ANNIVERSARY OF THE PURCHASE OF THE LINCOLN MOTOR COMPANY BY FORD MOTOR COMPANY.
Parts of this article have been included in the 2023 program of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
February 4 4 2023, marked the 100th anniversary since the acquisition by The Lincoln Motor Company by Ford Motor Company. The most significant result of this acquisition is that, for over 100 years, Lincoln products have been a reflection of the style and aesthetic of a true automotive pioneer, Edsel Ford. The essence that the company has and its vehicles since the beginning have been built on Edsel Ford’s appreciation for beauty, grace, and spirit, as well as design. We’ll get to the cars that showcase the influence of Lincoln and Edsel Ford on automotive history later, but let’s begin with the background first. This offered luxurious features at a reasonable cost. The numbers of sales at Lincoln reflect the dramatic shifts Edsel Ford was making as 5512 Lincolns were sold the year following the purchase, nearly more than double what Lelands was able to sell during the previous 17 months.
Model K was introduced in 1931. Model K was introduced in 1931 to replace Model L, which debuted under the Leland ownership of Lincoln. In 1932, it was announced that the Model K was split into the Model KA and KB series. The KB had the larger wheelbase, with a 145″, and came with the 447 cu. Inches. V12 engine. Its KB series badge had a blue background, whereas the KA had the red experience. There were over two dozen custom and standard models available for body designs. On May 30, 1932, Edsel Ford sat in the Lincoln KB Murphy-bodied roadster as the pace car in the Indianapolis 500. The Model KA and KB were not used until the year 1934 MY. After 1935, they were reverted into Model K and were designated by the wheelbase. The custom body designers included Derham Body Co., Willoughby, Brunn, Dietrich, Murphy, LeBaron, and Judkins. The Model K was discontinued after the 1939 Model Year as prices and fashions changed. The last few Model K’s were offered at the time of the 1940 MY.
The year was 1932 when Edsel came across Bob Gregorie, who was a designer of yachts before the depression forced him to work in the Detroit automobile industry. Edsel, Gregorie, and John Crawford, Edsel’s executive assistant and shopmaster, created a design team of three to design The Ford Motor Company and Lincoln. Two of the first designs they devoted their attention to included the 1938 and 1936 Zephyr, which were both regarded as design classics due to various reasons. They were both designed by the Briggs Body Company and had been the coachbuilder of choice for both the Ford Motor Company and the Model L luxury Lincolns; however, as the dawn of the recession and a decline in sales of cars that were ultra-luxury and luxury cars, they began to search for a new vehicle. Briggs’ designer John Tjaarda had done some preliminary studies of the streamlined prototypes that were presented to Edsel Ford, who instantly saw the potential of the car.
Its 1936 Zephyr was a derivative of that aerodynamic design (that Tjaarda had shown at the 1934 World’s Fair). Still, it was transformed into a front-engine vehicle, sporting a particular model that was based on the Ford flathead V-8 that had been changed to a V-12. Although it was true that the 1936 Zephyr was not the first car with an aerodynamic design, it was one of the first ones to gain wide acceptance by the public. The aerodynamic look that the vehicle had was reflected in its teardrop-shaped logo and headlights that invoked that spirit of “west wind.”
In 1938, Zephyr, Bob Gregorie, and Edsel Ford came up with some of the biggest overhauls of a previously-owned automobile line. The first Zephyr did well, but Gregorie and Edsel thought that it could be improved. Gregorie altered the location of the radiator. This required an entirely new front grille that he created with a horizontal design that was quickly adopted by the automotive industry. One commentator said that even though the Zephyr was considered to be an efficient, streamlined car since the model of 1938, it was also beautiful.