The book, published in 1981, included the authors top 100 picks between 1904 through 1979.
A portion of the Forward describes the author's criteria for selecting his top 100:
"No attempt will be made here to identify THE greatest American car of all time. My readers will no doubt have their own candidates for that title.
Since I have ventured to select the 100 greatest, however, I should explain some of the restrictions imposed on the entries. Some restriction was felt to be necessary in order to avoid comparisons between cars of widely different types, built for widely different purposes. Consequently, eligibility was reduced to cars built for four to six passengers (or having chassis capable of being fitted with such bodywork). Open cars are admissible for the 1905-1915 period, in keeping with the practice of the time, but later models must have been available with closed bodies.
Above all, we are dealing strictly with production cars, manufactured for sale to the public. Experimental cars, prototypes, and privately built "one-of specials are excluded.
As a leading criterion for selection as one of the 100 greatest cars, I have adhered to a rule which states that the car's creators must have had aspirations of greatness. That rule implies a deliberate striving for perfection within the limits of the possible—possibilities varying from company to company and from year to year. And it must have succeeded in reaching greatness to the extent of surpassing the average by a wide margin, as measured against the priorities of its time. Perhaps this rule does eliminate many good, interesting, and worthy cars, but at least my reasons have now been made clear.
Ford's Model T had greatness of a kind but that's not greatness that has guided the selection of these 100 cars. T-head Mercer and the Stutz Bearcat were great cars, but were great only as sports cars, and therefore outside this book. Ford's first V-8 was sensational because of the engine. Great cars must have a balanced, general greatness; not just one or two elements of greatness. For the same reason, cars like the 1953 Studebaker, whose excellence lay in one single area (body design) have been eliminated. And why isn't the Chrysler Airflow one of the 100 Greatest? For all its innovations, it failed in the one area in which it was designed to excel; it didn't have a much lower air drag than the standard Chrysler body.
As a final word of apology to those readers who may wish to dispute my selection, I must say that I do not expect my tentative definition of greatness to withstand the test of time any better than the list of cars I have chosen. There is an element of personal preference in my selections. Like other car enthusiasts, I have my favorites. On the other hand, I have acted in the interest obtaining greater variety by choosing a number of lesser known cars than Packard, for instance, year for year, would have had a perfectly palatable contender, perhaps even a preferable choice, but a car too similar to another Packard already described or coming up later in the chronology. With that, I leave the reader to start his examination of the cars, appropriately, with a Packard."
The author was no stranger to automobiles, with 28 auto related books to his credit.
The cars are listed chronologically, with the first sixteen being produced between 1904 and 1910.
At number 5, the Ford Model K......
1. Packard Model L, 1904
2. Columbia, 1904
3. Locomobile Type D, 1904
4. Peerless Model 9, 1905
5. Ford Model K, 1906
6. Winton Model K, 1906
7. Royal Tourist 4-40, 1906
8. National Model L, 1907
9. Stevens Duryea Model U, 1907
10. Pierce Great Arrow 6-60, 1908
11. Matheson 6-48, 1908
12. Lozier Model H, 1909
13. Thomas Flyer 6-70 Model K, 1910
14. Chadwick Six, 1910
15. Oldsmobile Limited, 1910
16. Simplex Series 50, 1910
No other Fords made the list, although five Lincoln models were selected to the group.
Tomorrow I'll post the authors comments on the Ford K.
The author ought to know that The Car of the Century was the Model T Ford.
Clearly, at the time Jan P Norbye put the selection together, he (or she) was drunk.
You may be able to get your money back!
When reading the forward, the author explains his criteria. While the Model T was undoubtedly the car of the century, it didn't rise to his level, as a "great" car in any given year, in his opinion.
The Model T was the car that put the world on wheels, over 18 years.
I personally believe the 1909 or 1910 Model T could (should) have been included as opposed to the Columbia or a few other choices. I've always thought the 1909-13 T's were innovative (internal mag, good horsepower to weight ratio, removable head, single block, single lubrication system for both engine and transmission, etc. etc.).
