I just came across this (take my iPad away). After finding more articles about Henry Ford and his six cylinder racer, I thought I'd surf the net looking for arguments that A. Malcomson "forced" Henry Ford to build a six cylinder car (right, Henry Ford was easily forced to do anything, and by a partner who had equal stock in the company....).
A few pics from the article. One at the Eagle Tavern (go figure) and the other in front of the train station, with fellow Model K owner Huey riding beside me, at Old Car Festival:
Before I get into this, a few "facts." The first Model K didn't appear for sale until April, 1906. Both the Model K and N were planned for production in 1906. However, the Model K was ready for production, and sold several months before the Model N. As a result, 85% of Ford's new car profits came from the Model K in 1906. The Model K kept Ford Motor Co. in the black in 1906!
Meanwhile, Alexander Malcomson, equal shareholder with Henry Ford (as if that made a difference, the board consisted of several shareholders, and their votes were not weighted by number of shares they held, as no board of directors is) secretly made arrangements prior to November 1, 1905, for 400 air cooled 20 hp engines for his new car, Aerocar. Let that sink in a moment. Months before the Model K and N hit the market, Malcomson secretly signed a contract with Reeves Motors for 20 hp air cooled motors for his "dream" car, Aerocar.
On December 1st, 1905, the Ford board learned of Malcomson's duplicity, and demand his resignation as treasurer (not that he resign and give up his shares in FMC, but that he resign from the board). Malcomson of course resisted, wishing to retain his position on the board.
Soooooo.,,,,, If the Model K was truly "forced' on Henry Ford by Alex Malcomson, why:
1. Did Henry Ford continue to build the Model K for three years after Malcomson became persona non grata with Ford Motor Company (Malcomson sold his shares to Ford and James Couzens in July 1906)?
2. Why did Malcomson negotiate for a four cylinder, air cooled motor for his new company, if he was "forcing" Ford to build the 40 hp six cylinder Model K?
3. Why did Malcomson further go with a three speed transmission, conventional steering, and no magneto, at the same time the car he supposedly forced on Henry Ford had dual ignition, light weight, higher horsepower, with many new innovative features such as planetary steering gearsbox, dual ignition, six cylinder, etc. etc?
Meanwhile, Henry Ford began working on the six cylinder concept in August, 1903. According to this article, Barney Oldfield consigned Henry Ford to build him a European style racer, while Oldfield and Cooper were setting records around the country in 1903 driving Henry Ford creations 999 and Arrow:
Oliver Barthel, in his Reminiscence, tells about being enlisted in early 1904 to help with problems Ford and Wills are having with their six cylinder project. To put this in context, this is when the Ford Model A is almost in it's second year of production, and the Model C is about to begin production. The four cylinder Model B has not seen the light of day:
By June, 1904, word is out that Henry Ford is testing a large, new racer:
November, 1904, the new racer is confirmed:
I don't know how anyone could suggest the six cylinder engine was anyone's creation other than Henry Ford's. Malcomson, during his three years as president of Aerocar, did not produce a six. Henry Ford, as he did with the two cylinder, when many companies were building singles, and with the four cylinder B and NRS when most inexpensive cars were one and two cylinder, went where no one else had, and did it in an economical, light weight no frills way.
Ford according to Rob......
Semper Gumby Bud…keep tramping along that road of heresy! Always glad to read your findings and your conclusions based on deductive reasoning and other obscure artifacts surfacing now only because of your personal diligence. I have always agreed that Ford history was a bit of a whitewash based on what Henry wanted the breadcrumb trail to reveal. Ironically, or maybe purposeful, it was Henry himself who is quoted as saying, “History is bunk!”
I still don’t understand why “The Family” apparently commissioned the fact-finding on the K in the late 40’s under the guise of ‘a model in Fords history’. Only two possible reasons occur to me. Either they wanted everything blamed on Malcomson ‘proved’ with evidence from any quarter, or, they were trying to see if it really was worth amassing the credit to ole Henry for what the K experience really was.
As you have proved, the K provided the cash flow to build the company until the N hit critical mass even AFTER Malcomson had been asked to resign. This last evidence above having Wills working on a ‘6’ in 1904 that just didn’t get there according to maybe self-serving comments from Barthel is interesting. That Ford himself looked Barthel up is maybe a key point.
Should the story be true, Henry if resisting could have just let Wills continue to struggle and Ford could then shrug and the idea of the ‘Board’ wanting a 6 would be but a footnote as like the ‘X’ 20 years later it just died while still under the blankets. Barthel himself, although with Ford from racer days (and thus would have known Wills first-hand ability simply from association) apparently never trashed or dissed Wills other than this ‘needed help’ comment, yet in time was very vocal about Henry himself basically claiming that Henry couldn’t engineer his way out of a paper bag (my words) by Barthel claiming for history that at his best, “Henry Ford was a cut and try mechanic without any particular genius”.
History is written in the rear view mirror and have you ever asked yourself why in this quest for knowledge you never find any intertwining with Ransom E. Olds and what was going on with his own company? Someday if you find yourself bored or beating your head against the wall on Model K stuff…find a true and detailed history of Olds Motor Car how the guy with the brains got run over by the guy with the investment money…how claims and counter claims of each being narrow-minded and fickle…how Olds whether under Ransom or under Smith actually outsold Ford for years…and how….get ready for it…watch the rabbit in a hat…the Smith led Olds company brought out a 6 at just about the time ‘Henry changed his mind’
I think a time line of both companies when overlaid would provide interesting insight to the true marketing and design decisions made between both companies. Add to Henry’s sort of reported paranoia that led to stubbornness and we maybe see where his ‘genius’ really came from.