For many people, it appears that Henry Ford and his eponymous company sprang to life in 1908 when the first Ford Model T was completed. In truth, Ford had a few false starts, a few missteps, and a few re-directs before the ubiquitous T. The first commercially viable Ford arrived in July 1903. The “Model A” (not to be confused with the other Model A of the late 20s) became the first Ford car produced in any significant volume. A total of 1,700 examples were built, selling for $750 each. A veritable alphabet-soup of Ford cars followed, with the Models B, C, F, K, N, R, and S coming out in the next few years, each with varying degrees of success. The B and K were relatively large, expensive cars aimed at the luxury market. These models, particularly the K, reflected the wishes of Ford backer Alexander Young Malcolmson and flew in the face of Henry Ford’s vision for inexpensive mass-market autos. The Model B offered a powerful 24-horsepower four-cylinder engine and an eye-watering $2,000 price tag. The big six-cylinder Model K was also pricey, leaving the showroom for a whopping $2,500 in 1906. Henry Ford had little interest in the high end of the market – a distaste that bordered on disdain.
After buying out Malcolmson in 1906, Ford was finally free to pursue his vision of a car for everyman, which is where the Model N enters the picture. The same year that Malcolmson departed from the Ford Motor Company, the first Model N rolled out of the company’s Piquette Avenue Plant. Priced at a relatively modest $500, the Model N was powered by a 149cid inline four-cylinder engine producing 15 horsepower, it was aimed clearly at Oldsmobile’s aging Curved Dash, which was the segment leader, but not for long. Ford offered the car only as a runabout roadster, featuring a conventional front-engine layout, two seats, and a handy rear storage deck with a folding lid. The Model N had the Goldilocks effect for Ford, proving to be reliable, the right size, and the right value – paving the way for the runaway success of the Model T just a few years later.
This 1906 Model N is a charming early Ford, finished in a cheerful livery of bright red with black steel mudguards, a red chassis, and abundant brightly polished brass fittings. It is in excellent condition, suitable for show or tour with groups such as the Horseless Carriage Club, and is highly collectible for Ford and early motoring enthusiasts. The restoration is faithfully executed to a high standard, with superb detailing of the body and chassis. The red artillery wheels wear bright white pneumatic tires. The seat is upholstered in dark green button-tufted leather, and there is a superb roadster top finished in leather and fully lined in red fabric to complement the body. Other details include brass Ford-script step plates, a side-mounted brass acetylene generator and beautiful Solar brass lamps carriage lamps and headlamps.
Under the hood is found the 149 cubic-inch inline-four, which is tidy and well-presented with period-correct fittings and wiring. The little Ford is in excellent mechanical order and runs well, having been usefully updated with a 12V battery and electric starter/generator for ease of use while touring.
The brass-era Ford Model N is a rare and appealing precursor to the ubiquitous Model T, as well as a fascinating piece of early Ford Motor Company history. This splendid example is sure to be a head-turner and a conversation starter wherever it takes its next custodian.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7513
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