We know the first owner of our recently acquired Ford "Six-Forty" was C. Preston Knight of Rhode Island. Since that time, the car has passed through five owners before reaching Nebraska. Before I get into the known owners, I'll begin with a bit of speculation of the dealership the car was probably sold through.
Rhode Island Ford Dealership:
Our K's first owner was C. Preston Knight, of Providence RI. Based on the engine number and using Trent Boggess early Ford database research, our car was probably sold in the August time frame, 1907. At the time, the area Ford dealer was Dutee W. Flint. Mr. Flint held a number of dealerships and gas/service stations in RI and CT:
In a 1918 article published in "The Accessory and Garage Journal" Dutee W. Flint is featured. In the several page article, Mr. Flint reports he sold 20 Model K in 1906 and 23 in 1907:
We know from the following hill climb article that C. Preston Knight and Dutee W. Flint were acquainted. Mr. Knight sponsored the key race in the 1907 Rhode Island Hill Climb. Dutee Flint drove the winning Model N and owned the second place Model K. C. Preston Knight was one of the judges present in addition to sponsoring the event:
Next, the original owner. For anyone following this, I hope you enjoy following the journey of this early Ford,
You get an extra hour to post all this today. Set your clock back.
Dave, good thing. I'm a little slow and can use the extra time.....
The story of the first owner begins with this April/March 1964 story in "the Bulb Horn:"
C. Preston Knight bought a new Ford 6-40, selling it in 1914. When Mr. Knight's son, Webster II, returned from WW1 he began collecting cars and came upon a similar roadster while searching for a Packard top. The reason given for recognizing this as the family Ford was the Stanley Steamer valve added by the elder Mr. Knight as a fuel tank shutoff. Below is a photo of a 1909 Stanley with two types of valve handles:
Next, the fuel tank shutoff valve handle, still on our Model K:
As interesting as the cars we find (for me) are the people who owned them before us. In this case, I wondered, who were the Knights? Following are a few items about the family and their impact socially and financially in Rhode Island.
This excerpt from a September 1907 newspaper says Robert Knight (C. Preston Knight's father) is the only millionaire in the taxable class in Rhode Island:
The Knight family made their money owning and operating cotton mills. This 1912 account relates some information about Robert Knight upon his passing:
One "claim to fame" from the Knight family business that still remains today, and is recognizable by everyone, is this logo:
Our Ford 6-40, recognizable by a Stanley Steamer fuel line shutoff, was owned by one of the most influential and wealthy families in New England, 1907-1914. Meanwhile, the original owners son Webster goes off to war. When he returns, he begins collecting early cars, and stumbles upon and re owns the six cylinder Ford.
later, 1920 to the present.
I for one, am glad that you own this car. Your historical research and enthusiasm make interesting reading for the rest of us. Please continue!
Rob. In 1955 at the vintage auto and parts yard in south Los Angeles there was a K roadster on display. It had after market wire wheels on it. The owner had some K parts and that is where I got my K hubcap. Do you know where that K is today?
Darel, I don't know. There may be another one out there (K) because I know of none with wire wheels. If I owned one with period correct wires I'd be thrilled, from a driving standpoint.
I should have added above, the Knight Model K went to Nebraska, and so did their "Fruit of the Loom" trademark. (Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, Omaha Nebraska). All similarities end there.....
In the Rock Island Hill Climb article it speaks of C. Prescott Knight. Was that a misprint for the C. Preston Knight that you are referring to?
Justin, I made the misprint (auto correct). It should be C. Prescott Knight. Thank you for catching it,
Ed, I neglected to mention earlier, thank you,
I really enjoy your articles about the K. Like someone said the other day, most of us will never see a K in person or touch one, let alone own one. I enjoy reading about your research and learning more about the K. Please keep posting them. Thank you.
ps--might have to sneak a trip back to Omaha next year and work my way down to your place. Are you taking reservations for showings????*g* Discounts on admission for MTFCA members???*g*
Thanks for posting this. I too, love that backstory stuff on our cars. My far less less sexy trucks likely hauled potatoes
or firewood, but they served a family or business and were once a normal sight on the roads in some area. Great to
know these stories. Thanks again.
