Former Mayor Owned: 1930 Lincoln Model L

Being in the car business in 1930 had to be a harrowing experience. After having the bottom fall out of the stock market, and then the ensuing economic collapse and depression, cars weren’t first and foremost on people’s minds. And cheaper was probably better so luxury marques like Lincoln were in for some rough sledding over the next few years. But this 1930 Lincoln Model “L” has an interesting story to tell so it stands out a bit from the other 243 copies that were built in ’30. It is located in Santa Cruz, California, and is available here on craigslist for $14,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

The seller claims that this Model L was originally purchased by Angelo Joseph Rossi in June 1930, shortly before he became San Francisco’s long-term (1931-1944) mayor. He actually drove it across the Golden Gate Bridge on dedication day in May of 1937 and the seller has documentation attesting to this Lincoln’s participation.

One of the first features of this Lincoln model L to catch your attention, is its size, with a 134″ wheelbase, it’s hard to be inconspicuous. The seller states, “Absolutely not one speck of rust anywhere on the car or frame”. Maybe so but there appears to be a patina of surface rust covering parts of the body, most notably across the rear section, or at least that’s how it appears in the images. That said, the body does appear to be in sound and straight condition and not in need of metalwork. The chrome is shot but that’s to be expected at this age; the seller adds that this Lincoln has been in storage for 39 years. He also suggests that all of the glass needs to be replaced due to discoloring but it could be due to delamination too. Lincoln’s first use of safety glass was in ’29 so maybe the earliest lamination techniques have a limited shelf life.

This Lincoln is a non-runner. The 384.8 CI, V8 engine appears to be intact and original but there is no mention of what the non-running issue may be or whether it will at least turn over. Research indicates that this Model L engine was good for 90 HP and puts the power to the 20″ wheels via a three-speed manual transmission.

The commodious interior shows well for being 90 years young. There is some age-based discoloration but little wear is evident. Interesting to note is the difference in the fabric hue between the back seat and the jump seat. Assuming that the jump seat has been positioned in a folded closed state for a long time, it looks to be quite a bit brighter than the exposed back seat. Also interesting is the side-mounted rear seat clock which looks to be encased in a mahogany frame, a great luxury touch!

The instrument panel is simple and functional as was typical in the early ’30s. Dashboards and instrument panels didn’t start to become works of art until later in the decade. There seems to be a light patina of rust here, surrounding the gauge pod, but nothing too serious in nature.

Sometimes a car will get a value bump due to celebrity ownership or use. It’s unlikely that being owned by a former San Francisco mayor or being one of the first vehicles over the Golden Gate will do much to enhance this Lincoln’s value. But it is certainly a valuable car for what it intrinsically is and having survived the test of time to get it to where it is today. It would seem that the needs here are cosmetic in nature though there’s no telling what’s going on with the engine, specifically, potential seizure. If the seller had been able to crank it over by hand, that would help to make things a bit more reassuring. And I imagine having to replace all of the glass could prove to be an expensive chore. The age-old question still persists, what would you do with a car like this Lincoln (and where would you store this behemoth)? Perform a complete restore? Just get it running and use it as is? or…?

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Comments

  1. Kenneth Carney

    Nice material for a classic car print! That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to
    owning one. As you pointed out Jim,
    these cars were massive machines that
    told the world that you were truly someone. Does anyone other than me
    recall the model made of this car that was also a radio? My in-laws gave me
    one of them as a Christmas gift over
    30 years ago. The sidemounts worked
    the controls for the radio and the speaker
    and battery box were on the underside of
    the car. Sadly, it was lost when my late
    wife and I bought our house in ’98.
    Wonder if you can still get one today.
    It would be a nice piece for my bedroom.
    This must’ve been a beautiful car in its
    day.

    Like 6
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Thanks for the links Jim. Didn’t know they were that cheap. Mine was dark red with
    black fenders and a tan top. They also
    sold one that was a Rolls Royce too. I
    used to have one of those ’57 Chevy ragtop phones that I used as a pattern
    to draw the prints I sold in 2011. Once the kids and I get things squared away,
    I plan on setting up my workshop again.
    Dunno when that’ll be, soon I hope.

    Like 1
  3. Mark

    I guess I’d leave it as alone as possible after getting it running and road-worthy.

    Like 3
  4. Jim Mc

    Used to be a time when you couldn’t get near a full CCCA classic in this kinda shape for this kinda coin. Not quite a Duesey or even a Pierce-Arrow but damn close and certainly up there with contempo Caddy & LaSalle, fourteen-five buys you a LOTTA car here. That’s a motivated seller price and I think the added provenance adds some panache. It’s in Santa Cruz, ya’d think some Richie Rich stoner tech kid would be all over this as a signifier of hipster vintage cool. Sure, it’s a lot harder to actually drive and you couldn’t play with your phone while doing so, but still. I’d get it running & stopping, and then properly painted and bumpers rechromed. Drive and enjoy. It’s a beautiful automobile of great distinction.

    Like 3
  5. don

    One of only 243 built ? Its really solid looking and complete, I would say it deserves to be restored and driven ; the Mayor and the bridge story are just a nice sideline, but does place the car in California for most is not all of its life !

  6. Bob McK Member

    Interesting find! I have never seen one before.

    Like 1

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