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Lincoln Cars: : An Interesting History

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Lincoln

Lincoln Cars: : An Interesting History

Ronnie Tanner
April 3, 2009

Most do not realize that Lincoln actually had its beginnings as a company separate from Ford Motor Company. The company was started by Henry Leland in 1917 and named for one of Leland’s heroes, President Abraham Lincoln. Henry Leland had actually been one of the founders of the Cadillac Car Company, which had been the Henry Ford Company. The Lincoln Motor Company was created to build Liberty aircraft engines for the United Stated during World War One. With the end of the war, Leland had the factories retooled to produce automobiles. Ford Motor Company was able to acquire Lincoln in 1922 when the luxury automobile manufacturer encountered severe financial difficulties. Henry Ford was quite pleased to be able to acquire the company from Leland. He viewed it as retribution as Leland had led investors to force Ford out of the Detroit Automobile Company, a company that Ford had founded.

Once Ford acquired the company, body style changes were introduced and the price was lowered. These changes resulted in increased sales to 5,512 vehicles sold in 1922. Up from the previous 150 models sold the previous year, which had led to the hardship that had forced the company into bankruptcy.

In 1923, several different body styles were introduced including a two-passenger roadster and a seven-passenger limousine.

A specially designed police model, known as the Police Flyer was marketed to law enforcement divisions around the country. A special draw was Ford’s willingness to modify the vehicles to suit the needs of police officers in the field. Bulletproof windows were added, spotlights were placed on the sides of the vehicle and gun racks were mounted to the interior section of cars. The cars were also fitted with four-wheel brakes a full two years before they were offered on vehicles meant for private sale. These police cruisers coupled with the success of the four door private sedans allowed the Lincoln division to show a profit margin by the end of 1924 just two years after the company had been pulled from the jaws of bankruptcy.

The bestselling car in Lincoln’s history was developed by a designer named Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie. Gregorie was designing a car for Edsel Ford who wanted a sleeker vehicle more in line with European style cars. The Lincoln Zephyr was the result and was offered for the 1936 model year. Sales skyrocketed its first year on market and sales for Ford increased by 9 times what it had done the previous year. This was the car that would eventually become the Lincoln Continental, one of the most important cars in the history of Lincoln. The car was so successful that it was nearly used as a brand name by itself. The advent of World War Two ended production of the popular Zephyr when Ford converted many of its factories to war work. The Continental which would go on to become so famous was based on mostly completely of the Zephyr.

Lincoln has also occupied a prominent place in history by providing many of the vehicles that would be used as official state vehicles for presidents of the United States. The first Lincoln vehicle to be used in this capacity was a 1939 Lincoln V12 used by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The limousine in use on that fateful day in Dallas in November 1963 was also a Lincoln. It is currently on display at the Henry Ford Museum. Lincoln vehicles have also been used by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush.

Beginning in 2007, Lincoln made a change to its marketing strategy and began giving three-letter names to all new models with the exception of the Navigator and the Town Car. In 2009, Lincoln is expected to make the MKS its new flagship model, replacing the Town Car, which has had that position in the Ford line up since 1981. Ronnie Tanner has been in the used engine industry now for over 5 years specializing in the sale of Chevy Engines, Ford Engines and Used Honda Engines.

Source: Amazines.com

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