Bob, rides and "viewings" are always available.
Burger, I agree, every one of our old cars has a story. The car by itself means little. The people and events that touch our cars is what makes them special to me.
Now, the rest of the story......
Sometime after his discharge, Webster (Web) Knight 2nd got the "old car bug." According to the story above, it didn't take long and he owned a Pierce Motorette, Packard, and the family's Ford 6-40.
Meanwhile, life moved on:
Web Knight marries Leona Curtis in 1919. Miss Curtis is the daughter of a U.S. Senator from Kansas.
The Knight family sells their family owned cotton mills in 1920:
Eight years later, Mrs. (Leona) Knight's father is nominated as the Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States. As a delegate to the convention, Mrs, Knight seconds the nomination:
Herbert Hoover is elected President and Senator Curtis, Web Knight's father-in-law, is elected Vice-President. Four years later, a visit to the Knights by the Vice-President:
In 1932, the Knight children, along with other wealthy RI families, are given police protection to prevent suspected kidnapping attempts. The U.S. is in the heart of the Great Depression:
Through the years,mother Knights have continued to own the old Ford 6-40. Web Knight is one of the first members of the Veteran Motor Car Club, and participates in the early Glidden Revival Tours. I don't know if the Model K was one of the cars he participated with, however I expect to find out.
The Bulb Horn article reported the Model K had over 100,000 original miles, and was restored during this time.
In 1964 Web Knight donates the 6-40 to the Larz museum, and is seen in the Bulb Horn article.
Web Knight passes away in 1967, and the Model K makes it's way to the Imperial Palace, where the next photo was taken:
In 1982 our car moves once more, residing beside Austin Clarke's Model K touring in a private collection since the mid 1980's in Virginia.
And now, a face lift, and then back on the road:
From what I see in Dean's photo's I think you mean more of a face reconstruction than a face lift.
Lots of interesting info. Hope I can get you more info on the owners of the Model K's in Central Wisconsin. It appears they were all involved in the paper industry up here.
Yes, it would be good to find more info about those three Model K. If they actually had them by early April 1906, it would be the first K sales I'm aware of. Just the fact three were owned in that small group is surprising.
Thanks for the help,
Bergstrom - biggest auto dealerships in Wisconsin
Sensenbrenner - has been in the House of Representatives for 30+ years
Hawks - no info yet
This is the current generation.
AM awaiting info from the local library and the Historical Society.
Rob, The picture of the car in the Imperial palace looks magnificent. After it left was there was it kept in poorer conditions? Storage in its last location seems to have taken a big toll on the paint? Maybe its just the photos? Very nice to have a car with such a unique history and connections to a very wealthy and powerful family. Very close to owning an ex Presidents car!
Very nice! It is so wonderful to be able to trace the history of a car back to its beginning. And such a wonderful car it is.
It is sad that better records were not kept. I think that there are a few Eastern states that have both license and serial number records back to near the beginning. A poster on here has told how he (rather his father) has ledger books from one state and has been able to identify cars and owners from original photographs.
It would be so nice to accumulate all the existing public and private record collections still in existence into a single data base. Registrations less than maybe 50 or even 60 years old may need to be restricted for security reasons. Still, a means to contact current or recent past owners could be managed. A lot of this would require the real cooperation of every state and federal agency that keeps such records currently. Sadly, I have serious doubts about that happening.
Rob, It sounds as though you have one of the finest and most complete histories to an early car that I know of. Maybe one in a hundred cars over a hundred years old has such a wonderful and complete history. Congratulations! And I look forward to hearing more details.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Dave, my opinion of these Ford sixes is evolving. At first I thought Henry Ford was after the "I want a big car but can't afford a Packard" crowd. However, I'm finding many owners who were able to afford any car they chose (such as the Knights, or the three Wisconsin Ks), yet simply chose the Ford. Maybe because it was reasonably priced (compared with peers), maybe because maintenance and driving were simple, or maybe because it was truly advanced, with state of the art dual ignition, powerful and smooth six cylinder power, or easy shifting two speed planetary. For whatever reason(s), the car seemed to attract some monied and high society customers.
