Lincoln’s Centennial: A Mega Gallery of Continentals, Presidential Limos, and Extra

Automotive and Driver

The Ford Motor Firm is celebrating the one centesimal birthday of the Lincoln model this 12 months: it was 100 years in the past this month that Ford acquired Lincoln. Lincoln really was established a few years earlier, nonetheless, as an impartial producer. So it is technically a bit past the century mark, however when you may have that many miles on the clock, maybe a little bit of fudging is allowed. Irrespective of the way you depend, Lincoln has an extended historical past, and we have delved into it to floor a few of the extra attention-grabbing details and anecdotes, so learn on:

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Lincoln’s Prehistory

Earlier than the Lincoln Motor Firm, there have been no less than three different unrelated Lincoln-branded automakers. The Chicago-based Lincoln Motor Automotive Works produced parts for the Sears Motor Buggy, and after Sears dropped out of the automotive enterprise, the Lincoln Motor Automotive Works bought the automobile by itself in 1912 and 1913. An earlier effort was the Lincoln Car Firm of Lincoln, Illinois, which additionally had a two-year run, in 1908–1909. The primary was Cleveland’s Lincoln Electrical; its battery-powered automotive appeared and disappeared in 1900. The Normal Catalog of American Automobiles additionally lists three others: the Lincoln Auto Firm (1908, Jersey Metropolis, New Jersey), the Lincoln Carriage & Car Firm (1905, New York Metropolis), and the Lincoln Sq. Backyard Firm (Mineola, Lengthy Island), none of which ever produced an car.

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From Aviation to Autos

At present’s Lincoln was launched because the Lincoln Motor Firm in 1917, by Henry Leland. Leland was a superb engineer who had beforehand based Cadillac. He left Cadillac after clashing with GM president Billy Durant over Durant’s unwillingness to let Cadillac construct Liberty aviation engines in help of the World Battle I effort. Leland’s fame was such that instantly upon forming Lincoln, he obtained a $10 million advance from the federal government to construct Liberty aviation engines. Sadly for Leland, Armistice Day got here quickly thereafter. With the war-production work ended, Leland determined to modify to cars.

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Lincoln’s First Automotive

Lincoln debuted its first automotive, the Mannequin L, in late 1920. Its engineering was spectacular, with a 60-degree L-head V-8 making 71 horsepower and a high pace of 70 mph, however its styling was homely. It arrived in the marketplace simply because the postwar recession was taking maintain. Gross sales have been gradual. These 1921 fashions are proven at Lincoln’s manufacturing unit.

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Ford Steps In

In late 1921, the Lincoln Motor Firm went into receivership. On February 4, 1922, Henry Ford bought it for $8 million. A photograph of the signing of the acquisition settlement reveals Edsel Ford and Henry Ford together with Henry Leland and his son Wilfred. There was, nonetheless, no love misplaced between the 2 Henrys, and the Lelands left the corporate 4 months after Ford purchased it. Leland and his son later sued Ford over the phrases of the acquisition.

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Edsel Takes the Wheel

Edsel Ford turned the president of Lincoln, and gross sales quickly picked up. The automotive was improved with an extended wheelbase (136 inches), in addition to engine and cooling updates. Edsel, who not like his father had a eager design sense, additionally set about making Lincolns extra trendy.

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A Presidential Precedent

In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge switched from Pierce-Arrow to a brand new Lincoln. Silent Cal’s Lincoln marked the model’s entrée to the White Home motor pool, and its presidential presence would develop within the coming a long time.

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Ok Marks the High

The Mannequin Ok supplanted the Mannequin L for 1931, and the Ok-series vehicles turned Lincoln’s ultra-luxury flagships by way of the Nineteen Thirties. The highest KA fashions rode on a grandiose, 145-inch wheelbase. Atop the radiator shell was Lincoln’s running-greyhound hood decoration, which first appeared in 1929.

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Lincoln Strikes to V-12s

In 1932, Ford adopted a V-8 engine, and Lincoln stored its distance by introducing its first V-12. The model went completely V-12 beginning the following 12 months. For 1934, all Lincolns used a 414-cubic-inch V-12 with aluminum cylinder heads, good for 150 horsepower.

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A Zephyr Blows In

In 1936, Lincoln added the lower-priced Zephyr mannequin, and the model’s gross sales leaped five-fold over the earlier 12 months. The streamlined styling was trendy however not too on the market. A lot of the credit score for the design goes to John Tjaarda, who labored for Briggs Manufacturing, which engineered and assembled the Zephyr our bodies for Ford. The Zephyr was powered by its personal L-head V-12 engine, giving the Zephyr a brag level over different medium-priced vehicles, however the V-12 sadly earned a fame for overheating.

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FDR’s Sunshine Particular

President Franklin Roosevelt personally drove Fords (together with a Mannequin A phaeton and a ’36 Deluxe convertible sedan), however in 1939 he ordered a Lincoln Mannequin Ok for White Home responsibility. Christened the Sunshine Particular, it was modified by Brunn & Firm and had a 160-inch wheelbase, widened rear doorways, forward-facing leap seats, and seating for as much as 11 individuals. In 1942, it was fitted with new front-end styling, armor plating, and bulletproof glass, and it remained in service for 11 years.

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Lincoln’s Early Masterpiece

The Lincoln Continental was born from a modified Zephyr created as a one-off for Edsel Ford by designer Bob Gregorie in 1938. The Continental went into manufacturing as a coupe in late 1939 and a convertible the next 12 months. Decrease than the Zephyr and with an extended hood, the Continental boasted a clear, trendy design with no working boards and an exterior, trunk-mounted spare tire.

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The Inexperienced Hornet’s Tremendous Speedster

Within the unique, 1940 Inexperienced Hornet serial motion pictures, the title character—a newspaper writer who leads a double life as a masked crime fighter—drives a modified 1937 Lincoln Zephyr coupe, which he describes as his “tremendous speedster.” His sidekick is his servant, Kato, who says the speedster can do “higher than 200″—some Hollywood magic, there.

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Match for an Architect

Among the many notables who owned Lincoln Continentals was Frank Lloyd Wright. In reality, he owned two and is alleged to have known as the mannequin “probably the most stunning automotive on this planet.” Wright’s Continentals (seen right here at his Taliesin North property in Wisconsin) have been custom-made and painted in his signature coloration of Cherokee Crimson.

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Inaugural Lincolns

President Harry S Truman rode to his 1949 inauguration in a Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible. The White Home quickly ordered a fleet of 9 custom-bodied 1950 Cosmopolitans, which have been modified with a raised roofline and physique armor, in addition to one Cosmopolitan convertible. The Cosmopolitans stayed on into the Eisenhower Administration, and President Eisenhower had a plexiglass roof fitted to the convertible. President Kennedy rode in that convertible to his inauguration.

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Glory Days in Mexico

Mexico’s La Carrera Panamericana was a grueling, multi-day street race masking 2000-plus miles. It was run within the early Fifties and divided into sports-car and stock-car lessons. Within the 1952 race, ’53-model Lincolns completed a outstanding 1-2-3-4 within the stock-car class, and so they repeated that feat the next 12 months. Within the race’s ultimate 12 months of 1954, Lincoln took first and second place.

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Lincoln Futura

The Lincoln Futura was a 1955 idea automotive constructed by Ghia in Turin, Italy, at a value of $250,000. The automotive was the work of Lincoln-Mercury designer William M. Schmidt and featured a dual-dome plexiglass high (which raised for entry and exit), wildly hooded headlamps, and an air scoop that cooled the rear brakes. The automotive made its debut on the 1955 Chicago Auto Present and was displayed additionally on the Detroit auto present. The Futura later was featured within the 1959 film It Began with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford. However it will go on to a lot higher fame.

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Bam! It is the Batmobile!

Customizer George Barris bought the Lincoln Futura idea from Ford Motor Firm within the mid-Sixties, reportedly for a greenback. For a time, the automotive sat uncared for behind his store. When Barris was approached to create a Batmobile for the 1966 TV collection, he used the Futura as its foundation. The Batmobile was accomplished in simply three weeks. Barris later made three copies utilizing fiberglass molds from the unique automotive, every mounted on a stretched Ford Galaxie chassis; these vehicles have been largely used for promotional functions. In 2013, Barris bought the unique Batmobile at Barrett-Jackson’s Arizona public sale for $4,620,000.

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1956 Continental Mark II

The 1956 Continental Mark II wasn’t, strictly talking, a Lincoln, however as a substitute spearheaded the brand new Continental Division. The Continental Mark II carried a base worth of $9966 ($102,152 in right now’s cash) and got here totally loaded—air con was the one choice. The vehicles have been even shipped to sellers in a fleece-lined bag. Alas, the upmarket push proved an excessive amount of of a stretch, and each the automotive and the division did not final past 1957.

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A Star Is Born

The compass hood decoration, the work of designer Bob Thomas, was created for the 1956 Continental Mark II. After that automotive went out of manufacturing, the design was adopted by Lincoln. Now known as the Lincoln star, it has been modified over time however stays the model’s emblem to today.

