What would be the top five produced pre-T automobiles with front mounted engines? This automatically takes REO and Cadillac out of the mix. I'd guess at least
- Ford NRS cars
Who else was a large pre-1909 manufacturer with front mounted engines? Franklin??
Benz, Fiat, Vauxhall, Renault, Royce/Rolls-Royce,
Panhard, Locomobile, Minerva, Napier, Daimler. Lots of big names
Big names but I'm thinking production numbers. I know there were several big names but the cars catered to high society and as such, they weren't produced in as large numbers as other makers.
I guess Buicks had the engine under the seat, so that one can be scratched off the list.
Other than the Ford NRS (and K) models, Maxwell probably made the most front engine cars before 1909. I think all of their two cylinder cars from 1904 through 1912 had the engine under a front hood.
Cadillac and Maxwell both offered a four cylinder about (from memory) 1907. But I don't think either of them were in large numbers yet.
In the world market, Renault was putting the engine up front in some models by 1900, and building a lot of them. There were dozens of lesser known marques in Europe and England following Renault's lead. Rochet and Star (no relation to Durant) were among them.
In the USA, behind the NRS&K Fords and Maxwell, I would suspect Franklin to be the numbers leader. Their cross-mounted four cylinder was under a front hood in 1904, manufactured for about three years, and in fairly large numbers relative to the era. Following that, they built bigger cars (both 4s and 6s for a few years) in good numbers, but not growing in annual numbers so much as the rest of the industry because they were producing for a more limited market.
As already mentioned, most larger numbers production USA cars before the Ford model N in 1906/'07 did have the engine under the body. REO, Buick, Cadillac, and many others did not produce large numbers of front engine cars until almost model T time.
One of the major reasons for the great success of the NRS and K Fords was the big car quality at a smaller car price. Engine up front was part of that appeal.
Let us not forget, Ford also built the model B in 1904, a large four cylinder with the engine up front. About 500 cars built and sold.
In the high end low numbers well-known marques. One of the leading remembered cars is Locomobile. They are unusual, in that I don't think any of their gasoline powered cars had the engine under the body (steam cars did, but that technology lends itself better to having the engine under the body). From 1904 onward, the gasoline engines were all up front. Packard, Peerless (I think), and Pierce Arrow, had engine under body for their first models. Pierce Arrow's first models actually had the single cylinder engine mounted directly onto the rear axle.
I find this stuff so interesting!
'Rick', your comment about only catering to "High Society" I think is a bit biggoted and certainly "off track". I doubt many low paid factory workers, farm hands nor shop girls were buying Fords in 1910 as "impulse buys". They were not cheap in those days by any means !
Interesting thread and a lot of good comments. It may surprise, but for r moderately priced cars, the Ford Model B with sales of over 400 cars in 1905 and Ford "K" in 1906 and 07 were healthy sales numbers for one model.
As mentioned, Franklin was an early front motor sales leader. By 1905 Thomas and Pierce were popular high end cars....
Lot's of great choices...
Myself i think Rick was spot on and on track! Bud.
My 1906 ALAM Handbook of Gasoline Automobiles yields the following cars with engines under the front hoods: Apperson, Autocar, Buick (4 cylinder Models D & H), Cadillac (Models H&L), Elmore (3 cylinder, 2 cycle), Franklin (4 and 6 cylinder), Haynes, Knox (4 cylinder), Locomobile and Lozier, Matheson, Northern (2&4 cylinder), Oldsmobile (2 and 4 cylinder), Packard, Peerless and Pierce, Pope, Stearns, Studebaker and Thomas. Also the 1 cylinder Brush came out in 1907 as a 1908 Model. The 5 top producers would be hard to identify. I would suspect Brush, Buick and Franklin would be in that group.
Mark, that is a great Wikipedia link. Thanks for that! Don, that is a great list too. Definitely something I will have to study.
Brass TT - Correct me if I am wrong, but ever bit of literature I've read so far more or less emphasizes the two trains of thought that were taking place during early automobile production. There was the one group that felt that bigger and more luxurious was the way to go. Pierce Arrow, Packard etc definitely fell into this group. And while highly regarded, the actual production numbers were nowhere near some of the 'other' makers simply because of the smaller market niche that they targeted. Yes, $1000 Model T in the early years was still pricey for the farm hand and low paid factory workers, but the 'other' group of manufacturers saw the opportunity to cater to the lower/middle income class brackets. Even Ford resisted suggestions of making the bigger more expensive models (i.e. Model K) and was always more interested in the affordable reliable designs. The Model T is just a prime example of the success of this later train of thought and the reason there are so many more around. Maxwell too tried to drop those prices to cater to the middle class. Brush was all about offering a really low cost runabout.
I was wondering when someone would mention Brush, AFAIK, always a front engined car.
Rick, I think you are falling prey to the "Anti-K" publicity put out shortly after the T became "THE CAR" to build. Ford sponsored lots of demonstrations of the K, and its popularity actually funded the Ts development. Once Henry decided to go 100% for the economical car market, then the K was out of favor. As we have found out here from other posts, the K was no slouch and was probably one of the best buys in its target market.
David, thanks for the "K" comments. Over the last few years I spent a lot of time researching early (Ford pre-T years) automobiles and production. There were so many makes and models, it's almost overwhelming to try to discuss them. Then throw in years, say form 1898 to 1909, and the numbers and types are staggering.
My take (my research centered around Ford in general and the Model K in particular), is that production numbers were so much smaller that we (Model T enthusiasts) find it hard to comprehend the low numbers auto makers produced and survived (for a while). It seems if an auto maker produced and sold 100 or more cars a year, for the most part they remained viable.
The Model K is often referred to as a "failure" due to low production numbers. The reality is that selling over 300 Model K the first year offered, 1906, was considered significant by the public and industry. The article below trumpets the fact Ford sold 300 Model K in 1906. An automaker wouldn't have publicized this fact if it weren't considered a significant number, in my opinion. While the article headlines Ford plans to produce 10,000 runabouts (Model N and R at this point), sharing the top line is the "To Make 10,000 Runabouts," "Over 300 Ford Sixes Were Sold Last Year" receives equal billing:
Rob, Happy to chime in; I think it is your research that has helped place the K back in its rightful place in history.
Yes, 300 cars of one model in a year at that point in time was "major" production.
David, thanks... June and July 1907, 110 years ago, the Ford Model K had a run of successes on the track and at hill climbs that I suspect Ford didn't see again from stock production cars over such a short time.
I hope to post as the competitions occurred over the next couple of months.