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Lot 538: 1928 Lincoln Model L Tourer

Sale Of Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams & Butterfields (18 August 2006)

The products of Ford-owned Lincoln have for years rivaled those of General Motorsí Cadillac Division in their exclusivity and luxury, yet the company was conceived for an entirely different purpose: to build Liberty aero engines during WWI. Cadillacís Henry Leland was the man responsible, his tenure with the company he founded having ended in 1917 following a disagreement with General Motors boss William C Durant. Leland, then 74 years old, named his new company after the President he had voted for back in 1864, but swiftly found himself overtaken by events. The Armistice of November 1918 left Leland with a big headache - what to do with his huge factory and 6,000 workforce. Given his decades of experience and stature within the automobile industry, there could only be one solution: turn the factory over to car production.

Like the Cadillac, the Lincoln Model L was a precision made product and featured a 60-degree V8 engine developing 80bhp, good enough to guarantee 70mph performance. Unfortunately, Lincoln customers had to endure a protracted wait to experience it for themselves as deliveries did not commence until September 1920, eight months behind schedule. This delay, the carís somewhat dated appearance and the onset of the post-war recession all combined to hinder sales. By early 1922 the other board members had had enough and, despite Lelandís objections, put the company up for sale. The buyer was none other than Henry Ford, whose acquisition of Lincoln enabled him to contest the upper reaches of the automobile market while the ubiquitous Model T continued to dominate at the other extreme.

Edsel Ford took over as Company President and under his stewardship production rapidly increased. Despite Lelandís fears to the contrary, quality improved under Fordís management, immediate advances including aluminum pistons and improved cylinder head cooling, while the wheelbase was stretched from 130Ē to 136Ē for 1923. Under Edsel Fordís direction the Lincoln evolved into a beautiful car, aided by the recruitment of some of Americaís finest coachbuilders including Brunn, Dietrich, Holbrook, Judd, Le Baron and Locke. By 1928 the Lincoln engine had been enlarged from 357.8 to 384.8cu in (6.3 liters) while incorporating a host of other improvements that raised maximum power to 90bhp at 2,800rpm.

The 1928 Lincoln Model L offered here is clothed in seven-passenger tourer coachwork by Locke. The car was purchased new by a regent of The University of California in Berkeley and later sold to a Healdsburg dentist. The latter subsequently sold the car in non-running condition to collector Ronald Brown, of Auburn. Mr. Brown then sold the car to noted Lincoln restorer John Derringer (since deceased) who undertook a Ďbody offí total restoration. The engine is of superior specification, having a factory installed performance camshaft, normally reserved for police cars, and a downdraft inlet manifold especially developed for the Model L to eliminate the vapor lock and fire hazard issues associated with the original Stromberg updraft set-up. (The original manifold and carburetor are included with the car). The upholstery is correct high quality leather without blemishes of any kind, although the rear seat is a bench type rather than the more usual divided rear seat. Most of the brightwork is chromium plated except for the German Silver door handles and fittings. Undeniably very handsome, this Lincoln has a delightfully fresh appearance and was exhibited at Pebble Beach in 2005 and Palo Alto Concours in 2006. Owned by the vendor since October 2004, the car is offered complete with wheel wrench, side curtains, ownerís handbook and State of California Certificate of Title.

Lot Details
Auction Sale Of Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge, Carmel, California
TypeCar
Lot Number538
Estimate$110000-$130000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$96000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$100000
Year1928
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number51112
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors