I mentioned on another thread I'd begin this. It's going to be a bit disjointed, as I start in the middle and may end on one end or the other with my take on the Ford six cylinder "enigma."
A few historical "givens."
1. Henry Ford "hated" the six cylinder engine.
2. Ford was "forced" by "majority owners" including Alexander Malcomson to build the six cylinder Model K.
3. Once Malcomson was "forced out" Henry Ford discarded the six cylinder car.
4. The six cylinder Model K experience was a financial and sales disaster.
Many of these topics have been covered, and in some areas opinions are changing. However, this might be a good opportunity to look at the above accepted "facts" and give my take one by one. To demonstrate how unorganized I am, I'll begin in the middle, 1908, the last year of production of a production Ford six cylinder car for decades to come.
Late 1907 news articles indicated Ford was ready to make the move Henry Ford had said he would since 1906, build an inexpensive touring car and taxi meter (town car). We were now into the second year with A.Y. Malcomson being long gone, and Henry Ford owning over 50 percent of FMC stock. In addition to announcing new models for 1908, Ford was also rumored to be building a "small six cylinder touring car."
Of course, this may have been speculation. Surely, without Malcomson "forcing" a six cylinder automobile, Henry Ford was finished with sixes for the foreseeable future. After all, history tells us Henry Ford hated the six cyllinder motor. And there's the "cows teats" analogy. Good thing Henry Ford didn't' grow up on a hog farm......they have 12 to 14 nipples....
more to follow.....
If Henry Ford himself had said it, it wouldn't be a "rumor". Also, whether the rumor was originated by Ford or not, and regardless of its validity, it did what was intended: it kept Ford in the headlines. Elon Musk does the same thing, so did Nikola Tesla. Not trying to argue with you, nor suggest Henry Ford's mindset one way or the other, just trying to put the article in context. Henry may have loved 6 cylinder cars, I don't know, but I'll bet he loved seeing his name in print even more.
Jerry, I believe it's obvious the media published many stories about new tangled motor cars and it stands to reason free publicity was and is better than paying for advertising that probably had less credibility. Ford surrounded himself with some of the best minds and talent in the industry (it seems) and that includes his publicity people.
With that said, Ford was not only rumored to be building a light six for 1908, they had at least one on the streets. And Henry Ford was seen driving it:
My point with this segment? As of 1908, Henry Ford didn't seem adamantly opposed to the six cylinder concept. Never mind that the Model K had indeed been a good seller and money maker, in fact leading new car profits in 1906. My guess is Ford initially considered continuing with a light six as well as the new Model T. However, Piquette, a new and large factory only a couple of years earlier, wasn't suited for the scope of production Henry Ford envisioned. Prior to 1909, Ford had produced two and three models each year since 1904. However, he had his universal platform, and no longer needed to push out different models, just different bodies with one chassis.
Fortunately, one of the light six cylinder cars, possibly the one Henry Ford was seen racing about Detroit with, still exists. An interesting feature, a place for an external magneto to be mounted. Could the Holley-Huff-Ford magneto used on the Model K been intended for the new model? Ford's patent for that magneto was granted in March, 1908:
Rob. Can you tell us where thr light six is located?
Dave, after one of THF sales, it sailed for Australia.
I know that I’m the only one who sees the “association” as I’m probably the only one who follows both marque in their early years.Take the written story about the six at Ford, change the brand to Olds, change the names to Olds and Smith and...bada bing...you have an unquestionable true story of Olds Motor Co...other than the arch villain at Olds was Smith who won the battle and suffered huge losses on that decision on their six, and Olds...the mechanical one took the hike!
I still wonder who and why “someone” commissioned the seeking at Ford of “the true story” circa 1948 and memorializing it from there?
Anyway, keep up the great work.
Didn't that six cylinder roadster resemble a Model S when it resided in the Henry Ford Museum?
Then, after it left the museum, wasn't it re-restored and made to look like a Model N as it appears now?
I've been trying to learn "when" the Ford Six became the "villain" in the Ford story. I think there are a couple of reason for this. Tomorrow I'll post a 1926 work I suspect took us down this slippery slope.
Yes, the small six was in an S style body. The present owner, who is well versed in early Ford history, felt it was a made up body, if I recall correctly. Maybe he'll join us with the story of how he resurrected this important piece of Ford evolutionary history.
Thank you Rob for starting this thread, I always like people talking about this car as it is very historic and I like to get history correct, and your study of the history is fantastic.
My name is Dave Dryden and I am the owner of the 6 cylinder Ford that is being spoken about.
When I brought this car in 1994 I got it home and found that the body and the fenders were badly made reproductions, so than I started looking for the history of this car spending months finding an information, and I found my first article on the experimental 6 cylinder and Rob has a copy of that above(from the Horseless age)when the Ford Motor Company talking about at the ACA car show with their new 6 cylinder "Runabout" will be built similar to the present 4 cylinder car of the same size, and with a pair of extra barrels.
So than I start thinking after seeing the runabout mentioned I start looking at the chassis, the first thing I noticed was it always had the holes for the early step plates in the frame as in 1906-1907 and someone had just cut the rivets off and bolted the 1908 Mother in Law running board brackets on the frame, it was so obviously done.
The next thing after looking at the chassis was the rear axle,the rear axle is a 1906-1907 rear axle with the bent rear radius rods.
Next was the brass oilier on the right side of the motor which is pressurized from the exhaust manifold which is the early style.
Next thing that puzzled me was the exhaust manifold,the exhaust manifold on this car is what is called an upside down manifold only used on the early K it proved to be a failure because of overheating the Holley magneto.
So with those 4 areas I just spoke about and quite a few other things telling me it was an early frame ,I decided that there needed to be an earlier body on this frame so I looked and looked until I found a very good original 1906-1907 Runabout body which than just bolted straight up to the frame perfectly.
That is basically that's why I did what I did
I am still always willing to learn more about this 6 cylinder, Rob Heyen has been a great help Thanks Rob, and anyone out there that can shed any more information please lets talk about it
Thank you for posting and clarifying about your remarkable six cylinder experimental model. It appears this survivor corroborates the articles that Henry Ford was looking at three models for 1908 initially, the Model T, the T taxicab/towncar (sometimes referred to as a Model W in early advertising) and a six cylinder NRS/T sized touring car. This in turn evolved into the T, with multiple body choices.
Regarding the problems with the early K exhaust manifold, it may be that the manifold location wasn't t entirely the problem (initially below the intake, just above the magneto). I recently uncovered a Reminiscence where a Ford employee found the magneto designed by Ed Huff used wax instead of shellac and the wax was melting, causing the magneto to fail after a short time. He immediately went to Huff's home (it was evening when he took apart a mag and discovered the problem). He went on to say he and Huff worked out the problem, using shellac, and the following day Ford began reaching out to all the early Model K owners, replacing their mag with the improved models. Ford Motor Company's first recall?
Really neat! A few details and facts here I had not seen before. Thank you David D (not Dunlavy), such an incredible car you have there! It looks wonderful how it is now.
And thank you again Rob H.