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1936 Lincoln Model K LeBaron convertible
I saw this
car for sale eight or nine years ago. It
had been purchased in the late ‘50s by a fellow up in Massachusetts. At the time, there was a Cadillac V-8 in the
chassis. The car was restored sometime
in the late ‘80s. As part of the
restoration, the owner acquired a purportedly rebuilt 1935 K engine from
someplace in California. Apparently, the engine wouldn’t hold
oil pressure longer than ten or fifteen minutes. I recall seeing ads for this car appearing in
various publications in the mid-to-late ‘90s. A friend from the Boston area told
me about this car at the time, saying that it was a magnificent restoration,
but the engine had “an oil-pressure problem”. The end result is he couldn’t find a
buyer for the car.
I heard that a friend of mine
purchased the car when I was at the Ford Centennial in 2003. At the time, I asked him what he planned to
do with the car. He said he was going to
keep it. About three months later, I
repeated the question, and was told that he had found a ’29 L dual-cowl
phaeton, and he was now going to turn the car over when the engine was
that when he got the car home from Massachusetts, it
sounded like a threshing machine, and was only running on six cylinders. When he tore the engine down, he found oil in
the water and water in the oil. One of
the cylinder blocks was holed in three places.
The other block had similar issues.
At the time, I told him that I was interested in the car, and to let me
know when the engine was done and he was ready to proceed.
almost completely gone through, except for the crankshaft main bearings, which
were reported to be within tolerance. I
went to Connecticut to look
at and drive the car in late July of 2005.
We took the car for a 40-mile drive on a 90+-degree day. Partway through the drive, the oil pressure
at speed dropped from 20 pounds down to 7.
More work was clearly indicated here…
came back out of the car. A check of the
main bearing tolerances revealed two bearings had a vertical clearance of .010
of an inch. No wonder the oil pressure
There is a company in northern California that
manufactures bolt-in overdrives for the Ford Model A. Last year, there were two articles in the
Lincoln Owners Club Newsletter advising that this company was now ready to
begin making overdrives for early Lincolns. The article specifically said that they could
manufacture an overdrive for any Lincoln, but they
would need a driveshaft and torque tube to get measurements from. The stock rear-end ratio is 4.58:1, which
results in a very busy engine at highway speeds. Since I want to drive this car, an overdrive
was exactly what I was looking for. I
called the company and asked questions.
Receiving what I considered to be positive responses, I made
arrangements to have the required parts dismounted, crated, and shipped to California. When the parts arrived at their offices, I
called the company back, and told them I was ready to send them a deposit. I was told to wait. I waited more than six weeks while they
apparently only looked at the contents of the crate. In various conversations with someone at the
company, I heard comments like: “Gee it’s awfully big”, and
“We don’t want to get into making one-off assemblies”. After having my parts for almost seven weeks,
the company then informed me that they felt that the research and development
time would be excessive, and they had decided not to proceed with the work at
this time. Through clenched teeth, I
told them to ship the parts back to Connecticut. The crate was shipped back freight
collect. At this point, I have invested
something in excess of $600.00, and all I have to show for it is a bad taste in
A postscript to the overdrive
fiasco: A member of the CCCA in Michigan made a
number of high-speed ring and pinion sets for late Ks a couple of years
ago. When it became apparent that the
overdrive wasn’t going to happen, I called him to ask if he still had any
more gear sets. He said that the
previous run was fully subscribed, but he was able to do onesies and twosies,
for a bit more money. I was prepared to
order a set, but then found a Lincoln club
member in California with a
4.23:1 set of gears already mounted in the carrier. I put a check in the mail immediately…
In July, I went to Connecticut to attend
a Lincoln Owners Club one-day tour.
While I was there, I got to see the car for the first time in almost a
year. Here is what I saw. The new rear end parts arrived a couple of
days before I got up there.
the partially disassembled engine.
I’ve never seen the bottom end of a K motor before. Have you?
is the new rear-end gearset, fresh off the truck from California.
Work on the
car continues. I hope to have it
sometime in October. Details at
I was wrong. The engine started going
back together about the middle of March.
The car was running again by the end of the month. There were a few residual teething problems,
but I was able to get up and drive it late in April. It was delivered early this month.
first show we went to was GOF 39 up above Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Here we are parked in front of Fallingwater.
were invited to attend the inaugural St. Michaels Concours, held in St.
Michaels Maryland. This was a three-day
event, which included a 40-mile tour on Saturday, and the concours on Sunday.
Here we are in front of the hotel on
Saturday, and on the Concours field on Sunday.
Labor Day weekend, I took the K down to McLean for Vern Parker’s Street
Dreams show. This is the replacement for
the Out of the Past Revue, which was owned by the Washington Times. This year, I received the Owner’s
A few days
later, I drove the car up to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for an
LCOC meet. The club photographer was so
taken with the car, we took it out to photograph it.
At the end
of the month, I was again involved in the St. Michaels Concours. Since the K was in the show two years ago, it
I drove it
over anyway and parked it in front of the hotel.
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