1937 LINCOLN MODEL K TOURING PHAETON
COACHWORK BY WILLOUGHBY
Chassis No. K8194
Engine No. K8194
Olive green with black fenders and running gear and black leather interior
Engine: V12, side valve, 414ci, 150bhp at 3,400rpm; Gearbox: 3-speed manual; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
Henry Leland formed the Lincoln Motor Company in August 1917 to build Liberty aero engines to support the Allied war effort in the great war of 1914-18. It took seven months to build the first engine, but within ten months they were producing 50 engines a day. The Armistice of November 1918 brought cancellation of all government orders but Leland, undaunted, was able to announce his new Lincoln V8 luxury car in September 1920. Leland's high renown as engineer and designer generated 1,000 firm orders even before the Lincoln was shown to the public. It was a good start, but soon there were problems. There was a sharp post-war slump. Suppliers failed to deliver on time, body styles were disappointing; many of those 1,000 prospective orders melted away when the cars arrived in showrooms. With sales much more modest than hoped for, in 1921 Lincoln found it impossible to make a profit.
Eventually Henry Ford bought Lincoln, settled its debts and, against all expectations, continued to promote the marque as a car of the highest quality - which it most certainly remained. But it was an uphill task and between 1922 and 1930 Lincoln sold an average of only 7,000 cars a year. Packard and Cadillac, costing about the same, outsold Lincoln three to one. Like its competitors, the company sought to fight the consequences of the great depression with ever more magnificent automobiles. In 1932 came the fabled Lincoln Model K series including the KB, the company's first car with V12 power.
With the Lincoln V12 nothing was stinted. The smooth motor's 150bhp was delivered with enviable smoothness and great flexibility. The Model K was, if required, truly a top-gear car from walking pace to its 95mph maximum speed and had handling and brakes to match its effortless high performance. Edsel Ford, who in the 1920s hired Bob Gregorie, a young yacht designer, to head a three man Ford styling studio, was fascinated by the shape of the automobile. Under Gregorie's gifted leadership the looks of the Lincoln were transformed. He brought in the cream of American coachbuilders to advise and create new styles and shapes. At last the Lincoln's appearance was in keeping with its quality.
Coachbuilder Francis Willoughby's workshops were located in Utica, New York where during the 1920s his craftsmen painstakingly built a reputation for superbly finished and restrained formal town car coachwork. Through the 1930s they custom-built bodies for Lincoln and a wide selection of other American luxury chassis. By 1935 the demand for such costly confections had steadily dwindled as lower priced all-steel production models from the major manufacturers began to rival the luxury makers for style, refinement and performance. Lincoln was not exempt from this trend. In 1937 Willoughby hand-crafted only five seven-seater open touring phaeton Lincolns. From the characterful treatment of the instrument panel, to the details of leather upholstery, handles and folding top, the Willoughby coachwork embodies the best of American coachbuilding practice in the late 1930s.
This Willoughby bodied K is a good solid example that is described as largely original and unrestored. This Lincoln is said to be in good running condition and was used on many occasions by Mr. Warshawsky and his family. The door panels appear to be in original, well preserved condition, but part of the seats have been finished in vinyl. It is fitted with a front vee windshield and rear windscreen with wind wings for the comfort of the aft passengers. This rare custom bodied Lincoln is recognized as a 'Full Classic' by the C.C.C.A. and is eligible for many of the club sponsored events.