Besides learning of the people who drove our cars, news articles have provided good information about the cars themselves. So far, I've found Model K painted dark blue, dark brown, light brown, black, maroon, red, white, gray and light red. This is the first instance of yellow.
The story begins with Harry Hedges. Harry was a privileged young man from Terra Haute, Indiana at the turn of the last century. In this clip from 1897, we learn Harry at the age of 16 was a good bicycle racer, winning this race in his home county, and the top prize, a $65 (over $1,500 today) guitar:
In 1904 he returns from a tour of England:
And in April, 1907, Harry orders a Ford "six cylinder racing car with a guaranteed speed of 70 mph:"
The car arrives, and the local paper describes the "new Ford automobile:"
Next, the Ford acquires a name...........
"When going full speed he looked like a streak of forked lightning"... If we don't merge on to the highway at 70 miles an hour we would be run over!
I often wonder what the automobile owners from the past would think about todays cars if we could transport them forward in time.
As noted on another thread about "999," the world speed record mile had been 91 miles per hour in early 1904, set by Henry Ford.
Only three years later, production cars such as the Ford 6-40 are capable of over 70 mph. I suspect the concept of speed was changing rapidly.
Back to Harry Hedges and his "yellow racer." The local Terre Haute paper mentions the Ford making "yellow streaks across the country" on June 22, 1907:
Again on July 25th, 1907 Hedges and his Ford receive attention in the paper. It appears the driver and car are getting a reputation:
At the same time, Harry Hedges father and owner of "Union Transfer Company" buys "the first auto-truck" in Terre Haute, a Reliance 3-ton truck made in Detroit. The "Ford runabout" is mentioned at the end of the article:
Later today I'll finish the "Yellow Devil."
(Message edited by Rob on December 29, 2015)
I. Do. Not. want to be the passenger in that thing at its no-load speed of 30 miles an hour.
Aw come on GFtE! I would love to try that out!
I noticed in the article that the "heavy wooden bed" was made locally in Terre Haute. That is one of the facts that drives hobbyists with trucks crazy. So many of those things were done by various local companies, and not standard, that restorers are often confused by what they should do? There were certain common construction techniques that should be followed. Unfortunately, a lot of restorers do not follow them all that well. Occasionally, I will see a truck that I am truly impressed by the quality of its restoration. I love a well restored truck! Maybe not as much as a beautiful horseless carriage era car, but still.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I agree, maybe "unsafe at any speed," to borrow a "Naderism." More on the Reliance truck and it's road worthiness later.
Harry Hedges made a name for himself and his fast Ford quickly. In this August 30th article, he is credited with a 21 minute run between Sullivan and Merom, Indiana:
This map-quest shows the best modern route between the two towns. map-quest suggests a "modern" time of 17 minutes, four minutes less than the 1907 trip. If this is the 1907 route, the Ford would have averaged 37 mph for the trip:
And road conditions were a lot different in 1907 too. So 37 on a bumpy gravel or dirt road would be hard to maintain. I bet they ate a lot of dust in August.
Dust is mentioned in several articles as a problem, including auto accidents.
Harry Hedges and his father, John M. Hedges, have another "first" distinction in addition to owning the first commercial truck in Terre Haute. The first automobile accident suit is brought against them due to an accident involving Harry and the "Yellow Devil." At today's value the suit equates to a quarter of a million dollars. Wonder if they had umbrella policies then?
Not to be deterred, a few weeks later, Harry's mother puts together a surprise 27th birthday party for him. The party theme? "Yellow, that of Mr. Hedges Ford runabout:"
And the truck? As it turns out, it's actually an excursion bus. And, Reliance used a friction drive, so, when the motor stalls, Harry takes the bus over a bridge embankment a year later in 1908, injuring several passengers:
Thus ends the saga of Harry Hedges and the "Yellow Devil."
Happy New Year