The Lincoln Motor Company was founded by Henry Martyn Leland during the First World War with the intent to build aero engines. Leland's first automobile company was Cadillac. The Lincoln name was chosen for the first president. The company was founded in 1917 and its stint in the production of aero engines was very brief, as war's end led to cancelled contracts and an idle workforce. Leland, having a history in the production of automobiles, naturally moved into that arena.
The first Lincoln automobiles appeared several years later, in September of 1920. There was a single model dubbed the 'L' built atop two different wheelbase sizes, either 130 or 136-inches. Power was from a 60-degree V8 that displaced 357.8 cubic-inches and featured 'fork-and-blade' connecting rods. This allowed the cylinders to be directly opposite one another. The bare chassis cost a staggering $4,000 and with town car clothing, the price rose to $6,600. This put the new Lincoln automobiles in direct competition with the well-established and well-known Cadillac Company.
Demand for the Lincoln automobiles was slow, partly due to a recession. This led to receivership for Lincoln. The company was rescued by Ford for the price of eight million dollars in 1922. The Lincoln Company became Ford's flagship and became the special project for Henry's son Edsel. Under his direction and with his guidance and designs, the Lincoln Company would excel. Relationships with prominent coachbuilders such as Locke, Willoughby, LeBaron and Brunn created some of the most elegant and eye-catching creations of the day. Most of the Lincoln open cars were bodied by Locke or Brunn through 1928. Some of the coachwork was moved 'in-house' in 1929, such as this Style 176 Phaeton which was available with and without the tonneau cowl and windshield.
Mechanical improvements were added to Lincoln vehicles every year. In 1927, four-wheel brakes were fitted. The following year the engine was bored out to 385 cubic-inches and in 1929, rubber engine mounts were added which greatly reduced vibration. That same year, the brakes were changed to the internal expanding type, and cooling fins were added to the rear.
In 1931, Lincoln introduced the Model K which rode on a very larger, 145-inch platform. The chassis was cruciform-braced allowing the vehicle a lower stance and better center-of-gravity. The design incorporated flowing fenders, a longer hood, and a new peaked radiator. Synchromesh and free-wheeling were added to the transmission, and cable-operated Bendix Duo-Servo brakes provided improved stopping power. The engine's compression was improved and better manifolding drove the horsepower even further.
In 1932, the Lincoln V12 engine was introduced and the new KB Model was born. The engine had an L-head design and mounted at a 65-degree angle. It displaced 447.9 cubic-inches and offered 150 horsepower. The Model KA rode on a 136-inch wheelbase and powered by a V8 engine. This would be the final year for the V8 as the new V12 engine would become the standard for Ford flagship company.
The 1933 Lincoln catalog contained 26 KB body styles and 17 styles from custom coachbuilders. Only 533 buyers were found, mostly due to the Great Depression and the increase in competition from other luxury car makers. There were only nine examples of the 252-A Dual Cowl Phaeton produced, such as this example. These cars, along with the 252-B models (which did not have the tonneau cowl or windshield) were the last fully-open cars in the Lincoln catalog. They were available in future years but only on special order.
This Lincoln Model KB Dual Cowl Phaeton was built in the spring of 1933. The list of owners include Lou Andola, Tony Porta, and a long-time ownership in the Browning Collection in Utah. While in the Browning Collection, it was treated to a frame-off restoration. The car is painted in two-tone blue and has a tan canvas top. The interior is tan leather and the odometer reads just over 44,000 miles.
In 2008, this car was brought to the 2nd Annual Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $250,000-$400,000. Those estimates were nearly proven accurate as bidding reached $242,000 including buyer's premium. This was enough to satisfy the vehicles reserve and the lot was sold.