1934 marked a pivotal year for American luxury car manufacturers. By this time, it was clear that the economy would not be improving any time soon, and many luxury car makers were suffering as a result. Lincoln, along with its chief rivals Packard and Cadillac, enjoyed strong financial backing, however, that didn’t stop Ford Motor Company management from making drastic changes to reduce costs in a tight market. Things were no different at GM, who even briefly considered cutting Cadillac and LaSalle altogether. Thankfully, that never came to be, yet it speaks to the dire nature of the economic conditions. The key to survival was to simplify the model lines, and the era also spawned the development of mid-priced models like the Lincoln-Zephyr and Packard 120.
Lincoln took the opportunity to streamline their lineup, introducing a new, less complicated V12 engine that replaced the two previously available versions. Essentially an enlarged version of the old KA V12, the new 414 cubic-inch unit produced 150 horsepower – the same as the old 447 cubic-inch KB engine. Not only was this new aluminum-head engine more economical for Lincoln to build, but it was also viewed as a significant improvement over the old engine, with superior flexibility, torque, and fuel economy. Chassis options for 1934 were reduced to two, with the Series 521 KA utilizing the 136-inch chassis, and a 145-inch chassis exclusive to the flagship Series 271 KB. While buyers had fewer frame and engine options, the array of catalog bodies stretched to seventeen styles for the big KB alone. Brunn remained a Lincoln favorite, along with Judkins, Willoughby, Dietrich and LeBaron all offering catalog styles. Limousines and sedans dominated production, with the sportier open styles built in relatively minuscule numbers.
Presented here is the gorgeous Dual Cowl Phaeton, one of the rarest of all 1934 Lincoln KB body styles. Beautifully proportioned and quite sporting for a Lincoln, the factory catalog did not officially offer this style, yet two were built to special order by Lincoln’s in-house custom body shop. Interesting features of this elegant body style include the distinct curved front door windows and rear wind deflectors. The rear cowl-mounted windscreen can be folded forward or concealed in a compartment for a cleaner, streamlined look when not carrying passengers.
Records provided by The Henry Ford show this is one of the two cars built with style number 272-A, and it is believed to be the sole surviving example. Photos document the car’s discovery in 1977 and its subsequent restoration. Judging by the images, the Lincoln appeared remarkably complete, with the body looking to be in particularly good condition. The extensive project is well-documented through a series of photographs. Importantly, the body tag appears in photos, confirming this as one of the two dual cowl phaetons constructed. It is also notable that it retains its original, numbers-matching V12 engine which was the subject of a recent rebuild.
Presented in a handsome color combination of cream with burgundy fenders and feature lines, this KB has a bold and imposing presence. The paint and brightwork have aged gracefully since the extensive restoration, and the car remains in excellent condition overall with a very light patina from age and enjoyment. With the top up or down, it is a lovely automobile, with flowing lines and a low profile. Fittings include a Greyhound mascot, dual side-mount spare wheels, and a trunk rack.
Lovely dark red leather covers the seats and interior panels, with taupe carpeting providing a nice contrast and tying in with the tan canvas convertible top. The leather is supple and soft, showing some light creasing consistent with occasional use. Controls, switchgear, and instrumentation all present in fine condition. The cabin is in very good order with a charming character that invites regular use.
Regular enjoyment is made possible by the fact that the matching-numbers V12 was recently rebuilt at great expense. Powerful and refined, Lincoln’s 414-cubic inch alloy-head twelve is a superb engine, and the perfect match for the sporting coachwork of this car. The detailing is impressive, with black painted block and accessories contrasting the highly polished aluminum cylinder heads and bare alloy crankcase. Running strong and smooth it delivers the refinement expected of a 30s-era multi-cylinder engine.
Coveted by enthusiasts for their performance and prestige, the big Lincolns of 1934 remain a popular choice for use on tours and driving events. This example adds the cachet of being the only known example to wear this handsome, factory built coachwork. Ideal for CCCA CARavans, Grand Classics and other club events, this rare and attractive Lincoln will no doubt turn heads wherever it takes you.