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Model K Ford Question


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We used to have a pair of Model K's her in Texas. The roadster -- recently sold out of state -- was known to run 60 MPH back in the early 1960s.

 

I was on a Glidden Tour a few years back with a couple of Model K's and was told by others that they were running 50 MPH at times.

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Not to take away from the original posters question but I grew up in Virden, Il and my dad and a couple of other fellows from Virden belonged to the Jacksonville, Il antique car club. There was a member of the club, Emory Funk, that was a huge Model T and very early Ford collector. I believe that he had a model K. Emory was a bachelor so after his death his collection was sold at auction. Late 50’s early 60’s timeframe. Does anyone remember Emory and maybe knows what happened to his Model K. 

 

Thanks,

 

Gary

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Gary,

According to this 1988 article, Emory Funk owned a 1906 Model N Ford.  I have a list of former Model K owners and was unable to find his name among those names.  Thank you for your post, Rob

 

 

0EE0CBB8-75DA-4A1F-AED3-E2B62CE92ECB.jpeg

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Bob, I just reread your post, and have a question too.  What possessed you to use the photo of Frank Kulick seated in the largest of the Ford Special racers as your profile photo?  I just finished the second of two articles about the Ford Special racers (1910-1912) for the Model T Times.  

 

The other Bemis K, a 1907 Roadster, was originally sold in Omaha, to the Storz Brewing family sons, Arnold and Adolph.  It remained in Nebraska until about 1940, when it was sold to a collector back east.  Originally it was red, and now resides at Sacramento Auto Museum (?).  It was formerly in the Towe collection.  The motor number was 808 (still has original #808 transmission frame), but the crankcase #808 was swapped our with Bemis’ (and Harrah’s) touring car, so now it possesses #816 crankcase while #816 K touring crankcase is a replacement without a number.  (Getting down in the weeds......   :) ).

 

another photo of the 1911-12 Ford Special racer.  This racer beat the Blitzen Benz in a match one mile race in September, 1911, wearing this number “5:”

 

 

EF988B1D-9ECC-4946-8C57-6D279CE7104D.png

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  • 6 months later...
On 7/20/2020 at 3:42 PM, jrbartlett said:

We used to have a pair of Model K's her in Texas. The roadster -- recently sold out of state -- was known to run 60 MPH back in the early 1960s.

 

I was on a Glidden Tour a few years back with a couple of Model K's and was told by others that they were running 50 MPH at times.


That car - is not in Texas anymore 😉

 

4E50CAE6-2342-43A0-AA59-DB0A4F166AE9.jpeg.1b382f93c5fe8109530a0eab8f16d9d3.jpeg
 

It is my personal favorite Ford Model K

 

It is probably the closest Ford Model K

to original condition that exists in the

world.

 

I was honored to view it Las Fall up 

close along with other spectacular early examples at an undisclosed location.

 

Jim

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Actually, the car was "restored" in the early 1960s to the standards of the day at the time down here in the southwest. It was originally black. I've seen photos taken before the restoration by then-owner Karl Binner, who was a friend of my father.   

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20 minutes ago, Trulyvintage said:

I always find it interesting when folks who have apparently never actually seen a car - make comments.

 

I have inspected this car closely

last October 🧐

 

 

Jim

 

Thank you, any close up photos of the wheels? 

 

Bob 

20 minutes ago, Trulyvintage said:

D919D314-2AB7-4942-B44E-235928478481.thumb.jpeg.f7fc919e4e6e017f6de18aaebaca66a3.jpeg

 

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7 hours ago, Trulyvintage said:

I always find it interesting when folks who have apparently never actually seen a car - make comments.

 

I have inspected this car closely

last October 🧐

 

 

Jim

 

D919D314-2AB7-4942-B44E-235928478481.thumb.jpeg.f7fc919e4e6e017f6de18aaebaca66a3.jpeg

 

Trulyvintage, I believe Mr. Barlett gave some valid historical information regarding the car you inspected.  Why do you think your inspection invalidates his comments?  Factual, historical information regarding our old cars is important to the "story" and to help authenticate what we know or have heard.  The fact that he saw "before" pictures is very cool and if I owned this car I would be interested in talking to him.  Besides, I don't think turquoise was the original color for this car.

Edited by modela28 (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, modela28 said:

 

Trulyvintage, I believe Mr. Barlett gave some valid historical information regarding the car you inspected.  Why do you think your inspection invalidates his comments?  Factual, historical information regarding our old cars is important to the "story" and to help authenticate what we know or have heard.  The fact that he saw "before" pictures is very cool and if I owned this car I would be interested in talking to him.  Besides, I don't think turquoise was the original color for this car.

 

Neither are the wheels, but I've only seen five K's up close and personal. Bob 

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Actually, I did more than see it. I pulled it out of the owner's garage and trailered it for display at the 50th Texas Tour, held in Waco, Texas, in the early 2000s. It was non-running at the time, and we wouldn't have known how to start it anyway. We tried polishing the brass, but it was too tarnished to make much progress in the little time we had. Also trailered it back home. 

 

I personally saw the K driven on the 1964 Texas Tour in Kerrville, Texas, but don't recall it from any subsequent tours.

