From 1931 through 1940, the K-series sat atop the Lincoln lineup, serving as the marque’s flagship offering during the height of, and twilight of, the coachbuilt American motorcar era. The first K-series cars were powered by an L-Head V8 of adequate power, but Cadillac’s headline-stealing salvo in the multi-cylinder war prompted Edsel Ford to respond, and he did so with the commission a V12 engine which was introduced in 1932. The K-series was split between the small displacement KA and the larger and more prestigious KB. By 1934, the series was consolidated and powered by a new 414-cubic inch V12, which remained the basis for the line through 1940. The biggest improvements to the engine came in 1936 with the introduction of hydraulic lifters and a revised cam which allowed for smoother and virtually silent operation. Also from 1936 onward, the engine sat further forward in the chassis, which allowed for greater interior volume, and the body was reworked with a more streamlined appearance. Even with the addition of the Zephyr, Lincoln’s wealthiest clients remained loyal to the Model K, as it still offered the road presence and status of a full-sized, coachbuilt motorcar. Lincoln allowed buyers to specify one of at least 17 different custom-catalog body styles; so each car was built to a standard design with colors and trim chosen by the client. Once selected, the car was built and finished to their tastes. The 1936 K-Series Lincoln was elegant and understated, yet it still had an imposing presence that demanded attention. Ultimately however, sales suffered particularly as the junior series Lincoln Zephyr offered twelve-cylinder prestige at a fraction of the price of the hand-built K-Series.
This wonderful 1936 Lincoln Model K wears LeBaron style 334, an elegant convertible sedan body with glass partition riding atop a 145-inch wheelbase chassis. One of just 30 examples of its kind produced, this car is believed to have been purchased new by the Wrigley Family, delivered via a California dealer and kept at the family’s famous Pasadena mansion on Millionaire’s Row. It is not known exactly how long the Wrigley’s retained the car, but it is understood that it remained in California for the next seventy years, eventually joining the legendary broadcaster Art Astor’s extensive collection. It remained with Mr. Astor until its sale in 2008 and it has since been treated to a very sympathetic cosmetic restoration that has been maintained in fine order. The car wears high quality black paintwork that remains in very good condition, atop very straight and sound bodywork. The body is subtly striped in dark red and accessorized with dual side mount spare wheels, dual Trippe driving lamps, dual mirrors and a greyhound radiator mascot. The LeBaron design incorporates an elegantly sloping built-in trunk, while a trunk rack is also fitted for additional luggage capacity. Wide whitewall tires are mounted to optional red wire wheels (stamped steel wheels were offered in 1936 as well) which help to add a pop of color and nicely tie together the interior and exterior themes.
Inside the luxurious cabin, dark red leather covers the seats and door panels in front and rear. Roll up side glass keeps occupants warm and dry in poor weather, though we can’t imagine the Wrigley family encountering much of that in beautiful Pasadena! The driver’s compartment has recently been retrimmed as part of the restoration work and shows very light use since; while the rear compartment is believed to still feature the original leather, which remains in excellent condition. Rather unusually for an open body style, this car features a division window to offer privacy to rear occupants. Rear passengers are also treated to individual cigar lighters, foot rests and a lap blanket bar. Up front, the excellent dash features an original radio and good quality instrumentation and switchgear. The black canvas top is excellent and when folded, partially disappears behind the rear seats, lending the car a very sleek and finely resolved appearance whether open or closed.
Mechanically, this Model K is in fine order, with the V12 engine running strong and returning very good performance. It drives well on the road, the sympathetic restoration helping to retain a good deal of the original character. The engine shows a fair amount of patina from use but remains tidy and clean, very well suited for touring and regular enjoyment. Thanks to its power and smooth running nature, the Lincoln K-Series is a favorite among tour enthusiasts. This car is a recognized Full Classic by the Classic Car Club of America and therefore eligible for their numerous events. Rare and handsomely presented, this Lincoln K would be a most welcome addition to a collection of Full Classic Lincolns or be a fine choice for any enthusiast seeking a beautiful, LeBaron designed, twelve-cylinder Lincoln to enjoy on the road.
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