I think we've dispelled many "myths" about the Model K and the relationship with Ford history over the last couple of years. The last major hurdle (question) I'm working on, and that some of you may be interested in, was the Model K a "poor" or "slow" selling model for Ford? Were dealers "forced" to take the Model K in order to get more desired and marketable NRS models?
I'll begin with a few items from the Ford Motor Company directors minutes, and go from there.
First, in early 1906, the directors entered into contracts with Ford Manufacturing Company (a startup company, with articles of incorporation signed in late 1905, owned by several of the original Ford Motor Co. investors, and C. H. Wills). At the January 1906 FMC meeting, the directors approved contracts with Ford Manufacturing for 10,000 chassis, and 1,000 model K chassis from Dodge Bros.:
In his book, "The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars, and the Legacy," (2005, Wayne State University Press, pg 42), Charles K. Hyde writes the following:
The description of events above are mirrored in several Ford histories I've seen. I'm using this book for two reasons, because the narrative about Ford contracts with Dodge and Ford Manufacturing comply with many previous Ford history's, and because this author is approaching events from the Dodge Brothers perspective. I believe these well recorded events and descriptions lead to the perception that the Model K was a "consolation prize" contract awarded to Dodge Brothers, while the major 10,000 unit Model N contract was awarded to Ford Manufacturing Company.
As author Charles Hyde writes, "Dodge Brothers was left producing parts for the more expensive ($2,800) Model K." Meanwhile, Ford Manufacturing has the contract for the much more lucrative Model N.
Continuing down this path, both contracts call for delivery by March 1st, 1907. We know that Model K were still sold by Ford Motor Company as late as the spring of 1909, furthering the perception that the Model K was a slow selling car for FMC. Almost every early Ford history I've read or heard about uses this information to support the premise the car (K) lagged in sales, and therefore was a burden to Ford Motor Co. and Ford agents (dealers).
For anyone reading this, have a good Sunday afternoon. I'll get back to this this evening,
Has everybody seen the Dodge ad on tv? It says to the effect they broke off from Ford in 1914 to make a better car than the assembly line.
I can now see were they got there ratio of dealer allocation of one ''K'' for every 10 NRS delivered to Fords dealers .
With this ratio 1for 10 it would assure FO MO CO would not have any stock siting on their grass at day's end.
THEY HAVE NEVER CHANGED
Ralph, another way to "spin" the Dodge/Ford beginnings.....
Bob, yes, initially the ratio was 1 to 10 (models K to N).
What I find interesting, and had a tough time reasoning through was, how would the Dodge brothers stand for producing only 1,000 Model K chassis while Ford Manufacturing received the contract for 10,000 chassis? Especially since John Dodge was on the Ford Motor board, and Vice-President of Ford Manufacturing? Some historians say the Dodge's were OK with this since they (Dodge's) were receiving dividends and had ownership in both Ford companies. However, if the Dodge's were building the chassis/major components for Ford's cars up to this point, what were they doing, moving backwards, idling their plant, laying off workers as they now only had 1,000 chassis to build? Over three years (1906-1908)? In fact, the Dodge's were actually expanding at this time. Just before the Directors minutes page on January 9th, 1906 (above), the Ford board of directors approved the following:
The Ford Motor Company board of directors approved renting 10 percent of the Dodge's new plant at Brush and Jefferson. Dodge was expanding. And Ford felt the need to rent 10% of the new Dodge plant. Why?
The following, again from Charles K. Hyde's book referenced above. This portion followed on page 42 (same page as above):
Author Charles Hyde writes that "in January 1907, for example, Ford ordered 6,600 transmissions and 6,600 differentials for delivery in the first six month of the year."
Why was Ford contracting with DB for over 6,000 differentials and transmissions? For what car? Dodge was already contracted to build the Model K chassis, no more. Ford Manufacturing was contracted to build the Model N chassis. Granted, Ford would introduce the Model R in early calendar year 1907, but they (Ford) only produced about 2,500 Model R.
