The Lincoln Motor Company was started by Henry Leland in 1917, and named after his favorite U.S. president. Leland was the same founder of Cadillac . After Leland was removed from Cadillac, he went on to found Lincoln, which quickly became a stiff competitor to Cadillac and Packard , the leading automotive brands at that time'. Lincoln targeted the higher end auto market, but quickly ran into financial problems, and was bought by Ford Motor Company in 1922. Lincoln gave Ford a chance to get involved in the higher end automobile market, an area where they were missing from earlier. Ford was having a huge success with the cheap mass produced Model T's. GM was having success by having multiple tiered brands from the of Chevrolet and Buick , to the high end models of Cadillac. Ford created the brand Mercury in 1939 to have a mid to high level brand, creating a full spectrum of different priced model for every car buyer. One of Lincoln's first classics was the Lincoln Zephyr released in 1936. The model was so successful, that Lincoln's sales increased by 9 that year, and the legendary Lincoln Continental was derived from the Zephyr platform in 1938. By the end of the run for the Continental in 1948, over 5,200 models were built, all nearly hand built.
The Continental had a signature tale of having the spare tire on the back side of the car, and many aftermarket kits today for mounting the spare tire on the back side of the car are named "Continental Kits". The Continental did continue in 1949, but under a new name, using the Mark series. The Continental Mark I had a drastically high price compared to the previous Continentals, and had a European look and feel to the models. The Mark series would go through 8 generations (I through VIII), but eventually was outdone by the new SUV craze that hit America in the 1990's. In 1981, Lincoln released its now iconic Town Car, the full-size luxury sedan that has since served as the marque's flagship. Though its moniker had been used to designate trim levels in previous years, 1981 was the year in which the Town Car came into existence as a model. Lincoln also distinguished itself during these years as the first American car line to offer antilock braking and superior chrome trim from CARiD.com. The Mark series continued to evolve, and shrunk down considerably with the debut of the Mark VI. That velvet-lined cruiser was followed mid-decade by the Mark VII, which was more European in nature and could be powered by a BMW turbodiesel engine.
Lincoln has been the main supplier of presidential limousines for the US government. Cadillac supplied the cars for a few years in the 1980's and 1990's, and now since 2004. Every other year it has been Lincoln. Franklin Roosevelt had the first presidential car, a V12 convertible known as the Sunshine Special. After Kennedy's assassination in a Lincoln, the presidential models were reinforced with armor plating. Lincoln was one of the Premier Automotive Group brands from 1998 to 2002, but was pulled out due to Ford's new marketing strategy of separating its import brands from its domestic marques. In recent years the company had fallen behind Japanese, European, and American competitors for a lack of new models. The company has reacted to remedy this, however, by sharing parts and platforms with other Ford divisions worldwide in an attempt to bring more new models to market faster. The result is the introduction of several new models, starting with the 2006 Mark LT pickup, supplied with advanced LED taillights from CARiD.com (later replaced by the Platinum trim version of the Ford F-150), Zephyr (upgraded and renamed Lincoln MKZ for the 2007 model year) and the MKX Crossover SUV. Subsequent model launches were the MKS sedan in 2009 and the MKT "Touring" crossover for the 2010 model year.