THE LINCOLN COACHBUILDERS
An American Carrossiers
Although custom coach building came into its glory in the 1920s, the 1930s were to be its finest hour. The coach building art form was to all but fade
away by the end of that decade as the large auto makers recognized the need for appealing to the buyer through coach styling. In years past, automobiles
were purchased on their reputation for dependability. By the mid-1920s, most manufacturers were building reliable and well performing motorcars.
Custom luxury coach body building merits a separate chapter in the automotive history. Indeed, whole books have been written on some of these
legend-makers. Americans in general love to tinker, and have produced over four thousand brands of automobiles. Automobile coach building clearly
evolved from the craft of carriage building. The pioneer coachbuilders who made the greatest impact on automotive body styling were, however, the
younger and more creative newcomers to the art form. The custom hot rod builders of the late 50s, like George Barris of California, were probably
the end of this era. Now, the kit car craze has brought auto building full circle, once again returning to thousands of different makes and styles of
There were about one hundred coachbuilders of any notoriety in the 1920s and early 1930s. Many survived in business for only a brief period,
and few ever really produced any volume of auto bodies. Of course, anyone could build a custom body on a Lincoln (as they can today). However, only
a select few coachbuilders were engaged by the Lincoln Motor Company to do so. Builders contracted directly by Lincoln were American, Anderson,
Babcock, Brunn, Derham, Dietrich, Fleetwood, Holbrook, Judkins, Lang, LeBaron, Locke, Murray, Towson, and Willoughby in the 1920s. Murphy,
Rollston, and Waterhouse were added in the 1930s.
Anderson Electric Car Company, along with the newly formed Towson, were originally contracted by Leland to build the Model L bodies. The Towson
Body Company of Detroit, Michigan, became known for their work on Packards, and built medium-priced bodies for the Velie and Davis automobiles.
Anderson did business under the Towson name after 1922. Both companies, by 1925, became part of the Murray Corporation of America which had been
founded in Detroit in 1912. The J.C. Widman Company was also merged into Murray in 1925. During its five-year existence, Widman originated
the custom two-door sedan called the Earl Brougham, and built bodies for the Jewett, Chalmers, and Franklin.
The C.R. Wilson Body Company in Detroit had built carriages since 1873. In the early 1920s, they began building high-priced automobile
bodies on Packard and Lincoln chassis. Wilson was purchased and became part of Murray in 1927. Murray also absorbed several smaller firms to
become the third largest coachbuilder. Murray had one of the first automobile coach design studios, headed by Amos Northrup, who came to
Murray from Wills Sainte Claire in 1924. Northrup collaborated with Ray Dietrich the following year to produce bodies for the Packard, Hupmobile,
Jordan, Reo, and Lincoln. Murray Corporation still produces automobile components.
American Body Company began in 1919 in Buffalo, New York. They produced Model L bodies and other medium-priced auto bodies, specializing
in open Tourings. American was out of business by 1926.
The H.H. Babcock Company had started as wagon builders in the 1890s. From their facilities in Watertown, Massachusetts, they built light
delivery trucks and Town Cars on long wheelbases. They built chassis for Dodge and Franklin until going out of business in 1926. Babcock built a
few Model A Duesenberg and Model L Lincoln bodies.
Rauch & Lang of Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1899. They began building electric cars in 1904. In 1916, they merged with Baker Vehicle
Company who built electric car parts and car bodies, and manufactured the Owen-Magnetic car. Baker, Rauch & Lang then purchased the Leon Rubay
Company of Cleveland at bankruptcy in 1922. The company was also known as Baker-Raulang. At the 1929 Auto Salons, they displayed their Ruxton Town
Car. A few quality custom bodies and production bodies were built by them for Stearn-Knight and Peerless. Baker-Raulang ceased auto body production
in 1939, but remains in business as suppliers of body parts and electronic equipment. The Lang Body Company of Cleveland, Ohio, sold their interest
in Rauch & Lang Carriage Company, and began building semi-custom bodies for Dodge. Several early Model L Lincoln bodies were built by them. It was a
family owned business started in 1920, and was out of business by 1924.
Holbrook Company was founded by H.F. Holbrook in West Manhattan, New York City. It was moved to Hudson, New York, in 1921. They were best
known for their Phaeton and Town Car bodies on Packard and Crane-Simplex chassis. They built several of the first Duesenberg Model J coaches and
various Lincoln custom coaches in 1925 and 1926. The most popular Lincoln body style which Holbrook built was the Collapsible Cabriolet. It was
first shown at the 1925 New York Automobile Salon. About forty of these cars were built through 1929. On this Cabriolet, the chauffeur's top
snapped off, and the rear compartment could be folded down like a Landaulet. Its predecessor was the Holbrook Brougham, produced in 1925.
R.L. Stickney's drawing of this motorcar appears in the November 1924 issues of The Lincoln Magazine, Salon Issue. These two designs are
excellent examples of the terms Brougham and Cabriolet. In this case, however, the Brougham lacked the all-weather driver's tarp. Harry Holbrook
left his namesake company in 1927 to build cars with Henry Brewster at the old Blue Ribbon Carriage works at Bridgeport, Connecticut, for two years.
The original Holbrook Company went bankrupt in May of 1930, and many employees including Hjalmar Holm, the sales manager, went over to the
Rollston coach works. Holbrook had, for some time, been sending its repair business to Rollston.
The Rollston Company of New York City was started in 1921 mainly to provide wealthy Easterners with custom bodies for their imported
Rolls-Royces. The firm quickly expanded into other expensive bodies like Packard and Stutz. Rollston built the famous Duesenberg Convertible
Victoria and several custom Lincoln Town Cars. Drawings of these designs by George Hildebrand remain valuable collector items today. Rollston's
founder retired in 1939, and the company relocated to Plainview, New York, continuing to build bodies for Packard until the beginning of World War
II. It remains in business today, fabricating galleys for aircraft.
Budd Manufacturing Company, on occasion, has been listed as a Lincoln coachbuilder, but very few Lincoln bodies were ever custom produced by
Budd. Edward G. Budd was actually more famous as a railroad car builder. He designed and built rail cars of lightweight riveted aluminum for the
M-10000 and the Pioneer Zephyr. Budd was one of the first coachbuilders to produce all-steel coach bodies for automobiles.
A company occasionally listed as a Lincoln coachbuilder was Guider-Sweetland and its surviving company of Sierers & Erdman were founded
in Detroit in 1913. Guider-Sweetland built ambulances and burial coaches on Lincoln chassis until the late 1930s. Central Manufacturing Company of
Connersville, Indiana, is also sometimes mentioned but they too built only a few customs. Central was absorbed into Auburn-Cord. The original
Central Manufacturing complex operated almost continually for forty years, and even built Jeeps during World War II. One additional company,
Cunningham Sons of Rochester, New York, built a few one-off Lincolns. Founded in the 1890s, they manufactured their own V-8 engines from 1916
through 1934. During the mid-thirties, they also built custom bodied cars on Ford chassis.
The Derham Body Company of Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was founded as a carriage builder in 1884. They were known in the 1920s for their Lincoln,
Packard, and Pierce-Arrow Town Cars. In 1928, the Floyd-Derham Company was formed to build custom bodies at the old Alexander Woflington's Sons
Company facility in Philadelphia. This operation was short lived. Derham Body Company was famous for their Chrysler convertibles in the thirties.
Today, the Wolfington company builds school buses, and the Derham company custom builds expensive limousines.
Locke & Company began in 1902 as a quality body builder in New York City. They were known for their exquisite finishes and distinctive Town
Cars. In 1926, the company relocated to Rochester, New York. Increasing numbers of orders were placed by the Chrysler, Franklin, and Lincoln
companies. Locke was best known for its early Lincoln Phaetons. In November of 1929, at the 25th Annual Chicago Automobile Salon, Locke
displayed a five-passenger Sedan on a Ruxton front-wheel-drive chassis. The design was unusually low in profile while still providing ample
headroom, had no running boards, and was all black without body molding or striping. The following year, a similar design was built on a Chrysler
convertible. The Locke 1930 Lincoln Roadster had a totally disappearing top which folded into a recess behind the seat, and was covered by a deck
panel. Locke & Company was, however, out of business by 1933.
Walter M. Murphy was related to Henry Leland, and had been authorized as one of the original Lincoln distributors. Located in Pasadena,
California, the Murphy Company began modifying the early Model L Lincolns from the outset. Murphy also built custom coach bodies on the Rolls-Royce
and on the Model J Duesenberg for the West Coast elite. The firm was an unauthorized Lincoln coachbuilder until 1932, when Lincoln contracted with
them to build Type 43 Phaetons and three different types of Sport Roadsters. Shortly afterward, Murphy Company ceased to do business.
Former Murphy employees Bohman & Schwartz continued the business under their own names until 1938.
The Lehmann Manufacturing Company started building wagons in Indiana one hundred years after the American Revolution. They evolved into
Lehmann-Peterson Company at Indianapolis by 1925, producing replacement bodies for the Model T Ford. They also built ambulance bodies and other
commercial vehicles, including several White House Lincoln limousines. The firm is still in business today as an automobile alteration facility.
The name Fleetwood is generally associated with Cadillac but it originated in 1905 with the Reading Metal Company, servicing companies like
Duryea and Chadwick. In 1912, the officers of the company started a new operation at Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, about twenty miles from Reading.
They built coaches on most of the major U.S. chassis including Daniels, Lincoln, and Packard, as well as on imports such as Isotta-Fraschini and
Maybach. Fleetwood Metal Body Company became famous for all-metal coach designs, and was purchased by General Motors in 1925. A facility was set
up for Fleetwood in Detroit, as a division of Fisher Body, and they began building Cadillac bodies in 1933. The older Pennsylvania facility
continued to build coaches for Stutz and imported luxury cars until 1931, after General Motors had acquired ownership. The Fleetwood's New York
sales office was opened in 1918 at 2 Columbus Circle, the same location at which LeBaron began business in 1923. An example of a Fleetwood built
LeBaron design was the 1923 Roadster for Rudolph Valentino. The actor was also an accomplished auto mechanic, and ordered a full-length running board
tool box. Fleetwood built several hundred custom Lincoln Model L coach bodies. A few of these coaches were not delivered until after Fleetwood's
merger into Fisher Body of GM. (This may have been the closest General Motors and Ford ever came to becoming co-manufacturers.)
