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Old 08-01-2013, 02:16 PM   #1
Steve Plucker
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Default The true history on Edison's Model A...

Does anyone know the true history of the Model A Ford that Henry gave to Edison?

No he said/she said things about it but is there any written or published articles about the deal when it actually took place?

I would think the press would of been all over it as it was with other things during that time.

I know we have been beating this to a pulp but if anyone is aware of the transaction and when it actually took place, please let us know.

Thanks.

Pluck
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Old 08-01-2013, 02:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

http://books.google.com/books?id=Sj9...20ford&f=false

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...9QEwBA&dur=598

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Old 08-01-2013, 03:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

That's an interesting read, but I wonder what official Ford documentation the author used for reference. The whole problem with the "Edison got the first Model A" scenario is that, going off of the engine release log, the first car to be built should have been *A14*, and engine *A1* wasn't sent to the line until a week or ten days later. That's why Pluck asked the question he did, because neither of us has ever seen any actual concrete proof (such as internal Ford memos, title history, etc.) that would prove Edison actually received the car with engine number *A1*. I'm not implying that the proof doesn't exist, just that neither of us has seen it. Lots of stories about "Oh yeah, everybody knows Edison got the first Model A, cause I read it in a book somewhere..", but no verifiable proof that I've seen.

Taken at face value, "Edison got the first Model A" could just mean that he was gifted a new Model A before anyone else got theirs, before they actually went on sale to the general public. It could also mean that he received the first car off the line (which according to the engine shop foreman's logs should have been *A14*), or it could mean that he did indeed receive the car with engine number *A1*. That's what we're trying to determine.
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

Sure. I just did a quick search and this is what I found. As Pluck noted, there should be some information somewhere in a period publication about this. Maybe Ford or the Henry Ford Museum could help.
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

The car Edison received is on display at the new Model A Museum. The hood is open and a spotlight is shining on the A1 stamped on the motor. Posted nearby is the famous picture of Henry applying the stamp. The display car is a phaeton, which would agree with the history cited above. The informational plaque indicates that no effort was made to maintain the originality of the car over the years that the Edison family used it (imagine! Thomas Edison, or family members, tinkered with an old Ford--who'd a thunk?).

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Old 08-01-2013, 06:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

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Originally Posted by steve s View Post
The car Edison received is on display at the new Model A Museum. The hood is open and a spotlight is shining on the A1 stamped on the motor. Posted nearby is the famous picture of Henry applying the stamp. The display car is a phaeton, which would agree with the history cited above. The informational plaque indicates that no effort was made to maintain the originality of the car over the years that the Edison family used it (imagine! Thomas Edison, or family members, tinkered with an old Ford--who'd a thunk?).

Steve
Both are true statements, but if you'll compare the length of the number pad in the photo to the length of the number pad on the engine in the car you'll see that they are different lengths. As a point of reference, the bolt spacing of the two water inlet bolts is 2 3/8", center to center, so it's obvious that the engine in the photo has a 2" number pad whereas the engine in the car is 2 3/4". The fact of the matter is, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the engine in the car is restamped. The car on display may or may not be the morphed version of the one originally gifted to Mr. Edison, and I do understand that it was updated by Ford Motor Company (and possibly by Edison's people as well) over the years, but that isn't the debate here. What's in question is whether or not Mr. Edison actually received the car with engine number *A1* (versus some other low number), and the fact that a car with an engine stamped *A1* is being displayed as his doesn't prove anything because that engine is absolutely, positively, I'll run nekkid through Central Park if I'm wrong, NOT an October 1927 engine.

Fact is, if I were willing to deface one of my good original 4 digit blocks I could have an engine stamped *A1* before the sun sets tonight, but it doesn't make it original.

Perhaps the engine had been changed by the time the car was returned to Ford Motor Company in 1943, so what documentation did the restorers use to determine that *A1* was actually the correct number to stamp on the block other than just "Well, it's gotta be A1 cause that's what I've always heard"? So we're back to the original question.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlshady View Post
That's an interesting read, but I wonder what official Ford documentation the author used for reference. The whole problem with the "Edison got the first Model A" scenario is that, going off of the engine release log, the first car to be built should have been *A14*, and engine *A1* wasn't sent to the line until a week or ten days later. That's why Pluck asked the question he did, because neither of us has ever seen any actual concrete proof (such as internal Ford memos, title history, etc.) that would prove Edison actually received the car with engine number *A1*. I'm not implying that the proof doesn't exist, just that neither of us has seen it. Lots of stories about "Oh yeah, everybody knows Edison got the first Model A, cause I read it in a book somewhere..", but no verifiable proof that I've seen.

Taken at face value, "Edison got the first Model A" could just mean that he was gifted a new Model A before anyone else got theirs, before they actually went on sale to the general public. It could also mean that he received the first car off the line (which according to the engine shop foreman's logs should have been *A14*), or it could mean that he did indeed receive the car with engine number *A1*. That's what we're trying to determine.
The reason I ask is because Edison's car just may have come from the Kearny assembly plant and not Fordson...And if that was the case, it sure was not any of those engines that went to final assembly at Fordson (Dearborn), for which we have a record of, but Kearny. This includes A1 and A14.

