[CR]Early cyclists & Ford autos...


Example: Production Builders:Cinelli:Laser

Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 19:02:34 -0500
To: classic list <Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
From: "Roy H. Drinkwater" <roydrink@mac.com>
Subject: [CR]Early cyclists & Ford autos...

note: boring history follows...

As a personal interest, I'm quoting some information about Tom Cooper (my wife, Janet's great uncle), Barney Oldfield & Henry Ford from Ford, the Men and the Machine by Robert Lacey:

"..in the spring of 1902...he (Ford) had found himself another patron: Tom Cooper, a cycling champion who, through exhibitions and endorsements, had made himself rich on the bicycling craze of the 1890's, and who wanted to make the switch to the latest speed craze..."

"By early May, Henry Ford and Tom Cooper were in partnership constructing two machines with Cooper's money, both of them named after famous express trains of the time: "The Arrow" and "999." Henry Ford's 999 was then the largest and most powerful American car ever built, nearly ten feet long, rated at seventy horsepower, with four massive cylinders, each of them the size of a small powder keg..."

"But 999 was a difficult car to drive. Tom Cooper tried a test drive in it and promptly thought better of his motor-racing ambitions. He brought in another friend, another cyclist, Barney Oldfield, who was something of a daredevil, and though Oldfield had never actually driven a motorcar before, he accepted the challenge. "I might as well be dead" he said, "as dead broke."..."

"Henry Ford, however, had reached another dead end. On October 25 1902, when it won its victory, 999 had not even been his, for he had a falling out with Cooper and had sold the car to him. Henry had caught Cooper "in a number of sneaky tricks," reported Clara (Ford) to her brother Milt (Bryant) on October 27, 1902. Cooper she explained, "was looking out for Cooper and Cooper only." * This, of course, was precisely what all Henry's previous partners would have said about Henry."

"There had been talk of Milton Bryant and Henry forming some sort of racing circus and traveling around the country with Cooper, and Clara was very pleased that this would not now happen. "I am glad we are rid of him, " she wrote to her brother. "I would not like you or Henry to travel with him. He thinks too much of low down women..." (...this is the part Janet laughs at)

* Lacey further explains that Ford was arranging another company in mid-1902:

"Henry surrendered a half interest in all his patents, tools, models, and drawings, promised to hand over one of his two racing cars on completion, and also undertook to devote his time to building a model of the proposed passenger car...This was all promised at the time when Henry was supposed to be completing his racers for competition that autumn in collaboration with Tom Cooper. Rather than Cooper's "sneaky tricks," it appears more likely that it was Henry's new agreement with Malcomson that ended Henry's racing partnership with the cycling champion."

Also, about a famous Ford engineer & executive Charley E. Sorenson: "Ford had got to know Sorenson in 1902 while he was working on his racer 999, for the young Dane, muscular and athletic, was a bicycling friend of Tom Cooper, and Cooper had brought Sorenson in on the project to make models - or "patterns"- of various components out of wood."

Roy "history, it's the past!" Drinkwater Lititz "12 miles on the road today!", PA

Jerry Moos wrote:
>This was largely due to the great popularity and easy affordability of
>automobiles and gasoline in America, and the consequent decline in bicycle
>use. As a child, I had read of Barney Oldfield's fame as an early auto
>racer, but only some years after did I realize that he first achieved fame
>as a bicycle racer. Oldfield's career adjustment, I think, illustrates
>the speed with which cars displaced bicycles as the principal means of
>transportation, particularly in America, where Henry Ford's pioneering of
>mass production technology