Monday, October 8, 2012

Ford Model K Update

by Willy Vinton, Manager
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

We recently moved the 1907 Ford Model K 6-40 roadster (#714) into the shop to tune her up for a drive. The Model K is a great looking car and VERY fast. In fact, I must admit it's scary to open her up on the road. While the Model K may be capable of pushing 70 mph, I chose to keep her under 40 on the test drive. This car is a great example of what early manufacturers were capable of designing in their push to outdo the other builders by adding more power and speed to their models.

Henry Ford, however, did not want to produce such a car, and Model K production only lasted two years. It was expensive and a challenge to drive and maintain, unlike the "car for the masses" Henry envisioned. As you can see from this picture, even the ignition system on this car would scare the novice driver of the day. Only 900 Ford Model Ks were produced, and less than 25 are known to still exist, of which only 10 are roadsters.

This particular car had suffered a poor restoration in the past and we are still working to fix some problems (e.g., retarding the spark lever for starting retards the timer for the coils, but also advances the magneto, bolts tend to fall off when the car runs, and so forth). I'm also thinking that the engine was in need of a rebuild when it was "restored." As you can see from the smoke, it requires some attention as well. We've fixed some of these problems and hopefully this winter we will make significant progress on the others.

With its long hood and low profile, the Model K roadster was a forerunner to the better-known, big-engined sports cars yet to come (like the Mercer Raceabout and Stutz Bearcat).  Ford raised the performance bar with this car and it is an important piece of American automobile history, and a fine addition to our museum. Keep watching for more updates.

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