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Model L Dietrich


Lincoln Motor Company entered the luxury automobile market in 1921 with the V8-powered Model L. Henry Leland founded Lincoln in the wake of an acrimonious departure from Cadillac, thanks largely to conflicts with GM founder Billy Durant. As the first model to come from this new marque, the Lincoln Model L boasted a compact yet powerful 60-degree V8 with fork-and-blade connecting rods and full-pressure lubrication, set in a robust chassis that was widely praised for its excellent handling and ride quality. Early models were criticized for their somewhat dull styling despite superior engineering, and sales struggled to get off the ground. In 1922, Henry Ford acquired the Lincoln Motor Company, which was as much a business decision as an act of vengeance against his arch-enemy Henry Leland. Ford immediately installed his son Edsel at the helm who, unlike his pragmatic father, had a keen sense of style, making him the ideal person to run Ford’s new flagship. With Edsel’s input, the Lincoln range was restyled and could now be tailored to the individual buyer’s needs, with a bevy of custom coachwork options from LeBaron, Deitrich, Judkins, Willoughby, and others. Finally, the Model L had the style to match its superbly engineered underpinnings.

Positively resplendent in its elegant Dietrich-built coachwork, this 1926 Model L is one of the finest early Lincolns we have had the pleasure to offer. Marque experts believe this is one of just two 1926 models to feature this Dietrich-designed and built Fully Collapsible Cabriolet body, officially designated Model 149A. It is also one of the earliest known cars to wear the nameplate of Ray Dietrich’s newly formed coachbuilding firm, Dietrich, Inc. This particular car was ordered for Hollywood movie magnate Mr. Jack Warner, the driving force behind Warner Bros. Studios. The formal coachwork he selected is appropriately elegant transport for a powerful Hollywood mogul, yet it can be fully opened to make the best of Southern California’s abundant sunshine.

After many years in the renowned Cars of the Stars/Movieworld Museum in Buena Park, California, the Lincoln came into private ownership and underwent a meticulously researched nut-and-bolt restoration. The project was completed around 2009, and the results are nothing short of spectacular, with impeccable finish quality and detailing. Presented in a handsome two-tone livery of burgundy with black fenders, this Model L boasts tremendous presence. The black painted Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels wear polished trim rings and centers to give it a purposeful, subtly sporting stance. Bright trim and fixtures are all restored to concours standards and beautifully finished. Typical of Ray Dietrich’s work, the coachwork is clean and minimally adorned, with no fussy details or extraneous trim to spoil the lines. Accessories include dual side-mount spares, a Greyhound mascot, front wind-wings, and a trunk rack with a covered trunk. For the rare rainy day in Los Angeles, the driver’s compartment can be enclosed via a temporary soft top with matching side screens.

The interior of this Lincoln is a particularly extraordinary display of the restorer’s craft. In the accompanying file, one album is dedicated to the painstaking research that went into obtaining proper materials and colors used in the cabin. Many of the luxurious fabrics covering the rear compartment were custom made for this project, reproduced by specialists from original swatches with painstaking accuracy. Marvelous details include wood fixtured for the gentleman’s and lady’s side, two folding opera seats, a microphone for directing the chauffeur, and a roll-up divider window. Interior fixtures and hardware are impeccably finished to concours standards, and the window frames and B-pillars fold neatly away for a fully-open look. The chauffeur’s compartment is trimmed in beautiful black leather, which has a rich and inviting character. Controls, switches, and instruments, and “fat man” steering wheel are all in superb order.

Lincoln’s compact yet powerful V8 engine is exquisitely detailed down to the last fastener and finished in the correct green-gray color on the block and heads. It is beautifully presented, displaying only light signs of use from the occasional concours tour. After its exhaustive restoration, this gorgeous Lincoln was shown at several major events on the West Coast. The impressive list of accolades includes a 3rd in Class C-4 at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and awards at the San Marino Motor Classic and La Jolla Concours d’Elegance. It also scored 99.75 points in Classic Car Club of America competition, earning a 1st Prize, Primary Division. This stunning and rare Lincoln Model L remains in superlative condition and is suitable for continued participation in concours and other prestigious motoring events on the world stage.

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