I know I may be farting in the wind here...been known to do that once in a while, and it could of been just a "photo shot" but contained in the February 1, 1928 issue of Ford News Vol. 8 Number 6, is a photo of Thomas Edison, in a Tudor Sedan and the caption reads "Thomas A. Edison in the first Model A to be built at the Kearny plant".

Unfortunatly...that is all it says about it...BUT...It is "the first Model A to be built..." just not at Fordson (Dearborn).

So...If this is the case, maybe someone near Kearny or there abouts could do some research in the old area newspapers...maybe...just maybe!

Hmmmmmmm...I wonder?!

Pluck
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Plucker View Post
The reason I ask is because Edison's car just may have come from the Kearny assembly plant and not Fordson...And if that was the case, it sure was not any of those engines that went to final assembly at Fordson (Dearborn), for which we have a record of, but Kearny. This includes A1 and A14.

I know I may be farting in the wind here...been known to do that once in a while, and it could of been just a "photo shot" but contained in the February 1, 1928 issue of Ford News Vol. 8 Number 6, is a photo of Thomas Edison, in a Tudor Sedan and the caption reads "Thomas A. Edison in the first Model A to be built at the Kearny plant".

Unfortunatly...that is all it says about it...BUT...It is "the first Model A to be built..." just not at Fordson (Dearborn).

So...If this is the case, maybe someone near Kearny or there abouts could do some research in the old area newspapers...maybe...just maybe!

Hmmmmmmm...I wonder?!

Pluck
Somewhere, within the last couple days, I read that Edison returned his car to Ford for the body swap and didn't receive it back until May 1928 because Ford was so busy getting production up to speed. (Might have been at the link posted above by mhsprecher) If I recall correctly, the article stated that Edison was given the honor of driving the first car off the line at Kearny while his car was at Ford being rebodied.


But then again, just because somebody wrote it in a book doesn't automatically make it true. Of course I did read it on the internet, so....
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

I'm the owner of the Vintage Ford Facts site mentioned above. I don't know much history on the Edison Phaeton aside from the fact that the car resided in Fort Myers until after Edison's death.

A friend of mine who grew up in Fort Myers during the 1920s & 30s used to talk of working at the local Ford dealer as a teenager and going over to get Mrs. Edison's 1934 Ford ready for her arrival. He mentioned several times that Edison's Phaeton was sitting in the garage next to the Model T that Ford gave him. The garage where these cars sat currently houses the gift shop for the Edison Fort Myers estate.

The book "The Edison's of Fort Myers" shows a photo of Edison's Phaeton during a trip to the Everglades. Without digging the book out I think the photo dates from 1930.

I do know Mrs. Edison gave the Phaeton back to Henry Ford in 1943.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

My next thought was contacting an Edison museum. Given what is written above, contacting the Edison museum in Ft. Myers makes sense.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:05 AM   #11
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

I have a Winter Home in Punta Gorda, Florida which Fort Myers is 17 miles south. In 2010 I took these Photos, the sign in front of the cars says (Cars given to Thomas Edison by Henry Ford. The Model A is the First one Produced.)
It looks like a fill in car with the advertising blacked out on the doors.
Every Feb their is a Car Show of Fords only to Celebrate Thomas Edison's Birthday. Their are Impersonators of Thomas Edison, Clara and Henry Ford in front of my Huckster Van at this years show.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

Pluck, would a written inquiry to the Florida DMV do any good? Nebraska has a form you can fill out and they search the fish files for the archived record of the VIN. The cost is reasonable and it isually takes less than a week to get the info back. Maybe something to try. Rod
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Old 08-03-2013, 03:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

Hi, this seems to be a popular topic. I saw the car at the Gilmore museum this past week. I brought a ruler with me and took a picture of the block with the ruler in it. It's 2.75" long.
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

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Originally Posted by ciccalone View Post
Hi, this seems to be a popular topic. I saw the car at the Gilmore museum this past week. I brought a ruler with me and took a picture of the block with the ruler in it. It's 2.75" long.
Well, I'll be curious to see if this settles the matter, or, will the old axiom, "Nothing is as impervious to facts as a conspiracy theory" rule.

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Old 08-03-2013, 10:58 PM   #15
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

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Well, I'll be curious to see if this settles the matter, or, will the old axiom, "Nothing is as impervious to facts as a conspiracy theory" rule.

Steve

Curious as to just what those facts would be?



