Some of you may have read parts of this "story" in the past. I thought it a good time to "touch it up" a bit.
Our Model N, with aftermarket changes, came to us through the late Greg Tocket. The car sat in a private collection, and it's whereabouts were known back to about 1947. When Greg first sent photos of the car, we weren't sure if it was an N, R or S. I wasn't too concerned, at the time with two small girls, I simply wanted an early brass Ford that would seat three, and this fit the bill.
I asked Greg what the engine number was, and not being overly familiar with Fords, he said it looked like possibly #402-3. After seeing photos of the engine, I quickly realized the "402" was a casting number.
Meanwhile, Hap Tucker was helping me sort through pics of the car, and he found a black and white photo that seemed to show the same, or very similar car. Neither of us knew where the photo was taken, or when, at that time. I bought the car, and then our research netted results.
It turns out this N was on the showroom floor at a new Ford dealership in 1925. Furthermore, the photo was taken by Albert Stone, a now well known photographer, and was included in a Rochester N.Y. article that indicated the N was "the third four cylinder model automobile to be manufactured by Henry Ford."
Below is the article, original 1925 photo, original and "colorized," and a photo of this N after restoration and pic of the engine number.
I added the Question Mark to the thread title, because a well known early Ford researcher believes N number 1, or the prototype N may still exist......
photos courtesy of the Rochester Library, all rights apply
(Message edited by Rob on February 08, 2018)
Sure looks like engine #3 to me! If you have a copy of Pate's early Ford book, check out page 07-3 and 07-4 for more info on numbers.
The N that I remember being in Anson county back close to 20 years ago was from a dealer in South carolina. The guy that owned it at the time had the engine overhauled and such but didn't take it out of the basement often. There was a picture of it on the assembly line he was able to verify because under the seat cushioning on the back of 1 of the seats was 75. And the photo showed a incomplete car with 75 on the seat.
The guy passed away about 7 years ago and I have not heard what happened to his collection. I helped transport a 33 B model truck to his house and was able to see the N.
I have a pic somewhere but it is a lousy 1 that I took because of lighting. There was a radiator in a scrap metal yards warehouse for a N but the last time I was there it was gone. Stayed there for several years.
That is a neat jack for moving the rear end around and I assume the whole around.
I also believe that either #1 or the prototype still exists. Somewhere I have a modern photo of the car that I believe is the prototype.
If you change the title to "Oldest Production Model N Ford" you've got it. Ok -- unless number #2 shows up. My second or third hand information about the Prototype N was it was sold during one of the Henry Ford Museum auctions. That it had several parts from the two cylinder cars (for example the round step plates show in the early 1906 photos) and the museum did not realize it was actually the prototype N. I do not know what serial number if any was stamped on the crank case. In my case all of that is at least 3rd or 4th hand by the time I was told.
In one of Trent's e-mails, he commented how the tooling was not necessarily set up for some of the early assembly. From memory (not as good as notes) I think it was Model N engine number 22 or some thing close to that number that he look over.
He said you could see the scribe marks on the back side of the inspection doors where the worker had drawn scribe marks to determine where to drill the holes for the bolts to fit through.
You clearly have the earliest Model N that is being toured with. And you do great job of supporting the hobby, our club, as well as keeping the Fords on the road. Thank you for all your support!
Hap l9l5 cut off
Mark, I do have Carl's book. It's a good reference for all things regarding early Fords through the 09 T. Carl references Trent Boggess' ledger recovery, and I recall N number 4 is included in an existing ledger. Unfortunately #3 isn't. As Carl mentions in his work, cars weren't sequential by this time, although for the most part one gets a good idea when a car was probably assembled and sent out based on the number.
When Trent looked at our N #3, he noticed some early pre-production features, including the front axle. I should record him going over the car if I ever have the opportunity again.
Neil, I believe others on the forum have mentioned these jacks, and how they work. I believe some similar types come up on ebay occasionally, and I agree, they would be hand to move a car around the shop.
Jerry, I bet we're talking about the same car (how many can there be? ). Maybe we can talk the person I heard from on this N will give us more information. He's often at Old Car Festival, so maybe we should ask him about it. If you find the photo, please post it if possible.
I noticed I colored the fenders the incorrect color, so corrected it below.
I always thought this was the prototype Model N, Here it is with Clara Ford and Merle Clarkson on Grand Boulevard, near the Piquette Plant.
It looks like the same automobile Henry Ford is sitting in at the Piquette Plant yard.
Jerry, is there a serial number on the Model N engine near the Secret Room? Isn't that thought to be the engine displayed in the Model N that was not operated at the New York Auto Show in January 1906?
What is the number on this one at the Henry Ford?:
The prototype, or #1, was the only N running and demonstrating during the late winter and early spring 1906 auto shows. This Cycle and Automobile article, August 1906, talks about the original N/demonstrator on the 8th page (magazine page number 115). At that time, the car is reported to have 30,000 miles on it.
I "colorized" this pic earlier tonight:
This photo appeared the the January 25, 1906 issue of "The Automobile." Louis Block is driving at the New York Auto show, and this is the demonstrator. Block is the driver through all the auto shows, while Frank Kulick is the Model K demonstrator.
There's a letter at THF Benson Library in which a potential buyer complains that Block won't try the Model N on any streets other than flat ones near the car show (I believe the Boston show), while Kulick is demonstrating the K on hills and rough roads. I believe the reason is, this is the only running, functional Model N, and Block doesn't dare have it break down with the automobile show circuit going.
It looks like the passenger may be the same person driving Henry Ford in the earlier photo:
I just noticed, look at the "semi-top" boot on the Detroit photos. It looks like a protector fastens over the folded top, and I suspect snaps to the back seat top fasteners and side curtain fasteners on the front top bow. Good idea to protect a lined top from wind and dust when the top is done. I had not noticed that before until looking at the color pic.
If you look at the water pump, you will see it is missing the outlet going to the engine blocks. A petcock is installed in that outlet and nether is there.From page 12 of Joe Galamb's oral history in The Henry Ford.