1902 Ford "999" Race Car, Built by Henry Ford

Summary

After building this massive car Henry Ford was reluctant to drive it, so he hired a fearless bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield. Oldfield won many races at the controls of "999" and would go on to become America's first nationally famous race driver. The success of "999" would help Ford promote his next venture, Ford Motor Company. This car represents the triumph of brute force over finesse. The huge 1155 cu. in. engine is mounted in a wood frame; there is a clutch but no transmission; the single brake acts only on the rear axle, which mounts rigidly to the frame without benefit of springs. The name "999" came from a famous steam locomotive that set a 112 mph speed record in 1893. Henry Ford himself would set an automobile speed record of 91.37 mph in 1904 driving the "Arrow," a twin to his "999." Engine: Ford, inline 4-cylinder, atmospheric overhead intake values and side exhaust valves, 1155 cu. in., 70 hp (est.)

After building this massive car Henry Ford was reluctant to drive it, so he hired a fearless bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield. Oldfield won many races at the controls of "999" and would go on to become America's first nationally famous race driver. The success of "999" would help Ford promote his next venture, Ford Motor Company. This car represents the triumph of brute force over finesse. The huge 1155 cu. in. engine is mounted in a wood frame; there is a clutch but no transmission; the single brake acts only on the rear axle, which mounts rigidly to the frame without benefit of springs. The name "999" came from a famous steam locomotive that set a 112 mph speed record in 1893. Henry Ford himself would set an automobile speed record of 91.37 mph in 1904 driving the "Arrow," a twin to his "999." Engine: Ford, inline 4-cylinder, atmospheric overhead intake values and side exhaust valves, 1155 cu. in., 70 hp (est.)

Artifact

Racing car

Date Made

1902

Creators

Ford, Henry, 1863-1947 

Huff, Edward S., 1879-1933 

Wills, C. H. (Childe Harold), 1878-1940 

Place of Creation

United States, Michigan, Detroit 

Creator Notes

Built by Henry Ford, assisted by C.H. Wills and E.S. Huff at 81 Park Place, Detroit, Michigan.

Driving America
 On Exhibit

at Henry Ford Museum in Driving America

Object ID

19.3.1

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of William Hughson.

Material

Wood (Plant material)
White ash (Wood)
Metal
Rubber (Material)
Leather
Bronze (Metal)
Brass (Alloy)

Color

Black (Color)
Red
White (Color)

Dimensions

Height: 50 in

Width: 55 in

Length: 145 in

Wheelbase: 118 in

Diameter: 27.75 in  (Wheel Diameter)

Diameter: 29.625 in  (Wheel Diameter)

Diameter: 7 in  (Bore)

Length: 7 in  (Stroke)

Weight: 2730 lb

Inscriptions

Painted on left side of engine and on back of seat: 999 Left front hub: RED Right front hub: DEJ

Specifications

Make & Model: 1902 Ford "999" oval track racing

Maker: Henry Ford, Tom Cooper, and Edward Huff, Detroit, Michigan

Engine: inline-4, atmospheric intake valves and mechanical exhaust valves, 1156 cubic inches

Transmission: none, in-and-out clutch

Height: 50 inches

Width: 55 inches

Wheelbase: 117 inches

Overall length: 145 inches

Weight: 2730 pounds

Horsepower: 80 at 700 revolutions per minute

Pounds per horsepower: 34.1

Competition History: Winner of five-mile race against Alexander Winton and two other drivers at Grosse Pointe, Michigan, 1902. Driver: Barney Oldfield.

Connect 3

Discover curious connections between artifacts.

Learn More