- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2010

Imagine how thrilled Rick Parker must have been when a longtime dream was realized in 2005.

He has always admired the stately K model Lincolns built during the darkest days of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Very few were manufactured, and fewer still have survived the seven succeeding decades.

In 2005, he learned of a 1936 Lincoln K Model LeBaron convertible sedan that was for sale in Connecticut. He knew the car’s seller had a good reputation and was known for the reliability of the engines in his cars.

This particular car, with a long wheelbase and a divider window between the front and rear seats, one of 15 such models, had been manufactured in Detroit and was first sold in New York. It next reappeared in 1952 in South Carolina with a Cadillac V-8 engine under the hood. Records then skip to when it was sold in Boston and shipped to Glendale, Calif., in 1956. A year later, another Bostonian bought the car and brought it back to the East Coast. He owned the Lincoln for 46 years, and in 1990, he began a restoration that consumed about three years.

During the restoration, a 1935 V-12 engine, virtually identical to the original, was located in California. The 414-cubic-inch V-12 with aluminum cylinder heads was rebuilt and installed in the restored Lincoln before it was sold to Mr. Parker’s friend in Connecticut in 2003.

The rebuilt engine was not operating properly, but otherwise the car was magnificent.

With the knowledge that the owner would not sell the car with a defective engine, Mr. Parker in 2005 placed a deposit on the Lincoln and said, “Call me when it’s ready.”

The massive engine was taken out of the car twice before all the maladies were corrected.

The main bearings were problematic, but by this March, the car was better than new, and Mr. Parker got that long-anticipated telephone call.

The beautiful black Lincoln LeBaron convertible sedan was delivered on the back of a truck to Mr. Parker’s Rockville home the first Friday of May.

When new, the 5,381-pound Lincoln had a base price of $5,500 and rolled on 7.50x17-inch tires supporting a lengthy 145-inch wheelbase. The mighty V-12 engine develops 150 horsepower and is kept lubricated by 12 quarts of oil while eight gallons of coolant keep the engine temperature under control with the help of the fan. The fuel tank capacity is 26 gallons. The six-volt battery rests in a cradle beneath the floor under the right passenger seat.

Alleviating the monochromatic black top, black interior and black paint is the silver pinstriping accentuating the flowing lines of the Lincoln and red piping on the fabric top. Trim rings add sparkle to the red wheels, as do the chrome hubcaps, each one with a black ring.

Sixteen thermostatically-controlled shutters control the air flow to the engine. At the other end of the car is a seven-rib luggage rack, which can be lowered to a horizontal plane to support a steamer trunk.

Mr. Parker demonstrates that the long convertible top with the glass rear window can be lowered after unsnapping 21 fasteners in a few minutes. The center posts, the metal between the front and rear windows can be stored in sleeves carried in the trunk.

The flat windshield is one piece as is the divider window between the front and rear seats. Rear seat passengers can operate the divider window with a hand crank that is mounted on the back of the front seat below the robe rail but above the two map packets.

The five-passenger car can be transformed into a four-passenger vehicle by simply pulling down the center rear arm rest built in to the back rest of the back seat.

A chrome-plated steering column supports a three-spoke steering wheel with a light switch at the hub near the horn button. “In this car you ride at the same level as people in SUVs,” Mr. Paker observed.

In the center of the dashboard is the AM radio with the speaker and amplifier secured under the dashboard. Sprouting from the floorboards is the gear shift lever to operate the manual three-speed transmission. “Second and third gears are synchronized,” Mr. Parker explained.

In an era when accessories were limited, Mr. Parker’s Lincoln is equipped with three lights as well as three ashtrays.

Metal casings shroud the dual side-mounted spare tires, each one capped with a rear view mirror. From his vantage point at the steering wheel, Mr. Parker says, “The mirrors are both useful and necessary.”

Since acquiring the Lincoln, Mr. Parker has added more than 800 miles to the odometer, with the longest drive a 170-mile trip to Uniontown, Pa. After some adjustments were made to the mechanical brakes, the car performs flawlessly, he said.

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