Don Mates is, bar none, the leading authority on the Ford Model K. This article appeared in the Horseless Carriage Gazette a few years ago. You have to respect what Don says because he is a person who appreciates the Model K, its history, and its famously inept engineering. It is history that we should embrace. The Model K is a fabulous, interesting, impressive car, warts and all. I fail to understand why anyone would try to describe them as anything except what they are - a fabulous attempt with inept execution.
Sorry for the poor quality scan. I deleted the pictures and substituted color pictures courtesy of Alan Woolf. Cecil Church's touring car in Alan's pictures was pictured in the article originally. Cecil's car was an extremely low mileage 1907 - 1909 Model K, having hardly been used since new. Cecil kept it in his museum for all to enjoy. It probably sat unsold for years at a Ford dealer, it would be interesting to know what year it actually sold when new.
You can see a large welded repair on this K where the crank case has cracked out at one of the engine mounting arms.
The exposed "total loss oiling" transmission in a 1907 - 1909 K. The 1906 models had the exhaust pipe running between the pedals which was likely very unpleasant in summer driving, although it would have been nice for winter.
Alan Woolf photos.
This is all I'm going to post on this:
Yes Royce, the Model K was a terrible car. Piece of junk. Henry Ford didn't wish to make it. Lost money. Poor design. Didn't sell.
There, you win. Now, maybe you'll go back to your area of expertise, bashing water pumps and all accessories for Model Ts that you deem unacceptable.
I expect outrage form many forum posters as you didn't have the "courtesy" to list this propaganda as "Off Topic."
Now, back to the tour.....
That's not the point at all. The Model K has problems that are typical of the era. It was probably a pretty good car by 1905 standards, which is to say, very troublesome by 1909 standards.
This article shows what the acknowledged #1 expert on Model K's says, and how it agrees with the accounts of the people who built the Model K originally, and the collective writings of all the automotive historians who have published peer reviewed work on the subject.
The Model K is a fabulous, wonderful car. You are so lucky to be able to own and drive one.
The first rolls silver ghosts also had faults, Henry's beloved early v8 sucked ass, every car has a problem. The model t has been posted in car in driver within the last ten years as being one of the worst cars ever built. It weakness, oh the crank breaks and the car cant stop, just minor things......
David, makes a good point; Model Ts are not without there own problems in standard form.
I wonder how much badge snobbery played a part in the K not selling well? Rich people, then and today, buy cars on image/brand as much as they do on quality. I don't think Ford was considered a luxury brand like say Packard, Cadillac, National, etc. pre-1910, so perhaps it was ignored for that reason by potential buyers?
And for the record, the K is a BIG car. And beautiful. Regal. Engineered in the pioneering of automobiles.
Just look at that K crank compared to the T.
But...alas, it was the little light weight car that lead the way..
I am sure you are right about that. The K sure looks impressive enough to be admired by anyone. The Model K was competing against hundreds of other makers in the same price range. While the K sold more than many makers, it didn't capture much in terms of sales numbers. There were simply too many manufacturers pouring cars into a limited number of buyers.
Constantine and Royce
There is much to be said about the points made in the last paragraph of Constantine's post above.
There is a book written in 1947 by Donald Davis entitled "Conspicuous Production" that focused specifically on this subject.
It is very detailed economic/social analysis (loaded with facts and a bit dry in places) of the background of people who financed and produced early automobiles and the prejudices of the social elite when buying automobiles. This was especially true of early (1900-1910) automobiles. By 1910 the upper classes involvement with automobile production financing had ceased and those who focused on a car for the masses (low end producers Brush, Ford & Reo) had taken hold of the market. These companies made a boatload of money. There was a still a small market for the high end priced cars, but compared with the low end very few were made. By 1930 the mid range manufacturers were far fewer.
Great book if you can find one.
Ron the Coilman
For those of use with pre Model T Fords, its well understood how advanced the Model T was in 1908. My Model F is only two years younger, but light years away in terms of engineering. None the less, there is a beauty and charm surrounding these old beasts and when they are running right, they are a pure joy to drive.
Richard, That is probably one of the most beautiful early fords I have ever seen . The restoration is magnificent. I was lucky enough to see it in person while it was still in Detroit.
Great discussion, (except for the one childish response) and very interesting take from Constantine and Ron. I have never given that much thought, but it would be similar to a modern lower cost maker all of a sudden putting out a luxury model, and then having trouble selling them.
Royce, thanks to my IPad, those scans are easy to read and very interesting. Is Mr. Mates still alive? Are any of those red cars pictured whereabouts known? I sure like the K in red, myself. There is a beautiful Red one in the Crawford museum in Cleveland, but that was owned by the same man as Richards F was.
My take on the main gist of this thread. I am lucky enough to own a couple of early vehicles, with lots of faults and bizarre stories connected to their manufacture. I never once have been embarrassed by their history, but instead have embraced it. The things are all part of the amazing story of this huge industry. If someone is afraid to fail, nothing would ever be accomplished. Thomas Edison once said, he didn't fail, he just found 1000 things that didn't work.
Royce should stop buying Model K Fords.
With out the K, water pumps and jack rabbit clutches he may become a nice guy. But till then?Scott
Unfortunately Royce is a know it all.
He was probably born that way and there is no known cure.
He also seems to not like Rob for some reason.
I admire Rob for his gentle manners.
I thought this was a thread about the Model K and it was a pretty good discussion. And now this stuff . . I don't see any need to start bashing Royce or anyone else that is presenting information here.
Fact 1: If there is any thread started involving the Model K, Royce and Rob will disagree
Fact 2: If Rob starts ANY thread, Royce and Rob will disagree.
Fact 3: If Royce starts ANY thread, Royce and Rob will disagree.
These are just proven theories. I'm sure Royce and Rob like each other, they just like to ruffle each others' feathers for the amusement of the rest of the members.
If you get past that, you will find a wealth of information presented by both these very well informed and knowledgeable gentlemen.
I am still reading these.
That is all I am going to say at this point.