The 1950-1951 Lincoln Lido and Capri were the result of a harsh reality: Despite the great strides made with its new 1949 models, Ford Motor Company still had a lot of catching up to do.
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True, its cars now boasted contemporary flush-fender styling and fully modern chassis with independent front suspension and longitudinal semi-elliptic rear leaf springs. But years of engineering stagnation had left Dearborn with flathead engines, while rivals had begun to issue more efficient overhead-valve designs. Further, the firm lacked its own automatic transmission, now fast-becoming a sales necessity, especially in Lincoln's price class.
These deficits would be duly corrected, but Ford lacked something else in 1949: a "hardtop-convertible." General Motors surprised the entire industry that year with its airy new Buick Riviera, Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and Oldsmobile Holiday.
Though sales started out modestly enough -- just 9,499 -- one didn't have to be clairvoyant to see that they could only go up. And they did with the 1950 arrival of lower-priced Chevrolet and Pontiac models and a trio from Chrysler Corporation, which had considered hardtops back in 1946.
Ford, still on the financial ropes in 1949, found itself unable to answer GM's initiative right away. But since the first postwar Ford held the key to Dearborn's future, it naturally got the firm's first hardtop, rushed out for 1951 as the Custom Victoria V-8.
By that point, Ford had pretty much finalized an all-new 1952 corporate lineup that included Mercury and Lincoln hardtops, but there was neither money nor time for them in 1949, or even 1950-1951.
Nevertheless, company pride dictated some kind of quick response, so Ford did about the only thing it could: give ordinary coupes hardtop styling flair. The result was a quartet of 1950 limited editions: Ford Crestliner, Mercury Monterey and Lincoln's Lido and Capri. The last are probably the most collectible of the bunch, being not only the most expensive and luxurious, but the rarest.
For more on the 1950-1951 Lincoln Lido and Capri, keep reading.
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Like Crestliner and Monterey, the hardtop 1950-1951 Lincoln Lido and Capri were mechanically identical with their linemates, but easily distinguished by contrasting leather-look vinyl roof coverings.
Both the Lincoln Lido and Capri sparkled a little more than other Lincolns, with bright drip rails, rocker moldings, and twin door mirrors, plus a gold-color Cosmopolitan hood ornament on Lido and chrome wheelarch "eyebrows" front and rear on Capri. Interiors took on a more opulent look, too, with unique door panels and premium upholstery of leather and cord cloth.
Size was the principal difference. Lido, the "junior" Lincoln coupe, shared its body with Mercury, but on a wheelbase three inches longer ahead of the cowl. The Lincoln Capri bowed as an upmarket version of the senior Cosmopolitan coupe. Prices reflected this. At $2,721, the Lincoln Lido cost $192 more than the standard coupe, while the $3,350 Lincoln Capri stood $221 upstream of the regular Cosmopolitan model. The 250-pound-lighter Lincoln Lido was predictably faster and more agile than the Lincoln Capri, but not much.
Dearborn also did about the only thing it could in lieu of its own automatic transmission: use somebody else's. After an unsuccessful try at buying Ultramatic from Packard, it secured GM's Hydra-Matic, which was the better choice. Lincoln first offered it beginning in June 1949, and would continue to do so through 1954.
With their smooth and reliable -- but less efficient -- flathead V-8, the "bathtub" Lincoln Lido and Capri weren't as fast as ohv Cadillacs, Oldsmobile 88s, and hemi-powered Chryslers. Yet they could do a genuine 100 mph and exhibited granitic long-haul durability. As proof, Johnny Mantz drove a standard sedan to 11th overall in the 1950 Mexican Road Race, averaging 91 mph on some sections and actually leading the vaunted Oldsmobile 88 of Herschel McGriff by 11½ minutes.
But this didn't help the sales of the Lincoln Lido and Capri -- hampered by those stiff prices and a very late introduction (July 5, 1950) -- nor Lincoln in general, whose 1950 volume reached barely half the record 1949 total. Nevertheless, the pseudo-hardtops returned for 1951 with the minor styling and mechanical changes applied to all Lincolns. These included longer, squared-up rear fenders for Lincoln Lido, no wheelarch "eyebrows" for Lincoln Capri, and identifying name script for both. Not surprisingly, demand remained very limited.
Just how limited is hard to say, because Lincoln lumped Lido/Capri production in with that of the standard coupes. It seems likely, though, that no more than 2,000 Lidos and 1,000 Capris left the factory each year -- not the rarest cars in Detroit history, but rare enough to have made them collector's items long ago.
Check out the specifications of the 1950-1951 Lincoln Lido and Capri on the next page.
For more information on cars, see:
1950-1951 Lincoln Lido/Capri Specifications
The 1950-1951 Lincoln Lido and Capri helped Ford re-establish Lincoln as one of the most opulent lines on the market. Check out the 1950-1951 Lincoln Lido and Capri specifications below.
Engine: L-head V-8, 336.7 cid (3.50 × 4.38); 1950 152 bhp; 1951 154 bhp
Transmissions: 3-speed manual; overdrive and 4-speed GM Hydra-Matic optional
Suspension, front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs
Suspension, rear: live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs
Brakes: front/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 125
Weight (lbs): 4,100-4,385
Top speed (mph): 95-100
0-60 mph (sec): 15.0