Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company were conspicuously absent from production automobile racing, hill climbing and other competitions during 1906. Henry Ford later said the reason was due to production delays and the hectic schedule of bringing out two new Models for 1906, the K and N. However, beginning in early 1907, Henry Ford reported the company would enter all the big competitions for the year, including the Glidden tour. As further proof of this intention, his team brought out a new six cylinder racer, constructed initially to enter the Vanderbilt Cup Races, and entered their runabouts and six cylinder models in numerous races and hill climbs.
The "mystery" remains, why didn't Ford enter the Glidden Tour? Henry Ford said the company intended to enter eight cars in the well known event, two Sixes (K) and six Runabouts (N and R). As of late June, just prior to the July start of the Glidden, this article reports Ford's intention to enter the event.
When the Glidden Tour began in July, 1907, Ford was absent. I've not seen any explanation in print for why Ford did not compete. With Models N and K setting sales, speed and endurance records, it would seem a natural that they would participate in the most publicized automobile endurance event in the United States.
We know at least one Ford accompanied a portion of the Glidden tour as a non-particpant, as did many other car makers and owners. This photo of a Ford Six and Thomas Flyer appeared in the Glidden News section of "Automobile" magazine, published July 18th, 1907:
Now, we may have the answer to "why did Ford not attend the Glidden?"
I recently stumbled upon a Canadian magazine, "Rod and Gun and Motor Sports" published in October, 1907, that reports the reason Ford decided not to participate on the tour. This is the first, and only period explanation of why no Fords entered the contest I've found:
(Message edited by Rob on August 26, 2016)
Hmm, I get the gist of the article, basically you have to cheat to win in the Glidden tour.
But the writing style reminds me a little of reading Shakespeare. Yes I know it's written in English (the article and Shakespeare) but I'm a little lost on the specifics. Exactly what's implied about how you cheat? Stash an identical car further down the route and have the driver catch a train to get to it?
Hmmmm so Pierce Arrow entered multiple cars every year and had to have a second car waiting in the wings for each car entered? Ludicrous on several levels.
A real stretch to believe that one.
No sale. That a "serious statement...sent out by the Ford company" would appear in only one publication seems pretty far fetched to me. Were the editors of all the other automotive publications engaged in a vast conspiracy of silence? Mighty unlikely.
Did you notice where the Rod & Gun was published,right here in Woodstock,Ontario,Canada.My home town.
I can understand the skepticism some have expressed over this story. However, from my studies of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company, part of it does ring true. A somewhat similar story is told by C.B Glasscock in his book, “The Gasoline Age”:
“He (Henry Ford) did not condone vice, immorality, alcohol or tobacco, but he could ignore them. Perhaps he was so completely absorbed in the task in hand that he was scarcely aware of things of which he could disapprove if they were brought to his attention. In substantiation of that theory there is an incident related by John Heinze, an inventor and manufacturer of electrical equipment for automobiles, with a large factory of his own in the early days.
“Heinze was a close friend and boon companion of Walter Flanders at the time – what Henry Joy might describe as a “Pud’n College chummy.” Part of the story he had from Flanders, and part from his own experience. According to the Flanders part of the story, Charles Splitdorf, famous for the Splitdorf magneto and so forth, and holding a contract with Ford for the manufacture of electric coils, invited Ford, Couzens and Flanders to a private supper in a hotel suite in New York during an automobile show. When the male guests ere ushered into the private driing room by Splitdorf they, or some of them, were surprised to find that there were twice as many covers laid as there were men in the party. But that arrangement was promptly and cheerfully explained by the entry of several gay young women in revealing evening gowns. They occupied the empty chairs, with some intimation that they might, after the champagne, be willing to move to a masculine knee. New York automobile shows were attended by such incidental diversions in those days. They still are. But why go into that?
“Splitdorf and Flanders welcomed the diversion. Flanders always welcome a pretty woman in any circumstances. Henry Ford did not. Concerning Couzens deponent syeth not, but it may be assume that he followed his chief. Ford went straight-way (sic), and indignantly, to the street.
“In the street, quite by chance, Ford encountered John Heinze. Heinze had done some work manufacturing coils for Ford. They were on friendly terms, and chatted together as they strolled down Broadway. Abruptly Ford asked for information about Heinze’s factory capacity, and finally suggested that Heinze might come to Detroit with any ideas he had for making better coils and more of them for Ford cars. Heinze went, demonstrated, and obtained a new and larger contract. Splitdorf was out, as far as Ford was concerned.”
-“Motor History of America or The Gasoline Age: The Story of the Men who Made It”, by C.B. Glasscock, Floyd Clymer Publisher, Los Angeles, CA 1937, pp121-122.
