The famous Lincoln Model K was introduced in 1931 to replace the Model L, which had been produced since the founding of the company. Produced until 1942, the automobile quickly became one of the best-selling luxury brands in the US, along with Cadillac and Packard.
Source: Mecum Auctions
The US auto industry gained popularity, first of all, for its mass and affordable models. This was the case with the legendary Ford T and the full-size giant Chevrolet Impala. Even the sporty Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang were relatively affordable and produced in huge numbers. However, this didn’t mean that Americans did not pay attention to the premium segment vehicles. For example, the Lincoln brand always produced extremely expensive high-end models. It was the brainchild of the American auto designer Henry Leland, who first worked in the arms industry, then became interested in automobiles. The ingenious engineer stood at the origins of the Cadillac brand and the General Motors empire, but later, due to disagreements, left it, challenging Cadillac and creating his premium-class models, which were serving presidents and influential people.
Source: Car Style Critic
In the early 20s, when only 150 cars rolled off the company’s assembly line, the company went bankrupt. However, its potential was seen by Henry Ford and his son Edsel. At that time, the Ford empire could compete with GM only in the segment of affordable vehicles. Accordingly, Lincoln was chosen to gain a foothold in the premium class. Henry Leland remained the honorary president of the company for some time but soon retired. Edsel Ford was serious about updating the brand. First, the engine power of the famous L series was increased to 90 hp which raised the maximum speed to 130 km/h. In 1923, the design was radically updated and a whole palette of new bodies was introduced. There was a new sedan, phaeton, convertible, coupe, as well as the Towncar limousine with an extended wheelbase. Of course, the buyer could also order an exclusive design from a body shop. By the end of the year, 7 875 L series had been sold. An order for a batch of cars with bulletproof glass for the police allowed to increase the production volume even more. The L series design was so successful that it was produced before 1930. Then it was replaced by a completely new K series. The automobile became larger and got a longer hood. At first, it was offered only with a 6.3-liter 120-horsepower V8, but in 1932 the car was divided into two series: the KA remained with the V8, but the more expensive KB received a new 7.3-liter V12 with a power of 150 hp. In addition, stylist Eugene Gregory created new bright bodies every year. The versions with exclusive designs from LeBaron, Brunn, and Dietrich were also very popular. But since even the most affordable “K” cost $4400, and the Great Depression raged in the United States, production volumes were not large (1500-3000 cars a year). However, this did not prevent the car from having famous and influential owners.
Source: Vintage Car Collector
In 1933, the luxury automaker abandoned eight-cylinder engines in favor of another V12 (6.3 liters). Over the next 16 years, all cars of the brand, regardless of the configuration, were equipped with it. Unfortunately, with the introduction of the inexpensive Zephyr in 1936, demand for the flagship K series fell more than during the Great Depression. But in the late 30s, Edsel Ford gave the car another chance with a radical restyling. Keeping the same chassis structure the designers gave the automobile a completely different, aerodynamic look, with a semi-integrated trunk, streamlined front fenders, oddly shaped headlights mounted on them, and spare wheels under metal covers. Brunn, Judkins, Willoughby, and LeBaron added their styling touches to each custom body. The running gear of the model was unchanged: it had a 6.8-liter L-head V12 engine with hydraulic valve lifters, a partially synchronized 3-speed manual transmission, mechanical drum brakes, and solid axles on leaf springs front and rear. Remarkably, the 1939 Lincoln K Sunshine Special was the first special car for President Franklin Roosevelt. There were few changes compared to the standard model: wider footpegs and additional handles on the body. At the beginning of the war, the vehicle received armor and bulletproof tires, a gun cabinet, and thick glass.
In 1939, British King George VI and his wife Elizabeth visited Canada. Four cars were specially prepared for his tour: two Buick-McLaughlin, one Chrysler, and one Lincoln Model K with a 4-door convertible from LeBaron. All of them were painted in royal burgundy and had high safety glass, puncture-proof tires, a royal standard over the windshield, and reversible extra seats (due to the ban on sitting with your back to the monarch). After the tour, the Lincoln ended up at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, where he remained until 1985. He also took part in the next royal visit to Canada in 1959.
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