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139: 1907 Ford Model K Five-Passenger Touring

Lot 139 View Catalog

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Chassis #: 816

40 hp, 405 cu. in. L-head inline six-cylinder engine with Holley updraft carburetor, two-speed planetary transmission; internal expanding rear wheel mechanical brakes, lever operated. Wheelbase: 120"

- From the collection of Clyde Ensor, Sr.
- Spectacular example of Ford’s first six-cylinder luxury automobile
- Formerly in the Harrahs, Bemis and Anthony collections
- One of only about 25 known to exist

1906 marked the introduction of two vehicles from the fledgling Ford Motor Company. At one end of the spectrum was the low-price and ruggedly simple four-cylinder Model N. Entirely opposite was the large and luxurious six-cylinder Model K. The Model N listed for just $500, while the Model K, on the other hand, for $2,500 (raised to $2,800 for 1907). The Model K was the biggest Ford yet with a 2,500 lb curb weight and a 114" wheelbase (increased to 120" for 1907-1908 models), as well as being the first Ford to feature six-cylinder power.

Much of the car’s weight came from the big liquid-cooled 405-cu. in. inline six that featured an L-head design with a 4½" x 4¼" bore and stroke. Cylinders were individually cast in iron, and in an attempt to save weight, Chief Ford Engineer Childe Harold Wills (who later went on to produce the Wills-Sainte Claire automobile) specified an enormous 50-inch long cast aluminum crankcase. Producing 40 hp at 1,600 rpm and putting power to the ground via shaft drive, the big Model K was good for 60 miles per hour – very impressive for 1906.

According to expert Don Mates, the first public showing of the Model K is believed to have been held at the 1906 American Motor Car Manufacturer’s Association (AMCMA) Show held at the 69th Regiment Armory, Lexington Avenue and 25th Street, New York in mid-January, 1906. A Touring car was displayed along with a complete chassis “adorned with much polish and engine turning.” A similar showing followed in Chicago later in the month. 1906 production was pegged at just 350 chassis built by Dodge Brothers on a 112-inch wheelbase. Total Ford production for the model year was 8,828 units, continuing a trend which would see Model Ks built in limited numbers throughout its three-year production run.

Ford advertising stated, “The whole six cylinders inspire the driver with the confidence that there is an enormous latent energy in this motor, ready for any new demand without overloading the motor, making it the easiest controlled and most flexible automobile ever built.” The Model K, available in either a Five-Passenger Touring car or sporty Runabout called the 640, was everything Henry Ford abhorred in an automobile and everything his company investors Alexander Malcomson and Charles Bennett wanted. It was easy to understand the choice of a smooth operating six-cylinder engine for a luxury automobile and for the Ford director’s enthusiasm for the Model K, given that approximately half of U.S. auto sales were priced at the K’s level or even higher.

The company’s 1907 catalog boldly stated that the Model K offered “the silence of an electric with the simplicity and economy of the gasoline motor.” But the car was far and away from Henry Ford’s ideal for a “car for the multitudes,” costing five times what he thought his company’s products should. Ford was selling all the Model Ns it could build and, at the same time, a smattering of Model Ks. Ford dealers were forced to take a Model K for every 10 Model Ns they ordered. The ensuing debate over the direction of the Ford Motor Company and the future of the Model K would ultimately lead to the departure of cofounder Malcomson from the company. But as they say, that’s another story! The Model K remained in production though October 1908 when it was discontinued in favor of the Model T, the car that Mr. Ford envisioned. Ford would not produce another six-cylinder automobile until 1941.

This spectacular Model K is currently part of the Clyde Ensor, Sr. Collection and was formerly part of the Harrah’s Collection in Nevada. Other noted owners include Elmer Bemis and Warren Anthony. Expert Don Mates, in a March 1st, 1989 letter to Mr. Ensor, stated that, “This car was used on several Glidden Tours in the 1950s by Mr. Bemis, driving to and from as well (as much as 1000 miles each way). Beautiful re-restoration by Harrah’s.”

Resplendent in a handsome combination of dark blue with cream pinstriping, black interior, and black canvas top, this is a very imposing vintage automobile. Brass trim is prevalent including the radiator, lights, cowl, horn, brake lever, gear shift handle, wheel hubs and steering column, all of which appear to be in good condition. It is fitted with a brass Prest-O-Lite tank mounted on the driver side running board. The black canvas roof fits beautifully and is lined with red cloth, and the black tufted leather seats are presentable. Some cracking is evident in the paint, particularly on the passenger side door, while the engine bay is impressive as is the wood trim, which is likewise excellent. In all, a remarkable vehicle considering the restoration is decades old. It is thought to be one of just 25 known to exist. This is a spectacular automobile certainly to be the centerpiece of any Brass Era collection of early vehicles.

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Estimate $275,000 – $375,000
Starting Bid $130,000

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7:00 PM - Aug 12, 2010
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