It should also be pointed out that Ford was not the only manufacturer who did not participate in the Glidden Tours. Glasscock also notes:
“Detroit manufacturers did not care so much for Glidden Tour Publicity. They began to note that the jokes and the grief of the contestants were getting more space than the names of the better cars. Packard, Cadillac, Ford Chalmers and Studebaker declined to enter. Popular interest in the Glidden Tour began to wane. A few years later it faded out completely.” “The Gasoline Age”, p.38.
It was expected that the winner of the Glidden Tours would be the first car to finish the course. But so many of the participants had been hauled along by horses for long distances, that did not seem fair. So the tour directors asked each driver to vote for the two cars, which in their opinion, deserved the trophy. As Glasscock tells it, every driver voted for themselves first, but that a majority of the drivers voted for Percy Pierce second, making him the winner of the first Glidden Tour trophy for the first year. He managed to win it again the second year, and frequently afterward. It gave the Pierce-Arrow a great deal of positive publicity in the eye of the public.
- Glasscock, pp.37-38
Certainly, Percy Pierce appears to have had a knack for winning the Glidden Tour.
Thank you for the background info. The circumstances surrounding the 1907 Glidden, and Ford's interest in participating, then not, have intrigued me for some time. I've also dabbled in Glidden tour history between 1905 and 1910, and some things about the tour are a bit "murky."
I'll begin with these brief descriptions of the Glidden tour provided by the current (modern) Glidden Tour website:
1905 and 06:
1905 is the first year the Glidden trophy was awarded. It appears the method of selecting the winner was less than scientific, and that of the many cars receiving perfect scores, Percy Pierce, driving a Pierce was voted the winner by his peers. The entries were mostly entered by their car makers themselves. Nonetheless, a Pierce won the trophy.
In 1906, of the 47 competing cars, 13 received perfect scores. The synopsis of the event says "took no notice.......of repairs.."
Percy Pierce was again voted the winner. Again, the methodology may have been a bit flawed, as the article implies some repairs that would have cost points were not enforced.
1907 and 08:
1907, the year in question at the beginning of this thread, was actually a "club event." The Buffalo Automobile Club won the trophy. The Buffalo Club participating cars were two Pierce Arrows, two Thomas Flyers, and a Packard.
How a club consisting of two Pierce, two Thomas and a Packard won the trophy, yet Pierce today is called the "winner," I am unclear about...........
An article concerning the 1907 tour, and the top two clubs, as of July 13, 1907, bears this out:
1908 is generally considered a controversial tour. 28 of the 48 cars recieved perfect scores, and the article says "a winner was never determined," and "the Glidden trophy was not awarded and was returned to Mr. Glidden."
Tomorrow, 1909 and 1910 Glidden tours. Also, 1907 wasn't the first time Ford had a run in with the Glidden Tour (AAA) committee.
Based on the description provided above, I'm not surprised Ford, along with many other car makers didn't participate on the tour.
One other thing to keep in mind, Ford Motor Company had just set a world record (24 hour endurance run) with the Ford "six" (Model K) and won events with both their six and four cylinder cars in two of the most prestigious hill climbs in the U.S., and we're certainly not shying away from competitions. Ford had also successfully competed with their six and four cylinder cars internationally, in the 1907 Scottish and Irish reliability tours, so there was no reluctance to participate in major events.
With Piquette at full speed and Ford working hard to make a better NRS with the T development, Henry Ford had a full plate...
Great story Rob.
Maybe the saying should be changed to "All's fair in love, war, and the early days of the automobile."
Dissatisfaction with rules and their enforcement, or lack thereof, is much more credible than the "spare car" theory.
Robert, I agree, Henry Ford was probably a very busy man (as he was in 1906, and probably every year throughout his work life). In addition to ramping up production to become the largest producer of automobiles in the world in 1907, he also attended most of the major competitions Fords were entered. Additionally, he was working on the farm motor tractor, one of which still exists and is on display at The Henry Ford. And, work had began on a new model he initially announced would be available in the late winter or early spring of 1908, the Model T.
Dan, Thank you.
In 1906, the article below mentions dissatisfaction with the Glidden Tour rules. In the June 1906, In June, 1906, James Couzens, CFO of Ford, suggested boycotting the tour if the 2,000 lbs weight restriction was not removed by the ruling AAA board.
I wonder if some of the Selden patent animosity between licensed and unlicenced car makers was also a factor in Ford entering, or not entering the field?
Ford did, however, participate in reliability tours. As mentioned above, in 1907 successfully participating in the Scottish and Irish Reliability tours, one of only a few U.S. manufacturers competing (REO and Cadillac). Ford also competed in other endurance and reliability tours, including the Chicago tour listed below, that occurred about the same time as the Glidden. Ford entered several cars, doing well with both six and four cylinder models. Pierce, and many other manufacturers also participated, evidently with much of the drama associated with the Glidden.
