Henry Martin Leland is inextricably linked as the brilliant engineer who not only founded Cadillac, but was also responsible for many innovations during his tenure. He was 74 years old when he quit General Motors after a quarrel with Billy Durant. Following his departure, Leland set up a company to produce Liberty aircraft engines receiving a $10 million advance contract. As the war ended, Leland was beset with a huge factory, 6,000 employees, and mounting debt. Building an automobile was what he knew best, and that's what he did. Within three hours of announcing his new automobile, Leland had raised $6.5 million in stock. The automobile was named Lincoln, in honor of the first president for whom Leland had voted. After 17 months, just 3,400 had been sold and Leland's board of directors acted quickly to stem the red ink. On February 4th of 1922, Ford Motor Company bought the Lincoln Motor Company for $8 million. Leland departed just four months later.
By 1938, the luxury automobile market was disappearing. Lincoln was one of the last companies building these cars and in 1938 with total sales of only 416 cars, the company offered 19 different body styles, including 13 different custom bodies - more than any other American luxury car builder.
Lincoln had recognized the decline of the luxury car market by introduced its medium-priced Lincoln-Zephyr in 1936. An immediate hit, nearly 20,000 were sold in 1938.
Thanks to Edsel Ford's personal interest in the marque, Lincoln was a rare survivor of the Great Depression. This long wheelbase Model K Seven Passenger chassis carries a 3-window semi-collapsible cabriolet body custom built for Elizabeth Cates of Ohio. Mrs. Cates ordered the Brunn body with an enclosed roof for the chauffeur and extra headroom to accommodate her husband's tall silk hat. It was given numerous special touches dictated by Mrs. Charles H. Cates of Youngstown, Ohio. The list includes the extra-tall town car body to accommodate Mr. Cates' top hat, along with a solid roof over the chauffer's compartment so that Leonard Prather, her chauffer of 30 years, was protected. She requested black medallions on the wheel covers in lieu of the normal blue cloisonne, and key locks in the hood to prevent intrusion into the engine compartment. The car remains in nearly original condition with just 30,000 miles on the odometer.
Becoming a vehicle that was known for luxury, the Lincoln underwent a total transformation in 1931. Re-powered, re-styled, and becoming lower-priced, this entire transformation was done under the censorship of Edsel Ford. The Lincoln Model K replaced the Model L, and only a total of forty five models were ever produced.
With an increased horsepower from 90 to 120, the newly added Stromberg carburetor increased the engine with 384.8 cubic inches. With a price significantly lower than any other Lincolns, the Model K 7-passenger Touring vehicle was used primarily as a limousine. Though at $4,400, the model K still cost ten times the amount of a Ford.
The largest updates were contained in the body style. The wheel base was now increased to 145 inches with a longer hood, and rounded bumpers which now gave it a low and sleek profile. Dual trumpet horns and large bowl-shaped head lights now gave the front a stunning look. Utilized mainly as a limousine, sales were less than half of what they were in the late 1920s due to the Depression.
A reflection of the earlier Ford Model K, the Lincoln K-series was a luxury vehicle line that was produced until 1942. A V12 became standard in 1933, while the original K-Series featured a 385 in³ (6.3 L) V8. The option of ordering a fully custom coachwork was available for customers.
Appearing on a new chassis in 1931, the original Model K had a 145 in (3683 mm) wheelbase. Available as a dual cowl model, factory bodies were a 2 or 4-door phaeton. A derivative of the earlier L-series 60° V8, the 384.8 in³ (6.3 L) engine had a dual downdraft Stromberg carburetors, altered timing upped power to 120 hp (89 kW), and higher compression.
Splitting into two lines in 1932, the Lincoln K-series featured the carryover Model KA and the new V12-powered Model KB. The engine output was pushed to 125 hp (93 kW) while the V8 car reverted to a 136 in (3454 mm) wheelbase. Producing 150 hp (112 kW), the KB featured the marque's new V12, 447.9 in³ (7.3 L) 65° L-head unit. These two new lines featured a new grille with less of a surround, and vent doors rather than vertical louvers on the sides of the hood. Both series also featured a parking light on top of each front fender and 18 inch wire wheels.
The Model KA V8 engine was replaced in 1933 with a new 381.7 in³ (6.3 L) V12. The large KB engine shared very few similarities with this new L-head engine. Only a few minor changes that were readily visible occurred on the 1933 K-series. The return of hood louvers and the deletion of the bar linking the headlights were by far the most obvious updates. The chassis was also revised, along with thermostatic shock absorbers and transmission.
In 1934, the V12 engines were replaced by a single 414 in³ (6.8 L) version of the updated model KA V12. The KA and KB nameplates now denoted the wheelbase only. For this year, the only styling updates included the replacement again of the louvers with doors on the side of the hood, and a body-colored grille surround.
For 1935, the Lincoln line was trimmed down considerable, as all vehicles where simply referred to as the Model K. Putting focus on the lofty over-$4,000 segment, the marque was attempting to improve profitability, though unfortunately limiting sales in the depression devastated US.
The following year, a more modern Lincoln Zephyr was debuted. Costing much less, the Model K's days were considerably numbered. However, despite its high $4700 price-tag, a 7-passenger Model K limousine was the marque's best-selling model for 1936. A new and improved raked windshield and pressed steel wheels were also part of this years update.
Continuing in production for the next five more years, the Model K unfortunately faced a decrease in sales in comparison to the more modern Zephyr and the new flagship Continental which became more appealing to buyers. Though production was mostly ended with the 1939 model year, one final Model K, the 1942 model was a one-off 'Sunshine Special' convertible limousine that was built especially for President Roosevelt.By Jessica Donaldson