OT 1907-1909 Ford Six Cylinder Racer

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: OT 1907-1909 Ford Six Cylinder Racer
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - 05:04 pm:

On the "Ford racing" thread the first, or original 1905-1906 Ford six cyl. racer was discussed. I'm going to put up some information on the second six cylinder racer. Like the Model K, the second version of the racer had significant changes and improvements over the first racer.

The racer was revamped and improved during the winter of 1906-1907. By early 1907 Henry Ford told the press the car would race in the 1907 Vanderbilt Cup race:







The racer by this time is called a 110 hp, 1400 lbs. racer. One of the features of the racer (bottom of the first account) is "doing away with the frame."

Unfortunately the Vanderbilt Cup Race is not held in 1907, and the next I've found on the racer, it's being tested at the Highland Park racetrack (now owned by Ford, where Ford cars are tested) and Michigan State Fairground track:

In this September 29, 1907 report, Henry Ford discusses the racer's prospects. Henry Ford and Frank Kulick also demonstrate the racer to Ford Branch Managers, in Detroit for the annual fall meeting:




In the above article, Henry Ford says he is "quietly making his plans to send a Ford six cylinder racer after all the world's records." This is also the last instance I've found of Henry Ford driving a racer for time.

The previous account also says Henry Ford covered the mile in 55 seconds. The world circular track mile record at this time is a few seconds faster, with a new world record about to be set in early October of 51 3/5 seconds by Walt Christie:



When I get back a few pictures and specifications on this racer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - 05:57 pm:

The first article of this thread says of the Ford six cyl. racer "the engine and parts supply the frame, and the axles (front) are fastened directly thereto." This is the first Ford to have the wishbone attached directly to the engine (Models NRS use a separate transmission frame attached to the frame).




Ford six cyl. racer front photo:



Side view (possibly these are original FMC photos, although I found them uncredited on the internet):


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - 08:45 pm:

The six cylinder racer at THF. I haven't been able to measure the engine, however this seems like the same car as the one above. Another Ford race enthusiast sent these racer photographs:








Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 01:11 am:

During September 1907 Henry Ford and Frank Kulick work with the racer, preparing for a timed trial to set a new one mile circular track world record. Then, in mid September, Frank Kulick has a wreck while working the racer, as a rear tire is stripped off the car on a turn, causing the racer to go through the fence:




Kulick is shaken up, and the racer is put out of commission for the time being. Henry Ford says he is "out of racing for all time" unless a new classification is made limiting cylinder capacity. The Ford racer is now rated at 120 hp.

To be continued..............


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 06:32 am:

October 2, 1907. An advertisement for auto racing says Henry Ford will drive the Ford racer in an exhibition at the Harlem Track. It also says this is the racer that almost ended Frank Kulick's life:


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 07:13 am:

And an article about Ford participating in the upcoming Harlem Track races:





It looks as though Henry Ford's first self imposed racing moratorium has ended:


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 07:41 am:

On the "Ford racing" thread the first (1905-6) racer was discussed. In reality, there were three main "variations" of the six cylinder racer. The 1905 sixty horsepower car, the 1906 one hundred horsepower car, and the 1907-1909 one hundred twenty to one hundred fifty hp racer:

1905, 40 - 60 hp:



1906, the racer is lowered, and hp increases, 80 - 105:



1907-1909, the racer is radically changed, with three point front end. The engine appears more like the Ford Model K, using the same McCord oiler, Holley-Huff Magneto, and other changes. Horsepower is now listed 110 to 150:




When I have time (darn work) we'll get to "the end." The big wreck, and end of the Ford Six Cylinder racing era.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 09:25 pm:

Following the September accident, the Ford six racer is repaired and again preparing to attempt a world record on a one mile circular track. Walter Christies racer, driven by Louis Strang sets the record at 51 3/5th seconds in mid October.



Many national newspapers and journals ran the story of the 120 p racer and Frank Kulick accident:}



The news stories consistently point out the Ford racer had timed 49 to 50 second miles just before the accident. Had the time been officially timed, the racer would have posted a world record:





some reports said the racer was "reduced to rubble". Henry Ford was reported to direct workers to cut the back seat from a model K and this was used to transport Frank Kulick to the hospital. Kulick's leg was broken in two places, along with other injuries. Some reports said he was not expected to survive due to a fear of internal injuries.



Newspaper photograph showing the bottom of the wrecked racer engine. Also seen is the hub and end of one of the rear axles, with the wire wheel torn away:




As the "Motor World" magazine above reports, "Henry Ford declared he would never build another racer."

And, many Ford histories report this is the end of the six cylinder racer and Ford racing for several years.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Scott Owens on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 10:22 pm:

Rob, I love to read all the posts on T repair, differences, and most anything T related. But its nice to get posts about early stuff. It is the history of where our loved cars came from. Please keep it up and anyone else who has early history. This is the best forum I have found and the OT posts are the ice cream on the apple pie. Thank you for all you have done as we all know its not a cake walk finding all the early info you and others have. Scott


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Hjortnaes, Men Falls, WI on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 11:51 pm:

Rob

Since the accident happened in Detroit, can you or someone else get a better article and/or picture from a Detroit newspaper? Maybe someone in Detroit could do that for you.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 12:41 am:

Scott, thank you.