While the print is small, among the 55 cars competing, Pierce Arrow registered three perfect scores of three cars entered. Ford, with five cars entered, had three perfect scores (one Six, two Fours), and one Six with 25 points deducted, and one Four with 5 points lost.
Finally, before getting back to the article at the beginning of the thread, and finishing with the 1909 and 1910 Glidden Tours, this 1907 articles lists the major winners of reliability and endurance tours among U.S. automakers. Pierce finishes first, with 13 cars receiving "perfect" scores (including cars participating in the Glidden). Ford meanwhile, came in sixth, behind Pierce, Maxwell, Buick, Packard and White. Ford was followed by Reo and Dragon.
The article also takes note of Ford's "other" achievement, the 24 hour world record made by a Model K:
Back to the original article. Steve, I didn't see your post as I was composing my lengthy post when you put it up.
I have no idea if the story in "Rod and Gun of Canada" has any degree of truth. However, the magazine did publish other stories that were also posted in U.S. publications. R&G had also advertised for Ford in 1906, however doesn't appear to have any adds in 1907.
At the end of the first article, R&G carried a story about the New York branch manager and Ford volume of sales. This story ran in several U.S. papers too, with the same facts and figures. The second page of the article also carried a story regarding the two Thomas Flyers that were major contributors to the Buffalo Automobile Club winning the 1907 Glidden (I'm still confused how Pierce Arrow is given credit as the 1907 Glidden trophy winner when the trophy was awarded to a club with three makes of auto?):
Point being, this magazine seemed to be "mainstream," posting stories that, except for the Ford-Glidden controversy, posted commonly circulated stories.
If there is a grain of truth in the story, it may be that most publications chose not to run the story, due to potential advertising fallout from automobile companies who supported the Glidden tour, whereas a Canadian pub was not as sensitive to auto interests south of the border. Who knows. Maybe there is simply no truth to the story, and this pub just ran a far fetched story.
Another article in R&G covered the 1906 Montreal auto show. I thought it interesting that Canadian automobiles mentioned were the Russel, Pachard (their spelling) and Ford:
So,mis there a shed of truth to the reason this article says Ford decided to not the Glidden? No idea. Did Ford take on all comers in many high profile competitions during 1907? Absolutely.
Finishing up, the 1909 and 1910 Glidden descriptions, from the modern Glidden Tour website:
For 1909, only 13 competitors for the trophy, with 8 perfect scores.
1910, another controversy, with Chalmers winning the trophy after Filing a protest against the initial winner, Premier.
In addition to the Model K that participated on a portion of the 1907 tour, at least two other Ford Model K did complete the tour. I'll post their photo when I find it......
(Message edited by Rob on August 28, 2016)
Did the Glidden Tour have anything to do with the ALAM?? Maybe Henry did not want his auto's asociated with the rich/snob class? Bud.
Somewhere in my lengthy diatribe above I think that idea was floated.........
The original 32 signatores of the A.L.A.M. (Selden Patent licensed). Pierce, Packard and Thomas were in the "club:"
Electric Vehicle Co., Columbia
Olds Motor Works, Oldsmobile
The Autocar Co., Autocar
The George N. Pierce Co., Pierce-Arrow
Packard Motor Car Co., Packard
Apperson Bros. Automobile Co., Apperson
Searchmont Automobile Co., Searchmont
Knox Automobile Co., Knox Waterless
Locomobile Company of America, Locomobile
The Haynes-Apperson Co., Haynes
The Peerless Motor Car Co., Peerless
The Winton Motor Carriage Co., Winton
U. S. Long Distance Automobile Co., Long Distance
Waltham Manufacturing Co., Orient
International Motor Car Co., International
The J. Stevens Arms and Tool Co., Stevens-Duryea
H. H. Franklin Mfg. Co., Franklin
The Commercial Motor Co., Plymouth
Berg Automobile Co., Berg
Cadillac Automobile Co., Cadillac
Northern Manufacturing Co., Northern
Pope-Robinson Co., Pope-Robinson
Elmore Mfg. Co., Elmore
E. R. Thomas Motor Co., Thomas Flyer
The Kirk Manufacturing Co., Kirk
Buffalo Gasoline Motor Co., Buffalo
Pope Motor Car Co., Pope-Toledo
Sandusky Automobile Co., Sandusky
Crest Manufacturing Co., Crestmobile
Studebaker Automobile Co., Studebaker
The Buick Motor Co., Buick
The F. B. Stearns Company, Stearns
A lot of interesting history, and some interesting speculation, in all this so far. I picked up on the Waverley Electric being mentioned in the article about the Montreal Auto Show.
Lots of quite fascinating stuff here.
Thanks again Rob!
Wayne, my pleasure. It's always nice to hear your kind comments.
Two more Ford "sixes" that completed the Glidden Tour: