1923 Lincoln Model L 7-Passenger Touring Car
Chassis no. 11186
358ci L-head inline 8-cylinder engine
Single Stromberg carburetor
3-speed manual transmission
4-wheel semi-elliptical leaf springs with front and rear floating axles
Rear wheel mechanical brakes
*Formerly in the Richard C. Paine Jr. Collection
*Offered from a Private European Museum Collection
*Equipped with the desirable Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels
The Lincoln Model L
Henry Martyn Leland had earned his reputation as Detroit's "Master of Precision" long before establishing Lincoln to build Liberty aircraft engines for The Great War.
Leland established Cadillac's reputation as "The Standard of the World", then left in a dispute with Billy Durant and started Lincoln, commencing automobile manufacture after the war. His first Lincoln was superbly engineered and built. Introduced in 1921, its V-8 was unlike more conventional V-engines which offset the cylinder banks slightly to make room for adjacent connecting rod bearings on the crank journals. Leland's Model L used fork-and-blade connecting rods and disposed the cylinders directly opposite each other. Unusually for the period, Leland's V-8 had full pressure lubrication. The Model L Lincolns were powerful, reliable and strong.
Leland, however, had an engineer's vision and the bodies which completed his automobiles were stodgy and out of date. Dismal sales, the post WWI recession and an erroneous $4½ million tax bill spelled the end of Lincoln. It was bought out of receivership in 1922 by none other than Henry Ford to balance the success of the bare bones Model T with the best-engineered and best-built luxury automobile in America.
The Motorcar Offered
Ford put his son Edsel, who had an innate sense of style, grace, balance and proportion, in charge of Lincoln and the automobiles soon began to reflect Edsel's vision. This 1923 Lincoln Model L (the "L" indicated its design by Henry and Wilfred Leland and would remain the catalog designation until the V-8 was superseded in 1931, a measure of even the Fords' respect for the "Master of Precision") reflects the beginning of Edsel Ford's influence on Lincoln design. The long hood, continuous beltline accent, subtly defined passenger compartment edges and body sides that curve in to join the frame cover all convey a tight, integrated sense of purpose and performance that perfectly suited the Leland-designed chassis and drivetrain.
Acquired from Bonhams sell-out endowment-creating auction for the Richard C. Paine Jr Collection in 2008, the Lincoln is finished in maroon with black fenders, dark brown leather upholstery and black leatherette top, this car has black Rudge-Whitworth centerlock wire wheels and black sidewall tires that convey an elegant, no-nonsense demeanor that is appropriate for an expensive, luxury automobile delivered in the wake of the post World War I economic difficulties.
It is modestly but effectively equipped with a folding steering wheel, jump seats, folding rear compartment footrest and an intermediate cowl with locking storage compartments. There is an absolute minimum of brightwork; in fact the only bright trim are the nickel plated Bausch & Lomb drum headlights, the hubcaps and the greyhound radiator cap mascot. Even the windshield frame is painted black.
Physical indications tend to support the displayed mileage because despite an old repaint and some rust bubbles in the bottom of the panels between the doors it appears to be complete, right down to the engine compartment drip pans which rarely survive. It bears a painted registration number on the rear valence which appears to be from the province of Buenos Aires, presumably in Argentina. The painted inscription below the number is "Provisoria", Temporary, indicating that it was never permanently registered and further explaining its apparent low miles. The doors fit and close well, with even gaps and flush fits. The engine appears to be original in all important respects, helping confirm the impression that this is a very sweet and surpassingly rare largely original survivor from the earliest days of the Lincoln Motor Co. Division of the Ford Motor Company.
There is an abundance of history in this Lincoln, a somewhat dowdy survivor from the days when Edsel Ford was turning Henry and Wilfred Leland's ugly duckling into a great performing showcase for the work of some of America's best body designers and coachbuilders. It is a Classic Car Club of American Full Classic, eligible for the full schedule of CCCA events, tours and awards.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit and its engine number is 11186.