I think the answer is, Ford Manufacturing was already contracting Dodge to build many of the major components of the Model N. This is the reason Ford needed to rent space in early 1906 from the Dodge's, to have space for the chassis components Dodge was building, waiting to move these parts to Ford Motor and Manufacturing sites. Then, as Ford Motor Company acquired Ford Manufacturing Company in 1907, Ford Motor Company again contracted directly with Dodge to continue building components for the four cylinder cars.
The point of this? Ford, and Dodge, were stretched to the limits. By 1907 Ford was producing more automobiles than any other maker in the world. Ford would buy the Highland Park property in 1907, preparing to build the largest automotive plant in the world. Meanwhile, Ford and Dodge partnered to build Models K, N, R and soon S, S Roadster and K Roadsters.
With all this activity, and with difficulty getting cars to dealers and an eager public, why would Ford and Dodge continue to build the Model K? Henry Ford was the primary stock holder by the summer of 1906, owning 58% of Ford Motor Company stock and the same 58% of Ford Manufacturing Stock. With facilities stretched to capacity, if he didn't "like" the Model K, why not discontinue it then? Why completely revamp the K for 1907 (expanded wheelbase, stronger frame, new style touring body, new lubricating system and higher compression)? And why, in February, add a roadster version?
However, what about the slow supply of Model K? Dodge Brothers were contracted to build 1,000 K chassis by March 1, 1907 (January board of directors meeting, 1906). We know Ford had not sold 1,000 Model K by the end of fiscal year 1907 (six months later than the 1,000 Model K were contracted for delivery to Ford). Is this the reason historians write the Model K was a poor selling car? The answer may be found with the Model N.
To be continued.............
Can any of the early Dodge be seen in the Model K?
I don't know if it will make any difference in your search but where did you find that, "Ford Motor Company board of directors approved renting 10 percent of the Dodge's new plant at Brush and Jefferson."?
In the written document above it states that Ford will rent a portion of the Dodge facility but it does not specify the size of that portion. It does indicate that the rent will not exceed 10% of the value of land and building used.
Maybe it was only a very small part of the facility or maybe a lot more then 10%?
I was just rereading the same thing. Your right, it really doesn't specify the amount of space rented, only that the cost not exceed 10% of the amount of land and building value. Actually, 10% of the value of the property seems like quite a bit? Thanks for catching it. Maybe someone with more knowledge of the Dodge Brothers use of the property will shed some light on this.
I think the underlying question remains, why did Ford have the need to reserve space at this Dodge facility/property? Particularly if DB's only involvement with Ford cars at the time this is placed in the Ford board minutes, January 1906, is to build 1,000 Model K chassis by March of 1907. My suspicion is to hold materials and/or completed components as Dodge produced motors/transmissions and differentials, until Ford (Motor and Manufacturing) were ready to take them. We know Ford Manufacturing Company didn't sign a lease until January or February for a building, and the first Model N weren't ready for sale until July 1906.
Many of the K and N parts say "DB" on them. I think some historians conveniently leave out Dodge's involvement with the Model N. As for similarities between the Model K and early Dodge cars, not that I'm aware of. However automotive technology appears to have changed dramatically between 1907 and 1914 (if that's what you mean?).
Please do not think I am being sarcastic or anything like that. I have been enjoying your posts on the Model K. I just wonder why you do not create your own little book and get this Model K. Info into a single source ?
No "sarcasm" taken....
I appreciate the positive feedback, and patience by others for the Model K and other early Ford threads I post on this forum. I wish I had the wherewithal to write a book, but, as with my mechanical aptitude, I don't think I have the skills to pull it off (a book, or engine rebuild, take your pick).
Meanwhile, I was a Model T guy through and through (still am, just a little older version than most, as I consider our models N and K to be primitive versions of Model T), but have become immersed in pre-T history.
Part of the reason I post my tidbits is so they are "there" for anyone in the future who may take an interest, and with more ability, put a book together. That's not to say I won't at some point, but for now, I'm learning as I go. I do have the last portion of this thread about ready to go, so I'll get it up soon.
Thanks for tolerating, it's good to know somebody besides myself reads this stuff.....
If Dodge Brothers were building the major chassis components for the NRS as well as K, that still doesn't explain the slow progress of Model K sales. In January 1906 Ford Motor Company contracted for all 1,000 Model K chassis to be delivered by March 1st, 1907. We know from Ford Motor Company and Ford Canada records that only about 795 Model K were reported sold by the end of Ford's 1907 fiscal year, September 30, 1907. We know another ten Model K were destroyed in a Ford Chicago branch store fire. Throw in the demonstrators and FMC personal cars, and maybe we are at 800-820 Model K by this point (Oct 1, 1907).
I think this is another reason Ford historians suspect the Model K was a "poor selling car." Less than 1,000 cars sold by the end of fiscal year 1907. As mentioned earlier, the answer may be found with the Model N.
As seen in the Ford directors minutes, FMC also contracted for 10,000 Model N chassis (the same chassis is used for models R and S). We know from the same historians that the Model N was an immediate success. So, how many of the 10,000 Model N that were contracted were produced by the end of FY 1907? We see that about 800 Model K are accounted for, or about 80% of the original contract with Dodge Brothers. About 85-90% of Model N and R cars are sold by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 1907. The Model K was actually keeping pace with N and R production.
Below is a spreadsheet showing known Model N and R also produced/sold during the same period, along with the number of Model K:
Perhaps Henry knew that the Dodge Brothers were getting ready to start their own car business and he was trying to slow down their progress by tying up their production and warehouse space so he could impede their start.
Rob - Lots of us read "this stuff" and enjoy it.
The back and forth of a medium like this Forum helps get more facts to the surface to ferret out the truth.
You should take pride in that your work corrected falsehoods in Model K lore that were commonly accepted in our hobby.
When you do get through the last portion of your fact finding, it would be good to put it into book form so it would be available to all in the future to set the record straight.
You mentioned that you don't think you have the skills to write a book. Consider this: You've collected the facts and found support for your position. Perhaps you could find another person, an author type who is also a historian, who could write the book with you, together, using the your research and facts you've collected. This co-author might be a History Graduate student, who could possibly do it as his thesis. This could be a win - win for both of you. There are other co-author types out there also.
There are ways to do this. It would be a formal document that sets the Model K record straight permanently.
Food for thought.....
I like the idea of a book. However, in the meantime, I enjoy reading these threads.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Rob, I truly enjoy reading the Early Ford information that you share. It helps improve my understanding of the growth of the Ford Motor Company as it, and it's cars, evolved into the production of the Model T.
Proving the detractors and antagonists wrong, may be helping to keep up your motivation to continue in your good work. You always seem to dig up some more interesting and solid information shortly after enduring an attack from Texas.
Denny, always interesting to hear your theories. . I am of the opinion that Henry Ford and the Dodge brothers, in spite of their vast differences, were tried and true partners, at this point (1906-1909). Dodge was not longer taking work from other auto makers (that I'm aware of), and had in effect, become a separately owned Ford shop (again, my opinion). My "evidence" that they were close ally's and business partners includes the fact John Dodge was the Vice-President of Ford Manufacturing (Henry Ford, President), and the three continued to collaborate as Ford became the number one manufacturer of automobiles in the world during this time.
Keith, I've considering collaborating with someone on an ebook. Just a matter of finding someone who shares my views and wishes to do the work (kind of sounds like Dean Y. working on the Model K). Regardless, once this "stuff" is on the internet, it will leave electronic "trails" for anyone who decides to research the area sometime in the future.
Wayne, always a pleasure to hear from you.
Eric, thank you. It's best I not try to "prove" anything, because I've found that when I'm absolutely, undoubtedly, sure of something, I find information that proves me wrong.
It's just nice to have opinions expressed as "opinions" and facts as "facts."
