Lincoln is an American luxury brand of the Ford Motor Company.
The company was founded in August 1915 by Henry M. Leland, one of the founders of Cadillac (originally the Henry Ford Company). During World War I, he left Cadillac which was sold to General Motors. He formed the Lincoln Motor Company named after Abraham Lincoln his longtime hero, to build Liberty aircraft engines with his son Wilfred using cylinders supplied by Ford Motor Company. After the war, the company's factories were retooled to manufacture luxury automobiles. The Lincoln Motor Company was active until April 30 1940, the following day it became Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company.
The company encountered severe financial troubles during the transition, coupled with body styling that wasn't comparable to other luxury makers, and after having produced only 150 Lincoln L-series cars in 1922, was forced into bankruptcy and sold for US$8,000,000 to the Ford Motor Company on February 4, 1922, which went to pay off some of the creditors.
The purchase of Lincoln was a personal triumph for Henry Ford, who had been forced out of his second (after Detroit Automobile Company) company by a group of investors led by Leland. Ford's company, renamed Cadillac in 1902 and purchased by rival General Motors in 1909, was Lincoln's chief competitor. Henry had previously produced luxury vehicles under the Ford name, called the Ford Model B in 1904, the Ford Model F in 1905, and the Ford Model K in 1906 but they weren't accepted by the automotive buying market. When Henry acquired Lincoln, it quickly became one of America's top selling luxury brands alongside Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow, Marmon, Peerless, Duesenberg, and Packard. Ford made no immediate change, either in the chassis or the V8 L-head engine which was rated 36.4 SAE and produced 90 bhp (67 kW; 91 PS) at 2,800 rpm. An unusual feature of this power unit was the 60 degree separation of the cylinder blocks that helped to cut down on synchronous vibration found with similar engines with 90 degree separation produced at the time. After the Ford takeover, bodywork changes and reduced prices increased sales to 5,512 vehicles from March to December 1922.
At the direction of Henry's son Edsel, in 1923 several body styles were introduced, that included two- and three-window, four door sedans and a phaeton that accommodated four passengers. They also offered a two passenger roadster and a seven passenger touring sedan and limousine, which was sold for $5,200. A sedan, limo, cabriolet and town car were also offered by coachbuilders Fleetwood, Derham and Dietrich, and a second cabriolet was offered by coachbuilder Brunn. Lincoln contracted with dozens of coachbuilders during the 1920s and early 30s to create multiple custom built vehicles, to include American, Anderson, Babcock, Holbrook, Judkins, Lang, LeBaron, Locke, Murray, Towson, and Willoughby in the 1920s. Murphy, Rollston, and Waterhouse were added in the 1930s.
Prices for the vehicles built by these coachbuilders went for as much as $7,200, and despite the limited market appeal, Lincoln sales rose about 45 percent to produce 7,875 cars and the company was operating at a profit by the end of 1923.
In 1924 large touring sedans began to be used by police departments around the country. They were known as Police Flyers, which were equipped with four wheel brakes, two years before they were introduced on private sale vehicles. These specially equipped vehicles, with bulletproof windshields measuring 7/8 of an inch thick and spot lights mounted on the ends of the windshield, also came with an automatic windshield wiper for the driver and a hand operated wiper for the front passenger. Police whistles were coupled to the exhaust system and gun racks were also fitted to these vehicles.
Optional equipment was not necessarily an issue with Lincolns sold during the 1920s, however, customers who wanted special items were accommodated. A nickel plated radiator shell could be installed for $25, varnished natural wood wheels were $15, or Rudge-Whitworth center-lock wire wheels for another $100. Disteel steel disc wheels were also available for $60. Lincoln chose not to make yearly model changes, used as a marketing tool of the time, designed to lure new customers. Lincoln customers of the time were known to purchase more than one Lincoln with different bodywork, so changing the vehicle yearly was not done to accommodate their customer base. In 1927, Lincoln attached a greyhound as the hood ornament, then in the 1930s used a coat of arms with a red cross in the center and a knights helmet at the top as the official emblem. The coat of arms appeared on varius Lincoln models until the mid 1950s where the coat of arms evolved into the framed four pointed star that is currently in use.
In 1932, Lincoln introduced the V12-powered KB platform along side the V8 powered KA platform with an all new streamlined appearance. In 1933, Eugene T. "Bob" Gregorie, at the styling studio created by Edsel Ford, began designing the smaller Lincoln-Zephyr, which led to the first Continental, a bespoke one-off specially created for Edsel Ford, Henry's son.
The smaller Lincoln-Zephyr was introduced for the 1936 model year as a marque of its own, it featured a 267 cu in (4.4 L) V12, it was very successful, its first year increased Lincoln sales almost ninefold. It remained a separate marque until the end of 1940 modelyear and then became a model under Lincoln when the large Lincoln Twelve was discontinued, from 1941 model year all Lincolns were based on Zephyr chassis and when production started after the War the Zephyr name was not continued.
