OT - a Southern California Model K

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2016: OT - a Southern California Model K
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 11:42 pm:

The Ford Model K suffered the same fate of the Model N, and later the Model T, of delays in getting the car to market. As a result, the first Model K didn't reach buyers until the middle of April, 1906. This story is about one of those first Model K.

In early July, 1906, the first Model K reached Southern California. The articles below list the first southern Cal owners:



The highlighted name, "Mr. Babcock," was Elisha S. Babcock, developer of Coronado Island and Hotel, as well as owner of the water system that provided water from Otay Dam to the city of San Diego:



Elisha S. Babcock would later develop railroad and trolley lines throughout San Diego. By 1906 he was one of San Diego's most prominent citizens:



One of the things I look at when researching a Model K owner is, how long did they own the car? If the Model K was a good car of the period, did the owner keep it for a lengthy amount of time. Often, wealthy early automobile owners changed cars every year or two. It seems automobiles were bought as luxury items, with disposable income, and technology was changing so rapidly that a two or three year old car was outdated and obsolete. The used resale price also reflected this, with values dropping as much half by the first or second year.

This particular Model K story isn't going to stand up well to that test. As you'll see when I get back to it tomorrow, the first owner, our wealthy Mr. Babcock, isn't the caretaker of the car for long.

(Message edited by Rob on September 01, 2016)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 07:42 am:

Back on task.......

E. S. Babcock was a mover and shaker in the San Diego area. With interests in public water works, public transportation and the hotel industry, he needed the assistance of public policy officials. Below is an example of how he used public officials to help remove roadblocks to his business interests:



As highlighted in the article above dated May 22, 1906, Babcock enlisted assistance from public officials, including Charles S. Hardy in order to achieve his business goals.

Charles Hardy was another wealthy San Diego businessman who was also known as the Republican "boss" of San Diego County:



So, what does a wealthy entrepreneur like E. S. Babcock do to show his appreciation to a well know pol like Mr. Hardy for helping him broker a multi-million dollar deal?

Maybe buy them a car?



With a $2,500 price tag in 1906 (plus shipping to the west coast), this was the equivalent in today's dollars of a $70,000 gift.

Ah, the good old days, when graft and corruption could be publicized with little or no public indignation..... :-)

Next, Mr. Hardy, a Model K, and the beginning of what will become the second largest naval base in this country.

(Message edited by Rob on September 01, 2016)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Larry Smith, Lomita, California on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 11:51 am:

Spreckles built his mansion across the street from the Coronado Hotel, and has been converted into a motel.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Bishop, San Diego on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 03:50 pm:

Larry,
It's a little nicer than a motel. It's now the Glorietta Bay Inn, on Glorietta Bay (a marina of the greater San Diego Bay), and pretty fancy! Just had it's 100th anniversary several years ago, and we lined up a bunch of Model T's in the driveway of the Inn for a picture (UT San Diego newspaper) and TV coverage.
There were underground tunnels that went from Spreckles' house to the Hotel del Coronado. Still there, but locked.
The D St depot, where Babcock departed to find his new Model K, is now the Santa Fe depot (Amtrak), and D St is now called Broadway and ends at the new Broadway Pier where some of the cruise ships dock.
Keep writing Rob, I'm hungry for more!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Eviston on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 04:15 pm:

I know I am drifting. A very good friend of mine is Jeff Holle, second generation owner of Holle's(auto) Salvage of northern Indiana.He could not tell you without thinking about it how many T's he has, and that would just be the ones that run. Relatives of his owned a Ford Agency in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake. Without looking,IIRC, the early shipping invoices show Ford Ts with single digit serial numbers being shipped to them. I believe it was Holle's Supply or similar name. Sure would love to know more about them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 04:39 pm:

I wonder if Elisha Babcock was any relation to George Babcock. George was an engineer who develop a high pressure boiler in the late 1800's early 1900's. George Babcock along with Stephen Wilcocks formed the Babcocks and Wilcocks Co who manufactured high pressure boilers used in manufacturing and steam ships.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 06:04 pm:

Jim, W. L. Hughson's was one of Henry Ford's first dealers, and controlled the Ford business in California (and I believe Oregon and Washington) in the early years. I think this K probably came through Hughson and Standard Automobile Company. With that said, Hughson had many dealers, or sub-dealers, so your friend may have had a dealer in his family, and they may have worked through Hughson.

This link will take you to THF Reminiscences of W. L. Hughson if you would like to read about him:

http://cdm15889.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15889coll2/id/6850

I'll get back to this in a bit.....


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 07:14 pm:

In November, 1906, Charles Hardy and another motorist began a motor tour of the San Diego harbor with U.S. Senator Perkins. The purpose of the tour was to view Point Loma. The overall purpose of the visit was to confirm the fitness of the area for future Military use:



Charles Hardy was very active attracting attention to the San Diego area, and by 1908, San Diego was selected as the first U.S. west coast stop for the Great White Fleet:



When the fleet arrived, including the largest Battleship to ever grace the west coast, the U.S. Connecticut, Charles Hardy was in the middle of the festivities, even taking officials to the large battleship in his personal launch:



This 2008 article appeared in the San Diego newspaper Union-Tribune and mentions the importance of that 1908 visit:



So, a ride in a 1906 Model K that was a political gift helped influence eventual locating of one of the most important Naval Bases in our country.

Of course, I don't know that Charles Hardy still owned the "free" Ford by the time the fleet arrived in 1908. We don't know that this 1906 Model K graced the streets of San Diego as the city grew and it's influence and population grew.

As mentioned earlier, automobiles quickly became obsolete. And, the 1906 Model K was not near the car the vastly improved 1907-08 Model K was. It's improbable one of the wealthiest and most influential men in San Diego would have continued to drive the old Ford for long.

Still, a remarkable time in our nations history for San Diego residents, and a Ford was there.

In a bit I'll get to one last item about Mr. Hardy and his Model K.........

(Message edited by Rob on September 01, 2016)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Thursday, September 01, 2016 - 07:18 pm:

That Navel fleet had boilers made by Babcock & Wilcock Company. Teddy awarded the contract to them and now the fleet shows up at another Babcocks door step.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Friday, September 02, 2016 - 12:03 am:

Denny, that would be something if the two Babcocks were related. I believe Elisha was from Indiana.

Time to wrap this up.

As it turns out, the Hardy's did indeed own, and drive, their 1906 Model K for a long period of time. In fact, the cars last act was to "take out" a new six cylinder Everitt.

In May, 1912:


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Friday, September 02, 2016 - 04:42 am:

I always enjoy putting the cars into the perspective of their day!
Thanks again Rob!


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