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February 4: Ford buys Lincoln on this date in 1922

February 4, 2015

This photo amazes me. That's of course Henry Ford standing on the left, who in 1922 was America's most successful industrialist. Next to him stands Henry Leland, the 78-year-old founder of Cadillac, with his son Wilfred seated in front of him. The pair had left General Motors in protest to build airplane engines for World War I, naming their new firm after the first president Henry Leland voted for, but at this point the Lincoln Motor Co. was in danger of collapse.

And seated to William Leland's right is Edsel Ford, Henry's son, who was now president of Ford Motor, and the architect of the deal for Ford to buy Lincoln for $8 million (about $111 million in today's money) signed on this date in 1922. Within a year, the Lelands will have quit again and sued the Fords, a lawsuit that will not succeed. Henry Ford, while no longer president, has settled into his resistance to changes pushed by Edsel — including the idea of a replacement to the Model T. And Edsel will spend the next two decades shepherding Lincoln's pursuit of the most classically beautiful vehicles ever built. Here's a walk around the Lincoln section of the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance: