5 majestic highlights from the world’s largest Ford collection
In 1956, Piet den Hartogh bought his first Ford. Fifty years and 250 cars later, he had more Fords in his collection than any other private owner in world—and he lived 4000 miles from Detroit.
The Dutch collector’s interest in the Ford began at a young age, as den Hartogh’s father used Ford transport trucks in his family-owned company. Piet quickly amassed a colossal collection, with vehicles ranging from a pinky-out 1905 Model B to a throttle-down 1931 Model A race car. Den Hartogh made a conscious effort to be the mirror of Ford’s versatility, and he amassed almost every model the Ford Motor Company put on the road.
Den Hartogh’s collection-turned-museum has been open to the public for nearly 30 years,and much of the credit goes to his wife, who (crank-) started the endeavor. Seven years after Piet den Hartogh’s death in 2011, his cars, trucks, buses, and bikes will be heading to new homes. Bonhams’ den Hartogh Collection Auction will be held June 23 in Hillegom, Netherlands. All vehicles will be offered without reserve (although non-European buyers will have the added cost of shipping—literally). Here are five of our favorites.
1903 Ford Model A Open Tourer
The life expectancy of a U.S. citizen is about 80 years. Add 35 years and you have the eldest car in the den Hartogh collection. One of 1750 Model As built in 1903–04, this Open Tourer was first purchased new by A.C. Barker of Chicago. Barker is known for being the first repeat buyer of the Model A, owning the 10th and 17th vehicles to leave the Ford factory. This one is believed to be No. 68, reflecting the number stamped on the flywheel.
The curation and condition of the vehicle has been upheld through multiple owners from several countries. And as the Bonhams listing points out, the winner of this auction will have the opportunity to participate in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, a race in which each competing vehicle must be built prior to 1905.
1906 Ford Model K Open Tourer
A few turns through the batting order, Ford’s Model K aimed above the blue collar consumer and landed in the form of a large engine beneath a tulip-styled body in 1906. Fit for royalty (compared to its utilitarian siblings), the Model K was built out of necessity for a hypothesized growing high-end market. The caviar-snorting inline-six was Ford’s only entry into the six-cylinder foray, an arena where Rolls-Royce and Pierce Arrow dominated. This particular car is labeled by Bonhams as “the highlight of the collection,” having received an immaculate American restoration decades back. The dark blue panels, brass ornamentation, and physical presence of this ride urge you to enter the bidding war so you may sit in its lap of luxury. The K might as well stand for King.
1923 Lincoln Model L Type 124A Phaeton (Brunn)
In 1922, Henry Leland sold his bankrupt Lincoln Motor Company to Ford. Ford continued the L series to compete against the likes of the Mercedes 630 and the Rolls Royce I. The Touring, Phaeton, and Sedan designs provided by Hermann A. Brunn were kismet for the Leland-engineered chassis and drivetrain. This car is one of 19 Lincolns in the den Hartogh collection. The deep-green finish, tan leather, and a modest amount of brightwork provide an anticipatory nod to Lincoln’s eventual mantra, “What a luxury car should be.”
1930 Ford Model AA Platform Truck
At the time of its release, Ford’s Model AA platform truck could be outfitted for various trades and businesses. The abbreviated 88-A platform provided the ideal vehicle for smaller jobs, while the exaggerated 185-B platform measured more than 13 feet long. But what if you need to inconspicuously—or in this Capone-emblazoned case, conspicuously—haul barrels of hooch? Look no further than the 187-A. This rig can do the job in style, with a black exterior, yellow wheels, and complementary pinstriping. So raise a glass, and a bidding paddle, to this prohibition-era beauty.
1930 Ford Model A Ice Cream Truck
Maybe smuggling the hard stuff isn’t your ideal endeavor—perhaps you favor a more decadent flavor. This Model A ice cream truck is the sugary solution. Similar to the Model T, businesses seized the opportunity to outfit the blank canvas of a Model A platform to match their efforts. While most As were drafted into the rugged life of tanker or farm truck, this specific vehicle was prepped to scoop out frozen confections. Equipped with an extra-tall greenhouse so the purveyor can stand while serving, this Model A pre-dates the original Good Humor trucks that typically fetch big bucks at auction. So whether you have to smash the piggy bank or ask Mom for some dough, this is one ice cream truck to chase. Venture forth, if you dairy.