The Guyton Collection | Lot 384
1926 Lincoln Model L 'Gothic Phaeton' by Murphy
$112,000 USD | Sold
| St. Louis, Missouri
4 May 2019
- One of the most dramatic coachbuilt Model L Lincolns
- Remarkable one-off, elaborately engineered coachwork
- Formerly of the Reverend T.L. Osborn and Imperial Palace collections
- Accompanied by factory build documentation and a fascinating history file
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
It is a tale stranger than fiction: how a one-off Model L Lincoln, perhaps the most unusual and highly detailed coachwork ever on that chassis, wound up in an evangelist’s museum on the Oklahoma plains, alongside shrunken heads and native canoes.
The tale begins with Thomas E. Sharp, a multimillionaire rancher and telecommunications pioneer in the San Diego area. He commissioned the creation of his Lincoln from the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. Most famous as a future builder of Duesenberg bodies, Murphy began as a Lincoln distributor, and had turned to coachbuilding in a desire to improve the cars’ rather staid lines for their West Coast clientele.
Staid, the Sharp car definitely was not. Custom-bodied in aluminum with a skiff-like pointed rear deck, it featured a combination of solid brass and nickel trim, including handmade exterior hardware and a complex arrangement of folding windows that, when in place, converted the car into a virtual limousine when the top was raised. Many of the interior fittings were gold plated. The front doors were cut deeply into the cowl, clearing room for the lanky Mr. Sharp’s legs. Most impressive was the interior, which configured, through an ingenious system of folding and sliding seats, into a reasonably comfortable twin bed – ideal for a day’s rest at the end of a long journey in rural California.
A wonderful photograph in the file depicts Mr. Sharp with the car when it was a new automobile, and a registration document identifies it as having been roadworthy in his ownership as late as 1954. The Lincoln reportedly remained in his care until the early 1960s, and was then acquired by the Reverend T.L. Osborn of Oklahoma.
The charismatic Reverend Osborn was a prominent evangelist of the era who traveled the world preaching to the masses and brought back numerous artifacts – including the aforementioned shrunken heads and native canoes – for his World Museum. When not spreading the good word, he and his wife, Daisy, were great Lincoln enthusiasts and amassed a fine stable of Model Ls. “The King,” as they dubbed it, was a special favorite, and was restored by Mrs. Osborn’s brother, Robert L. Washburn, with the body moved to the present Model L chassis, no. 40539, chosen for its desirable feature of four-wheel brakes.
After many years winning awards all over the country and being featured in numerous magazines, the Lincoln was acquired from the World Museum in 1981 by Larry Casey of Tennessee, then in 1983 by the Imperial Palace of Las Vegas. Fred Guyton bought the car from the Imperial Palace in 1998.
The fabulous Lincoln, still in good overall condition, has been unshown in recent years, and its location was unknown to even many devoted Model L connoisseurs. It is thus offered here truly “fresh to market,” accompanied by a thorough and fascinating history file, including numerous restoration photographs and many articles from the 1960s and 1970s.
There is no other Model L quite like it – and that was the idea.