Legacy Motors Presents List & Reviews George Dill
New News New Releases Car List & Reviews Legacy Motors Auctions Forums Features Register FAQs Clubs
  Full Car List & Reviews  ·  New Releases  ·  Upcoming Releases  ·  1:43 Maker List  ·  Mr. Magneto Site Map
 
Read Review
Photography
Customers Rating Read
 
 

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car

Reviewed by:   Tom Pine
     
  Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car
 
 
 

The Car: It was probably no more than fifteen minutes after two people purchased their horseless carriages that they got the idea to see how fast they would go—in other words, to race them. After all, horse racing went back a couple of millennia. Back in the day—and even into the present—one of the best ways to attract attention to a new automotive product was to race it, or enter it in some endurance-oriented cross-country runs. Let’s say you’re Henry Ford. You got your Quadricycle to work back in 1896 and now you want to get into the business of creating automobiles in a big way. How to do it? Well, you notice the public’s interest in motor sports; what better way to gain a reputation than to build and drive a racecar? Ford founded the Henry Ford Company (the successor to his Detroit Automobile Company, which went bankrupt because Henry kept improving his cars but not selling any). He pooled his talents with design engineer Oliver Barthel, picked up a sponsorship by the Detroit Racing Club, and built his first racecar. Ford pulled up to the starting line of the main 10-lap race at the Grosse Point Racetrack in Michigan, on October 10, 1901, in a racing Quadricycle that he and Barthel had constructed that summer. Ford’s main competition was in the form of two more experienced drivers, one of them being Alexander Winton, a famous racecar driver, who would go on to build cars of his own. Because racing is so much more than just a fast car, Henry would be blessed by the god of speed when one driver had to withdraw before the race began due to mechanical problems. That left Winton, who had to withdraw after three laps, due to a trail of smoke he was leaving. Thus, Ford went on to win the race, and the publicity and acclaim he had hoped for, but it would be the first and last time he would drive a car in a race. Ford realized his constitution was more suited to building and experimenting with cars, than to be subjected to the stresses and strains of zooming around a racetrack. “Once is enough,” Ford was said to have uttered. But, that didn’t mean Henry wouldn’t go on to construct other racecars. With C. H. Willis, and E. S. Huff, Ford built a racecar in 1902. Thomas Cooper supplied the financial backing. It was built on a wood chassis, with no body, and had no hood. But, it did have some advanced features, like balloon tires and the first version of a driveshaft and differential (other cars of the day used chain drives). Its massive, 18.8-liter engine developed an unheard of 50 horsepower (some say as much as 70). In a twin of this car, called the “Arrow” (later renamed “No. 999”), Ford set the world speed record of 91.4 mph on January 12, 1904, breaking the mile-a-minute record with a 39.4-second run on the winter ice of Lake St. Clair. The lamentable lack of traction caused by such high speeds on ice caused Ford to plow through a snowdrift and narrowly miss a marooned schooner trapped in the winter ice—so much for leaving the dangers and rigors of the racetrack behind! Barney Oldfield later purchased this car and drove it into the pages of racing fame and fortune. Ford eventually turned his back on racing in 1913, when his modified Model T failed to meet the Indianapolis 500’s qualifications. But, having accomplished his goal of racing notoriety in 1901, Ford went on to establish Ford Motor Company two years later, in 1903. His genius for innovation led to his pioneering modern assembly line manufacturing techniques. The resulting savings in manufacture brought the price of his cars down precipitously and put the automobile within the reach of the average American. It also made him a millionaire in the process. Even though Henry left racing behind, it has remained part of the DNA of the Ford Motor Company. FoMoCo is the only automaker with victories in the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, the 24-Hours of LeMans, the 12 hours of Sebring, the Monte Carlo Rally, and the Baja 1000! And to think it all started with that first (and last) racing victory of Henry Ford’s—a short but productive racing career indeed!

