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1937 Lincoln Model K

Model_k_1 The big black Lincoln Model K pictured here belongs to a car collector friend of mine.

The person he bought the car from claimed that it originally belonged to one of Al Capone's goons bodyguards, but my friend has not been able to either confirm or disprove that tale. Al Capone was serving time in Alcatraz when this car rolled off the assembly line, so even if it did belong to one of his associates, it is unlikely that the infamous mobster ever got a ride in it. Nevertheless, the connection to Capone, however tenuous, makes for a good story.

Regardless, if you were going to be a "Godfather" in the late Thirties, this is probably the big black sedan you'd want to be seen in.

The Model K was introduced in 1931 and was the top-of-the-line model of Ford's upscale marque. It was largely hand-built, and many Ks had custom bodies constructed by outside coachbuilders. I don't know if this particular example is customized or just the "base" model, but a high degree of craftsmanship is apparent in details like the two-tone inlaid wood trim running just below the windows.

Another interesting feature is the dual glove compartments, one on each end of the dashboard. These are each big enough for a set of heavy winter gloves--or, if you're in Al Capone's line of work, it would be a handy place to stash that loaded revolver!

Model_k_front_seat

Model Ks were built on either a 136-inch or 145-inch wheelbase. History records that the "small" version was discontinued after the 1936 model year, so this one has the 145-inch frame. By way of comparison, that 145-inch wheelbase is two and a half feet longer than that of Ford's modern day full-size "Panther platform" sedans such as the Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria, which ride on a 114.7 inch wheelbase.

The Lincoln Navigator SUV, considered by many critics to be an oversized paragon of conspicuous consumption, rides on a 118- or 119-inch wheelbase, depending on which generation you're talking about. The Model K's wheelbase is therefore longer than a Navigator's. It's also longer than that of the Honda Odyssey minivan (also a 118-inch wheelbase), the immense 1971-76 Chevy Impala (121 inches), or even the queen mother of all Yankee large-barge luxury sedans, the 1966 Imperial (129 inches).

Model_k_rear_seat In other words, the Model K is huge.

Since most of the Model K's length is between the wheels, with very little overhang at either end, the total interior volume rivals some modern-day passenger vans, even after allowing for the engine. The length and width of the chair-high back seat, and the opulent upholstery, tell the world that this is a car for the sort of people who leave the driving to the hired help. The roofline is high enough for full-grown men in hats, a design objective which was more important in 1937 than it is today. There is so much volume back there that your humble narrator, who is six feet tall and a bit on the husky side, could do the "Numa Numa Dance" without bumping into anything.

The prominent ram-bowed hood contains a 414-cubic inch L-head V-12 engine. (That's 6.8 liters for those of you using the metric system.)

Model_k_engine

This engine produced a smooth 150 horsepower, and it probably needed every last pony to get the heavy car rolling. On the other hand, if you owned a car like this in 1937, the straight-line performance (or lack of same) would be your chauffeur's problem, not yours. Power steering did not exist in 1937 production cars, so the chauffeur would have also needed strong biceps and triceps.

With its epic length, giant fenders, and glossy black finish, the Model K is an imposing artifact, the perfect car for visiting ambassadors, captains of industry, movie moguls, and perhaps the occasional Chicago hoodlum.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

Model_k_2

(Yes, that is a DeLorean next to the Model K. Talk about your study in contrasts!)

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I had no idea these things were that *huge.* By the way, when are fedoras coming back into style? It's a fantastic style that is long overdue for a return.

Part of the fun of photos from car collections is trying to spot the other cars. Of course, that DeLorean pops alluringly into the frame of a few of those photos, and there's a nice-looking Mercedes SL as well. I'm curious - what's that blue 1970s sports car near the SL? It looks vaguely Pantera-ish, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.

It's a C3 Corvette (1968 - 1980). Judging from the bumpers it's an early 70's model

Nice call, Smoke_Jaguar4 - of course, you're right. The bumper trim line threw me - I thought the hidden headlights were farther down the nose than they are. Clicking into the larger photo confirms your call.

Automatic transmission also wasn't available in 1937. It probably required a professional teamster to shift that thing, too.

Oh, wow, what a car! You can keep your atomic cheese-wedge Bugattis, this is my dream ride.

I will forgo the Caddy from the $25k challenge to daily drive this, er um get someone to daily drive this for me while I ride in the back :)

No seriously, I thought my Caddy selection was good, this is BRILLIANT!

This thing is bad ass, as are the other ornaments strewn around the barn. One thing though, when and where do you *drive* it? I wouldn't want to needlessly depreciate a unique antique, so it would be relegated to graduation / wedding / funeral duties, with the occasional hot date & parade thrown in. Awesome car, but it belongs in a museum of some kind.

I want to play the car-guessing game here myself. I think the car to the other side of the DeLorean is a Cadillac Allante? Just going by the shape of the faux vent window I can see.

Me like engine... very much.

