My Car Quest

June 29, 2022

The Architect’s Choice-Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1940 Lincoln Continental

by Wallace Wyss –

In these pages there has sometimes been discussion of why someone wants to own a classic car. On occasion, that discussion centers on what famous personage, if any, owned it.

Here’s one I can say is very significant to own for people in a certain profession–and that is architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of America’s most well known architects, (his house “Falling Water” accommodating a river running through it).

Wright ordered a 1940 Lincoln Continental and modified it, creating a significant car that most fans of his architecture would like to own. Wright had the car modified from a two door coupe after some member of his family crashed it. He decided to play car designer and re-designed it to be open in front and closed in the rear, a definitely pre-war body style called Sedanca de Ville that was never offered straight from a US automaker after the war (though Toyota offered it briefly in the Supra).

Plus he added small side windows on the permanent rear roof and then, very mysteriously, no back window. None. Research Wright and you find he was a bit of a player-having a romance with a client’s wife–so his penchant for being mysterious might be understood. But then painting the car fire engine red wasn’t really hiding it.
As expected when this car came onto the used car market, after several owners, it eventually gravitated to a Wright enthusiast. Joel Silver, the movie producer, who parked it in front of his Wright-designed house.

Back in the ’40s, the car spawned a short-lived rivalry of sorts. When Wright began getting publicity for his redesign Raymond Lowey, the French born car designer, ordered one, had a solid rear roof installed, with an open front compartment but he used a glass removable panel up front instead of cloth like Wright had. He had a small rear window, though, barely bigger than a mailbox slot.

Both cars are still seen around collector’s circles. It’s too bad that other architects after the war haven’t given their cars individual re-stylings. After all, shouldn’t their sense of proportion and retro come to the fore in what they drive? I get a kick out of Loewy copying Wright. After all, Loewy didn’t want a mere architect intruding on his turf…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss gives his opinion on car design regularly on his show Autotalk broadcast weekly from KUCR FM Riverside.

 
 
 

Lincoln Continental

Summary
The Architect's Choice-Frank Lloyd Wright's 1940 Lincoln Continental
Article Name
The Architect's Choice-Frank Lloyd Wright's 1940 Lincoln Continental
Description
Frank Lloyd Wright ordered a 1940 Lincoln Continental and modified it, creating a significant car that most fans of his architecture would like to own.
Author

Comments

  1. Thomas Potts says

    Cherokee red is the trademark wright car color. He also had a mid 30’s AC in that shade which makes the rounds

  2. This is an elegant design but I have never understood why we would want the driver sitting outside in the elements.

  3. wallace wyss says

    It’s a caste system, the poor underling sits outside while the Master is snug in back. seriously in the early days the driver/chauffeur often had to get out to crank the car, or in horse days fasten bridles etc. so when motorcars came along they kept that going for awhile. Most sedanca de villes I’ve seen had a vinyl or plastic roof or canvas temporary roof for the driver or in some Rolls Royce and Bentleys a slide out metal roof stored under the rear roof.I had a ride in some Queen’s RR Wraith Sedanca and enjoyed riding in the back, during which time I was trying to jimmy open the liquor cabinet…

  4. Richard Sweeton says

    Summer of ‘50, he had two of these at Taliesin, Spring Green, WI. Also a slew of Crosleys for general getting-around.

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