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HomeCar CultureFord celebrates its century of Lincoln vehicles

Ford celebrates its century of Lincoln vehicles

In February 1922, Henry Ford bought Henry Leland’s car company

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(Editor’s note: It was on February 4, 1922, that the Ford Motor Company purchased the Lincoln Motor Company, as noted in a recent Lincoln news release, “with encouragement from his wife Clara and his son Edsel Ford.”)

, Ford celebrates its century of Lincoln vehicles, ClassicCars.com Journal
Edsel and Eleanor Ford and their 1922 Lincoln | Ford archive photos
, Ford celebrates its century of Lincoln vehicles, ClassicCars.com Journal
The Fords (left) buy Lincoln from the Lelands

Encouragement, indeed. Henry Ford is known to have what bordered on hatred for Lincoln founder Henry Leland, an automotive engineer who in 1902 had been brought in by the partners in one of Ford’s first automotive enterprises, the Henry Ford Company, to assess the company’s value as Henry was being shown the door. The partners like Leland and the engine he had designed and backed him in establishing a new car company, Cadillac.

Cadillac became part of General Motors in 1909, but Leland and GM head Billy Durant had a falling out and Leland left and founded Lincoln to manufacture Liberty aircraft engines for World War I. The war over, they started producing automobiles in 1920.

But the business struggled and thus the Ford purchase and, as noted in the recent Lincoln news release, “The transaction set in motion the creation of an iconic American luxury brand.”

That transition included the departure of Leland and his son, Wilfred.

And this from the news release: “Over the last 100 years, Lincoln has pioneered such innovations as center-opening coach doors, electric gauges, keyless entry and symphonic chimes and has pushed the boundaries of elegant automotive design, introducing products and services that have come to define the iconic American luxury brand it has become today.”

We are at a defining moment in our history,” Joy Falotico, Lincoln president, is quoted in that news release. “We look back at Lincoln’s past and find inspiration for the future and, to reflect on what we have accomplished – maintaining a balance between the brand’s core values and redefining our vehicle and experiences for the next generation of luxury clients. The timing of our 100th anniversary couldn’t be more ideal as we shift to an electrified future, and I look forward to shepherding the brand into the next 100 years.”

“With classic style, form and function that became the hallmark of the brand, there’s something very special about Lincoln,” added Jim Farley, Ford president and chief executive. “And as we move toward an electric future with connected technologies and always-on experiences, I am so excited to see where the brand will go in China and North America as it begins its second century.”

As noted in the Lincoln news release, “Much of the success the company experienced early on is credited to the influence of Edsel Ford, who served as president of Lincoln from shortly after acquisition to his death in 1943. His ambition is summed up best in his own famous words – ‘Father made the most popular cars in the world; I want to make the best’.”

What follows is the rest of that news release:

, Ford celebrates its century of Lincoln vehicles, ClassicCars.com Journal
1937 Lincoln Model K Touring Car by Brunn

“Edsel prioritized design and styling, while also making customization affordable, allowing him to offer precision and performance in a beautifully executed package, at a price within reach. The belief that a car could be more than just transportation was foundational to the rise of Lincoln.

“In 1936, the company introduced the Lincoln Zephyr, the brand’s first mid-priced vehicle that featured a streamlined design and an “alligator”-type hood. In 1939 the Lincoln Continental debuted as a personal-use vehicle, becoming an instant design classic and quickly establishing the personal luxury car segment in America.

“In 1952, Edsel’s son, William Clay Ford, was appointed manager of special product operations, in charge of engineers and designers planning the Continental’s successor, the Lincoln Continental Mark II, considered by many one of the greatest cars ever built. 

, Ford celebrates its century of Lincoln vehicles, ClassicCars.com Journal
1953 Lincoln X-100 concept car

“Through the years, Lincoln has pioneered multiple new features and innovations, and continues to introduce advancements today. A few more notable moments in its history include:

  • 1955: Lincoln introduces the Mark II to showrooms
  • 1961: Lincoln debuts coach doors on its Continental
  • 1977: Integrated visor-mounted garage door opener debuts on Lincoln Versailles
  • 1980: Speedometer, fuel gauge, message centers go electric, keyless entry is introduced
  • 1987: Front-wheel drive debuts
  • 1994: Memory recall for seat and mirror positioning introduced via a remote transmitter
  • 2010: Lincoln launches its first hybrid electric vehicle – the MKZ Hybrid
  • 2017: Lincoln reveals the Navigator concept, transforming the future of the flagship SUV with an all-new design and innovative features including 30-Way Perfect Position Seats
  • 2018: Lincoln celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Continental and debuts the special edition Continental Coach Door
  • 2018-19: Symphonic chimes recorded by Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Lincoln launches all-new Lincoln Aviator and Corsair SUVs
  • 2021: Lincoln introduces the first locally produced sedan for the China market at Auto Guangzhou, the all-new Lincoln Zephyr, advancing the brand’s design language


“For a century, Lincoln has focused on forward-looking innovations, while maintaining its core values that keep the brand’s products fresh and desirable.

“The introduction of the fourth-generation Navigator in 2018 was instrumental to an upturn in the direction of the brand. A combination of modern luxury and innovative technology, including the debut of 30-Way Perfect Position Seats in the all-new flagship SUV, elevated first-class travel for families, kicking off a resurgence that Lincoln continues to advance today.

“The momentum continues with the introduction of new products and services. This year will see the launch of a new Navigator, elevating the brand’s sanctuary again with signature new features, including ActiveGlide hands-free driver-assist technology.

“The brand continues to build on its portfolio of effortless services such as offering standard Pickup & Delivery, Lincoln Showcase virtual walkarounds and remote sales delivery, while piloting new services that give back what clients value most – their time. A new Mobile Vehicle Spa pilot in Houston provides clients with a convenient way to get their vehicle detailed on their terms.

“Lincoln has seen success in China with localized production of vehicles such as the Corsair, which achieved record full-year sales exceeding 50,000 units in 2021. Last fall Lincoln debuted its first locally produced sedan, the all-new Lincoln Zephyr, at Auto Guangzhou. With more than 3,100 pre-orders, the highly anticipated Zephyr is an example of the brand introducing American luxury to a new, younger generation of clients in China.

“Lincoln is advancing the connected experience for clients in China, as Lincoln Way 2.0 introduces One ID – a digital tool offering seamless access to all the brand’s digital touchpoints in one step. In addition, Lincoln has opened the first Lincoln Way 2.0 Experience Center in China. This all-new center offers an immersive digital experience for the brand’s growing market.

“The core tenets that made Lincoln an American luxury brand are evident in today’s vehicles, services and client experiences, driving the spirit of Lincoln for more than 10 decades now and counting. As the brand looks ahead, Lincoln is laser-focused on advancing its Quiet Flight DNA into an electrified and connected future. By 2030 it will have a full portfolio of connected and electrified vehicles globally.

“To mark the occasion, Lincoln is kicking off a yearlong series of global events connecting the past and the present to an exciting future in the years to come. Lincoln retailers are working to honor this milestone as well, with 100 stores hosting events with their clients and local communities throughout the year.

“Follow Lincoln’s social channels and its dedicated 100th anniversary page for a full year of celebratory content, including feature stories and galleries showcasing a century of design and innovation while offering a peek into the next chapter in the brand’s history. “

From the ClassicCars.com Journal files:

A design for Lincoln’s future

Our 10 favorite Lincolns

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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