Antique Cars of MCARLM: Lincoln Luxury
MCARLM boasts a grand collection of antique automobiles on display. Along with our standard Ford Model-T and Model-A, we host a 1927 Lincoln Passenger Sedan. This vehicle in particular has been undergoing repairs for an extensive period, but after much hard work by the MCARLM volunteers, the car is back for the public to view in the museum.
The Lincoln brand happens to actually be a division of the Ford Motor Company. Lincoln is the luxury branch of Ford, and dates back to 1917 when it was founded by Henry Leland. Leland originally started the Lincoln Motor Company independently alongside his son, but it was later acquired by Ford. The brand was financed through a $10 million military contract throughout World War I which allowed them to open a plant in Detroit. Here, the Lincoln Motor Company was the final stop for the assembly of Liberty V12 engines. At the end of the war, Lincoln had assembled 6,500 aircraft engines. Although the company had been producing vehicle parts for years since its formation, it was not until 1920 when the Lincoln Motor Company first produced its own original automobile – the Model L. The company was traversing on bumpy roads as it switched from military production to a true automobile manufacturer. A major issue became apparent as customers grew frustrated at the long production wait times – oftentimes waiting up to a year since the initial vehicle purchase. All of this turbulence landed Lincoln on the verge of bankruptcy by 1922. Later that same year, Henry Ford bought the company for $8 million, half of what it was valued at. After the Lincoln acquisition, the Lelands remained on board at Ford but with a smaller role.
During this time, General Motors – Ford’s main competitor – had been swiftly expanding its automotive branches. The purchase of Lincoln gave Ford the Luxury division needed to rival Cadillac – GM’s higher-end branch. However, business between the Lelands and Ford did not go smoothly; just a few months after the acquisition, the Lelands were forced to resign from their positions. Once they had left, changes were made to the original Model L design. By this time, the original was regarded by the public as an aging – even outdated – design. Edsel Ford – the new head of the Lincoln division – updated the design to feature a custom-bodied form. This elevated the car to the standards of a Rolls Royce – helping to gain public approval. This new version became the first state limousine officially used by a president, Calvin Coolidge, in 1924.
In just 8 years since the brand was bought by Ford, the Lincoln had become a real rival to the Cadillac. The model was in production for 10 years during which it underwent very minimal changes. Since the vehicle allowed buyers to customize the body, many customers enjoyed buying multiple versions of the same vehicle but with different, unique bodies. For this reason, the brand thought following the industry standard of notable annual updates to vehicles did not suit the needs of their customer base.
After all of the company’s ups and downs, one of these luxury models now rests here in our museum complex.