1917 Lincoln L-Series

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I don’t know about you, but I could hardly imagine that Mercedes and BMW were created by the same person. But that’s exactly what happened with Cadillac and Lincoln. Both luxury, American car manufacturers were founded by Henry Lilland.

In this post, we won’t touch on Lilland’s work at Cadillac, but will go straight to the beginning of Lincoln’s history. As you probably know the new company was named in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Initially, during the First World War, it produced V12 aircraft engines. The order amount for airplane engines was 10 million dollars, which at the time was a sum disproportionately larger than today. Due to the success of his work on aircraft engines, Henry Lilland again got a chance to produce his automobile.

The 1917 Lincoln L-Series was the company’s first automobile. At this time, the Cadillac Type 51 had already been in production for two years. Both cars had V8 engines, which at that time was advanced. It’s worth noting that the awesome, twelve-cylinder Packard was already in production at the time, but that’s a whole other story that doesn’t intersect with Lincoln. The L-Series is more interesting and logical to compare with Cadillac, because throughout its existence, these companies were competitors. Perhaps such competition became more pronounced after the Great Depression and World War II, when many manufacturers of American luxury cars went bankrupt. Whatever it was, the L-Series was initially more powerful than the Cadillac Type 51 and only slightly inferior in power to the Packard Twin Six.
Lincoln cars were assembled in Detroit in Michigan, which was gradually becoming the automobile capital of America, taking that title from Cleveland.

It seemed to me that the 1917 Lincoln L-Series was a successful automobile. Unfortunately I couldn’t find data on the number of cars produced in the early years of the model, but in 1922, Lilland sold the company to Henry Ford for 8 million dollars. And since then and to this day Lincoln remains a premium brand in the Ford concern. Immediately after the brand was acquired by the new owner, the L-Series received oil shock absorbers.

Obviously, Henry Ford did not want to produce luxurious and expensive cars under his brand. This is proved by the fact that Ford focused on the production of mass and cheap cars since Henry Ford became the main shareholder of the company. And in 1906, the company was producing the Model-K, which was more expensive than the Cadillac. But wealthy Americans were more than willing to give money for the Packard Twin Six and some other, luxury cars. The Lincoln allowed Ford to enter the niche of expensive, premium cars.

The price and value of the 1917 Lincoln L-Series.

In the last year for the Lincoln L-Series, 1930, the car sold for $4,500. That same year, you could buy a new, eight-cylinder Ford Model 18 for $500. Appearing in 1930, the stunning Cadillac V16 cost from $5,000, but it was no longer comparable to the L-Series, costing up to $9,700.
In 1914, you could buy a new Cadillac Type 51 from $2,500 to $3,600. A 1915 Packard Twin Six cost from $2,750 to $5,000.
It was an expensive car, but it offered plenty of comfort, power, and reliability.

Appearance and photos.

On the early cars, the radiator grille was not chrome plated, but nickel-plated. The same coating was applied to the headlight housings and rearview mirrors.

Lincoln L-Series was produced in two variants of wheelbase; – 3302 and 3454 mm. Initially, the car was equipped with tires with a radius of 23 inches, but in 1929 the installation of 20-inch wheels began. On the photo you can notice the Lincoln inscription on the wheel hub cap.

Since 1926 the car began to be decorated with a statuette of a greyhound dog, which was installed on the radiator cap. Such figurine was to emphasize the speed and impetuosity of Lincoln. As soon as the company was taken over by Ford, three inscriptions appeared at the top of the radiator grille; – Ford, Lincoln and Detroit.

Initially the rims were wooden, artillery type, later the installation of spoked rims began. Looking through the photo you may notice the Lincoln lettering on the headlight glass. Wide footrests were typical for all cars of that time.

1917 Lincoln L-Series was available in sedan, roadster, phaeton, coupe and limousine bodies. A visor could be installed over the windshield, which was covered with the same material as the roof. To make it easier to get into the back seat of the roadster, a footrest is present on the bumper and on the rear, right fender. On the sides of the seat, you can notice leather pads that will prevent scratching the bodywork when boarding, or disembarking. The fuel tank is mounted at the rear, in front of the storage box.

Interior and equipment.

The gauges are mounted in the center section of the front panel, which was covered in leather. The speedometer was taped, and the windshield could be raised at the bottom, which was the norm for cars of the time. For more comfortable boarding / disembarking the steering wheel is tilted on a special mechanism (I tried to show it in the photo). There is an illumination plafond on the ceiling trim.
Pay attention to the tool kit, which is installed in the pocket of the driver’s door and is closed with a key. I do not remember such in any other car. Also this car could be equipped with a transmission lever lock, which was also activated by a key.

There is a heater motor above the windshield, as well as a single, sun visor. A wicker basket for groceries could be installed in the rear, duffel box.

Engine and Specifications of the 1917 Lincoln L-Series.

The Lincoln originally received a V8 engine with a displacement of 6.3 liters and 81 horsepower. It was only 4 horsepower behind the 12-cylinder Packard. The pistons were originally cast iron, but later they were made of much lighter aluminum. The engine has a device for pouring gasoline into the combustion chambers. This makes it easier to start the engine in cold winters.

In 1924, thanks also to lightweight aluminum pistons, the power was increased to 90 horsepower. By the way, the first production car with aluminum pistons was the Packard Twin Six.
The transmission was a three-speed manual. In 1926 mechanical brakes on all – four wheels became standard equipment.

The Lincoln L-Series was a worthy competitor to the Cadillac. Soon after Cadillac, Lincoln launched its V8 car. At the same time, it was the company’s first car – quite a high-profile debut.

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