Nice. So I'm proposing that these cars were designed around the hat and possibly living room furniture. If you were to sit on something of the time it would have been a parlor chair of some sort. Seating in a car would not have been significantly different. Given the need to wear hats the roof line would have to accommodate a man of above average height... sitting in a parlor chair. That means that total volume, length, and proportion would have to match such a configuration. Thus you would easily end up with a car with such a huge wheel base. A fedora would be part of any man's wardrobe, but the Lincoln would be for captains of industry and other mobsters and hoods. Hence an occasional requirement to wear a "Top Hat" rather than a fedora. And the resultant need for a car with an extremely large envelope.

So in this scenario - which may be valid or complete rubbish - the hat designs the car - funny. But if that's the car that results from designing around a hat, wow, we need more hats ;)

I was at the local cruise-in last month, and there was a Brunn-Bodied 30-something Model K

I can attest that these are ENORMOUS vehicles. The craftsmanship is impeccable, and the woodwork is amazing. You really have to get up close to appreciate the little details.

Wonderful automobile.

wow what a nice car.its designing looking very good.Auto car industries doing good job to maintain these old cars.

That is my kind of machine. i can imagine that it would be even more awesome with a modern engine under the hood - say, ford's triton v-10.

Shawn wins the Car-Spotter's Eagle Eye Award. I looked through my other photos from the day I spent drooling on my friend's collection, and that is indeed an Allante next to the DeLorean.

Yeah, someone on my bus route has an old Cadillac of similar vintage (have no idea of the year but it's of similar design) and I'm always amazed at how enormous the thing is. I have culture shock going from my Mustang II to my Spousal Unit's Civic; I can't imagine stepping out from behind the wheel of one of those and into something of recent design.

Anthony How old is the Cadillac? Would he be interested in selling it?
The Lincoln is a 1936 not a 1937 the lights dropped into the fenders in a reverse drop style silhouette and the dash gauges squared out.
The side mounts should be metal and are 2 piece: a tread cover and the face. I will see if i have an extra set. I am looking at getting a 1936 + 1937 with a lot of extra parts. Do you need anything in particular? 'Wire wheels??
"Top hat" were early 20's, not a favorite of mine, the hats were a lot shorter by the 30's look at any old gangster movie.
All in All a nice car, I love the wood work, All K's were custom bodied cars, Aluminum and wood construction, although there may be have been 130 more cars with the same body they may not be finished the same on the inside, each was custom ordered.
Todd

1937 Lincoln Series K 7 passenger Touring , I'd go for a body by Willoughby( model 353) because Willoughby bodied cars often had this quite angular inwards sloping upper windshield frames with the two-piece windshield ,whereas the frame lines were rounder on LeBaron and Brunn convertible bodies.

A nice article, but quite a bit of misinformation. The car is not a 1937,or a 1936 model, it's a 1934. It is also extremely easy to drive. Steering is quite light, over 5 m.p.h. steering effort progressively lightens until it is actually more effortless than most modern cars equipped with power steering. It is also very easy to shift, with a buttery precision that makes the whole experience remarkably sensual. The ride is comparable to a modern luxury car, better than many. Handling however is a something of an adventure, corrected dramatically in 1935 when Lincolns got a hefty rear mounted anti-sway bar. The car is no slouch either. Gangsters did prefer Lincolns because they were the fastest production cars on the market. Incidentally, the short 136" wheelbase was maintained until the end of K production in 1939.

@2/27/09 -- I appreciate your comments on the Model K driving experience. The owner described it to me as a '37, which is what he thinks it is. I shall pass your comments on to him and suggest that he check the serial number to verify the year of manufacture. (Whatever year it was made in, it's a magnificent artifact!)

The Lincoln Ks were very good, with a fine V-12 engine originally designed by Henry Leland, who sold his company to Henry Ford. Four hundred forty eight cubic inches, IIRC, "knife-and-fork" rods, and proper coolant flow. The later Lincolns, Zephyrs, and Continentals like my '41 coupe got a new, cheapened, and greatly inferior V-12 based on the Ford V-8, with all of that engine's faults magnified.

Todd,

I need the spare tire side mounts ( not the covers) for a 37 Lincoln K. If any one has these available please call me at:

325 677 0082

Bruce

My older brother, 21, bought a 1937 K limo from a local bookmaker for $350....in 1947. I was 17 and drove it to high school while he worked.

A great driving car if you had long arms to shift it from first gear to second gear and if you weighed 300 pounds to stop it with the mechanical cable brake system. But good for hauling the soft ball team around.

Some part broke on it around 1950 and no replacement was available so the K was sold to a junk yard for $50

I had to drive the family 1939 Zepher to the senior prom.

I still love Lincolns... over the years I have owned a couple Marks, two or three Continentals sedans (7 or 8 Crown vics or Merc Marq's) and now own a 1998 town car with 149,000 miles on it.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BIG GOOD CARS GONE????

Lincoln is a 34 not a 37 --I need a wheel and hub caps for a 37K leegboy@gmail.com

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