The history of the Lincoln Motor Company Plant and the company's founder, Henry Leland, recalls the "jack-of-all-trade" engineers and "can do" attitude of Detroit's early automotive industry. Henry Leland, the "creator of both of America's first quality cars," Cadillac and Lincoln, was born in 1843. He spent most of his life as a toolmaker and machinist, but his automobile industry career did not begin until 1901, when Ransom Olds asked Leland to build transmissions for a new line of cars, called Oldsmobiles. In 1902, Leland implemented exacting toolmaker's standards at Cadillac Automobile, and eventually took over its management. In 1908, Leland sold Cadillac, a name by then synonymous with American quality and luxury, to General Motors for $4.5 million. Leland formed the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917 to build "Liberty" airplane engines for WWI fighter planes, and quickly erected the present factory complex. After WWI, the company converted to the production of "precision-made Lincoln automobiles." Due to a short postwar recession, the factory did not swing into full production until 1920, and the company suffered. In 1922, the opportunistic Henry Ford purchased the struggling automobile company, announcing that Lincoln would become Ford Motor Company's luxury car branch. Later, Ford increased the complex's size and Lincoln's Zephyr and Continental were produced in the factory until 1952. In 1955, the Detroit Edison Power Company bought the complex, but the car manufacturing origins of this National Historic Landmark remains obvious, and continues today as a remnant of Detroit's early automobile industry history.
The Lincoln Motor Company Plant is located at 6200 West Warren Avenue, appoximately a mile east of Dearborn and just north of the Edsel Ford Freeway (Interstate 94) The building is not open to the public.
Lincoln Motor Company Plant
Photograph by Ralph Christian
Henry Leland and his son, Wilfred C
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