Warwick, I wonder if the lighting at the Palace helped the appearance (and photographing)? It looks as though the car was restored in the 30's to 40's, so maybe just natural fading. Also, I think frequent washing and waxing might help preserve a finish more than just a stationary controlled environment.
Wayne, the known history was a big factor in my decision to trade from out K touring (and it looks fast... ).
Rob.... You are killing me with the far out and solid early Ford cars that you own!! They are really tubler ! I love the info you post on the early Fords! I am a Model N R S and Model T up to 1914 guy. Maybe some time you can post about them. If you don't have time I will take your Model N off your hands in a New York Minuet! Mark
The photo of the car in the Imperial Palace shows all the side lights and headlights. Do you have them? Were they just removed for transportation purposes?
Interesting information on the ownership of your car.
I was also wondering about the article that mentioned concern for the Grandchildren being protected from kidnapping in 1932. Perhaps with all the wealthy children being protected in R.I. the kidnappers decided to relocate to N.J. and March 1, 1932 kidnap the Lindbergh baby.
If I were to go to two cars, the tough choice would be, do I keep the 13 T touring or N (and K). The 13 is easier and faster than the N, however the N is also a reliable, fun car to drive.
Yes, we still have the same headlamps/sidelights seen in the pics. I was glad to see the Stanley fuel line shutoff that was added by the original owner was still in place too.
As for kidnappers, I suspect there were probably a lot of schemes out there, due to the severity of the depression. It was probably pretty easy to consider kidnapping wealthy and/or politicians kids if one thinks they were responsible for the economic meltdown.
The lamps shown in the Imperial Palace photo appear to be the wrong ones for a 1907 - 1909 Model K. The bale handles place them in an earlier era, and maybe not proper for any year Model K.
The proper ones should be like the ones seen in this picture of Cecil Church's car below.
Or in this picture:
I don't believe Cecil Church owned a K Roadster. He did own a K touring, the one we had.
"The lamps shown in the Imperial Palace photo appear to be the wrong ones for a 1907 - 1909 Model K. The bale handles place them in an earlier era, and maybe not proper for any year Model K. "
Most 1906 Model K had bale handled sidelamps, and in some instances, bale handled headlamps.
1906 Model K owned by a Ford agent:
Most 1907-1908 Model K that I've seen photos of had Gray and Davis non bale headlamps and tail lamps. However, some did have bales handled headlamps. some bale handled sidelamps, and some....
1907-08 with bale handled headlamps:
1907-08 with bale handled sidelamps (FMC file pic):
1907-08 with both bale handled side and head lamps (Ford agent owned):
I have never seen a 1909 Model K, because Ford did not produce one.
Ford factory documents show unsold Model Ks in stock at least through December 1909. I doubt either Ford or the new owner would have said the cars sold in 1909 were 1908 models.
So we're off the bale handled lamps being wrong, and moving on to "model year is determined by the calendar year a car is sold?"
Just trying to keep track.......
Well, really I'm not, enough of this.
Guys -- It's "bail handle," not "bale handle."
Another forum poster sent this photo of a Ford 6-40 (roadster) with bale (or bail, which is correct?) headlamps. It appears our headlamps may not be "incorrect" as mentioned above:
Our car's lamps:
Thank you for the early Ford information sent by forum members,
Rob, So your car had over 100,000 miles on it? Well I think that this shows that a K could go the distance if serviced. A car [ K ] that was oiled and lubed made 100,000 miles proves that the tranny was up to par. Shade tree nobodys can say what they want or quote a sour puss from 100 years ago who nobody can ask but that does not make it true. Scott
Rob -- Bail is correct when speaking of handles. A bale is a bundle of compressed matter, such as hay or straw.
You can bail water out of a boat using a bail or by holding onto the bail of a pail. You also can bail out of the boat yourself, or bail out of an airplane. You can bail someone out of jail by posting his bail. Or when using a typewriter (you do, don't you?) the bail holds the paper in place.
As they used to say on Laugh-In, "Look that up in your Funk & Wagnall's."
Actually Mike, I picked up a circa 1906 auto supply book last evening, and in the description of the various auto lamps, they were called "bail" in one , but all the rest were "bale" . They still were having trouble settling on the correct spelling of gasoline, too, using gasolene also.
As far as "correct" lamps for the early fords, there is no such thing until about 1908 or so. The bale/bail handle lamps were going out of vogue about then, too.
There are all kinds of interesting early catalogs on line in the members only area of the Early Ford Register.......the best $10 a year you can spend, if interested in very early Fords.
Excellent score. What are your "Face lift" plans? Paint? Body? Engine work?
The pistons/cylinders were pretty carboned up, probably blow by (still original pistons), so......
Cylinder jugs to Mike Bender in Oklahoma for boring/new valves/guides/seats. Meanwhile, Dean is checking the rest of the car over. The rear end has a "catch" and Dean suspects maybe a spider gear? We'll check the transmission while the driveline is apart.
We will probably live with the paint, just a little touchup. We'll run without fenders ala the Ford six-forty that led the Ocean to Ocean racers out of New York, at least for the Speedster Reunion in Lincoln. We should stand a good chance of winning our hill climb class again (since we're the only six cylinder).
Excellent...and pretty cool that it still runs the original pistons.
I like the red color, and the paint looks exceptional, but it could sure use a bit of striping and detail work if you ask my opinion ;)
...and possibly some white tires :D
My new Hupmobile Touring will get those, but I have much farther to go then you do...
Rob, going by the photo's of your dismantled engine and providing that Dean hadn't turn them, a lot of the 'blow by' could be contributed to the ring gaps being lined up, but a fresh engine is going to give you many years of running and piece of mind that all is good!
Rob that is one cool K! I thought you may have gone crazy for a second there, selling your touring but WOW, I would have done same thing. I really enjoy the fact that you drive and take the time to write us about your journey. It's likely the closest many of us will ever get to such a rare car. Thank You.
Clayton, nice to hear you got a new project, what year and model is your Hupp? Any chance you will keep us up to date on this one? That is if you don't get tired of typing OT before every post. I sure enjoyed reading about your roadster build.
I am happy with it....as this was probably my one chance to get my hands on a big, early Nickel-era car for a great price, that is 90-95% complete.
My Hupp is a 1916 Model N 5-passenger Touring... 4 liters, 30 hp, 3-speed gearbox, 119" WB. Thankfully it's not really as crusty and rusty as it looks....so far everything is broke loose and works, except the engine. I have it soaking.
I would be happy to keep everyone updated if they would like to see more.
Here are a few more...ignore the messy garage:
From the original brochure....what it will look like finished..
Clayton, wow that is a big Hupp! 119wb! what tire size? I also love the big nickel era tourings, often over looked quality cars that are, if you can find them are bargins compared to the brass era. I bought a 1919 Oldsmobile v8 seven pass touring this year I hope to get on the road soon. on the down side parts supply for a lot of these cars are very hard to find.
Rob, sorry for the tread drift.
Mike, it's all good. Love the big cars too.
Clayton, that's going to be a great car to drive and tour with. Mike, your car will be a real road warrior too with a V-8.
Frank, we weren't sure if the carbon was from worn cylinders or if rings and/or valves would have done the trick, however as you mention, it will be good to begin with a fresh engine. We put about 4,000 miles on the other K, and I hope to do more of the same with this one.
At one time I almost bought a 1913 Hupp. It was a large (for the period) strong car, and as mentioned, inexpensive considering the condition. As it turned out, Fords became my passion so it all worked out for the best. I spent about a week of sleepless nights trying to decide whether or not to buy it.
usually in a weeks time, the car is sold to some one else! you got lucky rob
Clayton, there are 3 1916 Model N Hupps listed in the Horseless Carriage Club Roster. That means that, although they're 1916 models, they were actually built in calendar year 1915. If yours was, too, it will be very welcome on HCCA national tours.
Gil Fitzhugh the Elder
The Model N ran 34x4" tires on the short WB (119") chassis......35x4 1/2" on the LWB (134") chassis.
As for parts....I have a few connections and the Hupp Club has been more then helpful thus far.
If that is true, and they will approve that....I would love to participate. I am an HCCA member and was bummed that I wouldn't be able to be apart of the tours with my '16.
How do I determine if my car WAS built in 1915 and not early 1916? my SN# is 65786
I certainly look forward to doing quite a bit of touring with this car....perhaps a few National events.
Long wheelbase Model N that sold on Bonhams auction, #68968:
So Clayton -- Since no one else has asked, do you intend to restore the Hupp rather than hot rod it?
How could you even ask............
You may be in luck. This ad ran in the June 5th Scientific American magazine. I suspect the 1916 model year began shortly after, so the odds may be 50-50 or better that your car was built in 1915 (which would make it HCCA eligible as Gil mentioned):
That Hupmobile could be a really great car, and I know you (Clayton P) can do it!
I will say, that I want the HCCA to stick firmly to their current pre-'16 aim. It is not a perfect solution. In fact, it really is a lousy compromise. I sympathize with many 1916 automobile owners not allowed to tour with the HCCA. Unfortunately, this lousy compromise is the result of choices made from 40 to 70 years ago. It is impossible to go back and change those decisions. And, unfortunately, those decisions cannot be corrected now without hurting a lot of people that have invested a lot of time and money into qualifying cars.
Simply allowing all so-called 1916 automobiles would lead to the same problem that cutting off acceptance at 1915 model year lead to. Basically, nobody followed the same set of rules when they were building the cars in 1915 and '16. Many companies began selling next year's model in May or June while others wouldn't make the model year change until near the end of the year. People tend to get upset when their car is excluded because of an arbitrary marketing decision made nearly a century ago when someone else's car is accepted in spite of the fact it was manufactured months later.
It took the HCCA most of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s to work out the current compromise (lousy though it may be). (I could elaborate upon that if anybody wants)
The big problems with the current compromise, is that there are many hundreds (probably thousands) of cars built during that gray area that cannot be dated exactly enough to know for sure if it was built during late 1915 or early 1916. The HCCA does try to be fair, and baring information to the contrary, will usually accept borderline cars based upon a reasonable production time past engine casting dates. I am sure more than a few cars are accepted erroneously. But I don't have a much better suggestion. Unless you can come up with a time machine, go back, and convince the founders of the HCCA to make their rule differently from the beginning (maybe the 1912/'13 cutoff some members prefer).
For myself? And the needs of early automobiles in general? I do not want the HCCA to allow the cutoff year to creep forward. Past experience tells me that moving the acceptance year forward much tends to lose the earlier cars in the process. Horseless carriages need a club specific to their needs. And the HCCA should be that club.
But all that is my opinion.
Check your engine's casting date! The rules are what they are, and there is a fair chance your Hupp may qualify! I hope it does.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
As I know zero about the HCCA, why was 1915 chosen over any other year ? Was it that this year seemed a somehow cleaner "tipping point" between horseless carriages and what were becoming more and more "modern" automobiles ?
My '16 Touring qualifies--barely! Born Dec 10, 1915, only a few hours BEFORE the 1,000,000 model T. So not only does it qualify, it's also one of the first million!
I know, not like having a 3 digit T, but still, it's neato in my book!
I watched that auction. Very unique car...one of only 3 7-pass LWB chassis that I know of..two Tourings and one Limousine.
No plans to hot rod this chassis..not at all. The plan is to restore the car exactly as it left Detroit.
...solid white 34x4" tires and all.
I do understand your point...not wanting to compromise the club ideals....or dilute the club tour focus and eligible participant population. Anything less....would ruin the club and purity of the old tours that I heard so much about as a child.
I don't care for the ruling much though, as I don't see 1916 as an unreasonable exception...but know that it won't change. I hate being excluded from the big national events..because that was why I wanted to join the club.
Sadly, for some of us younger folk who genuinely want to get into this hobby....the pre-15 cars, even Ts, are getting "out of reach". I feel fortunate for the great opportunity I got to buy my Hupp, it is too bad it isn't allowed on national tours.