It started as a one-off project car for Edsel Ford, who wanted a European-style car unlike the boxier designs his father's company produced, to drive around on vacations in Florida. Gregorie sectioned a 1939 Lincoln-Zephyr V-12 Convertible Coupe 4 inches (102 mm), this custom built personal car was given the styling features known from later Continental Marks including the vertically mounted spare tire. The car was put in production for the 1940 modelyear as a model under Lincoln-Zephyr, in June 1940 the Club Coupe was added and from 1941-48 it was a model under Lincoln marque. When production ceased in 1948 a total of 5322 had been built. The Continental's spare tire mount was very distinctive, those who work on custom cars still call adding a similar mount a "Continental kit".
The Continental Mark II revived the concept. It was now a separate marque developed by the Continental Division, production ran between June 1955 and May 1957. The Mark II had a basic list price of $10,000, the same as a Rolls-Royce that year. The Continental Division was formed on October 16 1954 and overseen by Lincoln Division on July 18 1956, they continued producing cars under the Continental marque for 1957-59 and again from 1969-85.
During 1968 and 1980 (the 1969 Continental Mark III was introduced in April 1968) Lincoln-Mercury Division produced its Lincoln Continental alongside with the Continental Mark models, this has caused a lot of confusion concerning the two marques, but Continental was a separate marque as well as a modelname for Lincoln during these years.
Lincoln was one of the Premier Automotive Group brands from 1998 to 2002, but was pulled out due to Ford's new marketing strategy of separating its import brands from its domestic marques. In recent years the company had fallen behind Japanese, European, and American competitors for a lack of new models. The company has reacted to remedy this, however, by sharing parts and platforms with other Ford divisions worldwide in an attempt to bring more new models to market faster. The result is the introduction of several new models, starting with the 2006 Mark LT pickup (later replaced by the Platinum trim version of the Ford F-150), Zephyr (upgraded and renamed Lincoln MKZ for the 2007 model year) and the MKX Crossover SUV. Subsequent model launches were the MKS sedan in 2009 and the MKT "Touring" crossover for the 2010 model year.
Lincoln vehicles are currently officially available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, South Korea, and the Middle East. Lincoln competes with other luxury brands, mainly Cadillac of Ford's American arch rival General Motors, but also to a lesser extent with brands such as Lexus of Toyota, Infiniti of Nissan, Acura of Honda, and Audi of Volkswagen.
Lincoln has a long history of providing official state limousines for the U.S. President. The first car specially built for Presidential use was the 1939 Lincoln V12 convertible called the "Sunshine Special" used by Franklin D. Roosevelt. It remained in use until 1948.
A 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan called the "Bubble Top" was used by Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and once by Johnson. It was retired in 1965.
The Lincoln limousine made famous in Dallas was a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible, custom built by Hess and Eisenhart of Cincinnati, and known as the SS-100-X. The Secret Service had the car fitted with a 1962 grill for aesthetic reasons. It was in use from 1961 to 1977, having undergone extensive alterations which made it an armor-plated sedan after Kennedy's assassination. A 1969 Lincoln was used by Nixon and a 1972 Lincoln used by Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush. A 1989 Lincoln was the last Presidential Lincoln as of 2004. Cadillac supplied Presidential limousines in 1983, 1993, 2001, and 2004.
The John F. Kennedy limousine also included a "Plexiglas" bubble top to be used in the event of inclement weather. The 1961 vehicle was notorious for its inadequate cooling of the rear of the passenger cabin while the bubble top was in place, particularly in sunshine. In order to prevent excessive heat and discomfort to the passengers, the top was often removed prior to parades, as was the case in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Though it was always assumed that President Lyndon Baines Johnson had the car destroyed after the assassination of President Kennedy, the 100-X was turned over to the Secret Service, Army Materials Research Center, Hess & Eisenhart, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, and Ford Motor Company for retrofitting of armor plating, permanent sedan roof, new interior, improved air-conditioning system, electronic communications equipment, bulletproof glass, a new paint treatment, as well as cosmetic alterations to remove damage incurred during the assassination, among other changes. The car is also on display at the Henry Ford Museum.
The Johnson Administration also used three 1965 Lincoln Continental Executive Limousines. Two limousines for the President and one for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, as well as a 1968 "stretch" Lincoln to be used in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas. This vehicle is on display at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.
The 100-X was modified again in 1967. Later, under President Richard Nixon, the large one-piece glass roof was replaced with a smaller glass area and a hinged roof panel. It remained in service until 1977 and resides in its final configuration at the Henry Ford Museum.
President Nixon ordered a 1969 model limousine, through Lehman-Peterson of Chicago. This vehicle also had an added sunroof so that Nixon could stand upright when appearing before parade-goers if desired. This vehicle was equipped with several features, such as retractable hand grips and running boards, options later copied by Hess and Eisenhart. This car is now located at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California.
In 1974, Ford supplied a 1972 Continental model which was stretched to 22 feet (7 m), outfitted with armor plating, bullet resistant glass and powered by a 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 engine. This limousine was used by Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, and is on display at the Henry Ford Museum. This model was also altered a number of times during its history, including a full body redesign in 1979. This was the limousine that Reagan was about to enter during his assassination attempt in 1981.