1931 Lincoln Model K Sedan

1931 was a pivotal year for the Lincoln Motor Company as it marked the introduction of the critically important Model K. The outgoing Model L had been a mainstay of the marque for many years, though it was clear that it had reached the end of its development in an increasingly competitive luxury car market. With a new chassis, fresh new styling and a revised V8 engine, the Model K would lead Lincoln into the new era, and it would serve as Ford Motor Company’s proud flagship throughout the 1930s.

Setting the Model K apart from its predecessor was fresh and handsome new styling that featured graceful, flowing fenders and a peaked radiator grille. The styling was understated, crisp and elegant and would set the trend for Lincoln styling for the next decade. The new 145-inch wheelbase chassis was stronger than before and gave the Lincoln K a low-slung and modern appearance. As before, the finest American coachbuilders, including Judkins, Dietrich and Brunn offered their services which supplemented a range of factory-catalog body offerings. Mechanically, the 1931 Model K was somewhat of an interim model, in that it retained the 384.8 cubic inch V8 engine developed in the Model L, but featuring a number of changes to improve reliability and output. The crank was updated with five main bearings, a new Stromberg downdraft carburetor fitted and a mechanical fuel pump replaced the old vacuum system. The revised, high-compression engine would produce a very useful 120 horsepower and give the new Lincoln the performance it needed to keep up with the competition.

After 1931, the K-series was split into two ranges, the V8 powered, KA and V12 powered KB. V8 KA-series cars reverted back to the shorter 136” inch wheelbase to distinguish them from their more expensive counterparts. This makes the 1931 models unique as they are the only V8 powered K-series to be built on the elegant long-wheelbase chassis. With the beautifully engineered Model K, Lincoln had fully established itself as a worthy competitor to the likes of Packard, Cadillac and Pierce-Arrow.

This handsome 1931 Lincoln Model K wears elegant 3-window Town Sedan coachwork; style 204-B from Lincoln’s factory body catalog. Finished in understated dark green with black trim and gold coach stripes, this Model K is an attractive and well-sorted example that drives beautifully and is ideally suited for touring and regular enjoyment on the road. According to the previous owner, the car was lightly restored in about 2000, when it was stripped and repainted in the attractive dark green acrylic enamel it wears today. The paintwork has been very well maintained since, remaining glossy with straight body panels and pleasing, honest quality. At the time of the repaint, the bumpers were restored and replated, while the rest of the brightwork is a mix of good quality original and older restored parts. Accessories include dual sidemount spare wheels with chrome mirrors, a trunk rack with a period appropriate trunk, and body color wire wheels fitted with Firestone whitewall tires.

A particular highlight of this car is the exquisite interior, which was restored in 2011 at a significant cost by Addison Auto Interiors. Trimmed in lovely tan broadcloth with subtly contrasting brown piping, the seats show virtually no use, with matching tan carpets in similarly fine order. Rear occupants are treated to luxurious accommodations and abundant leg room. A pair of foot rests is trimmed to match the carpet, and a full complement of roller shades are fitted to the rear windows as original. When new, the Town Sedan would likely have been owner-driven rather than chauffeur driven, so the driver gets equal amounts of luxury up front, again with beautiful broadcloth upholstery and an elegant dash fitted a full array of instruments including a drum-type speedometer and a Seth Thomas clock. In addition, the lack of a divider window allows for more legroom up front and greater driver comfort. Coinciding with the restoration of the upholstery, the extensive interior nickel fittings and hardware were replated.

The big 384.8 cubic inch L-head V8 fires up easily and runs beautifully, sending power through a three speed gearbox with synchronized 2nd and 3rd gears and a freewheeling clutch. Subject to an extensive rebuild by respected expert Mike Grunewald in 2012, the engine benefits from new heads and pistons as well as a restored fuel system. It is a joy to drive; the powerful V8 running in virtual silence and the gearbox operation feeling slick and composed. Engine compartment cosmetics are quite strong; the V8 detailed with correct black enamel heads, bright alloy crank case and original-type fittings, hardware and ancillaries. It shows only limited use and remains very clean, with only some minor cracking evident in the porcelain manifold, but is otherwise very tidy and correct.

This handsome Lincoln K combines elegant Classic Era styling with effortless driving characteristics and a very well-preserved restoration. It is an approved CCCA Full Classic, ideally suited for CARavan touring or similar driving events. The most recent owners have maintained the car in top mechanical condition and have enjoyed it on numerous Illinois Region tours, and happily report it to be a wonderful driving car. Along with touring, it was shown at the Concours d’Elegance of the Americas at St. Johns in 2013. The approachable, easy-driving nature also makes it a fine choice for casual family ice cream runs and relaxed cruising on your favorite roads. Finely finished and thoroughly enjoyable, this grand and elegant Lincoln Town Sedan is sure to please its next keeper.

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