The "bottom line" of this thread was to show that both model N and K contracts were not filled by the specified contract period. While this "evidence" is used to "prove" the Model K was a poor selling car, it has not been mentioned that the same can be said of the Model N (that the contract was not filled by March 1, 1907). I suspect that just as with the Model T later, there were manufacturing delays that prevented production and/or sales reaching the specified contract number by the specified date.
I plan to post dealer information regarding sales and profit of Ford models, but this thread has become a little long in the tooth, so I'll do it on a new thread.
Have a great Thanksgiving,
It's easy to find a plausible cause for not meeting projected expectations during 1907...
Most are not aware that there was a recession that had the stock exchange lose 50% of its value in near time it took to sneeze, financial panic happened, there was no Federal Reserve System to 'step in/step up' and 1929 would have happened 22 years sooner had not JP Morgan stepped up and used his own money and personal power to underpin a calm.
I've mentioned before...follow da money...it usually can 'explain' everything
Set this against your timeline of Ford actions and reactions...
The left axis is the Dow Jones
Some of the Ford history I've seen suggests the economic downturn was a "Wall Street/banking crises" and didn't affect Ford much. After seeing your chart, and finding a few period articles, the downturn may not have affected lower priced cars (and potential buyers) as much as high end buyers. It would be interesting to learn how other $3,000 plus cars fared.
Using your chart, the "depth" of the recession (relative to the stock market) occurred between August 1907 and January 1908:
These two articles, dated August and November 1907 seem to support the idea that large cars would have suffered a sales slump:
As you say, "follow da money"
I meant to add, the last sentence of the last article referring to automobiles reads "it is one of the most expensive manufactures and for the greater part unproductive."
Of course we know that is about to change with the coming of the Model T.....
I feel like I may be the front man here a bit...but seriously...
Haven't we already determined that even reputable publications of the market had already established 3 segments? (Auto Age or one of them circa 1908?)
The 'under 1000 dollar car'...the mid-range car to 4000 and 'over 4000 car'? The dynamics then would have been different for the NRS...
Farmers and 'pure country' seem to be the biggest segment of N sales and farmers then didn't necessarily follow Wall Street slips and slides as they do today.
Farmers were not totally immune I'd imagine...my own family records talk about all the cousins moving off the farm in Riverside Iowa during this period and establishing themselves as metro's and merchants in Minneapolis...while only one branch of the family kept the farm going for another 50 years and your own charts show N sales were also 'off' from projections tho' not as much as the K
One needs to remember that many farmers were immune to the stock market. They supplied most of what they needed for themselves. Even during the depression in the 30's many farmers were able to support themselves and were not devastated like the farmers in the dust bowl areas.
Of course then they would not have considered purchasing an automobile either, certainly not a Model K.
I think the idea of three or four "classes" of car is a good idea as a way to categorize cars of that period. Many contests were grouped into less tha $1500, $3,000 to $1500 and greater than $3000. Just as with the NRS cars, the Model K was marketed as a $5,000 value for $2800.
However, I'm not sure many farmers were buying cars yet, even NRS. I think many rural areas, small towns were gaining cars, but the horrendous roads might have made a large number of cars on farms few and far between (or not).
I suspect the exodus from the farm to city was a combination of the need for labor in all the new industy of the 20th century, higher live birth and survival rates (more children meant too many to divide the farm between) and more mechanization on the farm meant farms were growing larger, not smaller, so no chance to divide a farm up between several sons.
George, after reading accounts from the period, I suspect production problems at Ford were as big a reason the cars contracted weren't sold as a soft market. I wish I knew if there was excess inventory (I doubt it) or if production was behind demand. It seems like Ford (and maybe other automakers) were often projecting more production and quicker delivery than they were able to deliver. Models N and T were behind announced delivery and production numbers. Even when the Model T was finally released in early October 1908, only 300 were delivered by the first of the year. Ford had been producing over 100 cars a day by the end of the NRS period.
Quite an amazing time in American and world history...
Great discussion. Thanks for the comments,