Here are a handful of great cars from the Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village this past weekend that were worthy of circling back for a second look.
Actually, the premise of this story is a complete fudge. In truth, every car at the annual Old Car Festival is worthy of closer examination. You could easily spend the afternoon with every single vehicle on the property—each one has such a long, rich history to tell. These five cars simply illustrate why the Old Car Festival is one of our favorite vintage car shows.
In 1904, Oldsmobile introduced the successor to its popular curved-dash model, the Model N, also known as the “French Front” Olds. The single-cylinder engine was still mounted horizontally under the seat, but up front there was now a false hood that housed the fuel and water tanks, and a steering wheel replaced the old-fashioned tiller. With 5508 units sold, Olds was America’s largest automaker in 1904. This Model N Touring Runabout is owned by Don Tyler.
Ford’s N, R, and S Models of 1906 through 1908 were virtually identical in mechanical specification, but offered progressively more elaborate road gear. Bruce Balough’s 1908 Model S, shown here, is identified by its full fenders, aprons, and running boards. The Model N, R, and S Fords can be seen as the field prototypes for the 1909 Model T, edging ever closer to Henry Ford’s ideal of a universal car. The little 149 CID, 16 hp engine was a 3/4-scale version of the indestructible inline four that would power 15 million Model Ts.
In 1912, the Willys-Overland Co. of Toledo, Ohio, 60 miles south of Detroit, was the number-two automaker in the USA, second only to Ford with more than 28,500 vehicles produced. Its flagship model that year was the impressive Overland 61T with 45 hp engine, 118-inch wheelbase, and full appointments. Gerald Szostak brought this gorgeous example.
In his seminal 1964 book, My Years With General Motors, one of the few vehicles CEO Alfred P. Sloan discusses in detail is the Chevrolet Superior K of 1925, a critical product for the company. The Copper-Cooled debacle of 1923 had left Chevrolet one full production cycle behind the field, but with advanced features and a chassis engineered for closed bodies, the Series K shot past the aging Ford Model T. This 1926 K sedan is owned by Linda Finch.
In Ford lore, the six-cylinder Model K of 1906-08 is often described as a high-priced luxury car, but that might not be totally accurate. With a price of $2500 and a 405 CID, 40-hp engine, the K was more of a mid-priced hot rod, offering great bang for the buck. The big six was discontinued after 900 units were built, allowing Ford to focus on his low-price, high-volume vision.