I know there have been other threads, and maybe this one will add more to the discussion (or not) about Edsel's six cylinder speedster.
Yesterday, while attending the AACA central spring tour in Lincoln NE., the guys at the museum were kind enough to open both sides of the hood on Edsel's speedster. Following is a photo of what I'll call the "original" photo is a picture of the car sold from the museum years ago (from the sales material). Following that are pics of the car in Lincoln at the American Museum of Speed.
My first question is, are these two the same car? Does the second photo (that appears to be the car now in Lincoln) have a later body? The speedster now has electrified brass lights, a distributor and other features that look later than 1912/1913 such as a starter.
Below are pics of the engine, including pan:
The top of the engine reminds me of the 400 cubic inch Ford "Special" racer. The cylinders are grouped in two sets of three with a wider space between number 3 and 4 cylinder.
The pan has six dips, and you can see the wider space (main?) between 3 and 4:
A distributor is used now. The engine also had an outside oil line.
Richard Kroll, Ford employee, worked in the experimental shop between 1909 and 1915. In his "Reminiscence" he spoke about Ford building six experimental engines and Edsel's "little special car." The six cylinder engines he describes resemble the three piece engine in the car in Lincoln:
In late 1912, Ford Motor Company news releases said That Edsel's six cylinder car was not a prototype and that Ford was not going to bring out a six:
A couple of things I would like to know:
Did Henry Ford know the experimental department was building these six cylinder engines? It seems unlikely he wouldn't if six were built?
Did Edsel "update" his 1912 speedster to the one now in Lincoln?
If it is the same car, that body looks terrible on it.it looks much better in the first picture.
Yup,The car in the first picture has what looks to be a boattale?? Missing in second picture?? Bud.
I believe this car has a 6 cylinder engine that was developed while Henry and Clara Ford were on vacation in Europe around 1913.
A prototype touring car was built using the new engine and chassis. The story related in the book "Tin Lizzie" by Stern is that when Henry came back and saw the prototype he took a sledge hammer and started beating the car to pieces as the engineers stood by and suffered silently in shame.
The existing example may or may not be the same one as Edsel is driving. There are considerable differences in the two that can be seen in the various pictures.
If it is the same car, it has likely been modified poorly by some "restorer. I can't believe Edsel would choose such a tasteless and cheap looking set of British side lamps. The top design is ugly and cheap looking too.
I've posted all these pictures previously, here they are again:
Personally I think it is very likely they are different cars.
Mister Brown said it was in 11 or 12 and the car was a longer 4 door touring with no mention of the engine.On the other hand MR Brown said there was forging contracts to be canceled so?? Bud.
And Mr. Kroll said six were built. I doubt the experimental department would have had the time, or nerve, to build six engines only to have Mr. ford return and go into a frenzy over their work.
I suspect legend and truth have become intertwined. Maybe Henry Ford did return to find a car or project he despised, and made a point by destroying it.
The six was reportedly made in 1912, so determining the dates the Ford's were in Europe and when this speedster appeared may help solve the "mystery."
Bud, what do you know about "Mr. Brown" and castings?
Rob,Only what it say's in Tin Lizzie.Bud.
The Ford Motor Company website has this blurb to offer:
In the summer of 1912, Henry Ford made an important trip to reconnect with his Irish roots. Escorted most of the time by European Ford officials, Henry and his travelling party also visited France and England.
While in Ireland they spent time in Cork, Bandon, and Clonakilty. And on August 8, 1912, 65 years after John and William had departed for America; the Fords arrived back in Queenstown.
This trip is thought to have inspired Henry and his wife, Clara Bryant Ford, to trace their ancestors. It also seems Henry attempted to buy the old Ford homestead, which he wanted to transport to America and rebuild near his home. Unfortunately, the asking price was too high. But Henry did eventually manage to acquire the hearthstones, which were incorporated in his home at Fair Lane.
Here are Henry, Clara, and a teen aged Edsel on board the ship in 1912:
Rob, Interesting, thanks for the engine photos.
Thanks Royce for posting those again. The first 1 I dont recall ever seeing but that is a sharp car.At 1 time, I had printed off the second 1 you posted and hung in the shop for a couple years till the ink faded and such.