Dave, the photo above was included with the "Detroit Free Press" newspaper article about the accident. It's not a very good copy, and because of it's length the article was quite chopped up, but this is it. I'm trying to find a better photo(s) of the wreck, and have someone looking in Detroit now:








..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 01:01 am:

As the detailed Detroit Press story above says, Henry Ford claims there will be no more Ford racers until racing classifications are changed to allow a maximum size of 250 of 250 cu. inches.

Looks like the end of the six cylinder racer. The news account above ran October 19, 1907.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 07:46 am:

Rob never posts this picture of the six cylinder racer. "Very poor showing".



This is one I recently spotted on the Henry Ford web site. It would make a nice poster for the garage if you bought the high res version. I think the caption should be something like "Hey Henry the crank is broken":


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 08:02 am:

As mentioned above, this is where most Ford historians "end" the Model K racer era. In my opinion, there is much more to the Ford six cylinder story when following reading about the racer as the public read about it, article by article, race by race. As we've seen, the Ford six racer held a record that was disallowed (World Competition Mile, 1905), tied the American one kilometer record, 1905, held a New Jersey beach one mile record (1905) and unofficially timed better than the one mile circular track record (1907) during the years it was raced.

Another factor that is lost when looking at the racer only, this was a period of great change and growth for Ford Motor Company. In addition to designing and building the racer (and more importantly) Henry Ford and his team were putting new models on the road (K, N, R and S). I believe that's why we don't see the Ford six raced during most of 1906, and Ford struggles to get the models K and N into production.

In 1907, FMC re designs the racer, meanwhile they are producing more cars than ever before, becoming the largest auto maker in the world. Also during the fall of 1907 development of the Model T has begun. Most of the world class racers the Ford six competed against were devoted to full time racing. Fiat, Darracq and Christie had full time race car teams and drivers, racing competitively in Europe and the U.S., while Ford was attending only a few events per year.

This would seem to end the "saga" of the six cylinder racer. Except, for anyone still following along, read the last portion of the article below. This article was published the day after the Kulick accident. Most accounts say Henry Ford will not longer build or race cars. Many Ford historians say this is the end of Ford racing until the Ford "special" in 1911. Some accounts say the six cylinder racer was buried at the site of the wreck:



Maybe the fat lady hasn't sang yet.................


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 08:05 am:

"very poor showing". 40 second mile. Good enough to place in the competition. It's "poor" when going for world records. Kind of like "only" winning the bronze when your going for the gold at the Olympics

I'm glad you were able to capture and reuse the photos I've posted in the past.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 12:12 pm:

Rob, the pictures are not your property. They are public domain photos. They tell a significant and important part of how the 6 cylinder racer failed on multiple occasions. I can imagine the fear that the other car companies must have felt when Henry Ford threatened to bring it to subsequent races, and then didn't show up.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 01:22 pm:

:-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Scott Owens on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 01:37 pm:

So is Royce saying Henry did say things just to get the press to print it? Did henry say things that from time to time he didnt mean? So what did Henry really thing of the 6 cylinder? Looks like there is press statements to go both ways. I think Henry liked water pumps also as he put them back on every car he sold after the T. Henry even went as far as to use oil pumps to. Scott


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 02:27 pm:

October 19, 1907, one day after Frank Kulick's near brush with death, Henry Ford tells the media he will no longer build or race Ford cars.

Just over a week later on October 27, 1907, this story appeared in the Chicago "Inter Ocean" newspaper:





Henry Ford has again changed his mind on racing, saying he will take the Ford six cylinder racer to England for time trials on the the hard surface banked track at the Brooklands. As with several other accounts, the racer is credited with a time of 49 4/5 seconds (unofficial) on the one mile track prior to the accident a week earlier. It appears Henry Ford still has faith in his six cylinder racer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 02:31 pm:

Robert,

Those are important questions. I don't care to speculate why Henry would publish press releases saying he would do something and never do it. No idea why Henry Ford did a lot of things.

It is interesting that Henry had a 5 cylinder engine and lightweight car planned for post - WWII that was cancelled when he died. That's right, 5 cylinders.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 04:59 pm:

Another article with the same theme, "The Denver Daily News", November 17, 1907:



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 05:10 pm:

In 1908 there are reports that Ford will enter the six cyl. racer in the Grand Prize Races in Savannah GA:




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 07:03 pm:

Royce quote: "It is interesting that Henry had a 5 cylinder engine and a light weight car planned for post WWII that was cancelled when he died"

The 5 cylinder engine was developed by Ford in the 30's and early 40's for in a compact car that was not ever put into production because of America's want for the "big" automobile. Henry died April 7, 1947 well after the car idea was scrapped. Twisting the news to fit your view?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 07:24 pm:

By the summer of 1909 the Model T was setting production records and the early Ford two, four and six cylinder cars were a thing of the past.