It is nice to see my lowly Model K included with this group of cars. I'll get to what the author said of that a little later.
If you get back to this thread, let us know how feedback is progressing on your new book. Thank you for posting,
Lordy he sure put enough "ifs and or buts" in his selection process. My opinion flat out is you simply cannot do a list as long as 100 cars and not include the T. Ain't happening.
He seems to have gone primarily for "high end" cars. It's an interesting list, with many cars that were innovative. He seemed to like big and fast, for the most part.
The authors way of thinking is exactly why Fords Model T lasted as long as it did and why he sold over 15 million.
This author didn't consider number sold, bottom line or how the brand was perceived. I think he set out to identify those cars that advanced and changed the marketplace. Of course, since he is no longer with us, we'll never know.
With that said, as I mentioned earlier, I think the 1909-1913 Ford Model T was as advanced as any car on the market in many ways. The author did acknowledge that his list is only one, and that time will change the cars listed, as well as others opinions.
As a Model K advocate, who has learned from hands on experience (and I'm originally a T guy through and through), Henry Ford had something that was the equivalent of Models N, R, S and then the T, in a high end car.
Anyway, it's rewarding to find an author who appreciated, and chose the Ford Model K as one of his personal favorites. Jan did list the acknowledged "facts" of the Model K, as they stood at the time he wrote his book. He mentions that it was not a good seller (false, the Model K was one of the best selling "big" cars of the time), and not a money maker for Ford Motor Company (also false, as the car was the sales leader by far in 1906, and a leader in 1907, when Ford became the worlds largest automaker the world had ever known.
At the end of the 20th century the vote was taken and the Model T was determined to be the Car of the Century.
There were 26 possible entries out of 700 possible vehicles world wide.
Position Car model Points
1 Ford Model T 742
2 Mini 617
3 Citroën DS 567
4 Volkswagen Beetle 521
5 Porsche 911 303
Remember this was a decision of "experts."
I have strong views on the five finalists! (Some would say that I have strong views on a bunch of stuff!).
The Model T Ford just had to win. End of discussion on that car.
The VW Beetle should've been number 2. It was the German 'car for the masses' - commissioning it in the first place was one of the few good things that the Nazi Party did. It was the first car to out-produce the Model T in volume.
Mini for number 3. With its transverse engine, it was absolutely ground-breaking.
Interestingly, there were two German finalists and one French finalist. Three from Europe - the birthplace of the motor car was Germany and France.
You wanted to know the feedback on the book.
I keep receiving emails from folk who have bought it. Here is a typical example from this morning when I opened my email...
This one from Sydney says:
There's been a whole lot more too. I have lots of lumps in my throat. I have also seen a draft review from a professional but I cannot share that until it is printed. Below is a couple more - screen shots from Facebook, including one from my lovely friend Anita, a professional photographer, who helped me with some photos.
I have also had a call from the publisher this morning - they are really excited about how well it is doing - and the Christmas rush hasn't even started yet.
I hope this is not seen as self-congratulatory - rather, it is promotional. If you want a copy of this first edition you may need to get a wee wriggle on! I shall copy this over to the other thread as well.
Thank you to everyone who has bought the book so far. It makes the project a worthwhile one.
That's great John. I know you put a lot of blood, sweat and tears along with passion into the book.
John Stokes, congratulations on the book. My comments on the "Model T was determined to be the Car of the Century" comes from originally finding the statement in "The Model T, A Centennial History," by Robert Casey, 2008, published by the Henry Ford and John Hopkins University Press. Chapter 6 The meaning of the Model T, pp 111 to 125.
"In 1999 group of automobile historians and journalist participated in an elaborate process to name 'the car of the century.' ..... Even though a majority of the survey participants came from Europe, they (the historians) recognized the singular nature of the Ford and its accomplishment."(see Richard Wright, Detroit News 20 December 1999)