Years of hearsay and guesstimates have shrouded the Lincoln name and emblem in mystery. Why did engineer and founder Henry M. Leyland chose Lincoln as the marque’s name when it would’ve been just as easy to call it Leyland? And what exactly does the Lincoln logo represent – a cross, a star, a compass, a coat of arms shield?
As it turns out, when Leyland founded the company more than a century ago, he chose to name it after the first President of the United States (POTUS) he had ever voted for – over five decades earlier – Abraham Lincoln, the 16th leader to sit in the American hot seat, arguably most notably remembered for abolishing slavery and modernising the U.S. economy.
Such was Leyland’s admiration for the self-taught former lawyer that, in 1922, five years after founding the company that bore Abraham Lincoln’s name, a statue was erected in his honour in front of Detroit, Michigan’s Lincoln plant. Though the effigy was later donated to the Detroit Public Library, the one term president’s legacy lives on through the brand that embodies strong heritage, power, and presidential class.
The history of Lincoln’s logo, however, has often proved more difficult to pin down. Having at one time been simple but stylish lettering, perhaps the leaping greyhound – embodying speed, stamina, and grace – of the 1920s’ Model L is the furthest removed from the current iconic four-pointed emblem. But the story behind the current star is decidedly short, and elegantly humble.
“Today’s four-point star badge was originally designed in 1955 for the 1956 Continental Mark II,” said Jamie Myler, research archivist for Ford Motor Company Archives. “Though at the time, the design team, led by John Reinhart and Gordon Buehrig, hadn’t actually determined that a new emblem would even be used when the board of directors requested to be shown sketches the following day.”
The short time frame and quick turn-around inspired former Ford stylist Robert Thomas to design the star overnight, which met immediate unanimous approval.
Thomas’s remit was modest: create a simple, elegant design for an elegant car. And so, a star was born.
Though it has seen minor adjustments through the decades, that iconic four-pointed emblem holds true to its simple elegance, evoking a sense of luxury, and still sits proudly on every Lincoln that rolls off the production line, more than sixty years later.