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Residing Giant

The 1958–1960 Lincolns have been the most important unit-body vehicles ever produced, with the ’58 mannequin stretching 229 inches in size. The over-the-top styling featured angled quad headlights, a pointed entrance bumper, scalloped entrance fenders, canted tail fins, and a reverse-slanted and power-opening again window. Ford Motor Firm president Robert McNamara felt these vehicles had gone too far, and Lincoln dramatically modified course with its 1961 mannequin.

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Lincoln’s Trendy Traditional

A response to its outsized and overwrought predecessor, the 1961 Lincoln was 15 inches shorter in size however immeasurably higher in fashion and style. The pared-down lineup consisted of a four-door sedan and four-door convertible, every with distinctive center-opening doorways, and all taking the title Continental. The spare, restrained design is credited to Elwood Engel and stood in stark distinction to the excesses of the earlier decade. The automotive was rigorously advanced with solely minor design modifications that carried it by way of the top of the Sixties.

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The Unofficial Automotive of Camelot

President Kennedy ordered a 1961 Lincoln convertible as a brand new presidential limousine, specifying a darkish blue coloration. The automotive had the Secret Service code title X-100. Hess & Eisenhardt modified the automotive, including further size to the wheelbase and an influence rear seat that might be raised 10 inches for viewing. A 1962-style entrance finish was fitted the next 12 months. Tragically, that is the automotive by which JFK was assassinated as he rode by way of Dallas in November 1963. It was the final time a sitting U.S. president rode in an open automotive.

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The X-100 Rides On

Surprisingly given its infamy, JFK’s Lincoln limousine was refurbished to be used by President Johnson and remained in service till 1977. A hardtop with bulletproof glass was added (the earlier open automotive had a multi-piece high that might be put in), the automotive was repainted black, the inside was retrimmed, armor plating was fitted, and the output of the 430-cubic-inch engine was elevated. The automotive is now on show at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

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1969 Continental Mark III

In late 1965, a sleepless Lee Iacocca, then Ford Motor Firm group vp, positioned a middle-of-the-night telephone name to L. David Ash, a designer within the Particular Improvement Studio. “Put a Rolls-Royce grille on a Thunderbird,” he reportedly stated. Ash complied, and though design chief Eugene Bordinat wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, that seed of an thought turned the ’69 Continental Mark III. Iacocca had a way for what sells, and Lincoln’s entry into the burgeoning personal-luxury discipline proved a winner. The grille’s Rolls-Royce likeness would develop with the later Mark IV and Mark V generations, and gross sales soared.

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Certain-Monitor Brake

The 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III (along with the Ford Thunderbird) was the primary automotive bought in america with anti-lock brakes, which have been normal. Lincoln’s Certain-Monitor braking system, developed by provider Kelsey-Hayes, might pump the rear brakes 4 occasions per second to forestall lockup. The next 12 months, the ’71 Chrysler Imperial one-upped the Mark III with an anti-lock system that labored on all 4 wheels, but it surely was elective, and few consumers ordered it.

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Keep Cool

In 1971, Lincoln made air con normal tools on each the Continental and the Mark III. Lincoln was the primary American model to incorporate A/C at no further price. This was not a really daring transfer, nonetheless, as higher than 99 p.c of consumers had opted for air con the earlier 12 months.

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“There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to trip, no solution to cease…”

The Automotive, a late-’70s horror flick a couple of driverless, possessed automotive that terrorizes a desert city, featured a 1971 Lincoln within the starring function. Viewers won’t acknowledge it as such, because it was closely custom-made by George Barris. The film’s essential reception was typified by Selection, which stated: “The Automotive is a complete wreck.” Nonetheless, it spawned a 2019 sequel, The Automotive: Highway to Revenge. This time, nonetheless, the title character was primarily based on a Chrysler 300.

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Going to City

The City Automotive and City Coupe designations surfaced in 1972 as an choice package deal on Lincoln’s four-door and two-door Continentals. In 1981, the massive Lincoln turned recognized merely because the City Automotive and City Coupe—though the two-door physique fashion was dropped in 1982.

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That is My Lincoln

For a time within the Seventies, Lincoln consumers might get personalised plaques with their initials on them. They have been mounted simply above the surface door deal with. These have been for Bob and Dolores Yeager.

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The Designer Collection

In 1976, Lincoln launched a bunch of 4 Designer Collection trim packages for the Mark IV. The Invoice Blass, Cartier, Givenchy, and Pucci Editions every had cast-aluminum wheels and their very own particular coloration scheme as chosen by the designer, whose signature appeared on the oval opera window and on a dashboard plaque. The choice worth was $1500 or $2000, relying on whether or not material or leather-based upholstery was chosen. The Designer Collection returned with the 1977 Mark V and for years thereafter, and it will definitely included different designers and migrated to the City Automotive as nicely.

Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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