12-14 August 2010
1933 Lincoln KB Custom Dietrich Convertible Sedan
- Chassis no. KB2259
Sold for $385,000
- One of just 15 Dietrich Convertible Sedans produced
- One of only 533 KB chassis built for 1933
- A First in Class winner at Pebble Beach
- A striking, multiple award-winning restoration by Rick Kris
With the introduction of Cadillac’s V16 in 1930 and the V12 in 1931, followed by the Pierce-Arrow V12 in 1931 and both Marmon’s Sixteen and Packard’s all-new Twin Six in 1932, the multi-cylinder race was on with a vengeance despite the worsening Great Depression. As a result, any manufacturer wishing to compete seriously in the American fine car segment needed to field such a car. Henry Leland had founded Lincoln on the premise of building a car without compromise, and true to this unwavering philosophy, Lincolns had always been well built – some would say overbuilt, in fact.
The debut of Lincoln’s all-new V12, therefore, came as no surprise in 1932. Neither did the quality of its engineering; with its seven main bearings, fork-and-blade connecting rods and separate cylinder blocks, the new engine was certainly an engineering tour de force. The only problem with it was the prohibitive cost of manufacture – it was in fact so expensive to build that it was replaced in just two years by a more conventional design, making 1933 the last year for the ultimate Lincoln of the Classic Era. The result is that among collectors today, the 1932 and 1933 KB Lincolns have achieved legendary, if not mythical, status. Although similar under the skin, the 1933 Lincolns featured updated styling with more attractively skirted fenders, a new V-shaped radiator shell and a host of detail updates.
Driven by Edsel Ford, Lincoln was unwavering in its commitment to the concept of the custom-coachbuilt car. As a result, the quality of the Lincoln KB chassis was unparalleled and specifically designed to receive a wide range of handsome and luxurious bespoke coachwork. Although a line of factory-standard sedans was also offered, each year new designs were solicited from the custom coachbuilders and design houses for the KB, and these renderings were used to produce legendarily rich, high-quality sales catalogs for Lincoln dealers.
Although they could be – and often were – highly customized and built to specific customer order, Lincoln also placed lot orders for good designs, sometimes as many as 50 bodies at a time. While these cars could certainly be finished and trimmed to the customer’s individual specifications, the bodies themselves were built in advance. This practice cleverly shortened the delivery schedule while still maintaining the impeccable quality and exclusivity of the true coachbuilt automobile – and created the term “catalog customs.” The leading American custom coachbuilders of the day all participated in the program, including Judkins, Waterhouse, Murphy, Brunn, Dietrich, Willoughby and LeBaron.
The example offered here features what many consider one of the most attractive and functional of the coachbuilt bodies ever offered on the majestic 1933 Lincoln KB chassis – the handsome Convertible Sedan by Dietrich. As one of just 533 KB chassis produced for the 1933-model year, it is even rarer, being one of only 15 Dietrich Convertible Sedans made that year. Only an estimated six examples survive. Its fashionably raked, V-shaped windscreen and “suicide”-style doors are emblematic of Dietrich’s inspired designs. Its open coachwork is also immensely practical, simultaneously offering top-down touring capabilities and secure protection from the elements. In addition, it can be converted into a formal chauffeur-driven car, courtesy of the roll-up division window that is neatly recessed into the front seatback.
In the mid-1970s, the KB joined the noted Rosenblatt collection after a lengthy search for a correct and authentic example of the model. At the time, the car was in very good condition, and soon thereafter, it was featured in Automobile Quarterly. Under Mr. Rosenblatt’s care, the KB was enjoyed for many years, and then in the 1980s, he commissioned the noted Lincoln marque specialist Rick Kris to perform a complete cosmetic restoration to concours-level standards, while David Polson of Autowerkes performed the mechanical restoration. No expense was spared in the process. A string of awards followed, with the KB taking First in Class at Pebble Beach, as well as winning Junior and Senior awards from both the AACA and CCCA, along with the prestigious James Melton Cup from the AACA.
Following the death of Mr. Rosenblatt, the Lincoln was sold through Christie’s to a new owner, who used the car only sparingly and in turn sold it approximately one year later. It was then acquired by noted collector Don Williams, who in turn sold it at Hershey, Pennsylvania. Next, Georgia-based collector Milton Robson acquired the multiple award-winning Lincoln and retained it until 2007, when it was sold to the current owner.
As offered today, the Lincoln is quite remarkable in its overall presentation, and despite the age of its restoration, it remains indicative of an older, high-quality restoration that was performed to exacting, show-winning standards.
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