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Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family.

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Ford House to be Featured at North American International Auto Show
Posted: January 10, 2010

Icon of America Design on Display at 2010 NAIAS
1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet showcases Edsel Ford’s vision
for style and design
 
GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich., (Jan. 10, 2010) – The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House is “hitting the road” from January 11 to 24 by taking Edsel Ford’s magnificently designed 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet to the 2010 North American International Auto Show. 
 
For close to a century, the name Lincoln has been synonymous with luxury, comfort and design.  Inclusion of this historic vehicle, side-by-side with newly introduced 2011 Lincoln models, illustrates the evolution of Lincoln’s designs and the inspiration early Continentals provided for modern design elements.
 
The vehicle that Frank Lloyd Wright called “the most beautiful car in the world” was designed by then Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford and his chief designer E.T. Gregorie. Ford’s commitment to aesthetics and passion for timeless design lives on in the DNA of today’s Lincolns. Most notably it can be seen in the striking signature bow wave grille found on both the 1941 Lincoln Continental model and the 2011 Lincoln MKX.
 
In the 1930s, Ford and Gregorie developed a series of custom automobiles that captured the elegance of cars Ford saw on the European continent. In 1938, Gregorie modified a production version of the Lincoln Zephyr including lowering the vehicle and extending its wheelbase by 10 inches to 209.8 inches. The result was the “Lincoln Zephyr Special Convertible Coupe” complete with a custom painted exterior in Eagle Grey and grey leather trim. This unique vehicle perfectly matched Edsel Ford’s vision of European elegance. 
 
Delivered to Edsel Ford’s vacation home in Palm Beach, Florida, the Lincoln’s deco-influenced design created such a response that Ford Motor Company put the car into limited production. In 1941, 850 coupes and 400 cabriolets were created, each one virtually hand built and powered by the Zephyr’s 292-cid, 120 horsepower, 75 degree V-12, L-head.
 
Gregorie and Ford had a unique and historic relationship. In a 1985 interview, Gregorie said, “Even though there were two of us, we thought as one. My hands became Edsel’s tools in developing designs. I was able to put on paper and into clay the designs he was visualizing in his head.”  
In 1941, the Lincoln Continental Cabriolet sold for $2,390 ($34,600 inflation-adjusted price). The vehicle on display at NAIAS was Edsel Ford’s personal car and is on loan, along with related memorabilia, from the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.
 
Edsel Ford’s distinct impact on the style revolution of the 1930s – from minimalist lines to shiny surfaces that mirrored the world of modern art – was born out of a desire to reflect art in everyday, mass-produced objects, including the very cars his father Henry engineered. 
 
“Edsel Ford surrounded himself with good design and talented designers,” said Kathleen Mullins, president of Ford House. “He frequently added his ideas to their designs, making the outcome uniquely his own. The 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet documents the importance of Edsel’s vision in establishing standards and defining the direction of Lincoln. His influence also can be experienced throughout the Ford House estate’s architecture and landscape.”
 
 “Different by Design: The Styling of Edsel Ford”
Edsel Ford’s 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet is part of an ongoing multimedia exhibition at Ford House.  The current exhibition showcases three of Edsel’s personal automobiles, interactive displays, audio recordings, historical images and artifacts. While his Lincoln is at NAIAS, a production version is in place at Ford House thanks to the generosity of Stahl’s Automotive Foundation.

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