 

I considered buying it a few years ago, but I'd already acquired what I felt was a full stable and didn't need another car. 

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This is a truly remarkable thread concerning a truly remarkable car. My question, which might answer itself, is why did Ford drop the model K from production, seeing that it was a very successful effort. Either the car wasn't making enough money for the company, or Ford dropped it to concentrate on the model T. One would think Ford would keep the production of a proven model that was selling well and a good performer. I saw a black model K at Hershey around 1990. It was parked on the outside row backed up to the house that used to set across from the school. I was told the old saw that the weakness was in the transmission. It is a fairly large car but had a model T transmission. The transmission was just too small for the car, which made it impractical to drive. This was from the owner at the time. I didn't pay any attention to who he was, I was only interested in the car. I wonder if the statement concerning the transmission is true, depending on road conditions. Driving on rough roads would be much different from smooth race tracks or modern roads. Also, experience could play a role in whether the transmission holds up well or not.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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Ford didn't get along with the rich bankers that wanted him to make large cars for the rich. He wanted to build something  such as what turned into the model T for the masses. Also the model K had a weak transmission that was a problem for buyers. I would have one if it was a gift!

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Rob Heyen has done a tremendous amount of research into the model K Ford, and he is a quite gifted researcher. Most of the 'bad' history about the K was written by biographers in the 1930s and '40s. Some of those biographers were self appointed, and did not look at any actual history or facts. A lot of what Rob has found has been shared freely over the past several years on the MTFCA forum site as well as the Early Ford Registry's forum. Actual newspaper and magazine clippings have been posted on the MTFCA site.

In short, Henry's ultimate goal from the beginning was to build automobiles for the masses. There is a quote of him saying so from about 1904 if I recall correctly. But what ALL historians and history buffs NEED to remember is to put all historic facts into a proper historical context! So much of what we today take for granted as common knowledge, was simply not known in 1904! Henry Ford himself as well as hundreds of other people like him had to figure those things out. To that end, Henry put a lot of effort into racing. In addition to developing the technology, racing helped both as publicity for the general public, and to attract needed investors to fund the experiments. Henry's first two attempts to form a manufacturing company basically failed, as development wasn't far enough along to build what Henry considered a viable product. It is important to note, the second corporate attempt became Cadillac after the investors forced Henry out for being too stubborn to begin production.

Another tact in development, was in fact building both of the larger models. The four cylinder model B in 1904/'05 and the model K which came out in 1906 and continued through 1908. Many of the technical details that made the model T famous as one of the most successful automobile models in all automotive history were first used on those two larger production models. The first model Ford to use the torque tube driveline was the model B Ford in 1904. And the model K's basic rear end design looks remarkably like the model T's final design that showed up nearly ten years later in 1915! Many other things, suspension, steering, and yes transmissions were also improved and proven on the two earlier larger model cars.

 

History recorded that the model K Ford was a loser, and lost money. Rob accessed Ford's board meeting minutes from the (by any name) Benson Ford Archive, and found it well recorded that the model K was actually the most profitable model Ford built before the model T! But, it was not the car Henry wanted to build. A simple look at the timelines also found that the 'evil' A Y Malcomson was pushed out of Ford management about a year before production began on the model K. Malcomson had committed a serious no-no by investing his money in a competing automobile company (the Aerocar) which failed after only a few years. Henry had leveraged to buy out Malcomson, and at that point had controlling interest in the Ford Motor Company. He didn't have to build any car model he didn't want to.

As for being a loser in the marketplace? It was the largest selling six cylinder automobile in the world at that time! Again, in "context of its day". One cannot compare the sales figures for a six cylinder car of 1906 when only a handful of companies worldwide manufactured any significant number of sixes, with sales figures of even 1910 when dozens of major producers offered them. The model K was very profitable. It cost only about twice as much to produce as the N/R/S models did, but sold for three times as much! Those profits enabled Henry Ford to buy the land needed for the new Highland Park factory, and begin building what would in just a few years be the largest manufacturing plant in the world!

 

So why didn't Henry continue to build the model K? Conjecture. Nobody can do everything. It was recorded, that as Henry was teasing the upcoming model T along about late 1907 and early 1908, that he said the model K would be continued to be produced. Henry in his prime was as close to a superman as any mortal ever was. This Henry was the great man, that a few years later was paying the highest wages in the industry, and provided health care to his employees and their immediate families out of his own pocket (no government or union made him do that!). This Henry should not be confused with the bitter old man so hated by many historians. In those years, from about 1907 through about 1913, Henry was doing more than almost any man ever. He had organized and formed what had just become the largest automobile manufacturing company in the world! He managed the design and implementation of the car that "put the world on wheels" model T which hit the market late in 1908. He had become one of the best known race car builders and drivers, holding numerous world records. He managed the design and building of Highland Park, with plans of the largest moving assembly line the world had ever seen before. That alone was said to be impossible. But Henry did it. From 1910 through 1912, with Frank Kulick again, they went back into racing, and among numerous wins on tracks and hill-climbs, beat the fastest car in the world, just to prove they could. 