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Old 08-04-2013, 12:42 AM   #16
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

We know that Henry stamped engine A1 & that it went into a Tudor. Sometime later [I have a date of 31st May '28] that engine went into a Phaeton for Edisons use.
Whether it was ever the ''first Model A'' [ A1] is doubtful, but it is commonly believed to be the ''First Model A that Edison was Given'' & lacking any official documentation, that is what most enthusiasts will want to carry on believing?
It is interesting that there were perhaps two types [ upper & lower style] of engine number pads used in initial 1927 production.
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Old 08-04-2013, 01:45 AM   #17
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

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We know that Henry stamped engine A1 & that it went into a Tudor. Sometime later [I have a date of 31st May '28] that engine went into a Phaeton for Edisons use.
Whether it was ever the ''first Model A'' [ A1] is doubtful, but it is commonly believed to be the ''First Model A that Edison was Given'' & lacking any official documentation, that is what most enthusiasts will want to carry on believing?
It is interesting that there were perhaps two types [ upper & lower style] of engine number pads used in initial 1927 production.
Tom,

Was the engine changed out and put into an already assembled Phaeton car OR did FORD remove the Tudor body from the chassis and replace it with a Phaeton body on said chassis?

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Old 08-04-2013, 02:17 AM   #18
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

Steve, this is the only/earliest printed source about A1 I found. Published by F. Clymer, 1959, ''Henrys Fabulous Model A Ford''.
Like everything concerning A1, until something concrete from 1928 emerges, truth is unknown.
The Tudor A1 pictured with Henry, Edsel, Henry 2nd & Benson is not the same one shown in another photo of a Tudor with Edison. This may be the one at Kearny Plant as you suggested.

I have just found some references to A1 in ''Legendary Model A Ford'' by Peter Winnewisser, which is accurate & has many era fact sources.
P18 states ''afternoon,Oct.20, first Model a engine numbered by Henry Ford....next day this engine was incorporated into a Tudor & driven to Dearborn Lab.s for 10 days of testing/inspection.....this first Model A chassis & engine no. 1 was eventually given to Thomas Edison by Henry Ford.......Randy Mason of Henry Ford Museum [Model A News, Jan. Feb. 1974] says that at Edisons request a touring car body was installed & the car delivered to Edison in June 1928. It was painted dark green & had a ''goatskin interior''.
Edison also drove off the line the first Model A [Tudor]out of Kearny,NJ Plant on Dec. 19 1927.

Also it is mentioned [P18 & P22]........from Ford Dealer & Service March 1931 [claims] that Beverly Hills Motors delivered the first Model A to Will Rogers. He sent a telegram to Edsel on Dec. 22,1927, saying he ''was proud to have delivery of the first of the second 15 million..''

In Jim Schilds book ''Original Model a Ford'', it states..[ p 10].''the Edison car is based on the first Model A built, although it is believed that the first Model A delivered actually went to Will Rogers in Dec. 1927.
Further information in this book on A1 also confirms the facts researched by Peter Winnewisser.

So even from the start, there was controversy on which was the ''First Model A'' ??
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:12 AM   #19
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Default Re: The true history on Edison's Model A...

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Steve, this is the only/earliest printed source about A1 I found. Published by F. Clymer, 1959, ''Henrys Fabulous Model A Ford''.
Like everything concerning A1, until something concrete from 1928 emerges, truth is unknown.
The Tudor A1 pictured with Henry, Edsel, Henry 2nd & Benson is not the same one shown in another photo of a Tudor with Edison. This may be the one at Kearny Plant as you suggested.

I have just found some references to A1 in ''Legendary Model A Ford'' by Peter Winnewisser, which is accurate & has many era fact sources.
P18 states ''afternoon,Oct.20, first Model a engine numbered by Henry Ford....next day this engine was incorporated into a Tudor & driven to Dearborn Lab.s for 10 days of testing/inspection.....this first Model A chassis & engine no. 1 was eventually given to Thomas Edison by Henry Ford.......Randy Mason of Henry Ford Museum [Model A News, Jan. Feb. 1974] says that at Edisons request a touring car body was installed & the car delivered to Edison in June 1928. It was painted dark green & had a ''goatskin interior''.
Edison also drove off the line the first Model A [Tudor]out of Kearny,NJ Plant on Dec. 19 1927.

Also it is mentioned [P18 & P22]........from Ford Dealer & Service March 1931 [claims] that Beverly Hills Motors delivered the first Model A to Will Rogers. He sent a telegram to Edsel on Dec. 22,1927, saying he ''was proud to have delivery of the first of the second 15 million..''

In Jim Schilds book ''Original Model a Ford'', it states..[ p 10].''the Edison car is based on the first Model A built, although it is believed that the first Model A delivered actually went to Will Rogers in Dec. 1927.
Further information in this book on A1 also confirms the facts researched by Peter Winnewisser.

So even from the start, there was controversy on which was the ''First Model A'' ??
Thank you Tom for that information...that is more than what I knew.

Pluck
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:23 AM   #20
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I saw the car yesterday for the first time, very nice car. The many cars on display very nice, especially enjoyed the 31 Vicky. Museum very well done. Liked the cylinder boring machine, the cut away view of the Model A running gear, didn't know what a coil looked like inside but do now. Kept thinking to myself, look at the price of the parts that were cut up for the display, awesome. Walked through twice yesterday.
The day was the nicest one for the Red Barns Spectacular. Had a great time. Afordman31
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