27 July 2013
1934 Lincoln Model KB Convertible Sedan by Dietrich
- Chassis no. KB3434
Sold for $275,000
- “Semi-custom” convertible coachwork by Raymond Dietrich
- One of only 25 built
- Concours-quality restoration of a long-time California car
- Formerly owned by Jack Passey and Bill Smith
Streamlining its operation in the face of the Great Depression, Lincoln adopted a single new V-12 for both its smaller KA and top-of-the-line KB models in 1934. Enlarged to 414 cubic inches from the KA engine of the year prior, it rode a cruciform double-drop chassis frame, with the two models distinguished largely by their wheelbases: 136 inches for the KA and 145 for the KB.
The other major difference was in available body styles. The KB, as the “ultimate” Lincoln, could be had as a chassis for custom coachwork, but many coachworks took advantage of the “semi-custom” offerings that were produced for Lincoln by the East Coast’s finest custom coachbuilders and catalogued by the factory. Finished to the specifications of each individual customer order, these bodies offered an unbeatable combination of custom quality, style, and individuality, at a price somewhat lower than a “full custom” body.
Among the most attractive “semi-customs” of 1934 was style number 281, a convertible sedan designed by Raymond Dietrich and built by his imprint of Briggs Manufacturing. A distinctive vee’d windshield and convertible top offered open motoring with a speedboat-like flair, and, even with the top raised, a surprising amount of headroom was available, making a comfortable enclosed limousine for all-weather use.
The history of the car offered here is known back to the 1950s, when it was acquired by legendary Lincoln collector and long-time Pebble Beach Concours judge Jack Passey from a fellow enthusiast in Modesto, California. Passey recalls that when he acquired the Lincoln, it had a tow bar attached to the rear bumper, and he used it to pull home several other “finds” without difficulty. He eventually passed the car to a fellow collector and judge, Bill Smith, at which point it was still original and, as can be seen from its tow duties, in very solid and nicely running condition.
Smith conducted a concours-quality restoration over a three-year period, which ended up being a frame-off process that encompassed the chassis, body, powertrain, upholstery, and top. The bulk of the effort was carried out in his own shop, with engine work by Ellsworth Machine, of Palo Alto, California; paint by Avenue Auto Body, of San Carlos; and upholstery by Bill Debuque, of Cooks Upholstery in Redwood City. Since the Lincoln’s completion in 2010, it has received two First in Class awards at West Coast shows.
Lincoln produced a total of 2,149 cars in the Depression year of 1934, with just 25 of them being KB Dietrich Convertible Sedans. This is certainly one of the nicest.
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