The Highland Park plant, was the biggest venture of them all. Buildings were being completed as quickly as they could, and needing out of the Piquette plant, production was moved to Highland Park during 1909. There really wasn't enough time or room to continue production of the model K.

 

Thank you Rob.

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An additional consideration about the transmission's 'weakness'. Again, things need to be considered in the context of its time. Transmissions were the weak area on almost all automobiles during those years. Materials and basic designs changed rapidly. Almost any three years saw great improvements in all forms of transmissions used then.

Remember. The 'around the world' Thomas Flyer had to replace their transmission before they finished crossing the first continent.

 

Another consideration about how the model K was perceived in its day? Was resale prices when the cars were only a couple years old. Model Ks, which originally sold for considerably less than other six cylinder cars of the day, sold for considerably more than those competition cars did after three or four years. So they held their value quite well. In the mid 1910s, model K Fords were still being resold years after the competing cars were parked for the last time. It would seem that the people of the day thought they were alright. Henry Ford himself kept one for his personal use until at least 1918. And he could afford any car he could want, and did own several other fine cars for himself and his family. So how is it it is said he hated them so much?

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Thanks Wayne, I always enjoy your history lessons. I'll always wonder if that red bucket seat above was in a Kulick car, it did come out of the Henry Ford in an auction years ago. Bob 

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Bob, It could be possible that it could have been in one of the Ford 'Specials' Henry had built. Rob has also done quite a lot of research into that short added racing history of Ford. It began about 1910, Henry asked one of his experimental engineers (I think it was Joe Galamb?) to build a car that would beat the Blitzen Benz, the fastest racing car in the world at that time. So a team was assembled, and designs and drawings made. The actual number of cars built is not known for certain. However, at least five, and maybe as many as seven cars were built. Much of the work was done in secret, and several of the cars were thought by the public to have been basically model T Ford chassis, which to some extent, they all were. One of the cars had a smaller bore and stroke than the model T actually did. This was so that the car could compete in races restricted to smaller displacement than the Ford standard model T.

There were several larger than model T displacement engines custom built, sizes to qualify for different racing categories. I don't offhand recall the sizes, they ranged from about 200 cid on up to the one in your forum avatar had a 410 cubic inch displacement.

One of the five known cars was sent to Henri Depasse, the Ford dealer in France, to race in European events. That car was destroyed in a crash at a pre-race trial. Then rebuilt no doubt using many standard model T chassis pieces and modifying to fit the custom larger engine. (So MUCH interesting history! This is a quick short version!)

All of the Ford 'Special' racers were set up for quick changes to better compete in different events. They had both large and small gasoline tanks so that the lighter smaller tank could be used in a shorter hill climb, then switched to the larger tank for a couple hundred mile race. They also could be set up with one seat, or two, and a single seat could be mounted center or kept to the usual left side (I have seen photos of the cars both ways!). They also had sets of wheels so that a car could run either wire or wooden spoke wheels. There are several photos of the cars showing a mix of wire and wood wheels being run on a single car. There has been speculation that the sometimes wanted speedometer may have had the driving gear on only the wood wheel. Why that could be I do not know. But few if any photos seem to show the speedometer on the car with four wire wheels. Several photos exist showing the speedometer in place with the right front wheel being wood with the gear, and the other three wheels being wire. So who knows?

 

Anyway, seats were often changed around on the Ford 'Specials'. Therefore, it stands to reason that there may have been a few extra seats used from time to time.

 

I have often commented on forums that "In my next life, I want to come back as Frank Kulick!" Maybe, just maybe, you have a seat that Frank Kulick has sat in!?

 

In addition to the 410 cid car (your avatar) still existing at The Henry Ford (not on display however), another of the large Ford Special engines still exists. It was sold out during one of the infamous sales about thirty to forty years ago. It changed hands a couple times, until a collector began faithfully recreating the chassis using correct period model T parts. In addition to having owned two very nice model K automobiles, Rob Heyen a couple years ago bought the unfinished Ford 'Special' project. After so much researching into Ford's racing history, he was able to finish the restoration/recreation of the Ford 'Special'. Now (once this virus stuff fades away a bit), people will again be able to hear and feel the power of Ford's early racing history.

 

Henri Depasse of France driving the rebuilt French Ford 'Special'.

(Photo harvested from any of dozens of website postings)

 

 

IMG_1323jpg, Henri Depasse.PNG

Edited by wayne sheldon
I hate leaving typos! (see edit history)
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Bob, I actually have that photo, clipped from a different magazine (in French!), and harvested from another website. Also another famous shot of Depasse on one of the greatest hill-climbs in Europe at the time (another magazine clipping).

It may be fitting to also show the wrecked Ford 'Special'. Depasse survived. However, the riding mechanic was killed! Automobile racing in those days was not for the wimps or squeamish. It was only about two months for the wrecked car to be ready to race again.

I have a couple thousand photos harvested from the internet. Most have been posted numerous times and on many websites. They are not well organized. I often have trouble finding the picture I want. I mostly use them for my personal research, looking for historic details. I do share them occasionally as learning tools. 

 

I suppose we should let this thread wander back to the wonderful model K!

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