As the first decade of the twentieth century drew to a close Henry Ford faced a watershed. His big Model K 40hp six-cylinder luxury car cost $2,500 and enjoyed success among the wealthy, a clientele that included his original financial backer, Alexander Malcolmson.
Ford's vision was an automobile produced in large quantities with interchangeable parts that enjoyed economies of scale and could be sold for $500 or less.
Financial maneuvering eliminated Malcolmson from the Ford Motor Company at the same time Ford introduced the Model N in 1906. It had a 149 cubic inch 15hp four-cylinder engine, 2-speed planetary transmission, shaft drive and transverse leaf spring suspension, design features that led directly to the Model T introduced in 1909.
The Ford Model N was, by the standards of the time, a huge sales success, reportedly selling some 8,000 of the Model N and its derivatives in the twelve months after its introduction. Ford took advantage of the Model N's success by introducing a better equipped version, the Model R.
Mechanically the same as the Model N, it had full running boards, a mechanical engine oiling system and three inch tires. Ford upped the price 25% (from $600 to $750) for the Model R, taking full advantage of the market's strong demand.
This 1907 Ford Model R Runabout is a quality older restoration painted dark green with black fenders and white coachline accents, white rubber running boards and Ford script floor mat, black button-tufted leather upholstery and a black leatherette folding top lined in maroon cloth.
Cream wood spoke wheels mount a set of white rubber Firestone 'Non-Skid' tires. Righthand drive, as were all Fords at the time, it is well equipped with brass including the radiator shell, steering column mounted horn and E&J cowl-mounted kerosene lights.
The two seat body has a boattail rear deck with side-hinged hatch covers for access to a small storage compartment. The restoration was very correct and thorough to begin with and has aged well so the Model R runs and drives well today.
The Ford Model N and R mark the beginning of the realization of Ford's dream of automobile mass production at prices affordable by every farmer and workman. Much more rare and individualistic than the later Model Ts, it is an important milestone that will be a prized possession and enjoyable car for tours and events.