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Lot 137

1939 Lincoln Model K Convertible Sedan by LeBaron

  • Chassis no. K-9552
  • Engine no. K-9552

Sold for $297,000

150 bhp, 414 cu. in. L-head V-12 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel power-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 145"

- The 1939 Canadian Royal Tour Car

- Built for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

- Formerly in the Henry Ford Museum collection and The Kughn Carail Collection

- Amazing original condition

The first royal figure to visit Canada was Prince William, later to become William IV, in 1786. Since then, members of the British royal family have toured Canada with some regularity, the latest being a honeymoon tour of Canada by the recently wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The royal tour of 1939, however, was particularly significant.

The tour marked the first visit by a reigning monarch to a dominion, an autonomous nation under British sovereignty. It had a political purpose, too, in shoring up support for the United Kingdom, which even in 1939 was bracing against storm clouds of war. Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King had begun consultations while attending the coronation of King George VI in June 1937. Discussions and negotiations followed, and by early 1939 a schedule had been agreed for the King and Elizabeth, his Queen consort, to visit Canada in May and June.

For their coast-to-coast itinerary, a royal motorcade was called for, and thus four cars were constructed especially for the event. There were two special McLaughlin Buicks built by General Motors, Canada, as well as a Chrysler from Chrysler Corporation of Canada. Ford Motor Company provided a custom-built Lincoln Model K convertible sedan, ordered through Ford of Canada and built in Dearborn. All four cars were built to exacting specifications. They were to be painted Royal Maroon, matching the fleet at the Royal Mews in Britain. All had shatterproof glass, puncture-proof tires, a raised seating area for the monarchs, the Royal Standard above the windshield, a blue light for night-time illumination, a Royal Crest to be placed over the light in daytime and folding seats facing backwards, since it is forbidden to sit with one’s back to the sovereign.

Taking a standard 145-inch wheelbase 1939 Model K chassis, Lincoln craftsmen modified a Series 413 LeBaron convertible sedan body. The windshield was extended upwards and the side glass and top constructed to match, in order to provide both visibility and protection for the royal couple. The chassis and powertrain retained their conventional specifications. The Lincoln’s passenger compartment was upholstered in poudre bleu broadcloth in a tailored panel effect. This color, it was noted, was a favorite of the Queen. The chauffeur’s compartment was done in a harmonizing but darker shade of blue leather. Compartments for gloves, cigarettes and other small items were fitted, and two lap robes were contained in a special compartment and two umbrellas in a drawer under the driver’s seat. The car was completed, outfitted and turned over to the Canadian Government in April.

The King and Queen arrived in Quebec City on May 17th, proceeding to Montreal and Ottawa, the capital, where the Queen laid the cornerstone of the Supreme Court building. The royal couple also visited Parliament. They inaugurated the Queen Elizabeth Way, Canada’s first superhighway, which links Buffalo and Toronto, and dedicated the nearly completed Rainbow Bridge to the USA. They went on to the West Coast, both passengers and cars traveling by rail between cities, and made a quick visit to the United States, including Washington, D.C., New York City and Poughkeepsie, before boarding the RMS Empress of Britain at Halifax for their return voyage. The royal party, no matter what city or car, was always driven by the Governor General’s personal chauffeur, T.S. Southgate.

Following the tour, all four cars were returned to their respective automobile companies. The two Buicks survive in Canada, while the Chrysler has been lost to history. The Lincoln was transferred by Ford Motor Company to the Henry Ford Museum, in whose collections it resided until 1985. During this time it was taken out for a parade on the Coronation Day of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 and again for another royal tour by the Queen and Prince Philip on July 3, 1959.

At an auction held at Dearborn in October 1985, the car was purchased by Richard and Linda Kughn of Detroit for their famed Carail Museum. The Kughns lent the car out for another royal occasion on July 6, 1989, when Elizabeth the Queen Mother commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth Way. The current owner purchased it from the Kughns in 2004, and it has remained in his noted private collection ever since.

In amazing original condition, the car wears its Royal Maroon livery well. The car has been maintained, not restored, so changes have been limited to touch-up in high-stress areas. It has a tan canvas top, twin side-mount spares, color-matched wheels and Trippe driving lights.

The car is accompanied by numerous artifacts, photographs, letters and other documentation and shows fewer than 4,000 original miles. A singular artifact of historic importance, it is a remarkable, one-off car with fascinating royal provenance.

As part of a large private collection, this car has been treated to climate-controlled storage but has seen little exercise in recent years and will require thorough professional inspection before being driven.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more