It really doesn't hurt my feelings much, as I will still attend many meets and tours...and get my fill of HCCA tours
The Model N was produced from 1915 to 1917, but I have not heard a definitive answer if that is EARLY 1915.....or MID 1915. The serial number range starts with #60,000. My car is number 65,786. I believe the N started production mid year 1915, after only 6 months or so of Model K production ended. That would put my car production sometime in Jan, Feb or March of 1916.
The production color scheme is show in one of my last posts, green body, black chassis. However, my car has a black body. The K was very similar to the N....just a tad smaller and were I believe offered in black only. The early Ns may ask have been presented in this way, until 1916, when they changed to green.
I am still researching.
"As I know zero about the HCCA, why was 1915 chosen over any other year ? Was it that this year seemed a somehow cleaner "tipping point" between horseless carriages and what were becoming more and more "modern" automobiles ?"
Basically, in the early days of the hobby, it was just easy to say "pre-'15". It is a nice round number, and that is what they did. As near as I have been able to find out, there wasn't a lot of serious debate over the best way to limit the scope of the club's interest. We were all trying to save these pieces of American and world history at the same while having a good time with them.
If you read many of the early (mid '50s and earlier) Horseless Carriage Gazettes, you should notice that there are a lot of non-pre-'15 cars on the tours. This became a bit of a problem for some people. So somewhere along the line the club began to discourage the use of later cars. They had said the club was for pre-'15 and pre-'15 it shall be.
But, there was another problem. "Pre-'15" technically means 1914 and earlier (a car should be previous to 1915). So there was a debate about should "pre-'15" be made inclusive? Or exclusive? The fact was, that many people had gotten 1915 automobiles to restore and tour with. And a lot of those people were very active in both local and national tours. To suddenly tell these people that their car no longer qualified, would have hurt a lot of people. So after a few years of debate, the National stand was made to be pre-'15 inclusive. This took place sometime about the early '60s, before I had any membership, before I was old enough to seriously have or be involved with such a hobby (I was interested and reading a lot by then). I first joined the HCCA in 1967. As I got to know people in the club, I got told a lot about the fights through the more than a decade before. A lot of people were still mad about the decision. Many thought that the cutoff should have been made at an earlier year. 1912 was a popular choice. But again, however, that would have hurt a lot of members with cars from 1913 through 1915. Many of these people had bought and restored these cars because the were "pre-'15". Since the club had used the phrase "pre-'15 for years, that is what they went with.
Soon after I became a member, there was another big fight. Studebaker, among others, were right in the middle of it. I had personal friends that had these cars. Most notably Studebaker because they did something odd that year. What was caalled the 1915 Studebaker was only built from about September 1914 through May of 1915. A very short year. What Studebaker then sold originally called the 1916 model was built from late May 1915 till the middle of December 1915. An even shorter year. To confuse the issue further, in January '16, Studebaker sent a letter to all dealers and many buyers telling them that the cars were to no longer be called "1916 models", but be referred to by a series number instead.
Studebaker may have been unique among major producers of cars, in that the entire production of "so-called 1916" model cars were in fact manufactured entirely within the calender year 1915. But they were NOT alone in that dozens of other companies also began building and selling next year's model around May to June of 1915. Hudson I know did, I have heard that REO and Hupmobile did.
The problem then was trying to tell people with cars built, sold, and driven in the spring and early summer of 1915 that their nice, rare, car did not qualify. However ten thousand model T Fords, many built several months later, do qualify. Didn't go over too well. (There are some details here I won't go into at this time)
So the HCCA did the best they could figure to do. They made it "pre-'15", "inclusive", "calender year". Often better stated simply as "pre-January 1st, 1916".
It was a long, tough, road. A lot of people were made not happy along the way. But the HCCA as a club did their best to both stick to their founding idea of "pre-'15" and be fair to members that had in good faith bought cars to belong.
Basically, Burger, Yes, it was a good place to cutoff the difference between Horseless Carriages and automobiles. But it would have been cleaner to have chosen a slightly earlier year.
As I said before, for several reasons, I hope they can keep it the way it is.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Just wondering clayton... How many hupmobiles do you have now? 3?
This is my first complete car. I also have a parts car....so 1.5 Hupmobiles?
Sorry to hijack your thread....
It's all good. Jack away.....
I enjoy hearing about old car projects.