Henry Martyn Leland named the company after the President for whom he had first voted in 1864. Already Henry Martyn Leland was seventy-four years old, but his stature in the industry and his passionate patriotism resulted in his new Lincoln Motor Company being given a government contract to build some 6000 Liberty engines and a $10.000.000,- advance to do it. But the armistice came quickly, too quickly for the Lelands to have established a solid footing with their new company. Faced with a huge factory, a workforce of about 6000 men and mounting debts, they made a quite logical decision. The man who had given America the Cadillac Motorcar would now provide the country with the Lincoln. Capital stock for the venture, $6.5 million of it, was subscribed within three hours of being placed on sale. This was a terrific beginning. Unfortunately it would prove to be one of only two high points the Lelands would enjoy during their short tenure with the car. The other was the trade press response to the engineering of the Lincoln itself. Like any other Leland product, the Lincoln was precision built. It's 60° V8 engine with its characteristic fork and blade connecting rods was rugged and compact, developed 81 BHP and ensured a 70 MPH performance. Full pressure lubrication and a massive torque tobe drive highlighted the chassis. But two factors convened to make the Lincoln less appealing. First, its coachwork had been assigned to Leland's son in law whose previous specialty seems to have been ladies millinery. The Lincoln look was strictly old hat, dowdy even, with styling reminiscent of the prewar era past. Not a breath of the flapper flamboyance that would mark the Twenties. Second because of late supplier deliveries and Leland's penchant for engineering perfection the car was delayed, arriving in the marketplace in September 1920 rather than January, which missed an entire selling season and hit the postwar recession. The Lelands were convinced they could set matters right and contacted Brunn in Buffalo about coachwork. But still the Lincoln board directors could only see the figures, 3407 cars produced by February 4th 1922 versus a projected 6000 for the first year alone, and on that day over the vigorous objections of the Lelands, they put the company into receivership and up for sale.
Henry Ford bought Lincoln in 1922 from Henry Martyn Leland for $8,000,000.-. Though the car hadn't appealed to many customers, Ford took a fancy to the Lincoln for several intertwined reasons. His Model T was America's best selling cheap car by leagues; offering a luxury automobile at over ten times the price (the Lincoln was introduced as a $5,000.- range car) probably tweaked his interest and certainly that of his son Edsel whose refined sense of aesthetic was certainly not satisfied with his father's "Tin Lizzie". Moreover, in 1902, Henry Leland had made his Cadillac out of the frazzled remains of a company Henry Ford himself had started and which he left in disgust after, among other vexations, listening to Leland's uncomplimentary comments about his car. Buying out Leland now must have been a splendid satisfaction. It may have been further vengeance or the genuine admiration Ford had for Henry Leland. But initially the plan was for Lelands to remain with the company. This was a marriage made in hell however and the Lelands left after four months, seeing Henry Ford thereafter only in court during the lawsuit they instituted regarding reimbursement to original creditors and stockholders. Meanwhile Edsel Ford became president of the Lincoln Motor Company. By December 1922, just ten months after the Ford purchase of the company, 5512 Lincolns had been sold. Over two thousand more cars than the Lelands had delivered in seventeen months. The Leland fears to the contrary, the product had not been compromised. Indeed it had been improved, with aluminum pistons and better cylinder head cooling immediately and an increase in wheelbase to 136 inches (from 130) for 1923. Sales that year rose to 7,875. Under Ford Aegis the Lincoln remained a robust car, favored by the Detroit Police Flying Squad amongst other progressive law enforcement agencies. The cars for the police sometimes were provided with four wheel brakes which production versions wouldn't have until 1927. Perhaps more importantly, under Edsel Ford's direction, the Lincoln became a beautiful car with series production of designs from the masters of America's coachbuilding craft. By 1929 the Model L Lincoln was up to 90 HP and 90 MPH and leading it down the road was a graceful greyhound mascot selected by Edsel and produced by Gorham. In 1931 the Model K replaced the Model L with a refined V8 offering 120 HP, 145 inch wheelbase and duo servo brakes. In 1932 the Lincoln grabbing the headlines was the new V12 Model KB with 447.9 CID, 150 HP and 95+ MPH performance. Interestingly, the more expensive and custom built KB (with price tags ranging from $4,300.- to $7,200.-) fared rather well against the V8 Model K (at $2,900.- to $3,350.-) that year. With 1,641 Model KB's and 1,765 Model K's built. In 1933 the V8 was replaced by a smaller 382 CID, 125 HP V12 designated Model KA. But that depth of depression year brought sales of only 587 Model KB's and 1,420 Model KA's. Building two different engines for a plummeting luxury car market didn't make a great deal of sense and in 1934 both were dropped and replaced with a 414 CID 150 HP unit with aluminum cylinder heads. All Lincoln's into the early postwar (World War II) years would be V12 powered, though precious few of them would be the Model K series as sales of these big Lincolns continued to dwindle while the Thirties wore on.
Just 120 of the big Model K's were built in 1939-1940, the most famous of which was President Roosevelt's "Sunshine Special". Franklin Delano Roosevelt (of Dutch descent) carrying forth a Presidential preference for Lincoln's which had begun with Calvin Coolidge and which would endure to the present day. But prestige was not what made Lincoln financially respectable in the later Thirties, the Zephyr did. When it arrived in 1936 Lincoln sales soared from the under 4,000 cars in 1935 to over 20,000. Originally intended to use a modified version of the Ford V8, the Zephyr instead at Edsel Ford's direction became a 75° 267 CID 110 HP V12 with aluminum alloy heads, cast steel pistons and a reputation for sluggishness and unreliability it has had ever to live with though not always fairly (the engine was used in England in the Allard, atalanta and Brough Superior). The chassis with its transversesprings andmechanical four wheel brakes represented a specification only to be whispered about but the synchromesh gearbox was fine and the unitized construction was worthy of a shout as was the very fresh styling courtesy of John Tjaarda and Briggs and refined for production by Eugene T. "Bob" Gregorie of Lincoln. In 1938 the Zephyr arrived with a gearshift lever spring mounted from the dashboard and in 1940 The now well known column mounted shift lever was introduced on the Zephyr.
LINCOLN FROM YEAR TO YEAR
Pictures will be available on the new site; www.lincolnanonymous.com
Once a line appears under this web URL, the site will be active. Sorry for the delay.