History of Lincoln

Lincoln imageThe history of the Lincoln Motor Company Plant and the company's founder, Henry Leland, recalls the "jack-of-all-trade" engineers and "can do" attitude of Detroit's early automotive industry. Henry Leland, the "creator of both of America's first quality cars," Cadillac and Lincoln, was born in 1843. He spent most of his life as a toolmaker and machinist, but his automobile industry career did not begin until 1901, when Ransom Olds asked Leland to build transmissions for a new line of cars, called Oldsmobiles.

In 1902, Leland implemented exacting toolmaker's standards at Cadillac Automobile, and eventually took over its management. In 1908, Leland sold Cadillac, a name by then synonymous with American quality and luxury, to General Motors for $4.5 million. Leland formed the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917 to build "Liberty" airplane engines for WWI fighter planes, and quickly erected the present factory complex. After WWI, the company converted to the production of "precision-made Lincoln automobiles." Due to a short postwar recession, the factory did not swing into full production until 1920, and the company suffered.

In 1922, the opportunistic Henry Ford purchased the struggling automobile company, announcing that Lincoln would become Ford Motor Company's luxury car branch. Later, Ford increased the complex's size and Lincoln's Zephyr and Continental were produced in the factory until 1952.

Lincoln Motor Company Timeline

1917 The Lincoln Motor Company is founded in Detroit by Henry Leland to build Liberty aircraft engines for the First World War.

1920 The first Lincoln car, the 'L' series, is introduced.

1922 The Ford Motor Company acquires Lincoln at the urging of Edsel Ford.

1936 The Lincoln Zephyr, the first successful streamlined car, is introduced.

1940 Zephyr becomes the basis for the original Lincoln Continental - a car Frank Lloyd Wright declared to be the most beautiful in the world. It also was the first vehicle honored for design excellence by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1956 The Continental Mark II, which was developed under the direction of Edsel Ford's son, William Clay Ford, establishes the classic hood, cabin and deck proportions of the modern luxury coupe.

1961 A new Continental is introduced. It remains one of the most enduring designs of all time. Its sheer body surfaces, unique center-opening doors and chrome accented upper shoulder line established a signature look for Lincoln that was totally unique.

1968 The Lincoln Mark III, the first of a new generation of Mark-series coupes, is introduced.

1970 The Continental is redesigned. The new car is built on a 127-inch wheelbase frame and offers V-8 engines that range in size up to 460 cubic inches (7.5-liters). Throughout the 1970s, Continental is offered with a Town Car package that included special leather seats and wood appliqués in the cabin.

1981 The Lincoln Town Car is introduced as its own line. The new car is built on a 117.3-inch wheelbase and is powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 engine.

1990 The second-generation Town Car is introduced. The car is powered by the venerable 5.0-liter V-8. The wheelbase is unchanged. For the first time, Town Car is offered with dual front air bags, speed-sensitive power steering and rear air spring suspension. Anti-lock brakes are optional.

1998 The third-generation Town Car is introduced. The wheelbase is slightly longer than the previous car, but the exterior design is more contemporary. The engine is a modern overhead cam 4.6-liter V-8. A Watt's linkage rear suspension and other chassis refinements are adopted.

The Navigator is introduced. As the first American luxury sport-utility vehicle, it became an overnight success. Fully 60 percent of Navigator customers are new to the Lincoln brand.

1998 - 2001 Lincoln Mercury relocates its headquarters from Detroit to Irvine, Calif., in the heart of the country's largest market for luxury vehicles. Its permanent headquarters opens in 2001.

1999 The Lincoln LS is introduced and is named Motor Trend's 2000 'Car of the Year.' Fully 70 percent of LS customers are new to the Lincoln brand.

2000 Dedicated Lincoln design, product development, purchasing, finance and manufacturing organizations are established.

2001 The Lincoln MK 9 concept is unveiled. Together with the Continental concept, it points to the design direction of future Lincoln vehicles.

The 2002 Lincoln Blackwood is launched. It faithfully recreates the 1998 concept vehicle.

The 2003 Lincoln Town Car is unveiled by Ford Motor Company President and Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele at the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn.

2002 The 2003 Lincoln Navigator is revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show and the all-new 2003 Lincoln Aviator is revealed at the New York Auto Show. The new Navigator, Aviator and Town Car will be joined by a new 2003 LS later in the year.

The Lincoln Continental concept is introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It embodies elegance, simplicity and restraint.

Source: Lincoln

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