The version of the car with the "V" radiator has a four cylinder motor - the hood is much shorter than the other pictures.
Swapping the four for a six required a longer hood and moving the radiator forward so it made sense to drop the V radiator and go with a stock radiator.
I agree, Edsel had the ability to have his father wave his hand and make cars happen. He could have had a new car every week.
Bud, thanks for the reference to "Mr. Brown." I found the story of what happened according to "Mr. Brown" in the Ford Reminiscences. I don't know a better way to do it, so here is the story through excerpts of George Brown's Reminiscences. All copy rights apply:
As mentioned earlier, I suspect quite a lot of "modern" Ford history originates from these "Reminiscences."
Mr. Brown was a longtime employee of FMC, beginning in 1907:
Mr. Brown explains that he saw the "new" car at Ford just before Henry Ford (with Clara and Edsel) return from their European trip. He also says the car was a 12 or 15 inches longer red touring car:
These excerpts have Mr. Ford arriving at a different door than expected, and seeing the "new" touring car. Mr. Brown reluctantly explains that this is the new Ford car:
Below, Henry Ford quizzes George Brown about the car, learning that it is scheduled to go into production!
Needless to say, Mr. Ford might be expected to be a little "put off" in my opinion. He has just returned from a two or three month trip,,and learns that a new touring car, with longer wheelbase, is scheduled to go into production.
Mr. Ford proceeds to tear apart the touring, wrenching off a door, then another, and going to work on the top.....
I believe I've heard this story before. This one of the incidents to support Henry Ford's alleged hatred for six cylinders.
Mr. Brown overhears Henry Ford when he finds Wills and the others responsible for the new touring car:
Brown explains that Ford is mad because "they put out something that was away from his universal type of car, his frame, and that's what made him mad."
I haven't read every bit of this thread. However, I find it exceptionally interesting. It might have already been mentioned but I noticed in the photo's Royce posted the first car with Edsel sitting in it has wire spokes. The next photo shows wooden.
The following day, George Brown recalls Mr. Ford ordering all contracts cancelled for the new car. He (Brown) is responsible for calling Beaudette and the other suppliers to cancel orders. If you read the entire transcript, the body maker says this will cost Ford a lot of money because of preparations already made by suppliers:
Brown also says "the body's the big job. I'll call Beaudette .... and then I'll call the forging companies."
This car, in my opinion, was only a body, fixtures and extended frame, using the standard Ford Model T motor. No engine is mentioned. This was not, in my opinion, a six cylinder car. George Brown reported the body was the most expensive component.
Mr. Brown continues, recounting that Wills was responsible for the new car:
Mr. Brown finishes his account, saying that it was a beautiful car:
Maybe all history is "bunk." At least I've heard that somewhere before.......
Rob I don't believe you have presented any evidence the new car was not powered by the existing six cylinder prototype motor. Or, for that matter, any evidence that it was powered by a standard Model T engine.
You have again proved that Philip Van Doren Stern's book is well researched and accurate.
Edsel's six cylinder chassis fits the situation from a time line and size perspective. In history there are sometimes coincidences. This doesn't look like one of those times.
It also needs to be said that the combination generator / distributor setup and the starter is likely original equipment. Wills and the rest of the engineering staff were no doubt ready to add battery charging equipment and distributor ignition, and electric starting. This sort of thinking was logical, but was directly conflicting Henry's overall concept of a basic utilitarian car for the masses at the lowest possible price. The rest of the industry was moving to battery ignition and electric starting.
Ford held out for another seven years before adding an optional starting / charging system that maintained the ability to continue operations even if the battery and starting / charging system failed. By that time Wills was proving how much he didn't know about car production economics.
The letter that David Dodds received when he bought the car said that - according to Ernest Liebold, Henry Ford's personal secretary - the car initially had been a racer driven by Frank Kulick before it was converted for Edsel's use. Here's a link to that discussion:
Wish we had a clear copy of this 1978 letter:
The Kulick racer exists today at the Gilmore museum. Here it is, and indeed it looks a lot like one of the cars Edsel is sitting in:
I should have said a "re - creation of the Kulick racer" exists at the Gilmore.
