The prestigious Model K served as Lincoln Motor Car Company’s flagship model throughout the 1930s. When introduced in 1931, the K-series hit the showrooms featuring a new 145-inch wheelbase chassis with power coming via the 348.8 cubic inch V8 engine. While the V8 provided more than adequate performance for most clients, Lincoln was feeling the pressure from Cadillac and Packard to offer an engine of greater than eight cylinders. Ford Motor Company responded to the Cadillac V12 and V16 with its own V12-powered Model KB in 1932. The K-series was then split into two separate ranges, with the KA carrying over the V8 engine and the KB featuring the new 448 cubic inch V12. The early years of the Great Depression meant that sales were slim, but the V12 remained a key part of the Lincoln lineup well into the 1930s, keeping the company at the sharp end of the luxury car market even through those difficult economic times. By 1937, the junior model Zephyr had joined the range as a bridge between top-line Fords and the prestigious Model K. The Zephyr was also powered by a V12 engine, albeit of smaller displacement, but Lincoln continued to offer the Model K for high end buyers, who now had 17 different custom body styles to select from. The basic styling was simple but elegant, with art-deco inspired teardrop headlamps that were faired-in to the streamlined fenders and V-shaped windscreens were fitted on all standard bodies. On the mechanical side, the 414 cubic inch flathead V-12 engine was updated with hydraulic lifters and a revised cam shaft then placed further forward in the chassis to allow for more passenger room. The resulting car was elegant and understated, yet with an imposing presence and performance that demanded attention. Edsel Ford, then in charge of Lincoln, entrusted a select number of coachbuilders to supply catalog bodies for the K-series. Edsel had a keen eye for style, and he partnered with four independent coachbuilders - Judkins, Brunn, Willoughby and LeBaron, whom he had determined offered the kind of quality and style that Lincoln buyers demanded. To minimize overlap, each coachbuilder was assigned a different style. For example, Judkins focused on closed sedans and coupes, while Willoughby of Utica, New York would specialize in limousines, landaulets and town cars of the finest quality. One of Willoughby & Company’s most distinct offerings was the razor-edge style Panel Brougham, as fitted to our featured 1937 Lincoln Model K, chassis number K8376. At $7,050, it was the most lavish and expensive factory catalogued body available and as a result, just nine were built, of which only two are known to survive today. The distinct styling features sweeping door lines that harken to the carriage days, as well as a steeply raked, thin pillar V-windscreen, open driver’s compartment, and an enclosed passenger compartment with sharply creased corners. The period brochure describes the Willoughby Panel Brougham as “An eminently correct motor car for formal use...” Intended to be chauffeur driven, as the driver’s compartment can be opened with the removal of the soft leatherette roof. Customers could opt for plain painted livery or the fabulously intricate hand-painted “caning” as applied to this car. Serial number K8376 is one of just two known survivors to wear this magnificent body style, and it was once part of the illustrious collection of J.C. Whitney founder Roy Warshawsky, who had a particular fondness for Lincoln automobiles. The magnificent restoration was performed by the highly regarded Rick Kriss, and the car scored a Best in Class at the 1988 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as well as an AACA National First Prize in the same year. Following the dispersing of Warshawsky’s collection, this Lincoln was acquired by Dr. Joseph Murphy of Pennsylvania, who sold it two years later to the renowned collector, General William Lyon. The stately Lincoln remained a fixture of Gen. Lyon’s collection for a decade before joining the most recent owner’s stable of important Full Classic automobiles in 2008. This wonderful Willoughby-bodied Lincoln remains in beautiful condition, clearly having benefitted from years of expert care in the hands of several renowned collectors. The black paint befits the razor-edge styling beautifully, and it remains in excellent condition with just the slightest hint of patina beginning to appear. The gorgeous coachwork is fully accessorized, with dual Senior Trippe Lights, Greyhound mascot, dual sidemount spares with painted covers, dual outside mirrors, and chrome wire wheels with wide-white tires. The presentation is simply beautiful, the restoration having matured slightly, though has obviously been treated to the utmost in care. The driver’s compartment is trimmed in black leather as original, as it is hard wearing and easily maintained for chauffeur duty. The dash retains its original instrumentation and controls, with fabulous art-deco detailing. In the rear, passengers travel in lush accommodations with gray broadcloth upholstery and matching carpeting. The upholstery and fittings remain in excellent condition, belying the years since the restoration was completed. Luxurious details abound such as dual wood-trimmed vanity mirrors, dual ash trays, a roll-down glass division, fabric roller blinds on all windows, foot rests, dual jump seats and a handsome Jaeger 8-day clock. Wood trim and detailing is exemplary, with the car still presenting very much in showable condition. The factory original V12 engine is in fine running order, having been well maintained and sparingly used in the hands of its previous owners. Engine presentation is excellent, befitting a car that is a prior class winner at Pebble Beach. The Model K was renowned in its time for exceptional smoothness and power, and this example lives up to that legacy, performing admirably on the road while exuding a sense of quality and occasion with its fabulous coachwork. A very well-maintained older restoration with important and rare coachwork, this handsome Lincoln Model K is quite well suited for local concours, CCCA or AACA events and would make a most elegant choice for CCCA CARavan tours. Just as it did in 1937, this lavish motorcar exemplifies pre-war grandeur and sophistication.
