Lot 1029: 1929 Lincoln Model L 7-Passenger Dual Windshield Sport Touring
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. Apprenticed in the armories of New England, Leland adopted the principles of close tolerance manufacture of interchangeable parts and advanced precision manufacturing techniques at machine tool manufacturer Brown & Sharpe. He brought these principles to Detroit as a machine tool distributor, shortly thereafter setting up Leland & Faulconer as a precision supplier to the burgeoning auto industry.
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.
Leland’s first Lincoln was superbly engineered and built. Introduced in 1921, it was powered by a 358 cubic inch L-head 60° V8 engine. 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 V8 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Leland, however, had an engineer’s vision and the bodies which completed his automobiles were stodgy and out of date. When it became apparent that drastic measures were needed to brighten up the Leland Lincolns’ appearance they turned to the Buffalo, New York firm of Brunn & Company. Hermann A. Brunn rushed out a set of twelve body designs, delivering one of each to Lincoln. But it was too late as dismal sales, the post WWI recession and an erroneous $4˝ 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.
Edsel Ford took charge at Lincoln after the Lelands’ angry parting only four months later and quickly commissioned the best American coachbuilders to create designs for Lincoln. Locke, Judkins, Dietrich, Derham, LeBaron and others soon joined Brunn.
Ford’s engineers improved modestly upon Leland’s V8, changing to aluminum pistons and revising the heads for better cooling but the quality and potential of the basic engine and chassis design proved itself by providing the underpinnings for Lincoln until it was superceded by the Model K V12 in 1933. In 1929 the Lincoln engineers adopted rubber engine mounts and increased the engine’s oil pressure while Edsel Ford and his design team effected evolutionary changes to the exterior design with a new, higher, radiator and hood line. In addition to twenty-four cataloged custom bodies Lincoln offered twelve bodies of its own design, from closed sedans to the deluxe Sport Touring car, reputedly the favored design of some of Lincoln’s best and most prosperous clients, bootleggers and hoodlums who appreciated the wide field of fire of its post-less sides and wide-open interior without the encumbrance of a dual cowl.
The 1929 Lincoln Model L Sport Touring offered here is a beautiful example of the type, which superseded 1928’s Locke Sport Touring and incorporates some Dietrich-like details including a longer cowl to complement 1929’s higher radiator and hood. Equipped with dual folding windshields, it seats seven, but in a very unusual layout, with the permanent front and rear seats each designed for two occupants and a pair of jump seats which fit snugly together to form a 3-seat bench. This example is particularly unusual in that its body incorporates a number of 1930 features including the fold down windshield, spoon-shaped inside door handles, round-center hubcaps, blue-tinted lower windshield panels and the “new style raised beltline” body.
Quail Lodge Motor Cars|
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge, Carmel, CA
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