As it embarks on its 2nd century, Lincoln brand builds on storied legacy – Phobe Wall Howard @DetroitFreePress

As it embarks on its 2nd century, Lincoln brand builds on storied legacy – Phobe Wall Howard @DetroitFreePress

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Ford Motor Co. purchased Lincoln Motor Co. out of debt a century ago and established a luxury brand that would forever impact automotive design and pop culture.

Henry Ford, with a nudge from his wife, Clara, and son, Edsel, acquired the company from engineer Henry Leland for $8 million on Feb. 4, 1922.

A photo from 1922 when Ford purchased Lincoln showing Henry Leland on far left, Eleanor and Edsel Ford next to him, then Clara Ford and … Show more   
PROVIDED BY FORD MOTOR COMPANY

“Lincoln is really a chance for us to stop and think about Edsel Ford, who, too often, is overshadowed by his father,” said Matt Anderson, curator of transportation at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn.

“Edsel Ford had free rein at Lincoln, where he could spread his wings and leave a legacy apart from his father,” Anderson said. “Edsel gave the cars a sense of design and style, and built the company into one of America’s leading luxury automakers.” 

Edsel and Eleanor Ford with a 1922 Lincoln car.  
PROVIDED BY FORD MOTOR COMPANY

High style

Ford introduced the Lincoln Zephyr in 1936, pairing style and aerodynamics

The 1936 Lincoln Zephyr is introduced, Lincoln’s first mid-priced vehicle, with a streamlined, unique design and alligator-type hood.  
PROVIDED BY FORD MOTOR COMPANY

“Its flowing teardrop shape suggests motion. Its V-shaped grille slices the air,” says thehenryford.org museum site. “Headlights blend smoothly into the front fenders. Rear fenders hug the body and fender skirts hide the rear wheels. Even the tail lights are streamlined.”

Then came the Continental in 1939, a car so gorgeous that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City selected it to display as one of eight cars that epitomized design excellence, according to the 1951 MOMA catalogue.

“Henry Ford’s only son played a key role in the creation of what many feel was the most beautiful automobile ever designed,” Ad Age said in 2003.

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