truth may lye somewhere in the middle.
To the memory of Mr. Sorenson, I apologize...just because I didn't like the style of the book and my view as shown above...was no reason to dis the book!
Rob, you may actually like some of cast iron Charlie...he did have this view of Ford and history (from the book....40 years....)
Did you happen to notice if he had a chauffeur and car by 1908? Hopefully the book is in chronological order and I'll be able to review the period information. Some of the book is online in preview form but I wasn't able to confirm (or deny) the claim of his early influence on HF.
OK, got the book (eBook, it took several hours for the purchase to download)
I agree, slow reading....
Anyway, two things I've found so far. First, it appears sometime in 1906, when C. Sorensen's boss Fred Seeman quit, he (Sorensen) became head pattern maker. During this time (again, after Seeman quits in 1906) Sorensen writes:
From "My Forty Years With Ford" by Charles Sorensen
I've noticed in the Ford board of directors meeting minutes several early Ford employees used Ford cars. I don't see anything about a driver being assigned to the then 26 year old Sorensen, but I'll keep reading.
Second, Sorensen's comments about the Model K. Some forum members use Sorensen as one of the two or three examples to explain that the board of directors forced Henry Ford to build Models B and K. Sorenen's comments concerning this matter are brief (below):
While this reference says "I know he was never in accord with it", it doesn't jump out at me as a scathing indictment against the Model K by HF. I would rather see something (and glad I didn't ) to the effect "Henry Ford told me on several occasions he was forced to build those cars" or "I (HF) didn't like those cars." Interestingly (to me) Sorensen goes on to say "Model K enjoyed a good reputation among people of means."
Now, on with the book......
Sure resembles a Model A, doesn't it??
Yes, I thought the same thing. And thank you for bringing us back "on thread." Sorry for the thread drift.....
Here are some pictures of a Wills St Clair v8 4 inch stroke crank fitted to my Fronty T Block. Rods are tubular
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread ...
Fascinating reading ...