However, Henry Ford still thought well of one of his pre Model T designs. Following the Ocean to Ocean victory by a Model T, Henry Ford was invited to participate in the first Indianapolis Speedway race. He accepted, saying he would enter his "big six cylinder racer":

The day after the Ocean to Ocean victory, this article appeared in the "Indianapolis News":



Three days later, the "indianapolis Star" expands on the Ford entry, and how Henry Ford decided to enter his six cylinder racer:




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 07:45 pm:

The "Washington Post" carried a similar story about the Ford six cylinder racer, saying it was a 6 x 6 inch bore and stroke, ball bearing engine developing 150 horsepower.

"The Washington Post" August 6, 1909:


This is the last article I've found saying the Ford six cylinder racer would compete again. As far as I am able to determine, the racer did not race. Regardless, it seems Henry Ford intended, or at the very least considered bringing the racer out of retirement.

We haven't seen these articles represented in current renditions of Ford racing history. Most Ford histories give little attention to the Model K, and even less information about the six cylinder racer.

I hope anyone reading this has enjoyed the chronological posts of the news the way people living at the time saw it, regarding the Ford six cylinder racer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 07:54 pm:

Forgot one. This full page account of the upcoming Indianapolis Speedway Race ran in "The Automobile", July 9, 1909. In a side note, Henry Ford and the six cylinder racer, called "999" in the article, is included with the story:




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 06:50 am:

So, why didn't the Ford six cyl. racer make the Indianapolis Speedway Race? Was Henry Ford just "self promoting" to get Ford Motor Company free publicity? If so, why wouldn't he have promoted a Model T instead of the six?

Any ideas?

Rob


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 07:14 am:

Dennis,

The 5 cylinder light weight Ford car was cancelled during WWII as the company began planning for post war production. I should have said it was cancelled when Henry became too feeble to be in charge of operations. It was his plan, and he never was able to see it come to fruition. It might have been great or terrible. We don't know because it never happened.

Much like the six cylinder 1905 racer showing up to race at Indy against cars that were considerably more capable and developed. We don't know anything except that Ford said he was going to do something, and then didn't.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 07:21 am:

Oh, we know more. At least some of us do.....

:-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 07:36 am:

ALL CAR PRODUCTION WAS CANCELLED DURING WWII!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 07:59 am:

Dennis,

All car production was being planned for post WWII by every manufacturer. Henry Ford wanted to make a light weight five cylinder powered car, and he made some very interesting engines for the project. There's a nice article about the project that Ford called "Postwar Light Car" in Special Interest Autos #13.

The project was formally cancelled in 1947, but had been in fact put on permanent hold a couple years earlier when HF II came in and kicked out Harry Bennett.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 08:47 am:

Not to go too far afield, I might have seen a Ford five cyl rotary, maybe in Lincoln at Speedway Motors museum? Is there one in existence yet? It might make an interesting thread subject.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 09:14 am:

There are several experimental Ford rotary engines at the Henry Ford including various versions of the X8. They were on display when it was Greenfield Village in the 1970's, but they were not on display when I was there recently. A lot has been written about them in the MAFCA magazine "The Restorer" and in SIA.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Friday, April 04, 2014 - 10:17 am:

About 10 years ago Augie and i were in the lower level of the power house at Fairlane there was a watercooled X engine.Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Nebraska on Saturday, April 05, 2014 - 08:35 am:

Dennis,

Could this be the Ford five cylinder engine and front wheel drive axle shown in a patent application (for a motor mount) originally filed in 1931? The patent applicants are Ed and Frank Kulick.




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Saturday, April 05, 2014 - 08:53 am:

I am not Dennis but I can give you an accurate answer. Frank Kulick was fired by Harry Bennett from Ford several years prior to that patent date so it is unlikely we are looking at a Ford product.

The radial engines in the "Sugar Mill" collection were of 8 cylinder (X8), 9 cylinder, and both air cooled and water cooled. The information in SIA #19 includes a complete list of the engines. There is no 5 cylinder radial engine listed in the collection.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Saturday, April 05, 2014 - 09:08 am:

Here is the 5 cylinder Ford Postwar Light Car engine in the Sugar Mill collection:




Complete article on the PWLC is here:
http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2007/09/23/sia-flashback-fords-postwar-light-car/


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange on Saturday, April 05, 2014 - 09:11 am:

Audi has built and sold some five cylinder cars.

http://jalopnik.com/5927227/audis-25-tfsi-is-five-cylinders-of-awesome/all


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Saturday, April 05, 2014 - 09:17 am:

More pictures of the PWLC inline 5 from 1947. It came very close to production. You can see plenty of Model A and Model T influences. I see no influence from the Model K.






If Henry had been in better health in 1946 it likely would have been the sister car to the post war big Ford, which actually was sold as the 1949 - 1951 Mercury.


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