The Man: Bern Eli Oldfield enjoyed the facts that his racing career was mingled with fiction—it suited his aggressive, promoter’s personality to a tee. One fact is certain—Barney Oldfield was one of the greatest race drivers of all time. His name is recognizable even to those who don't follow the sport of auto racing. Born on June 3, 1878, in Wauseon, Ohio, Barney’s first love was bicycle racing. By 1894, in his sixteenth year, he had won silver medals and a gold watch. In 1896, the Stearns bicycle factory hired him, at a princely fee, to race on its amateur team. In 1902, someone loaned a gasoline-powered bicycle to Oldfield to race in Salt Lake City, where he had moved. This fortuitous event led to a meeting with Henry Ford, who had prepared two racecars. Ford approached Oldfield to see if he would be willing to drive one of his cars and Oldfield agreed, buying his own train ticket East. Oldfield went to Grosse Point, Michigan to test the cars, but neither of them would start. Undaunted, Oldfield and his new partner, Tom Cooper—who had provided the backing for Henry Ford to build the cars in the first place—ended up buying them for $800. This proved to be a good move for Oldfield and Cooper. After getting the necessary mechanical work done, Oldfield drove one of the cars—which he named “No. 999” after a famous racing locomotive of the day—in the Manufacturer's Challenge Cup. You have to remember at this point that this was the very first time Oldfield had driven a racecar in competition! He beat defending champion Alexander Winton by a half mile—an unprecedented feat! In another match-race victory in New York on Memorial Day, 1903, Oldfield drove a mile in a minute flat (on a racetrack and not in a land-speed run). He cut that down to 55.8 seconds two months later. Winton decided to hire Oldfield—to race for him instead of against him—complete with salary, expenses, and free cars. Oldfield then assiduously worked on expanding his career by touring the country in a series of match races and speed runs. One year, driving for Peerless, Oldfield competed on 20 different tracks in 18 weeks, making four exhibition runs and winning 16 straight match races! Oldfield became a hero to American racing enthusiasts and fairgoers because of his showmanship and record-breaking proclivities. Turning his hand to acting, he portrayed a poor mechanic who saved the day in a play about racing. To add to his reputation and panache, Oldfield then bought a Mercedes-Benz, which he used to break ALL existing speed records for the mile, two miles, and the kilometer, in special runs at Ormond Beach, Fla., in 1910. His fame was such that he was able to charge an unbelievable $4,000 (more than the average man’s yearly salary!) for personal appearances! But, not everyone was so enthusiastic over Oldfield’s "outlaw" racing activities. The American Automobile Association, the sanctioning body of the day, suspended Oldfield. Because he was barred from “legitimate” racing, speed records, match races, and exhibitions made up most of Oldfield's career after that. But it had little effect on his fame, for the cigar-chomping speed merchant was in almost constant demand. After being reinstated, he competed at Indianapolis, but his best finishes were only fifth in 1914 and 1916. Nevertheless, he managed to run the first 100 mile-per-hour lap in Indianapolis history. Oldfield’s prowess and fame helped put Firestone on the map with the “Oldfield Tire,” the linchpin of the company's racing division. Oldfield retired from racing in 1918, but didn't just sit on his front porch rocker. He tending to his racing business, toured, and made movies. He died in 1946. Even today, the name of Barney Oldfield evokes a mental picture of the hard-charging, gutsy, young, racecar driver, hunched behind the wheel of a boxy, wire-wheeled contrivance—with dust boiling up from beneath its wheels on a dirt racetrack—locked in combat with other drivers. Oldfield was inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. To many, he was an absolute sorcerer of speed.

The Image: Exoto (and also through Danbury Mint) has done a marvelous job on this 1:18 scale version of the famous “No. 999.” Because of the relatively small size of the 1:1 car, a lot of detail would have been lost in the smaller 1:24 scale. This image has a few working features I've not seen on a 1:18 scale image. Though we’ve seen rotating driveshafts, how about a differential-style rear end and driveshaft that actually operates the crankshaft, its connecting rods and pistons? That’s right, if you turn the image over and rotate the rear wheels, you’ll see the pistons move up and down in their cylinders! This is possible because the engine is open on the bottom, with no oil pan. The crankshafts journals were lubricated via grease fittings. In addition, if you fit the crank handle into its fitting on the crankshaft, and are really careful (with the rear wheels raised), you will be able to turn the engine over in that manner as well. Another interesting working feature is the operating rear brake. By moving the pedal forward, a strap actually contracts around the drum to lock up the rear wheels! There’s a lever in front of the tee-handled steering tiller that operates the clutch—you can actually see the clutch disk move in to press against the flywheel. Because of the car’s open construction, it’s easy to see the steering linkage as it turns the front wheels. Lift the cover on the battery box to the left of the center-mounted, real leather-covered seat, and you can see each of the six individual dry cells that comprise the battery. Interestingly enough, batteries to this day adhere to this six-cell design. To the right of the seat is the throttle lever that moves from side-to-side. Just in front of the seat are four coil boxes, from which eight wires are bundled together to run to each of the doubled-up spark plugs per cylinder. The seat is mounted on what was a square water tank on the 1:1 car, evident by the fact that water lines run to it from the radiator. There’s a rod sticking out from the top, but I’m not sure what its function was on the 1:1 car (a vent tube, perhaps?). The general level of detail is superb. Everywhere you look, you’ll find bolts, rivets, wires, hoses, and textures that lend an air of realism and verisimilitude to the image. Even the treadless Firestone balloon tires have all the molded-in lettering and numbers that existed on the 1:1 items. As if all this precision weren’t enough, Exoto provides a wood base with a plaque that says “1902 Ford 999,” and a Lucite dust cover. Collectors of 1:18 scale racing stock (like GMP’s fine examples of the So-Cal and Pierson Bros. Coupes, and Precision Miniatures’ So-Cal Belly Tanker) should get this image not only for its historical value, but also for its educational value. Because of its open and simple design, it’s a veritable three-dimensional example of how an automobile works. It also serves to underline the intestinal fortitude of the brave men who piloted such contraptions to breakneck speeds on frozen lakes and racetracks paved with nothing more than packed earth.

(08/24/2005)
 
 
  Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car diecast car

 
 
See this review in a printer-friendly format
 
 

Rate or Review this model
 
 
See this review in a printer-friendly format
 
 

Rate or Review this model
 
Exoto | 1:18
Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car

Exoto 1:18 1902 Ford #999 - Barney Oldfield- Ford's First Race Car

 
This model is currently not available

View our selection of similar Diecast and Resin Scale Model Cars available for purchase

www.legacydiecast.com
See the huge selection of models at Legacy Motors Earn Legacy Points
   


     
     

New News  ·  List & Reviews  ·  Legacy Motors  ·  Auctions  ·  Forums  ·  Polls  ·  Features  ·  Register  ·  FAQs  ·  Clubs

Copyright © 2014 Legacy Diecast Models and Diecast Zone