1928 Lincoln Camera Truck

Recently Jim Ayres went to Lone Pine with the Model T Club, and one of their stops was at the Museum of Western Film History. They had a 1928 Lincoln Murray/Dietrich 7-passenger Sedan that had been converted into a camera truck. How unusual can a vintage Lincoln be? The Museum has been searching for a vintage camera car for some time to add to their exhibit that explores filming technology as used in movies. In June they heard that a 1928 Lincoln camera car was going up for auction in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A few calls and a little research with the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, helped verify the car’s history. Built on March 6, 1928, the car, production #49706, with body type 10-1957 and noted as a 147A, (that indicates the car was originally a 7- passenger Murray/Dietrich Dietrich sedan.) Its original color was cobalt blue. Production records indicate that 1,023 such cars were built in 1928 – the last year they were produced. The production car would have had an eight cylinder flat head engine. Somewhere along the 50’s the engine was replaced with a Cadillac 331 with a Carter Quad. The suspension was revised to carry the extra weight of rails, platforms and equipment that were mounted on the car and the universal replaced with a heavy duty International truck rear end. Once owned by Hollywood Studio, RKO, the 1928 Lincoln had been in the hands of collectors for many years, but as recently as the 1980s was still used in making motion pictures. After 88 years, the Lincoln was still in pretty good condition, although there were a few areas rusted through! Supposedly, the car has not been run for over 20 years. Only the left rear stop light was missing. Cabin/dash is missing wood but gauges look pretty good. The door windows both work remarkably well on both sides, and if you look closely you will see they are chain driven. The back window is missing. Original wire wheels are in very good shape, all they need is new tires installed. The metal rails that hold camera mounts and accessories are also in good shape. Two have labels, one “Shepherd” and the other “Hollywood Scene Dock.” It is said that both companies have been out of business for many years. Gas tanks are located on both sides. Through generous donations of museum members and friends, and financial support of the Museum Board, enough funds were raised to acquire the car and to transport it from Shawnee, Oklahoma. Preliminary work was done in Lone Pine with the assistance of Jeff Ray, Tony Chavez and Richard Wren who prepared the car for a modest restoration. David Mull, NAPA, helped in acquiring new tires. Doug Brown, Browns Salvage in Bishop, had his team sandblast the years of rust and paint off. Tib Wilkinson, Inyo Mono Body’s team painted the car black. The RKO emblem will soon be painted on the doors to pay tribute to the car’s original heritage. Work on the interior will then begin and Lone Piners will take a shot at getting the 1953/1954 Cadillac 331 V-8 back in service. The Museum is fortunate to have a few large reflectors, lights and other standard accessories that were typical for camera cars. The museum is in talks with several collectors to add some other features, like Mitchell cameras, typical of the era, to complete the exhibit. The Murray/Dietrich names indicate the factory body was built by Dietrich. as mentioned. Dietrich Inc. was an American coachbuilder founded in 1925 by Raymond H. Dietrich (1894-1980), cofounder of LeBaron Incorporated in New York. He was a close friend to Edsel Ford who supported him by talking Fred Murray, owner of the Murray Body Corporation, into partly financing the venture. Murray was a vendor of standard bodies to the Ford Motor Company, and an in-house source for designing and building custom bodies for luxury cars. Dietrich held 50% of the stock. Dietrich, Inc. did substantial styling work for standard bodies for Packard, Franklin, and Erskine, a corporate make of Studebaker. Further, Dietrich, Inc. built custom bodies to single orders, and proposed semi-customs (similarly built as full customs, but in small lots of usually 5-10 units) for the catalogues of Lincoln (then headed by Edsel Ford) or Packard. Raymond Dietrich was a design consultant with Packard. By September 1930, Raymond Dietrich was out of his company. Dietrich, Inc. which was closed in 1936. In 1932 Raymond Dietrich became the first head of design of Chrysler (until 1938). He was later associated with Checker Cab in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dietrich’s office at Checker remained untouched for years after his death.

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