Lincoln Motor Company

The Lincoln Motor Company was founded in 1917 by Henry M. Leland and became a subsidiary of Ford in 1922. While the brand is mainly sold in North America and the Middle East, Ford plans to export to China by the end of 2014. Currently seven models are offered. The MKS and MKZ sedans; MKT, MKX and MKC CUVs; and the Navigator and Navigator L SUVs.

Leland was a former manager of GM’s Cadillac division who formed the company with his son Wilfred. The company was named after Abraham Lincoln, Henry’s hero. The company originally assembled Liberty aircraft engines for a government contract for WW I.

In 1922 Lincoln went into bankruptcy and Ford purchased it for $8 million, but the company remained a single entity into the 1940s. Ford change the bodywork and lowered prices of the Lincoln and sales began to increase. In 1923 several new body styles were introduced along with a limousine. Lincoln contracted with several coachbuilders to produce a sedan, limo, cabriolet and town car.

By the end of 1923, Lincoln sales increased 45 percent and was operating at a profit. Police around the country began to use Lincoln models in 1924 known as “Police Flyers” equipped with bulletproof glass and spotlights.

In the 1930s a V-12 engine was offered and a smaller Lincoln (Zephyr) was produced, ultimately becoming the Continental. It was extremely successful in its first year and remained until the end of 1940. In 1941 all Lincolns were now based on the Zephyr chassis. Also in 1940 the Lincoln Motor Company became the Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company and began to produce the Continental.

In 1945, Lincoln merged with Mercury and the Zephyr became a Mercury nameplate. In 1949 the Continental was discontinued but the name was reborn in 1956 as the Continental Mark II and its own entity. Continental merged with Lincoln in July 1956 but the final Continental-badged car the Mark V, sold in 1960.

The Lincoln Town Car first appeared in 1959 and in 1961 Lincoln merged three of their models (Capri, Premiere and Mark V) into the Lincoln Continental. The Continental was redesigned extensively in 1970 and underwent other major changes during the 1970s due to safety regulations and the 1973 fuel crisis.

In 1981 the Continental was put on hold and the Town Car took its place. The Continental was reintroduced in 1982 and resized equivalent to its competitors. In 1988, the Continental went under another major redesign with the first front-wheel-drive Lincoln. In 1993, Continental was dropped as part of the name and badged as the Mark VIII.

The Lincoln LS replaced the Mark VIII in 2000 and was the smallest Lincoln to date. As part of Ford’s restructuring plan in 2005, the Wixom Assembly Plant was named for closure and the LS was discontinued after 2006. The Town Car was discontinued in 2011.

The current models:

The MKZ replaced the Zephyr. It was a concept car in 2004 and merged into the Lincoln line up in 2007. Also in 2007, the MKX SUV was introduced based on the Ford Edge. The MKR was also from 2007 and was Ford’s debut of the EcoBoost V-6.

The MKS was introduced in 2009 replacing the Town Car. In 2010 the MKT was introduced, based on the Ford Flex.

On December 3, 2012 the Lincoln division became the Lincoln Motor Company and the second generation MKZ was released in early 2013. Jim Farley was appointed by Ford to head the Lincoln Motor Co..

Image Caption: 1926 Lincoln L-series town car. Credit: Rex Gray/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)