The Lincoln K-Series: A Beautiful Car, An Ugly Time

- in Cars

The 7 variations on the KA and the KB also received newly fashioned grilles, parking lights, and updated wire wheels.  Since its Depression Era introduction, The 1932 Model KB has been admired as one of the finest and most elegant Lincolns of all time.  And Lincoln wasn’t bashful about its luxury line’s qualities, referring to it as “of unqualified excellence” and heralding the “distinguishing values that cannot be seen” in its advertisements.

1937 Lincoln Model K Panel Brougham
1937 Lincoln Model K Panel Brougham
Neither was the Lincoln modest in its pricing.  The KA sold for $3,200 and the KB started at $4,300 and topped off at more than $7,000—quite a price for a vehicle, luxury or not, in the 30s.  And if you weren’t satisfied with the 7 body styles available, Ford also offered 24 semi-custom choices perfected by the finest coachbuilders of the time.

The K-Series Struggles
Unfortunately, though 1932 was Lincoln’s year for style it wasn’t its year for sales.  Those who had the means to purchase a K-Series felt it was in bad taste to indulge in a luxury car when so many people were suffering.  Nevertheless, Lincoln kept going, upgrading the K-Series with each passing year, no matter lagging sales.  The 1933 Model K’s new 12-cylinder engine was smaller than the V-8 and handled smoother as a result.

1936 Lincoln Model K 12-cylinder three window Coupe
1936 Lincoln Model K 12-cylinder three window Coupe

And Lincoln cranked up the horsepower even higher for the 1934 model—the 414.2 cubic inch V-12 coming in at 150 horsepower.  However, neither the engine nor the sleek design changes nor the cowl ventilator doors were able to save sales.  No matter how elegant or chic the K-Series may have been, the Depression was not a time for one-of-a-kind luxury cars.

The K-Series continued changing throughout the 30s, receiving considerable attention when a 1939 model was custom ordered for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who called it his “Sunshine Special.”  The Model K was even beloved amongst prominent international figures—King George VI and Queen Elizabeth drove a touring K-Series when they traveled through the United States and Canada in 1939.

1937 Lincoln Model K Convertible Sedan
1937 Lincoln Model K Convertible Sedan

Winds of Change from the Zephyr
But it was right at the point when the K-Series began to see a sliver of success that a new problem emerged—World War II, the automotive industry’s next big hurdle.  That’s when Ford introduced the Zephyr, the Model K’s successor, and the car that would influence the coming legend—the Lincoln Continental.  The Zephyr allowed Ford to reach out to consumers who couldn’t afford the Model K price point but it also owed its popularity to its predecessor, who carried the Lincoln through a severe depression and allowed it to blossom into the only Ford division to survive into the 21st century.

Now check out freshly restored 1936 V-12 Lincoln K Judkins Berline in the video below.

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