1937 Lincoln Model K
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 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).
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.)
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
(Yes, that is a DeLorean next to the Model K. Talk about your study in contrasts!)