Lincoln Model K

From the current perspective, it would seem foolish to launch a luxury vehicle in the midst of Great Depression. But as history showed, while regular car sales sensed the full negative impact of the crisis, the luxury car market continued to develop despite the harsh conditions in the United States.

In the 1930s only two strong competitors were trying to capture their share as America's most prestige brand Cadillac and Lincoln. Under the leadership of Edsel Ford, Lincoln Model K was launched in 1931 to further the company influence on the market.

As an interesting fact, both Cadillac and Lincoln had the same founder - Henry Martyn Leland. A brilliant engineer learned precision tool making during the Civil War, Henry used his skills and knowledge into every business venture.

However, designing perfect cars proved easier than running a car manufacturing company so his undertakings were subsequently taken over by the automotive industry giants. In 1909 William Durant bought Cadillac and made it a part of General Motors. Leland remained president of Cadillac for almost ten years after, but after a clash of visions with Durant decided to leave and form another company. Thus in January 1920, a new Lincoln Motor Company was created.

Named after Abraham Lincoln, a famous President of United States, company struggled with financial problems early on. Henry Ford saw an opportunity and in 1922 purchased the company. When Leland left yet again following a disagreement with Henry Ford, the company named Edsel Ford as the new president giving him the opportunity to leave his own mark in the American automotive industry.

How does the Lincoln Model K fit in the story? Edsel Ford had completely different philosophy than his father when it came to making cars. Model K is a perfect example of total design transformation into luxury stylish vehicles of the 1930s.

Powered by a 385 cu in V8 engine with a dual Stromberg carburetor, Lincoln Model K was able to generate 120 horsepower. The three speed transmission was standard equipment. A completely new chassis car with 145 inch wheelbase was developed, making the car longer and lower. Newly peaked radiator shell was placed behind headlamp buckets, along with twin chromed trumpet horns.

Factory body styles included a two or four door phaeton. Top coachbuilders regularly supplied additional Model K bodies. In example a four passenger convertible roadster had a base price of $4,700. Not many could afford such a high cost during the Great Depression. But stars and successful businessman still wanted their own Model K. One of the famous buyers was the creator of popular detective Perry Mason, the novelist Erle Stanley Gardner.

In 1932 Lincoln K was split into two production lines. The first was based on 125 hp V8 engine on a 136 in wheelbase called Model KA. The second Model KB line was using new enhanced 150 hp L-head V12 engine. Both series came with a new grille, modern vent doors and a parking light on top of each front fender.

The Autocar Road tested Model KB at famous Brooklands circuit and the results showed impressive 100 mph speed regardless of the heavy weight just below 6,000 pounds. In 1932 Model K prices were adapted to customer needs, so one could buy the basic Model KA for just $3,200 and Model KB price would range between $4,300 up to $7,200.

Lincoln sales in 1932 totaled at 3,406, with Model KA showing 1,765 units and Model KB at 1,641 units sold. It was approximately five percent fall from the previous year, but still rather good compared to competitors which had a thirty percent fall in sales. In any case, Ford Model K is undoubtedly the most exquisite Lincoln ever built and remains a top classic car for the collectors.

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