This morning, let’s talk about the 1952-55 Lincolns. They replaced the first all-new postwar 1949-51 Lincolns, and while were much more modern looking and finally came in that hot new bodystyle, the two-door hardtop, they also were a little less distinct that Lincolns of the not-so-distant past.
Of course, most gearheads today remember these primarily as the “Road Racing Lincolns” due to their achievements in the Carrera Panamericanas of the early to mid-’50s, but there was more to them than just that. Despite their power and handling prowess, they were, for most well-heeled buyers, good-looking, plush, modern luxury cars. There was no more Continental, no more long-wheelbase limousines. And for many, Lincoln seemed to be chasing Olds and Buick instead of Cadillac. But there’s no denying their clean good looks.
Yes, the Lincoln of this era was a fierce competitor in the famous Mexican road race, finishing 1-2-3-4 in not only 1952 but also 1953. Lincoln most certainly got a lot of free press from this. But I always wondered if it actually translated to a measurable uptick in sales. Were most folks who were race fans buy Lincolns? Or did they have the more usual suspects, say an Olds Rocket 88, or maybe an MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey or Porsche?
At any rate, for all their prowess, power and handling in races, these were still Lincolns at the end of the day, and promoted as such. Comfort, elegance, quietness, and plenty of power assists were still heavily promoted in sales literature and advertising.
First appearing in 1952, these not only replaced the “bathtub” 1949-51 models, but also featured the very first Lincoln hardtop, as previously mentioned. It was available in your choice of Cosmopolitan (nice) or Capri (nicer) models.
Despite the options and 123-inch wheelbase, however, there was no denying the close family resemblance between these Lincolns and lesser Fords and Mercurys. However, the overall design was very attractive, and the more powerful 317.5 CID V8 with four-barrel Holley provided ample power for the mid Fifties, with 205 horsepower. That was certainly an improvement over the ’52 Lincoln engine, which had only 160 horses with two-barrel carburetors.
Despite the common corporate look, the Lincoln distinguished itself with the most mature version of the theme, and had lots of chrome jewelry, such as this elegant Capri script on the rear quarter panel. This is my favorite feature.
While the 1952-53 Lincolns were virtually identical, the 1954 model received more noticeable changes. gaining an inch in both length and width.
More substantial bumpers, a full-length side molding instead of the earlier one starting behind the front wheel, new wheel covers and other assorted trim bits.
Inside, it was clear that you were not in a Ford Customline. Lots of chrome bits, two-tone upholstery and elegant door panels made it clear this was a premium automobile. Lincoln’s finest. As a Capri, this was the nicest interior you could get from Ford Motor Company at the time.
As a matter of fact, the 1954 Lincoln Capri two-door hardtop was the most popular Lincoln of the year, with 14,003 of the $3869 coupes being made. The rarest model, not unsurprisingly due to its being the most expensive Lincoln, was the Capri convertible–the only topless Lincoln available that year. Only 1,951 found buyers.
1954 was the final year of the Carrera Panamericana, and during this event, Lincolns “only” finished in first and second place, rather than the 1-2-3-4 sweep of 1952-53
While the 1955 Lincoln would still use the 1952 body shell (albeit with one, final facelift-but no trendy wraparound windshield), there would be no more road racing victories.
Just as well, as the remarkable 1956 Lincoln was waiting in the wings to take over. It would be even more elegant and luxurious than the 1952-55 model.
And clearly a Lincoln, as it would look nothing like its Ford and Mercury family members. It would be worth the wait.
This showroom condition black over blue Capri hardtop was spotted by your author at the 2014 Mid-American Meet of the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club, held that September, in Rockford, Illinois. I was especially drawn to the color combination. That tuxedo black finish really made all the chrome jewelry pop!