I was going to save this for another time, but while waiting in Omaha for my 15 year old daughter and a friend at the the Sam Hunt and Lady Antebellum concert, thought, what the heck.
1907 was the "banner year" for Ford's Model K. Selling more six cylinder cars than any concern in the world, Ford made a name as the builder of both the inexpensive Model N and R, and the premier builder of six cylinder cars. For 1907, Ford made many improvements over the the 1906 K, adding horsepower, lubrication points, stronger frame and increased wheelbase. Ford also added the first six cylinder roadster in the United States, bringing out the K roadster in January of 07.
Meanwhile, the 1907 Ford K would win many major competitions and set a world record for miles travelled over 24 hours in June, 1907 at Detroit. However, possibly one of the most telling competitions for the Model K may be a competition Ford lost.
Following wins in major events including the Stucky Hill Climb outside Cleveland, 24 Hour record win at Detroit, and setting perfect scores in sealed bonnet competitions, the Model K Roadster lost a well publicized hill climb held near Hartford, Connecticut. Following are excerpts from news magazines of the time.
This photo and caption appeared in "The Automobile," September 1907:
Why include a Ford loss among the key events of the legend of the Model K? Because in defeat, many important themes may be gleaned from this story. "The Automobile" ran a two page story about the hill climb. Four photographs from the event were included with the article, the pic of "disappointed" driver Kulick and the Model K Roadster, along with photographs of winning Maxwell, Corbin and Stevens Duryea cars:
Why include a photo of a non-winner among four presented in the article? My opinion is, the Ford K had achieved a status among competitors in which it was worthy to note Kulick and Ford were disappointed not to win an event. The results of the competition below may help support this idea:
While losing to a Corbin and still placing second, the Ford K Roadster posted a time that beat many other competitors, including a better time than more expensive and powerful cars including Thomas Flyer, Pope-Hartford, Stevens-Duryea and Mercedes.
Meanwhile, another feature of this hill climb was an event that was becoming popular at hill climb competitions, the High Gear Slow Race. The purpose of this race, usually held at the end of the hill climb competitions, was to determine which car could make a hill climb on the high gear, in the slowest time. This event helped the public judge which cars would negotiate difficult terrain without resorting to a lower gear. Most transmissions of the period were sliding gear, and as those who have operated cone clutch cars may agree, sliding gear cars are not necessarily easy transmissions to change gears with under load or while driving under difficult conditions. In this event, the Ford K "blew away" the completion, almost taking twice as much time (or traveling half the speed) of the closest competitor, in winning the High Gear Slow Race. Not only did Ford win by almost three minutes over the second place Knox, the other three entrants all stalled attempting to run the hill on high gear. This win helps explain why the Model K, with it's two-speed transmission, was able to compete so well against cars with three and four speed transmissions.
From the September 19, 1907 "Motor World":
Sometimes you win, even when you lose.........
Thank you for posting this. I love that slow run.
And yes, I have driven cone clutches.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne, you're welcome.
We had a 1913 Buick with three speed sliding gear and cone clutch. I usually started in second gear because low was so slow I would almost be stopped by the time I shifted from low to second anyway, so in effect it was really a two speed with a granny low. One thing I remember, and don't miss, was if I "missed" high gear when shifting up, or missed second when shifting down, I had to almost come to a stop to catch a gear. No such issues with a Ford.
Bud, this is for you (responding to your email.... ). Bud rode our K touring up a steep incline last year at the OCF, and I believe was surprised at it's hill climbing capability.
A few more "slow speed" hill climb results. This first occurred in 1910, well after the Model K period has passed. Interestingly, a Ford dealer is still promoting the qualities of the six cylinder motor:
I'll post a Rockford IL example later,
Lady Antebellum? Lucky kid. I'd love to see her perform. And Taylor, and Gaga, and others.
Thank's Rob,I think back then if you wanted more power you went bigger bore and longer stroke but some of those were shakers so a six cyl fit the bill nicely! Smooth power!! Bud.
Speaking of Ford racers, I found this on the AACA forum and wonder what it is as I've never seen this view.
This is one of the three versions of Henry Ford's six cylinder racer. The design, according to "Reminiscences" by early Ford employees, began in early 1904. Originally Barney Oldfield commissioned (summer, 1903) to build him an European style racer to compete in Europe. While Barney Oldfield went over to Winton, my suspicion is Henry Ford at that time came up with the idea of a six cylinder racer, similar to sixes racing in Europe.
The first Ford six cylinder racer appeared at Ormond (Daytona) Beach in early 1905. After making a good impression on Oldfield and Winton during warmups (news article) the car suffered a broken crankshaft on the opening day of racing, and was finished for the meet.
In the summer of 1905, the racer was lowered, horsepower increased (second version, seen in the postcard photo above), and raced at two meets near Atlantic City (Cape May and Vetnor Beach). 110 years ago today on August 28, 1905, the racer tied the 1 Kilometer record held by Walter Christy. However, during the meet, Christy lowered the record to 23 3/5th seconds, so no tie in the record books for Ford:
Photo of Frank Kulick driving the 2nd version six-cylinder racer:
While historians report this racer was a failure, it should be noted the racer(s) flirted with several world records, and was one of only two or three U.S. Racers selected to run in these prestigious events. It is also evident from the number of remaining magazine and newspaper articles that Ford received much media attention regarding the racer.
Thanks Rob, I'm amazed at how low this car's profile is, especially this early.
Howard, I began a separate thread regarding the racer. At the time, it appears finding smooth surfaces to hold speed record events was a difficult proposition. Meets were frequently held on beaches, with the condition of the beach, tides and weather conditions the big variable. It seems to have been the opinion of the key racing men that Daytona (Ormond) had the best surfaces, and the northern beaches near Atlantic City were not as smooth. The year before, Henry Ford set the world record with his revamped 999/Arrow racer on a frozen lake near Detroit.
The 1907 Ford six cylinder racer had no springs, or form of flex suspension, except for Ford's three point front suspension, still with no spring, just a ball joint and wishbone secured to the bottom of the crankcase (ala Model T).
I intended to bring up your comment about bore and stroke. When Mike Bender rebuilt our Model K engines (bore, ring and Pistons, and valves/seats), he told me a "square engine is a happy engine." In other words, the closer to each other the bore and stroke are, the better, according to some. The six cylinder racer had a bore/stroke of 6 inches by 6 inches, a perfectly square engine. The later version of the racer was reported to have a 6 by 6 1/2 in bore/stroke, putting it in the 1100 cu. in. area.