Tricounty News

27th Antique Car Run Aug. 10

About the Ford Model K

Henry Ford early on was involved in building and racing large cars. He did so in an effort to learn and demonstrate what worked and what failed. His goal was to become, in a crowded field of automobile manufacturers, a recognized name and force.

The first cars Henry made for sale to the public were small two-cylinder eight-horsepower cars in 1903. He identified his first automobile as a Model A. During the next couple of years the cars got slightly larger and slightly more horsepower. In 1906, Ford introduced the Model K. It, compared to earlier Fords as well as most other cars on the market, was a very large and prestigious automobile. It was just shy of eight feet tall, had a wheel base of 120 inches, six cylinders (most autos at the time had two or four) which created 405 cubic inches (big even by today’s standards), developed 40 horsepower and was guaranteed to reach at least 60 miles per hour.

The price for the Model K was $2,500 without the top or windshield, and $2,800 with these items. It proved to be a bit of a stumbling block. Starting in 1906 and for a period of about 30 months nearly 1,000 Model K’s were produced and sold. Records show that the Model K was a significant contributor to Ford’s profitability.

Today there are about 25 Model Ks known to exist. Most are in private collections and museums as far away as Australia. Up until the past few years, Model Ks were almost never seen out and about. That all changed when Timothy Kelly of Connecticut traveled to the fabled Pebble Beach Car Show and Auction in 2010 with the intention of purchasing the well known Model K that was being sold. He accomplished the mission and promptly repurposed his Model K, as it had been a static display in museums since the late 1950s. In 2011, Timothy brought his Model K from Connecticut to participate in the 25th Anniversary running of the New London to New Brighton Run. His Model K performed well and made it to the finish line without encountering any problems.

While participating in the 2011 NLNB, and the Early Ford Registry event that was held in Paynesville a few days before the NLNB, Timothy met Rob Heyen, a fellow Ford collector from Nebraska. Rob became fascinated with Timothy’s Model K and decided that he too needed one. Both Timothy and Rob were aware of one that, although not actively for sale, could be purchased with some arm twisting. Rob was able to make a deal and took his “new” Model K straight to a well-known antique Ford guru, Dean Yoder in Iowa. Dean restored the car mechanically. While that exercise was underway, Rob had the body and upholstery work completed. Last year Rob brought his Model K to the NLNB event. It was driven on the Run by Dean and Timothy. The car performed perfectly, as did the 1906 Ford Model N that Rob drove on the Run.

We are expecting both Rob and Timothy to bring their Model K Fords to New London in a few weeks for this year’s Run. If the stars align properly, it will be the first time that two Model K Fords have participated in the NLNB Run at the same time.