Four of the Most Iconic Vehicles From Lincoln Motor Company
The Lincoln Motor Company has a deep and impressive history that precedes the involvement of Ford. In 1917, one Cadillac’s founders, Henry Leland, left the brand and, along with his son, formed Lincoln Motor Company. The elder Leland named the new car company after his hero, the first president for whom he had voted. With the First World War still raging, Lincoln earned all of its money building Liberty V12 aircraft engines on military contracts. When the war ended, Lincoln’s military contracts evaporated and the brand was forced to adapt.
Leland retooled his factory and produced a V8-powered luxury car, the Lincoln Model L. The Model L had a pleasant, but staid design. It failed to compete with true luxury competitors and couldn’t carry the company. As a result, the Lelands decided to sell the company to Henry Ford, with his son Edsel Ford taking over as president. Since then, Lincoln Motor Company has designed some incredible (and some forgettable) automobiles. Here are a few of the most iconic.
1930-1940 Lincoln K Series
In 1917, Lincoln Motor Company released its first lineup, the L-Series. Despite standing in for Ford’s luxury aspiration, the L-Series models were somewhat outdated from their introduction. But they laid a foundation. Upon the L-Series’ discontinuation in 1930, Lincoln introduced the K-Series. It had a far more attractive body combined with bigger wheels and a body mounted lower on the chassis. Finally, Lincoln had a car worthy of competing with luxury offerings from Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, and Dusenberg. When Lincoln unveiled the KB in 1932, it raised the bar even further with wide sloping fenders, independent headlights, and a new V-12 engine.
Edsel Ford died in 1943. Henry Ford stepped down as president shortly thereafter. The leadership of Lincoln was in tumult. The name was moving downmarket partly as a result of the strained financial situation instigated by World War Two. The climate surrounding Lincoln was bad. But in 1952, the Lincoln Capri offered a chance to restore credibility to the Lincoln name – which it did with aplomb.
The Lincoln Capri, available in sedan, coupe, and convertible models; was much sleeker than the Cosmopolitan it replaced. The new top-of-the-line Lincoln came with a flathead engine capable of 154 horsepower. The next year, Lincoln scrapped the engine for a new 225-horsepower Y-Block V-8. It was the first commercial sedan to exceed 200 horsepower. Encouraged by its great driving performance, Lincoln entered some Capris in the Pan American Road Race where it took the top four spots for two straight years. Then, in 1955 it added optional air conditioning – luxury!
Continental Mark II
The roots of the historic Continental trace back to a one-off car designed by Bob Gregorie for Edsel Ford’s Florida vacation in 1939. Edsel’s friends adored the design, inspired by the affordable Zephy. He and Gregorie immediately began working on a production model inspired by its design. The first generation Continental arrived later that year and would carry on for a decade, largely unchanged. It’s an important vehicle, but it’s successor will always be the first to mind when we speak the “Continental” name.
The Continental Mark II, which arrived in 1956, is not just one of the most iconic Lincolns; it’s also one of the most iconic cars. The second generation of Continental was a true signal of wealth and luxury. Celebrities like Liz Taylor and the King of Rock and Roll owned Mark IIs. They were attracted, no doubt, to its European simplicity. It eschewed the excessive chrome and overstyled bodies of competitors for something sharp and clean. The hood is preposterously long to accommodate the big V8. It was also remarkably low to the ground thanks to some clever engineer with the exhaust and chassis. The chrome grille, wheels, and hood, are perfectly understated. The only embellishment was the spare tire indent in the trunk.
Inside, the Mark II featured the finest materials available. Most notably, the seats used Bridge of Weir Leather from Scotland, a material Lincoln continues to use to this day. The dash layout and instruments were very restrained and elegant, foregoing the bright colours and ostentatious design of contemporaries. Lincoln designers built everything by hand at a factory expressly dedicated to the Continental. The combination of fine materials and meticulous build quality led to an exorbitant price. At $10,000 USD (more than $90,000 today), the Mark II was the most expensive vehicle sold in the United States.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is the synthesis of the brand’s recent renaissance. That much is obvious from first impression. The Navigator has a commanding footprint and it’s smooth lines make it seem at once refined and angry. Lincoln adorned the near-perfect front fascia with a new signature mesh grille. All of this is bolstered by the latest technology like an adaptive suspension, selectable drive modes, Intelligent 4WD, and a 450-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 engine. But the Navigator, as a luxury-first vehicle, really shines on the inside.
The interior design is reminiscent of first-class air travel with Perfect Position Seats that are among the most comfortable in the automotive world. They combine Bridge of Weir Leather, heat, cooling, massage, as well as thigh extenders. The dash features a stunning 12” LCD display with custom drive mode animations that pairs with the 10” infotainment screen. Audio is provided by the standard 14-speaker Revel Audio system, but there’s also a 20-speaker system optional. Obviously, Lincoln optimized everything inside the cabin for comfort and style. If you’re looking for an ultra luxury SUV, the 2018 Navigator is it. Further, I’m willing to bet we’ll remember it alongside the best creations overseen by Edsel Ford.