Lincoln (named after Abraham Lincoln) was founded in 1917 by Henry M. Leland after his departure from Cadillac. Initially set up to manufacture Liberty aircraft engines for the war effort, after the war Leland set about re-tooling the factories to facilitate the manufacture of up-market vehicles. The transition took a heavy financial toll on the company, and in 1922 Ford was able to take control. It is interesting to note that Henry Ford had been forced out of his second company (Cadillac) by a group of investors led by Leland – so it is probable that Ford himself felt some satisfaction in the Lincoln takeover.
Lincoln would quickly establish itself as a rival to GM’s Cadillac division, at first using a greyhound as their emblem, but then replacing this with the now familiar diamond. In 1936 Lincoln introduced the Zephyr as an almost entirely new brand name rather than model, then from 1939 Edsel Ford would assist in the creation of the best known Lincoln model, the Continental. Originally intended as a one-off project car for Edsel Ford to use when vacationing in Florida, the Ford marketers quickly realized the fresh design would prove successful in the showrooms.
The Mark II revived the concept, and for a short time between April 1955 and July 1956 there was even a Continental division, but rationalization would see the formation of the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division (Edsel only surviving until 1960). The Continental proved extremely popular with Presidents, and remained Lincoln’s flagship until the release of the Town Car in 1981.
Also see: Presidential Lincoln's
| Lincoln Heritage and History (USA Site)