The Utica, New York, building where the Willoughby & Company coach works was located is still used as a machine shop. Francis W. Willoughby
and J. Vinton Locke both attended school at Hamilton College. In 1908, Willoughby set up his company to serve the new wealthy industrialists in
and around the Mohawk Valley. The firm built semi-custom bodies for Lincolns on the order of twenty-five to one hundred per run. Willoughby
coaches were best known for their conservative lines and fine workmanship. They also built bodies for the Cole and the Wills Sainte Claire
automobiles. Willoughby coach craftsman were exceedingly accomplished at building to a standard chassis. Packard and Lincoln bodies built by
Willoughby would quite often interchange. In some cases, a Touring body could be detached and the particular chassis fitted with a new Town Car
body. Willoughby was best known for producing fine Town Cars. With the decline of chauffeur-driven cars in the thirties, their market was
particularly hard hit. Willoughby had done very well in 1932 with new designs for the Lincoln Model K. Afterward, they suffered some decline,
but they managed to stay in business until 1938. When, they closed, chief designer, Martin Regitko, went to work at Ford's Lincoln design facility in
the styling section.
Herman A. Brunn had worked in his uncle's carriage shop as a young man in Buffalo, New York. Many, if not almost all of the successful
carrossiers and great coach designers had served an apprenticeship in a good coachbuilding shop. Brunn worked briefly for the Babcock company in
Watertown, and then took over management of the Andrew Joyce Carriage Company in Washington. He returned to Buffalo and founded Brunn & Company
in 1908. Through the twenties and until they closed in 1941, Brunn enjoyed a fine reputation. It was only natural that Edsel Ford, after acquiring
Lincoln, would turn to LeBaron and Brunn for creative designs. Edsel would approach each one separately with similar suggestions, and they would work
independently until their design concepts were completed.
At the 1927 New York Automobile Salon, Brunn displayed a yellow and brown Convertible Victoria, one of the earliest built in this country.
They also displayed a Phaeton painted aluminum and black, a favorite Edsel Ford color scheme. Another interesting Lincoln custom was built for a
physician friend of Herman Brunn and shown in 1931 at the last New York Auto Salon. It was a double-entry two-door Sedan, with doors that opened
from either end and had a special latching mechanism which had been first tried on the European Pinin Farina. Only a few were ever built. Many of
the Brunn Model L Lincoln designs were reproduced by Towson, American, and Lang. Lincoln factory photos show Brunn Town Cars in front of the Buffalo
Fine Arts Museum, a favorite photographing location.
Brunn built many of the LeBaron designs, including the Ford family's personal cars. The friendship and personal ties between the Brunn and Ford
families grew. The last Lincoln and Packard custom bodies built by Brunn & Company were the 1938 and 1939 models. They were of the Landaulet styles
on which the aft part of the passenger compartment had a convertible top. In 1940 and 1941, Brunn custom built the Buick series 90 Limousines at the
request of Buick's president Harlow Curtice, who had been unable to get them from Fleetwood. In 1942, the youngest brother, H.C. Brunn, went to
work for the Lincoln styling section at Detroit (he became one of Lincolns most innovative interior designers).
The Judkins, Merrimac, and Waterhouse Companies were loosely related. The John B. Judkins Company was founded in 1857 at West Amesbury,
Massachusetts. The municipality of Amesbury was later renamed Merrimac, and known as Carriage Hill because so many coachbuilding shops were located
in that part of New England. Judkins' partner was Isaac Little. His two sons joined the company, Frederick B. in 1883, and Charles H. in 1891.
About five years before the turn of the century, Judkins began building automobile bodies for Colonel Pope of Hartford. The firm built luxury
Brougham horse carriages until about 1910, at which time they went exclusively to automobile coach building. In the early years, Judkins
built over a thousand bodies for the Winton Motor Car Company. In 1918, Stanley L. Judkins opened Merrimac Body Company to handle the overflow work
from the main Judkins plant. It mostly produced Packards and DuPont bodies, and was closed in 1933. Sergeant and Charles Waterhouse both
worked for Judkins prior to forming their own coach building company in 1928. Waterhouse custom built several styles of Lincoln coach bodies until
1933. The famous Ford stylist John F. Dobben worked at Judkins in the 1920s, and designer/artist R. L. Stickney went to work at Judkins when
LeBaron closed its New York offices to avoid a move to Detroit. One of the notable designs built by Judkins was the Lincoln Coupe deVoyage. It was a
personal favorite of Mr. Judkins, and was drafted by Herman A. Kapp and Hugo Pfau of LeBaron. The famous 1926 Lincoln Model L Coaching Brougham,
based on the Concord stagecoach, was built by Judkins. This rare coachbuilt was on display at Henry Ford's Wayside Inn for years. Judkins
also built the custom body coach for cowboy movie star Tom Mix's Pierce-Arrow Club Coupe. The main Judkins facility continued to build auto bodies until 1938.
The coachbuilder's story which most profoundly impacted the early Lincolns was that of Raymond H. Dietrich. Actually, the story begins at
Brewster and moves through the LeBaron, Murray, and Briggs companies. As a young New York lad, Ray Dietrich worked as an apprentice engineer. He was
inclined to study art, but instead was attracted to the automobile trade and interviewed with Brewster & Company at Long Island City. Henry
Cresilius, chief engineer for Brewster, introduced Dietrich to William H. Brewster. (Cresilius would later go to work for the Ford Motor Company.)
Brewster & Company built Ford Town Car coach bodies into the 1930s under the supervision of J.S. Inscip. Inscip also worked on the English Jensen
design. During the early development of the original Lincoln Continental, both Brewster and Derham were considered as body contractors on the
project. As it turned out, both facilities combined could not have handled even the relatively small number of Continentals eventually produced.
Dietrich had graduated from a design course given by Andrew F. Johnson, a carriage draftsman, and soon became one of Brewster's most progressive
designers. Ray Dietrich left Brewster for a short period to work at Chevrolet, but returned to work on the new Brewster-Knight automobile
project. It was during this time that he and Thomas L. Hibbard became friends. Hibbard went to Europe during World War I. He wanted to stay and
work at the Kellner studio in Paris, but was shipped home with the rest of the Dough Boys after the Armistice. Hibbard and Dietrich were planning to
start their own company, and Brewster fired them both when he found out they were peddling their own designs on the side. They selected the name
LeBaron Carrossiers, Inc., and moved into 2 Columbus Circle. (LeBaron was the French-sounding name of a doctor friend of Dietrich's family, and
Carrossier is French for coachbuilder.) The building on Columbus Circle conveniently housed the New York offices of Fleetwood.
Ralph Roberts, a young Dartmouth graduate, joined LeBaron as the business manager. When Al Jolson came to order a coach design at LeBaron,
he gave Roberts complementary tickets to his New York show, and that night, while on stage, wisecracked that his performance should be worth a discount
on his new LeBaron. Jolson loved fine cars. When taking the train into New York or Boston he would have his chauffeur make the trip by car in
order to meet the train and drive him around town. Jolson was a perceptive man, and decades ahead in his automobile tastes. "Make it low and sleek,
so low I have to bend over to get in," he would tell the designers of his cars.
Since they had no facility of their own, the LeBaron staff worked as contract coach designers. They sold prospective drawings for $25 apiece to
Manhattan auto dealers like Captain D'Annunzio, son of the poet Gabriele and the local Isotta representative. Other customers included Milton
Budlong of Lincoln and Paul Ostruk of Minerva. Ostruk resold the LeBaron-designed coachbuilts under their own logo, Body by Ostruk. New
York Governor C. Parvis, the Packard coach body purchasing agent, commissioned LeBaron to design a limousine which became the benchmark for
many subsequent Packard limousines. From their proposal drawings, Tom Hibbard and Ray Dietrich often got the job of providing the working
drawings. Thus, an additional and larger fee could be charged. Early techniques which gave these coach bodies lower and more flowing lines were
methods like lowering the headlight mounting and incorporating the famous "LeBaron Sweep." The LeBaron Sweep was a manipulation of the body's visual
focal point. It basically centered on a flowing mold line which formed over the cowl and around the top of the doors. Two-tone paint schemes were
also used to breakup the appearance of body size and accent the LeBaron Sweep.
Milton Budlong who operated York Motors, the Lincoln dealership, told
Ray Dietrich, "I can't sell the Model Ls. They are too conservative up against the three Ps (Packard, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow) and the
imports. I'd like you to build me a sport Phaeton for the New York Salon." A custom Lincoln Phaeton was built at the Smith-Springfield body
works in eighteen days. Milton was delighted, as was Edsel Ford, when he saw the car. Raymond Dietrich and Edsel Ford met for the first time in the
fall of 1922 at the 23rd New York Auto Salon. It was about this time that Frank deCausse from Locomobile and Roland L. Stickney arrived on the scene
at LeBaron. R.L. Stickney's watercolor drawings of this periods coach designs have become collector's items. Art work by Stickney and Hibbard
appeared in popular magazines of the time like Town & Country, Vanity Fair, and Country Life. Thomas Hibbard departed for Paris in March of 1923. He
eventually started a business there, as he had wanted to years before, with Howard A. "Dutch" Darrin. Early Hibbard-Darrin coaches were built at the
Van den Plas facility in Belgium. Darrin returned to the United States in 1938, and set up a custom shop on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. After World
War II, his shop built the Kaiser prototype. Today the shop custom fits Rolls-Royce bodies for West Coast dealers.
By 1924, LeBaron had become the most successful new group of designers in the coach building industry. LeBaron was now a major supplier of custom
coach working drawings, and Ray Dietrich was personally supervising the work on many of the projects, traveling from shop to shop, and spending a
great deal of time at Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bridgeport Body Company merged with LeBaron after the failure of Locomobile. The former owners of
Bridgeport built custom station wagons and Packard coach bodies until the mid-thirties.
The A.T. Demarest & Company, an old New Haven coachbuilder, moved to New York in the early 1920s. They built several different LeBaron designed
bodies for Locomobile and Sportif. The Clayton Company of New York also built several custom LeBaron bodies. Humer-Binder Company who built early
LeBaron bodies, is still in business in New York. They were the main service and repair center for early LeBaron coach bodies.
One of Ray Dietrich's favorite stories was of an attorney who owned a Renault coachbuilt. The counselor complained to Ray that the body always
squeaked. Dietrich had the attorney take the car in to one of the local coach shops. Dietrich used an old trick, that of shooting the inner body
with graphite to stop the squeak. It always worked, at least for awhile. Later, during a luncheon, Ray asked the same attorney to look over a
contract he was considering signing as a personal favor. The attorney did and later sent Ray a bill for $400 with a note saying that one cannot use a
professional's time for free. Ray replied with a $500 invoice for the coach repairs and a similar note.
By 1925, Edsel Ford was prevailing upon Raymond Dietrich, mostly through Allen Sheldon the president of Murray Corporation, to open a design
shop in Detroit. Larry Fisher of General Motors was also after Dietrich. Ralph Roberts, now half-owner of LeBaron, was against the move entirely,
but this new challenge was just what Ray was looking for. Besides, Edsel had agreed that Dietrich could continue doing independent designs and
consulting. In Detroit, Ray was set up as the Dietrich Custom Body Company under Murray Corporation of America. Before long, Ray wanted to do more
than concept work so Dietrich, Inc. was founded. During this period, some of the finest luxury car body designs were created. The last Raymond
Dietrich Lincoln production design built was a 1934 Model K.
Dietrich himself lost a personal fortune with the decline of the Salon Catalogue market. He was even more vulnerable than most of the
coachbuilders as he had less of customizing trade to fall back on. He left the company which he had founded in 1932, and the following year Dietrich,
Inc. was merged into Murray Corporation. In addition to his friendship with Edsel Ford, Ray Dietrich also had a friend in Walter P. Chrysler. Ray
went to work at Chrysler as a design consultant. Walter warned him, however, that Chrysler was ruled by iron-willed mechanical engineers and
that all work would be on cars planned for mass production. Dietrich took the job anyway and remained until Walter Chrysler, his champion, died in
1940. The Chrysler LeBaron today is named more in honor of Raymond Dietrich than for his former company.
While at Chrysler, Dietrich upgraded the modeling procedures, taught at the Chrysler Institute of Engineering, and influenced design concepts for
years to come. In semi-retirement, Dietrich created one last custom-designed coachbuilt for the Ford family, and designed the 1950
Lincoln White House parade car. The American motorcar industry was made a better place because of Raymond H. Dietrich.
Ralph Roberts ran LeBaron after Dietrich left, but was not well known for his design talents. However, Roberts had some very talented people
working under him. People like R.L. Stickney, Hugo Pfau, and Ray Birge (the former manager of the Bridgeport facility) were still at LeBaron.
After Ray set up business in Detroit, Roberts contacted him explaining that he was having difficulty managing LeBaron as a minority stockholder.
Dietrich agreed to sell his interest in LeBaron to Roberts. Edsel Ford had been pushing LeBaron, Murray, and Briggs for greater Lincoln production
quotas. The Briggs Manufacturing Company of Detroit had been founded in 1909 by Walter Briggs, a former Ford plant manager. His company
specialized in high-production, inexpensive closed coach bodies, and had been a major Ford Motor Company subcontractor for years. LeBaron had lots
of luxury car experience, but in low production numbers. Briggs had the opposite experience, and both wanted Lincoln's business. It was a shotgun
wedding at best. Imagine Ray Dietrich's surprise in 1926 when Ford vice-president, George Walker told him that LeBaron had been purchased by
Briggs for a considerable sum.
In 1928, Briggs acquired the Phillips Custom Body Company of Warren, Ohio. It was an old family owned carriage company that had turned to auto
body building in the early twenties. Phillips' general manager Ed Carter became a major asset to the Briggs organization. Briggs of Detroit should
not be confused with the Briggs Carriage Company of Amesbury, Massachusetts. The latter was founded in 1876, and began building
automobile carriages as early as 1908. They built the early steam Locomobiles, but ceased auto production altogether in 1920.
The new LeBaron-Briggs company was called LeBaron-Detroit Company, and operated under that name until 1941. The Lincoln Model K bodies by LeBaron
were built at Detroit, and totaled 412 Coupes and 413 Convertible Sedans. The body building facilities were purchased, and most of the talent was
absorbed, by Chrysler in 1948 after Walter Briggs' death. LeBaron, Inc. maintained a New York office until 1930. During the mid-thirties, Briggs
became well known for their streamlined Airflow and Zephyr designs. One of the last LeBaron-Briggs designs was Alex Tremulis' Chrysler Thunderbolt and
Arrow. The new president of Chrysler was K.T. Keller. Like Edsel Ford, he always tried to encourage talent. Keller remarked one time that the Thunderbolt
looked like a streamlined Budd train. It was modern with straight slab fenders, pre World War II, pre GM future car, and ten years ahead in styling.
LINCOLN COACH BODY TERMS
The Lincoln Model L and Model K coachbuilts followed the traditional luxury body styling of the 1920s and 1930s. The French term "Cabriolet"
originally applied to a collapsible top carriage with doors, usually two. Most early motorcar Cabriolet styles had a rag top over the first two-doors
or driver's compartment only. In later years, the term Cabriolet was used for several classically styled four-passenger, three-window Convertible
Coupes. Whether coupe or sedan, a true Cabriolet style is an automobile which has the ability to open partially over the driver's area, and also to
be fully opened. The term "all-weather" can mean almost anything, but it generally applies to the ability of the vehicle to carry its own removable
top. Many terms are used interchangeably in describing model and body styles (the glossary in the back of this book will provide some general definitions).
There are no precise rules on the use of many of these terms. For example, a difference which is generally accepted between a "Roadster" and
"Convertible Coupe" is that the Roadster has sidecurtains and the Convertible has roll-up windows, although many early Convertibles are
referred to as Roadsters.
The large rear compartment lids on Coupes and Roadsters usually had an auxiliary seat called a "Dicky." (Dicky or dickey being an early name for
the rumble seat.) Auxiliary seating is a more general term which might also refer to the small rear bench seat in a coupe or the foldaway seats in
a limousine. Another commonly used term was "Victoria," which described a deluxe two-door sedan. It later became the proper name for a given body
style like the Convertible Victoria. An earlier popular name for a single bench seat coupe was "Doctor's Coupe."
"Berline" is a style of closed sedan named for the capital of Germany, but pronounced "burlean." Use of this term was dropped as America entered
World War II. Another term for a body style which is often unclear is that of "Brougham," named after Henry P. Brougham, a carriage builder of the
early 1800s, and refers to a closed carriage with an open driver's seat. This term is sometimes confused with Herman Brunn, a contemporary
coachbuilder. Brougham is really a better term than Cabriolet for an open driver Town Car, but the terms were used interchangeably throughout the
1920s. Some body styles, like the new Locke Sport Phaeton, were referred to as four-passenger and five-passenger because of their adjustable,
hideaway, rear seat center armrest.
A distinctive bar located at the rear of a convertible top or padded roof is called a "coach bar" or a "landau iron," functional on early model
folding tops for both carriages and automobiles, and were later used as decorative items on closed sedans and coupes. The term "closed" in early
model automobiles refers to its not being a Touring or a Roadster. Later, however, the term closed also applied to the omitting of the last window in
profile on sedans and limousines. In window counting, there is a different rule for coupes than for sedans. On a coupe, all windows are counted
except the windshield and the wing-windows. The rear window, the one that you look through the rear view mirror towards, is counted as one window
even if double. Thus, a closed coupe might be referred to as a five-window or three-window coupe. Sedans, both two-door and four-door styles, use
only the profile windows in counting. Here again, the forward triangle or wing-window is not counted. Thus, sedans are either two-window or
three-window. The two-window style affords more privacy for the rear passengers, and was sometimes referred to as a closed sedan or limousine.
It is perfectly workable to use the same window count method for sedans as coupes. In doing so, a two-window sedan would be a five-window and a
three-window sedan would be a seven-window. Anything less would by default have to be a sedan delivery or a hearse.
Doors on most four-door sedans and Tourings are positioned adjacent to one another. The exception to this is on a Dual-Cowl Phaeton, where a
center section or second cowl separates the side doors. Doors on coupes were either forward (front) opening or modern standard (rear) opening.
Doors on sedans are either of the front-rear, rear-front or rear-rear opening arrangements. The rear-front was very popular on Town Cars due to
the ease by which the chauffeur might open the rear door for his passengers. Lincoln was the last of the sedan builders to depart from this
arrangement, but did so finally in the late sixties. Front-opening doors were nicknamed "suicide doors." Hugo Pfau wrote that in all his years at
LeBaron, he had never heard of an accident involving such doors in spite of their reputation. The front-opening doors were popular in early years as
they were particularly useful if one had to crank start or adjust something in the engine, then run and jump in. The rear-rear door arrangement was
finally adopted for safety in modern family sedans. When unlatched, the airstream aids in holding the door shut on the rear opening arrangement.
The terms Model, Style, Series, and Type are often used interchangeably. Most of this nonstandard terminology arose from the
methods used by various coachbuilders and from Lincoln's own catalogues. In referring to the Lincoln make in general, the term "Model" applies to a
specific design and not a year, i.e., Model K or Model L. The term "Style" refers to body styling, i.e., Roadster or Touring. A "Type" number is that
particular number within a Series assigned to a given body design. "Series" refers to the year in which a group of Styles were built, i.e.,
Series 201 indicates body Types 202 thru 221 for 1931. The term Series can be used interchangeably with "Model Year," and was also used to refer to a
given year's bare chassis beginning with Model K production. The Series 231 began the 1932 Model KB, the Series 501 began the 1932 Model KA, and so on.
Prior to that, the Model L had only two chassis Types, the 122 and the 150B. The Model H could not be separated from its chassis so a year code was devised.
EARLY LINCOLN ADVERTISING
The best word to explain early Lincoln advertising is "institutional." Under Leland, advertising promoted quality and reputation. The first
graphics of a Coupe and Touring were done rather crudely in pen and ink. Ford's advertising moved toward what might be called stately advertising.
The Model L was pictured in front of various monuments and government structures. These pen and ink drawings improved in quality, and by 1922
some were also appearing with pastel watercolor tints. There is an old advertising idiom which says that if you repeat something often enough people may
start to believe you. "Beauty That Lives," the Lincoln ads repeated. Very early Lincoln ads stopped short of being depressing, but they were a little drab.
By late 1925, Lincoln discontinued the stately advertising approach and went in for society themes like a day at the hunt, the dog show, on the
golf course, or a night at the opera. The same ads were often printed in pastels as well as in black and white. Their focal point was always an
austere and tasteful artist's rendering of a particular Lincoln body style. Above the pictured scene, a decorative oval or block bore an
inscription relating some kind words about the particular automobile in the drawing. Generally, at the top of the ad in large standard typeset was the
word LINCOLN, and bore the signature line Lincoln Motor Company Division of Ford Motor Company. Through 1925, Lincoln used the letter L in an octagon
seal as its logo. Advertising also appeared in foreign magazines like the French L'Illustration which promoted the style and grace of the improved
Model L. The word Lincoln had a greyhound dashing through the center of the logo in the foreign ads, and in some domestic ads of the late 1920s.
Advertising in popular magazines for 1929 began using actual photographs of Lincoln body styles in natural settings. These photos were
of excellent clarity. During the 1930 model year, a switch was made back to artist's drawings which were now very detailed and included intricate
background scenes. The people in the scenes were almost cartoon-like, but the drawings represented restraint and good artistic taste. Many of the latter were
drawn by James Williamson, and appeared in the Saturday EveningPost. The coachbuilders themselves, on occasion, ran separate advertising of notably
different layout. The coachbuilders, however, mainly confined their promotions to brochures and prospectus to be given away at salons and showrooms.
THE LINCOLN SALONS
The Salon of choice for prestige coachbuilders was New York City. During this era New York, not Detroit, was the auto capital. These New
York Auto Salons were the custom coachbuilder's showrooms. The first was held in 1905, and was a competitor to the New York Auto Show founded a few
years earlier. The New York Salon was held in the fall, usually in October in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Commodore. In addition, special salons
at the Astor Hotel were held by various manufacturers. Seven years after the New York Auto Show's beginning, an American car was finally admitted
for exhibit. Bodies on American chassis by established coachbuilders were admitted if they were $3,000 or higher in price, and until its conclusion
in 1931, European chassis dominated. The New York Auto Show which was mostly imports is often confused with the New York Auto Salon which was
mostly American coachbuilts.
By the late 1920s, a Chicago Salon at the Drake Hotel was added in January. A few years later, a Los Angeles Salon was begun in February at
the Biltmore Hotel and, still later, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco the following month. The New York Salon was by invitation only, but the
western Salons were generally open to the public. These exclusive Salons were different from the Automobile Show, which was open to the public. In
New York City, the public shows were held at Madison Square Garden. In Los Angeles, they were held in circus tents. They were open to all
manufacturers, and were more for the ready-builts than the custom coach designs. (In fact, these early public shows were not much different from
the auto shows conducted today at municipal auditoriums and state fairs.)
At the New York Auto Salon, a typical program would list four groups of exhibitors: "Exhibiting; Exhibited by Coachmaker; Coachwork Exhibits; and
Accessory Exhibits." Lincolns were shown in the Exhibited by Coachmaker group. Automobiles shipped by rail could be brought into the Commodore
Hotel via an elevated railway running from Grand Central Station to the hotel. Other cars were trucked in. Many coachbuilders like LeBaron would
build a special custom show car each year for the event. On occasion, identical designs and color schemes would show up. (Admittedly, this was
as embarrassing a situation as two ladies wearing identical designer gowns to the same formal ball.) Due to concern for the expensive oriental
carpeting and the city fire codes, the gas and oil had to be removed from all the show cars. On a good show year, cars would overflow into the lobby and onto
the terrace outside the hotel's Grill Room. Most of the coach bodies displayed were Town Cars and Limousines because, after all, this was the Carriage Trade.
At the 1925 Salon, LeBaron displayed their design number 1331, which later became the Lincoln Type 155. As a forerunner to the tropical bird
advertising theme, this Sport Cabriolet had a rather gaudy decor. It was painted Paroquet Green with a black top and reddish-brown pinstriping.
Holbrook displayed their Lincoln Cabriolet, and Dietrich's entry was a Convertible Sedan. This was Dietrich's first show separate from LeBaron.
Brunn presented a pair of Lincolns, a Town Car and a Sports Sedan. In all, six different Lincoln body styles were on display.
In the 1927 Lincoln Salon Catalogue, one finds the Renaissance Semi-Collapsible Cabriolet by Brunn. The driver is in the open but has a
large side windows in place which are independent of the chauffeur's top. The passenger compartment is closed, with a padded roof and decorative
coach bars. Variations on this body style were the Eighteenth Century All-Weather Convertible by LeBaron, and the Colonial Semi-Collapsible
Cabriolet by Willoughby. The latter had a bellflower pattern woven broadcloth interior. All had dual sidemounted spare tires. Their paint
schemes and lower headlight mountings gave them the illusion of having an extra long hood and lowered cowl.
The Custom Salon Catalogue business in the mid twenties was in full bloom. In fact, these publications were so artistically done that most are
sought after collector's items. The 1927 full-color Lincoln Salon Catalogue illustrated a LeBaron five-window, four-passenger Coupe in an
oriental motif with gold, ebony, and red trim. There was also a Judkins closed Sedan Berline with landau bars called the Egyptian. Its upholstery
was done in lotus blossoms and papyrus pattern. The triangle windows located either side of the windshield were retained from an earlier body
style. The Dietrich Convertible Club Roadster was finished in a ribbed broadcloth. The Willoughby seven-passenger Limousine appeared as the
Gothic style, and was rather plain except for an odd windshield design with
hand-carved interior window arch garnitures. The Georgian Landau Limousine by Locke was much like the Judkins Berline, except that it was a
three-window sedan. The Empire Cabriolet two-window sedan by Holbrook was totally devoid of any streamlining. The most modern offering of this 1927
Salon Catalogue collection was Dietrich's Dual-Cowl Sport Phaeton. A boat-tailed open Touring, it was equipped with a rear-seat passenger
compartment windshield and dual sidemounts. The exterior was BRG with dark orange wires, and accent pinstriping just below the coach sill. The
interior was two-tone green handcrafted leather with orange piping.
In 1927, both Locke and Judkins, built carriage replicas. Locke's offering was the Louis XIV French Brougham. The Coaching Brougham offered
by the John Judkins Company was designed by their chief engineer, and closely resembled a European stagecoach. Much research had been done for
this design at the carriage-building facility of Abbot and Downing in Concord, New Hampshire, and it survives as a unique example of the
coachbuilder's art. The Coaching Brougham was sold to Miss Ethel Jackson in Hollywood (it may have been too gaudy to sell elsewhere). On one
occasion, it was used to promote a W.C. Fields movie. In the 1960s, Macmillian Company used it as a publicity device for the television show
"The Beverly Hillbillies." The Coaching Brougham was painted traditional English coach colors of yellow and black with red accent striping. The interior
was dark green Moroccan leather with plush red trim like the early Concord coaches. This car went to Tokyo, Japan, on tour with the Harrahs Collection in 1971.
The 1928 Salon Catalogue promoted designs like the Cabriolet Brougham by Brunn with phrases such as, "The rear compartment offers drawing room
comfort with two occasional seats. A trunk rack is provided for those who prefer this type of body for touring." The Locke Sport Touring boasted,
"Yacht-like length and beauty." The Sport Roadster pitched, "Large luggage compartment with a curb-side access door."
The New York Salon often failed to draw good western attendance. Thus,
the Chicago Salon followed the New York Salon, with only a week between the Chicago and Los Angeles Salons. The show automobiles were placed on
railway cars which were attached to the regular express passenger trains. Beginning with the 25th New York Salon, the Chicago Salon proceeded it. At
the 29th New York Salon, Lincolns were represented in every major corner of the Grand and West Ballrooms. On display were two Brunn Town Cars, a
Derham Convertible Phaeton, a Convertible Coupe, a Sedan by Dietrich, a Berline and Coupe by Judkins, a LeBaron Roadster and Town Car, a Panel Brougham
and Limousine, a Landaulet by Willoughby, and a Locke Roadster. About the same numbers of Packards, Pierce-Arrows, and Cadillacs were on display.
In 1929, the Chicago Salon preceded the New York Auto Show by almost a month. Many manufacturers of luxury cars took advantage of this earlier
opportunity to introduce their new designs. As these Salons were by invitation only, dignitaries including Henry and Edsel Ford often
attended. Famous designers such as Amos Northrup of Murray and Walter Briggs also came. Security was provided by the same Pinkerton men who
manned the gates at the Belmont Park club house during racing season. Many Detroit designers and other automotive notables received invitations from
more than one host company, and so were able to bring along staff members. The Chicago Salon became a place for the exchange of innovative engineering
and body design ideas. Custom firms, however, could not keep pace with the new and less expensive production techniques of the mass manufacturers.
The 27th New York Auto Salon held in 1931 was to be the last.
The standing joke among coachbuilders was that if you designed and built something too wild for Yankee conservatism, you could take it to
Hollywood to sell. They found that Beverly Hills celebrities, starlets, and promoters would buy anything flashy. Thus, the Los Angeles Auto Shows
were always popular and generally successful. None, however, had quite as spectacular a finish as the 1929 show. The many tents which shaded the
cars caught fire, and hundreds of show cars from Fords to Duesenbergs were incinerated.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the railroads were the land cruisers, the caravan hotels of Pullman sleepers with dining cars and lounges. They were
the links between major cities and resorts. The well-to-do even shipped their motorcars by express railways on trains with romantic names like
Overland, Dixie Flyer, Empire State, Santa Fe Chief, and the Crescent Limited. Men who debated Lincoln versus Packard also debated the New York
Central versus the Baltimore & Ohio. Ocean cruisers no longer placed passengers at peril on the sea. Trains no longer passed through hostile
savage territory. Risk had given way to luxury. For the coachbuilt motorcar, this was the age of opulence.