Post Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:02 am

1935 Lincoln Model K V-12 Phaeton

1935 Lincoln Model K V-12 Phaeton
Chassis no. K4582
Engine no. K4136

SOLD: $348,000.00US

The big, smooth L-head 67° V-12 which Lincoln engineers designed for 1933 models to succeed the 60° V-8 designed by Henry Martyn Leland for his first Lincoln automobiles was in the mainstream of Thirties’ classic car design. Increased to 414 cubic inches in 1934, neither its L-head design nor the single carburetor that fed it fuel and air contributed to scintillating performance. It did, on the other hand, have ample torque delivered with silky multi-cylinder smoothness and would pull steadily from negligible revolutions.

Edsel Ford had long since resolved the first Lincolns’ stodgy body designs by relying on Ford’s own designers and a loyal retinue of coachbuilders including Brunn, LeBaron, Willoughby and Judkins. The coachbuilders supplied both individual bodies and a steady stream of up-to-the-minute ideas which could be incorporated in Lincoln’s own coachwork.

1935 brought important visual changes in Lincoln design with the passenger compartment moved forward on the wheelbase and the hood shortened accordingly. It was a design concept mirrored in Fords that year as well. Claimed benefits included a lower center of gravity for better handling and a smoother ride.

With 150 brake horsepower at 3,800 rpm, a 3-speed manual transmission, live axles and Bendix Duo-Servo mechanical brakes the Lincoln Model K V-12 provided a solid, comfortable, exclusive platform for owners who sought quality and performance. Although only 1,411 were built in 1935, Lincoln found enough demand to sustain itself during these difficult years of the Great Depression.

For 1936 Lincoln had something very different in store: the development and introduction of the Lincoln-Zephyr. Its dramatic streamlined design and economical 75° V-12 developed from the Ford flathead V-8 was intended to respond to Depression era economic realities, put an attractive product in Ford Motor Company’s mid-priced gap and generate sales and profits to power Ford out of the Depression.

Not surprisingly, the same process was underway in the political arena as Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his run for re-election to his second term. Having won election in 1932 on the promise of “a new deal for the American people,” a skillfully managed campaign, which included co-opting much of FDR’s internal Democratic Party opposition by giving the vice presidency to House Speaker John Nance Garner from Texas, saw the Roosevelt New Deal ticket swept into the White House with a margin of nearly 17 points, carrying 42 of the 48 states and accumulating 472 electoral votes to incumbent president Herbert Hoover’s 59.

Roosevelt’s New Deal began to gain steam before the 1936 election campaign with landmark achievements such as instituting the Social Security system and, it should be added, promptly making good on a campaign pledge to shepherd the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to ratification. That happened on December 5, 1933, repealing Prohibition and putting the bootleggers out of business.

Sid Craig’s 1935 Lincoln Model K V-12 Phaeton is known as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s California campaign car and FDR is described as having used it for appearances around Los Angeles, to arrive at a major address at the Los Angeles Coliseum and in San Diego and San Francisco. As a practical matter, however, FDR didn’t need to do much campaigning. He was immensely popular, using New Deal legislation to try to assuage the effects of the Depression on America’s citizens while trying to nurture the delicate economy back to enough strength just to provide jobs for the thousands of citizens who could find no work at all.

Roosevelt’s radio fireside chats, frequent appearances in movie newsreels and a press that was kind to him made opposition futile. The Republicans nominated Alf Landon of Kansas to try to find some support among traditionally conservative farmers. They backed him up with Illinois’s William Knox for vice president. It was futile. FDR racked up the biggest popular vote margin since James Monroe ran unopposed in 1820. The FDR ticket swept every state but Maine and Vermont, giving Landon and Knox just eight electoral votes out of the 531 available. “Landslide” hardly is sufficient to describe Roosevelt’s 1936 re-election and he went on to run successfully again in 1940 and 1944.

The gaunt but confident Roosevelt riding in the back of an open luxury car waving to the crowds that always turned out to greet him, occasionally puffing on a cigarette in a long holder is a familiar image to generations of Americans. His encouragement, confidence and calm, patrician voice helped keep the country going through the dark Depression years. His frequent appearances in public in open cars like this were important to maintaining the citizens’ spirits and maintaining his connection with the public.

Sid and Jenny Craig acquired this 1935 Lincoln K Phaeton in 1993 from Tom Barrett through the Classic and Vintage Car Company in Beverly Hills. A 136” wheelbase chassis, surviving partial records (many production records for this period were lost in a fire) in the Ford Motor Company archives at the Benson Ford Research Center in Dearborn indicate it was delivered in the Royal Dark Blue in which it has been restored.

Today’s coachwork is an unusual phaeton design not cataloged by Lincoln in the period and during cataloging no coachbuilder’s identification could be found. The surviving Lincoln records indicate the coachwork was Type 544, a standard four-door sedan, reinforcing the idea that it may have been bodied specifically for FDR’s California use by his local supporters. There were many: Roosevelt took 67% of the Golden State’s popular vote.

Restored some time ago, it is appropriately equipped for a parade and campaign car with dual windshields, folding side windows, rear compartment footrest and jump seats, dual enclosed sidemounts with mirrors, a Lorraine remotely operated spotlight, wide whitewall tires on wire wheels a luggage rack and, importantly for FDR, a smoker’s kit in the rear. It bears an early unnumbered Classic Car Club of America National First Prize authenticating the quality of its restoration which now has mellowed attractively. Some impending deterioration is visible in the paint but its overall condition is sound, usable and presentable.

One further accessory recalls the Lincoln’s parade history. Under the hood is an aged Federal C4 Coaster Siren, serial number 426, the sort of warning device essential for a car carrying the President of the United States whose health, even in 1936, was delicate.

It is one of the stars of the Sidney Craig collection, a car that combines its own quality and design with the innate quality and political skill of one of America’s legendary presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In today’s similar economic and political environment it is a tangible reminder that with persistence, dedication, hard work, creativity and skill there is light at the end of the tunnel.