My bucket list is becoming smaller and smaller as the years roll by. Good fortune has allowed me to enjoy many wonderful experiences, probably (undoubtedly) more than I deserve.
However, one thing I wish to see, touch, and experience is just out of reach......... Each year, as I drive the pickup and trailer toward Dearborn, I know it's there, and I also know, it's just beyond my reach.
What is it? The Ford six cylinder racer. The same racer Frank Kulick miraculously survived three accidents with. The same racer that was the first Ford racer to reach 100 mph. And the same racer that caused Henry Ford to permanently give up racing.....for a few months.
Let me give a few examples of the subject of my desire that is just beyond reach, somewhere "offsite" from the museum.
Frank Kulick, seated on the racer, just before his world record attempt in Oct 1907, and just before he amazingly escaped death, while limping the remainder of his life from the injuries he sustained:
Original photo used for the Ford Times article:
This original photo of the Ford six racer appeared in a 1914 "Motor Age" article isting the 25 greatest racers built between 1900 and 1913. Pretty good accomplishment for a racer that didn't officially set a world record:
This is what remained of the racer following the October, 1907 wreck, in which Frank Kulick was attempting a world record at the Michigan State Fairgrounds one mile track. The same track on which a Ford six set a world 24 hour record in late earlier that same year:
And that should have been the end of the story. The racer destroyed. No more six cylinder cars or racers for Ford. No more racing.
Following the 1909 Ocean to Ocean race, and Ford (until overturned) victory, Henry Ford was interviewed and said the racer engine had sat in a corner of the Ford factory for a couple of years. Frank Kulick had persistently requested that he rebuild it, and give Frank one more chance at glory. And Henry Ford agreed. The racer would be rebuilt. It would take on the best the world had to offer:
Of course, how do we know this wasn't just a public relations rouse. A chance to put the Ford name in the racing game again, with no real intention to resurrect the old racer. After all, Ford was no longer building and selling six cylinder cars.
Here's how we know:
The same seat Frank Kulick once occupied:
The racer was rebuilt, and today languishes offsite from the museum in a warehouse.
It's on my list...........
Take this from a (retired) Museum Curator: That car should be prominently displayed along with its story! It is an incredibly amazing survivor that we now know was instrumental in funding the Model T's creation which created the entire Ford legacy.
Letting it languish hidden in an off-site warehouse is almost criminal!!
ROB, START A PETITION, I TO NEED TO SEE THAT CAR BEFORE THE PERCH BRAKES. TELL THEM I WILL BRING A TOUR BUS OF AUSSIES TO SEE IT. DOUG PARTINGTON
Museums simply don't have enough room to display everything at once. At any given point in time, many museums have more items in storage than on display.
My father and I have gotten permission to go behind ropes and have been able to get into the archives and storage areas of museums. It typically starts by writing letters well in advance and giving a very good reason why you need to examine certain items.
The likelihood is that had Ford not done so much, and been so successful with the racing, and all the development that came from it, he probably would have never achieved his later great successes. He may have not been able to wrest away full control of the Ford Motor Company. Maybe not have purchased and built the largest production facilities in the world (in their day). The developments that later became the model T itself may not have happened. It could have been someone else that became the biggest automobile producer in the world a few years later. Several people were trying to do that (Billy Durant and Benjamin Briscoe to name two).
There were several cars that individually were key to that historic endeavor. This one particular car, was one of them. As such, it is a very important piece of history!
If one were to seriously try to make a list of the twenty to two dozen most important cars ever built, and still existing? This six cylinder racing car would have to be seriously considered being included. This car should be considered among the top half-dozen most important historic Fords in existence.
It should be on display. It should be seen.
Do enjoy the OCF regardless!
Drive carefully, W2
Rob,How late were the last pictures taken?? Can you find any info on the little yellow car in the picture?? Who worked at the Henry Ford in the 50's 60's 70's?? There was a fire in the Rourntunda?? Many years ago there also was a sale of cars?? Could it be stored at Highland Park?? By asking at the Henry Ford,are you asking the right people?? Bud.
Looks like a Crosley Hotshot in the background
I think you have been doing a valuable service in the 'real' history of the Model K and that alone proves your seriousness to the legacy of early Ford product.
