Celebrating the Rich 100 Year History of the Lincoln Motor Company

Many don’t know the rich 100 year heritage of the Lincoln Motor Company.

The story begins with one of Detroit’s most respected automotive engineers Henry Leland. Leland had created Cadillac and later sold it to General Motors in 1909 where he remained on as an executive. He left General Motors over the company not wanting to support the USA in WW1 with the manufacture of Liberty Aircraft engines. 

Henry Leland went out on his own once again to form the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917. His company was awarded a $10,000,000 contract to produce the Liberty V12 aircraft engines. Alongside the aircraft engine production the Lincoln Motor Company produced its first automobile in 1917, the Lincoln Model L. At the end of the war the Lincoln factory was retooled entirely for automotive production.

 Women were an important part of the Lincoln Motor Company workforce

The Lincoln Motor Company takes a turn in 1922 when Henry Ford purchases the company for $8,000,000. With the Ford’s assembly line and Lelands engineering the brand becomes a top-selling rival alongside Pierce-Arrow, Duesenburg and Packard.

Henry Ford’s son Edsel with an eye for luxury introduces several new bodystyles in 1923 including a Phaeton four passenger. 

Often mistaken for the Jaguar, Edsel initially commissioned the Greyhound design for the Lincoln hood ornament in 1927 as a way to put his own influence into the cars, wanting to associate the canine’s speed with the company’s vehicles. The greyhound hood ornament was created using the same lost wax method as Rolls-Royce. Both Dodge and Jaguar created similar bounding animal ornaments in the years that followed. 

 1927 Lincoln Greyhound hood ornament, painting by John Bodnar

One of these incredible Lincoln designs from 1929 is scheduled to attend the La Jolla Concours d’Ellegance this year. This Concours level example is owned by Stan Lucas and is a one of a kind 1929 Lincoln “L” Aero Phaeton inspired by airplane design and meant to demonstrate Lincoln’s commitment to the aircraft industry, at a time when the company’s Tri-Motor was a resounding success.


 1929 Lincoln “L” Aero Phaeton owned by Stan Lucas


 Edsel Ford shown in a 1932 Lincoln

In 1932, Lincoln introduced the V-12-powered KB platform while in 1940 the Lincoln Continental commenced production as a Luxury Car quite literally due to the popularity that is was the personal car of Edsel Ford. With a long, elegant hood covering a powerful but quiet V12, the early Continental was so modern that Frank Lloyd Wright called the 1940 "the most beautiful car ever designed." (He bought two.)

  “The most beautiful car ever designed."   - Frank Lloyd Wright

For 1956 the newly created Continental Division gave way to the Lincoln Continental Mark II a two-door hardtop coupe. Instead of an actual spare tire mounted on the trunklid, the trunklid was styled with a tire-shaped hump.

 Know as “Elizabeth Taylors Lincoln” the 1956 Lincoln Continental was unmistakably beautiful.

Elizabeth Taylor was not the only celebrity to drive Lincoln. Names like Babe Ruth, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, Sammy Davis Jr. and countless more have driven Lincolns over the years.


The 1961 Lincoln Continental is known as one of the most loved Lincoln’s. Distinguished by the use of rear suicide doors, Lincoln introduced what would become the final mass-produced four-door convertible sold in North America.  This example would run from 1961 – 1969.

The Witt family will be entering their 1964 Lincoln Continental Convertible in the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance to be judged on the lawn.

 The Witt's 1964 Lincoln Continental shown at the San Diego International Auto Show 

The years following would include some of the most popular vehicles; affectionately referred to as the “Hotrod Lincoln” the Lincoln Mark VIII was a luxury sports car enthusiast dream while the late model Lincoln Town Car had almost a cult like following.

“We are proud to have the heritage of the Lincoln Motor Company honored at this year’s La Jolla Concours d’Elegance”, said John Bodnar, Sales Manager at Witt Lincoln. “The La Jolla Concours has been a tradition for my son and I over the years. The vehicles are like open air art and the owners of these vehicles are stewards of history.”


Lincoln has also been called the “Presidents car” for many of this nations leaders. President Roosevelt was driven in a 1939Lincoln Motor Company V12 Convertible called the “Sunshine Special” named because the top was frequently open. This became the president's best-known automobile.

 The “Sunshine Special”

Under the Harry S. Truman presidency, in 1950 the White House chose the Lincoln Cosmopolitan. During Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency he had the Lincoln Cosmopolitan fitted with a Plexiglas roof. The “Bubble top” remained in presidential service until 1965.

 “Bubble Top”

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy had a 1961 Lincoln Continental that the Secret Service gave the code name “X-100” added to service. This vehicle would be later used by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixion, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter until it was retired in 1977. It is now on display at the Henry Ford Muesuem in Dearborn, Michiagan.

A 1972 Lincoln Continental Presidential limousine has also served our presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan.

Ronald Regan

Lincoln has changed over the years and has recently gone through some major changes. A dedicated design studio and a new focus on the bespoke experience of luxury ownership has invigorated the brand. Hybrid technology in the newly redesigned Lincoln MKZ has flipped the coin on a brand that has been known for thirsty V8’s. With an EPA rated 41mpg city paired with No upcharge for the Hybrid technology the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid owns this luxury segment.

 The “No upcharge” hybrid. The midsize 41mpg* Lincoln MKZ HYBRID

For the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Motor Company we have seen the return of an Icon, the “Lincoln Continental”. Now with an available 400hp AWD version paired with a suite of technology that would make George Jetson proud, the Lincoln Continental is back.

 The Icon returns, the fullsize Lincoln Continental

Along with the biggest (quite literally) news of the year, the All-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator has been redesigned with focus on absolute luxury. Including a new power plant producing 450hp while enveloping you in a cabin rich in intuitive technology this full-size SUV in a must see.

 The 2018 450hp Lincoln Black Label Navigator shown in “Yacht Club” theme

Witt Lincoln will be representing the Lincoln Black Label brand at the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance with displays including the newest Lincoln Black Label Vehicles. There will also be an impressive showing of Vintage Lincolns at the event as the Concours this year has named Lincoln as the honored title brand.

It is this rich history that has inspired a whole new level of Lincoln luxury, the Lincoln “Black Label”. Lincoln Black Label unifies design and service—featuring a curated collection of interior themes and a host of exclusive membership privileges, inspired by attention to detail and love of automobiles.

 It is like Matthew McConaughey said, "Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward. I don't mean going back to reminisce or chase ghosts, I mean going back to see where you came from. Where you've been, how you got there, see where you are going. I know there are those who say you can't go back. Yes you can. Just have to look in the right place."


The Lincoln Motor Company has had a chance to look back and see the DNA of the brand. It is important to not lose sight of the client as they build the vehicles of the present. Lincoln will not use technology just for technologies sake, it must be intuitive and easy to use. The materials must be unique and have the feeling that this vehicle is built just for you.


"I have had the opportunity to work with Edsel Ford and his son Henry Ford over the years and I can tell you personally that there is a renewed focus on the mix of luxury and technology that goes into every new Lincoln”, said Ed Witt, Owner of Witt Lincoln. “As the Lincoln Motor Company focuses on the future we must remember to never forget that element that is uniquely human. The touch and feel that envelops you and reminds you that this moment is just for you”.

The future looks bright for the Lincoln Motor Company. A rich history, paired with a refreshed outlook on the luxury client that can only be called the American dream.

Todd Witt, General Sales Manager of Witt Lincoln when asked about the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance celebration offered a toast, “We raise a glass to all of those who preserve this history and to all of those who enjoy it. May the art of the automobile stir your soul and remind you that building things of beauty matters.”

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