Motoring Trailblazers - Lincoln Model L

Sat 27th Apr 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Lincoln Model L
Though it may seem strange that in the modern relatively smoke-free society that we find in motoring these days, the invention of the in-car cigarette lighter must be recognised as a groundbreaking achievement - not because it assisted tobacco fans, but because it began the development of interior cabin power supplies. A system that we today use to charge our mobile phone or even inflate air into our tyres.

It might be hard to verify which car was the first to introduce the in-car cigarette lighter, but general opinion is that the Lincoln Model L was the first to offer one as standard. Cigarette lighters are rare in cars today, but what we remember for an in-car cigarette lighter will not look anything like the cord-based, device which was featured in the 1920 Model L.

The Lincoln L series achieved a strong production run, with four different variants from 1920 to 1930 and in addition to the optional cigarette lighter, owners could ask for a nickel-plated radiator shell, varnished wood wheels, centre-lock wire wheels or even steel disc wheels.

By the end of the 1920s the cigarette lighter was an optional extra on a number of other cars from big brands such as Oldsmobile, Dodge and Chevrolet and continued to be standard for the best part of the next 100 years before being phased out as smoking in cars became passe. The technology remains though and the slot for cigarette lighters still sits there between the drivers seats, but we now find that it is put to much better use, keeping our phones charged!