Lincoln’s post-war Cosmopolitans are a solid buy
In the years after World War II, Lincoln’s much-admired Continental seemed part of a bygone era, its 1930s-formal style having perhaps grown stuffy, its V-12 glamour a bit faded. The Ford Motor Company had something completely new in store for 1949, when its top-of-the-line Lincoln Cosmopolitan looked like a low, wide, sleek projectile designed to rocket the brand into the next decade. In their day, these modernist Lincolns sold well, despite lacking the punch of archrival Cadillac’s OHV V-8; today, surviving examples offer a blend of cruising comfort and unique style, and give buyers more than they pay for.
The full-size, 125-inch-wheelbase Cosmopolitan shared its 152-hp, 336.7-cu.in. flathead V-8, new independent front suspension, and unique tunneled headlamp look with the smaller Mercury-derived, 121-inch wheelbase Lincoln, but the premium car was set apart with fully integrated fenders front and rear, and a one-piece windshield.
It was initially available in two four-door body styles—the fastback Town Sedan and notchback Sport Sedan, which shared a $3,238 MSRP that’s roughly equivalent to $35,015 today— as well as a $3,185 two-door coupe and $3,948 convertible. The sedans followed luxury car tradition with their rear-opening back doors that, after a decade’s hiatus, would again become a distinguishing feature on the iconic 1961 Continental. Total Cosmopolitan production for this extended model year was 23,123 units. When the 1950 models debuted, the Town Sedan was no longer available, leaving the $3,240 Sport Sedan (around $34,600) as the sole four-door variant; 8,341 of those were built. Surprisingly, the lightly facelifted 1951 Town Sedan was still cheaper at $3,182 ($31,495), which helped sales to the tune of 12,229 units.
Typical of most classic cars, the low-volume two-door variants— particularly the convertible— are the most valuable today, leaving the big four-doors as best-buys. David Gustafson, editor of the Northstar Region of the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club’s Northstar News and owner of a 1951 Cosmopolitan Sport Sedan, explains why these cars have flown under collectors’ radar for decades. “Lincoln has historically been the automobile for ‘Those who take the road less travelled.’ And buyers are few and far between for expensive Lincolns. The slab-sided 1961 through 1967 cars are doing fairly well, some of the prewar Continental convertibles will also bring good money, and the [1956-’57] Mark IIs do sell well. But the 1949-’51 cars have never been that popular in the market.”
Major value guides bear out this expert’s observation. Hagerty currently gives this generation of Cosmopolitan sedans a #4 to #1 condition price range of $7,100 to $29,300, with #3 “good” pegged at $11,100; compare this to an equivalent Cadillac Series 62 sedan, which ranges between $9,100 and $37,400. NADAguides basically corroborates Hagerty’s average value for the four-door Cosmopolitan, but is more expansive in its low and high ranges, suggesting retail figures between $5,275 and $35,400 for 1949 models, and $6,000 to $40,700 for 1950-’51 Sport Sedans.
“Prices are going up very, very slowly,” David notes. “They are not a bad car for collectors with a limited budget, as the entry price is not too high, and mechanical parts are readily available; they are also fairly easy to work on. And they are just quirky enough looking to make an interesting statement when you are out driving one.”