Here's the real one at the Henry Ford museum:
Back on topic, here is the pre auction description of the car when it was auctioned September 16, 2010 at the Classic Motorcar Auctions Grande Salon during the Glenmoore Gathering at Canton, Ohio:
"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. "
First, it's difficult to prove something that didn't occur. When George Brown covers this car, he says the largest order he must cancel is the body. He reports that Henry Ford was angry because the car did not fit the universal car plan of HF, and mentions the frame.
He did not say anything about "six cylinder engine." Why, because if there was no different engine (than T), Of course there is no reason to say anything. If you wish to "prove" there was a six cylinder involved with this matter, it's up to you to prove it. None is mentioned because it did not exist.
Then back to the same old baloney.
A few incorrect statements:
Ford did not race again after Kulick's wreck - wrong, Kulick again raced Model K in 1908, at least twice, winning one race in Kalamazoo. As we also now know, Ford announced he would place the six cylinder racer in the Indianapolis Speedway inaugural race in 1909. However, race officials instituted cubic inch limits of 600 c.i. Max, and the six cylinder racer was over 1000 c.i. Would have well over the limit.
The Model K was not a commercial success - patently wrong.
And, as shown above, Ford's experimental department built six 6 cylinder engines, in addition to Edsel's speedster. I believe that is an unrelated incident to this.
Henry Ford was justifiable angry. His staff had not only built a prototype, but ordered significant parts to begin production. All while HF was out of the country. My guess is, if Wills had wished to, he could have telegraphed HF and at least kept some communication with him instead of "going rogue" and designing, then beginning production. Had there been a new engine involved, then it would have been a more egregious act.
As it stands, I believe, based on the account of George Brown (who reports it must have cost FMC a significant amount of money to "unmake" the vendor orders),,HF showed great restraint by not firing Wills and anyone involved.
Lastly, putting this in context, the Model T is still an advanced, well powered car for the time (1911-1913). This is not FMC of 1922-1925 when the T has become underpowered and outdated in comparison to competitors. As hindsight tells us, the T has many great years ahead of it and HF probably made a good decision for the time of not deviating from the plan of one chassis.
He still liked it in 1909:
Have a good Sunday,
Just curious, but would Edsel's speedster be about fifteen inches longer than a T?
If you read some post Henry smashed the car with a sledge hammer but Mr Brown say's nothing about that?? I guess what is the lexicon of truth or what is BS,you have to decide.Bud.
Henry liked it enough to send an obvious and blatant falsehood to the newspaper. The six cylinder racer never was sent to Indianapolis, so the story is all hat and no cattle.
Yes, it seems "Henry liked it enough to send an obvious and blatant falsehood to the newspaper", again (actually a national magazine):
and again. In this article, Henry Ford details the six cylinder racer, and Frank Kulick's excitement to race the car again:
And, if we choose to let the facts get in the way, this article outlines the races and classes for the Speedway's inaugural races. The Ford racer is not eligible, at 1,017 cubic inches:
So, we'll leave it there. A reasonable person may draw their own conclusions. Was Henry Ford a serial liar, and even though he no longer makes a six cylinder car, feels compelled to lie to the press about entering the six cylinder racer (that most historians say no longer exists by 1909)? Or, with no reason to fabricate this story (in fact, more incentive to never mention a six cylinder racer since there is no Ford car to attempt to sell with six cylinders), is the story true?
From some odds and ends, I didn't realize this was tied to the incident, but the is what C. H. Wills said about the incident of the car he designed and Ford destroyed:
According to Wills, this car was the predecessor to the Dodge. I conclude it was indeed a four cylinder, and someone will have to prove it's not.
That seems reasonable to me - if the story can be documented to a period source that can verify Dodge used an engine designed by Ford motor company employees. Otherwise it is just a story, like the auction company advertisement for Edsel's six cylinder car.