I don't know about any past presidents of MTFCA doing so, but past presidents of the 'other' club have somehow received permission to 'go behind the ropes' on museum items. IIRC, one reason that Bill Barth 'quadracycle' looks so good and slick is that while 'prez' he was able to 'go behind the ropes' with tape and vernier. IIRC Mark Cameron during his tenure also got 'behind the ropes' on something.
Worth a shot to ask and ask again...you may just get lucky.
Rob, I feel the same way that you and the others do about this. It's a crying shame that this car is not on display.
That said, it could be profitable for The Henry Ford to have a "behind the scenes" guided tour which would include the offsite storage for these significant cars. Even the Peterson Museum in LA, which has been closed for renovation for quite some time and is now re-opening, will be offering guided tours of their "vault", which is in the basement of their building and contains some 300 interesting cars.
Besides the people that George mentioned above who have been allowed to "go behind the ropes", no doubt Trent, and some of those who work at THF, like David Liepelt and Ken Kennedy, have been to the offsite storage.
I would also be willing to pay a good fee for such a guided tour. Just a suggestion, but during the OCF things are busy enough that it wouldn't be easy to do a tour like this during the event. Perhaps a better time would be the Friday before the OCF, or the Monday after it. These are also regular workdays for the staff at THF.
I sure would like to see behind the scenes and the offsite storage at THF.....I'd even pay dearly for it.
Just my ideas....what to the rest of you think?
Great idea (along with many other good ideas and info). The problem is, when to ask for the "special tour?"
A few years ago I floated the idea of a winter gathering at Benson Library (and local watering holes in the evening) for a few days. It would be a great opportunity to congregate in the off-season, explore the library, and participate in a special tour if the museum would go for it.
Thanks for all the ideas,
I'll buy a ticket on that tour bus.
Does the Henry Ford offer to allow other museums to display an artifact that they are only storing? Several years ago now, I saw a nice WWII German Comet rocket powered aircraft at the 8AF Museum in Savannah, GA. It was "on loan" to them from the USAF Museum. I know a museum in Richmond IN that would probably make room for it....
Hap l9l5 cut off
I neglected to respond to your post, and Rob P. made me recall it.
I'll be the bus driver.........
Hope to see you again soon.
Hap, great idea. I know in some instances (at least I've seen mention of it) museums loan items.
In a perfect world, I would convince THF to loan the six cylinder racer and the Ford Special (1910-1912 Ford T based, 410 cu. in. Racer Frank Kulick also raced) loaned to the Museum of Speed (late Bill Smith museum) in Lincoln, NE. I would even transport for free.......
Seeing it might be easy once it is found.What does Trent say? David Cocky and his wife also do that sort of thing. Is there any way to talk with the workers at the HF instead of the bosses? What about asking Bill Ford for help? Bud.
Last year, while at the library a day or two before the OCF, I parked the K roadster in front where the tour busses park. One of the library employees saw it, and asked me if it was mine. I said it was, and he asked if I would give someone a ride. I said of course.
However, instead of for himself, he said he had another employee in mind. No problem I said, send him out.
A short time later I met the young fellow, and gave him the "A ride," (Bud, you know what the "A" ride is ).
He seemed to like the ride, and gave me his card, and said, "send me an email if you need anything from the library."
Later I showed the card to another friend from Ann Arbor, and he said "Matt Anderson," he's the head curator."
Well, actually when I looked it up, he's the curator in charge of transportation!
I thought "here we go...." I'll soon be driving that racer.
However, I've sent a few email to Mr. Anderson, and no reply.
Too bad I didn't have a Pierce Arrow to give the ride in
Where would this racer have been built/created?
At the time the Piquette Ave plant was in full swing.
If lack of exhibition space is the problem for the Henry Ford, then perhaps it could be loaned to the Piquette bunch.
Yes, Piquette, for the most part. Ford began work on the first six cylinder racer in early 1904. The second six cylinder racer ran in the second half of 1905 and early 1906. The racer that exists today was begun in late 1906 to early 1907, initially to run in the 1907 Vanderbilt race, that was cancelled.
Henry Ford said the wreckage was in a corner of the plant from October 1907 until the late spring of 1909, when it was resurrected, I presume still at Piquette.
Yes, Piquette would be a great site for it.
Forget emails - send a nice, typed letter.