From 1931 through 1940, the K-series sat atop the Lincoln lineup, serving as the marque’s flagship offering during the height of, and twilight of, the coachbuilt American motorcar era. The first K-series cars were powered by an L-Head V8 of adequate power, but Cadillac’s headline-stealing salvo in the multi-cylinder war prompted Edsel Ford to respond, and he did so with the commission a V12 engine which was introduced in 1932. The K-series was split between the small displacement KA and the larger and more prestigious KB. By 1934, the series was consolidated and powered by a new 414-cubic inch V12, which remained the basis for the line through 1940. The biggest improvements to the engine came in 1936 with the introduction of hydraulic lifters and a revised cam which allowed for smoother and virtually silent operation. Also from 1936 onward, the engine sat further forward in the chassis, which allowed for greater interior volume, and the body was reworked with a more streamlined appearance. Even with the addition of the Zephyr, Lincoln’s wealthiest clients remained loyal to the Model K, as it still offered the road presence and status of a full-sized, coachbuilt motorcar. Lincoln allowed buyers to specify one of at least 17 different custom-catalog body styles; so each car was built to a standard design with colors and trim chosen by the client. Once selected, the car was built and finished to their tastes. The 1936 K-Series Lincoln was elegant and understated, yet it still had an imposing presence that demanded attention. Ultimately however, sales suffered particularly as the junior series Lincoln Zephyr offered twelve-cylinder prestige at a fraction of the price of the hand-built K-Series. This wonderful 1936 Lincoln Model K wears LeBaron style 334, an elegant convertible sedan body with glass partition riding atop a 145-inch wheelbase chassis. One of just 30 examples of its kind produced, this car is believed to have been purchased new by the Wrigley Family, delivered via a California dealer and kept at the family’s famous Pasadena mansion on Millionaire’s Row. It is not known exactly how long the Wrigley’s retained the car, but it is understood that it remained in California for the next seventy years, eventually joining the legendary broadcaster Art Astor’s extensive collection. It remained with Mr. Astor until its sale in 2008 and it has since been treated to a very sympathetic cosmetic restoration that has been maintained in fine order. The car wears high quality black paintwork that remains in very good condition, atop very straight and sound bodywork. The body is subtly striped in dark red and accessorized with dual side mount spare wheels, dual Trippe driving lamps, dual mirrors and a greyhound radiator mascot. The LeBaron design incorporates an elegantly sloping built-in trunk, while a trunk rack is also fitted for additional luggage capacity. Wide whitewall tires are mounted to optional red wire wheels (stamped steel wheels were offered in 1936 as well) which help to add a pop of color and nicely tie together the interior and exterior themes. Inside the luxurious cabin, dark red leather covers the seats and door panels in front and rear. Roll up side glass keeps occupants warm and dry in poor weather, though we can’t imagine the Wrigley family encountering much of that in beautiful Pasadena! The driver’s compartment has recently been retrimmed as part of the restoration work and shows very light use since; while the rear compartment is believed to still feature the original leather, which remains in excellent condition. Rather unusually for an open body style, this car features a division window to offer privacy to rear occupants. Rear passengers are also treated to individual cigar lighters, foot rests and a lap blanket bar. Up front, the excellent dash features an original radio and good quality instrumentation and switchgear. The black canvas top is excellent and when folded, partially disappears behind the rear seats, lending the car a very sleek and finely resolved appearance whether open or closed. Mechanically, this Model K is in fine order, with the V12 engine running strong and returning very good performance. It drives well on the road, the sympathetic restoration helping to retain a good deal of the original character. The engine shows a fair amount of patina from use but remains tidy and clean, very well suited for touring and regular enjoyment. Thanks to its power and smooth running nature, the Lincoln K-Series is a favorite among tour enthusiasts. This car is a recognized Full Classic by the Classic Car Club of America and therefore eligible for their numerous events. Rare and handsomely presented, this Lincoln K would be a most welcome addition to a collection of Full Classic Lincolns or be a fine choice for any enthusiast seeking a beautiful, LeBaron designed, twelve-cylinder Lincoln to enjoy on the road.