Evidently, regardless of what Edsel was driving, FMC wanted to make it clear, no sixes for 1913:
Like Royce, I too, believe the 6 cylinder car that will be auctioned (can we agree to call it the "butt-ugly 6" ?) is NOT Edsel's long hood 6 cylinder speedster. I believe that butt ugly car has one of the six experimental 6 cylinder engines with a cobbled-together body. Edsel was as much of a Playboy as he could get away with and that car just does not look like a car he'd have. I dunno. Maybe it looks better with the top down...
I agree the car with the V radiator with Edsel at the wheel looks a lot like the Kulick racer. Could it be? Or maybe Edsel had one made for "street use" legal with fenders and lights, that was based on the Kulick design.
Keep the info coming Rob!
: ^ )
I just don't know if the speedsters are the same or not. The car in Lincoln (Speedway) definitely is the same one sold in the early 80s from Ford (below, posted and described by Paul Mc Ginnis in 2012):
What makes me curious is, would Ford have called it "Edsel's car" if it weren't? I don't have an answer for that question, but as of the 1980s I would think there was some history available to support or refute the claim?
When I looked the car over two days ago, there are several "improvements" that I doubt were available in 1913. My personal suspicion is, it may have been one of Edsel's speedsters, and was updated over a few years. Unfortunately I don't have any info to support the theory. If someone takes an active interest, there was an accession with the car, and it should still exist at Benson library. If so, many of these questions might be answered very quickly.
As for the Stern book quoted by someone, saying the Ford car destroyed by Henry Ford when he returned from Europe had a six cylinder engine, I believe that "myth" has been put to rest. I believe that is another example of fact and fiction being intertwined into a story that is then handed down as fact:
1. Yes Ford was experimenting with six cylinder motors at the time (that's what experimental departments do).
2. Yes Edsel Ford had a car with one of these six cylinder motors.
3. No, Edsel was not involved with the Henry Ford car destruction, he was on the European trip with Henry and Clara.
4. As stated by George Brown, purchasing official for Ford, the body was the most expensive component on the experimental car, and he (Brown) would know, he had to cancel the contracts.
5. Both Brown and C. H. Wills (Wills autobiography) say Wills was responsible. And, Wills autobiography says the experimental car was used as a prototype by the Dodge brothers when they brought the first Dodge car.
Things I (or someone) should check:
Did Wills hold any body or other related patents? (Art, are you out there?).
Do Dodge brothers researchers tie Wills or any Ford/Wills related incidents to the first Dodge cars?
Always things to look for, and more to learn. What a great hobby.....
Here's the engine:
Here's the engine:
Keith, from the link:
One thing about it, Mr. Liebold (Ford Motor Company) should have known about the authenticity.
The number of head bolts reminded me of the Ford Special racer engine construction (410 cubic inch racer Frank Kulick won numerous races with, still at THF but not on display). I'll post a pic of that motor in a bit.
The car looks much better in this photo. I think with the top off, and the windshield slanted the car would look even better:
In 2012 it sold for 145,800
Looks better with the top down...
: ^ )
Ford "Special" racer engine (1910-1913). Raced by Frank Kulick:
Six cylinder engine in Speedway car:
Both have the same three piece construction (aluminum pan and crankcase with separate upper cylinders. Both use a lot of head bolts
I don't know if there are similarities, and if so, does that tell us anything?
Keith, that looks much better! I really like the black and white. Do you know when it was taken? It is a much better looking car without the top..... That changes everything, even the question of "could Edsel Ford have designed it?"
Thanks for posting,
Did I mention, the "Retro Model K" leather splash aprons?
The dark over light background of the presumed Michigan license plate indicates the photo was taken in 1914 or 1916.
that's great to know. This could be a later (yet still "brass period in Ford history) car, than Edsel's 1912 speedster. Or, it could be the same speedster with improvements. (And not a cobbled together car from the 50-70s).
This information makes it much more likely that the statement on the card from Ford by Mr. Liebold that it is the 1912 speedster a possibility. It also "lengthens" the time frame Edsel Ford was driving a six cylinder car, possibly over a three to four year period. I wonder how that sat with Henry Ford, knowing how he hated six cylinder cars?
That helps a lot. Thanks,
Keith's links above show Ford records that indicate it was the 1912 6 cylinder car. Sales records also say the car was donated by Edsel to the Edison Institute (now THF) in the 1930s: