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One look at a Lincoln car, and it's obvious that it speaks of absolute luxury. Henry Leland's creation has survived decades of trials and stiff competition from the likes of Cadillac and General Motors, making it a classic American icon. Over the years, Lincoln has introduced radical models that would revolutionize the whole line of high-class cars and serve as the baseline for other manufacturers.Lincoln Zephyr: sleek by design
The telling of the Lincoln history would always start with the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr: the car that puts Lincoln on the map. In a time where smooth, airplane-like designs were booming, the Zephyr is considered the first successful streamlined car. Designed by John Tjaarda, its low grill, sharp hood, and flowing contour appear as if the car was designed to slice through air. The flowing body gave it a sports car feel while maintaining a profile that was still luxurious enough for high-class executives. The car was so popular that it became the template of the Lincoln Continental.
This is in contrast to its rival that time-the flop that was the Chrysler Airflow-which was considered "too streamlined" for the market. A round hood, bulky profile, and some engine problems made the car so undesirable that it was included in Time Magazine's
50 Worst Cars of All Time.
In 1922, by the request of then owner Henry Ford, Lincoln designed a car for his personal use: The Lincoln Town Car. Its simple design-an open chauffer cockpit coupled with an enclosed passenger cabin at the back-was a status symbol of wealth and power. This made the Town Car the basis for modern limousines.
It wasn't until 1981 that Lincoln decided to manufacture the Town Car as a production vehicle. Computerized features, security measures, and a lavish interior packaged in an elegant and classy body made this car an instant hit. Against Cadillac, the Lincoln is the more preferred, widely used and rented type of limousine in the market for business meetings, weddings, and proms. Despite being a popular car for 20 years, production has stopped to make way for future, more innovative models.
The name Henry Leland wouldn't ring any bells as one of the great men of the auto industry. Believe it or not, he is the man who founded 2 American car giants: Lincoln and Cadillac. Leland is credited for many innovations when it comes to car production. Sadly, his story is also that of betrayal and disappointment that makes him almost a forgotten legend.Unparalleled Perfectionism
Henry Leland is recognized for his precision. One of his early clients where he provided car gears and engines was the Oldsmobile. The company was so impressed with Leland because his products were so precise they were interchangeable from car to car. This continued when he founded Cadillac in the 1900s. It won a Dewar Trophy for automotive achievement because of the same precision his interchangeable parts had. Leland was quoted saying that in mass production,
Even though you make thousands, the first and last should be precisely alike.
Leland's innovations were ground breaking during his time. The electric starter was a feature he badly wanted to develop after a friend of his died while cranking to start a car. He also introduced a closed cabin design that sheltered passengers while riding its cars. However, one of his great contributions was the use of machines in the production of uniform parts.Bitter Ending
Despite the feats of Henry Leland, his last stand was a sour note. This happened at the hands of Ford over its purchase of Leland's 2nd company, Lincoln. Due to financial troubles, Lincoln needed a buyer to save the company from dying. Ford came in, promising to help and finance, with Leland as the head. What happened was a slow takeover by Ford of Lincoln, shamefully driving the Leland out of the business. By the end of it all, he was too old to battle and make a recovery.