Pick of the Day: 1958 Lincoln Continental convertible

The over-the-top styling of the ’58 Continental doomed it to future obscurity
The over-the-top styling of the ’58 Continental doomed it to future obscurity

It’s tough being the middle child, especially when your older and younger siblings have made major successes of themselves. So it goes for the 1958-1960 Lincoln Continental, whose baroque styling makes it much less memorable than the classic and coveted 1956-57 Continental Mark II or the Mad Men cool squared-rigged Continental that arrived in 1961.

But there are those among us, myself included, who find a certain funky appeal in the over-the-top design of these Lincolns, which were known as the Continental Mark III, Mark IV and Mark V, designating each of their three years of production. (Even Ford seemed to ignore the existence of these cars, coming back in the late 1970s with a new lineup of Continentals repeating the names Mark III, IV and V.) Continue reading

My Classic Car: Gregory’s 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible

Gregory and 'Joan,' reunited at last | Gregory Zompolis photo
Gregory and ‘Joan,’ reunited at last | Gregory Zompolis photo

I was 11 when I first saw a new yellow Lincoln convertible in the school’s parking lot in San Mateo. It belonged to one of the teachers at my elementary school. The top was down, showing its white interior. It truly was love at first sight. I swore that someday I would have one.

My campaign at home to buy one didn’t go over too well. My father had a solid white-collar job. My mother didn’t work. But because there were two children and a dog, we belonged to the obligatory station wagon set. I even presented the “used” car idea. Continue reading

1953 Lincoln concept car at Keels and Wheels Concours

The 1953 Lincoln X-100 is taken for a high-speed test run during its heyday |The Henry Ford photos
The 1953 Lincoln X-100 is taken for a high-speed test run during its heyday |The Henry Ford photos

The gadget-laden 1953 Lincoln X-100, considered to be Ford Motor Co.’s first purpose-built concept car, appeared in auto shows across Europe and the U.S., where it starred as a thrilling vision of the future with a rain-sensing retractable roof and taillights that look like the exhaust outlets of a jet fighter plane. Continue reading

My Classic Car: Don’s 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC

The metallic gold '98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC | Don Zeilstra photo
The metallic gold ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC | Don Zeilstra photo

In the spring of 1998, Ford Motor Company painted 117 Lincoln Mark VIIIs in metallic gold and called them Spring Feature Cars.

All were to be the base models. However, somehow ours slipped through as a LSC. This is the top of the line and the only one like it.

How much more rare can you get? The only one like it and the last year the Marks were made.

— Don Zeilstra, Pinehurst NC

Hilton Head concours reunites a Ford with family’s cars

This 1956 Lincoln Continental was specially built for Edsel Ford II's mother | photos courtesy Rick Schmidt
This 1956 Lincoln Continental was specially built for Edsel Ford II’s mother | photos courtesy Rick Schmidt

In Detroit, the names of the auto barons are revered, spoken decades later in respectful, sometimes even in fearful tones. So it was a little shocking to hear Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, grandson of his namesake Edsel Ford, and son of Henry Ford II as he talked about cars owned by his “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Ben.”

Those men would be William Clay Ford and Benson Ford, who like Henry Ford II were scions and executives and members of the board of directors of the company that pretty much put the world on motorized wheels.

Among those vehicles were cars owned and driven by the Ford family. Although he was too young at the time to remember them, Edsel II will be reunited with three of those cars at the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’Elegance, an event that begins October 24 with the Savannah Speed Classic vintage races at Savannah, Georgia, and concludes November 2 with the concours on the famed island resort in South Carolina.

This was your father’s car,”

— Rick Schmidt

to Edsel Ford II

 

Edsel Ford II will be honorary chairman for the 13th annual Hilton Head festival, where one of the features will be a 50th anniversary celebration for the Ford Mustang. He’ll take part in those activities, but what he’s most eager to see is a trio of specially built 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark IIs formerly owned by members of his family.

He’s already seen one of the cars. He was at the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania, a couple of years ago when a man approached and said he had a car he wanted Edsel II to see.

“I go over and he has a black Mark II with a black vinyl roof,” Ford said.

“Do you recognize it?” the man asked.

Ford said he did not. The man said, “This was your father’s car.”

Ford asked if the man had paperwork to support that claim. He did, and that paperwork showed that the car had been ordered by Edsel’s father for Edsel’s mother, Anne, “which I found to be even more interesting,” Edsel said.

Ford was even more intrigued when he learned that the man “also owns Uncle Bill’s car and Uncle Ben’s car.”

The man with those cars is Rick Schmidt, who with his father, Jim, not only owns some 200 classic cars but National Parts Depot, the automotive restoration parts company.

So how did the Schmidts come to possess the cars once owned by the Ford brothers?

Well, in the early 1980s, Rick’s uncle owned the Continental Mark II that had been built for Eleanor Ford, the mother of Henry II, William Clay and Benson. Rick’s grandfather had done a long drive in the car and asked his son, Rick’s father, if he could find him a Mark II of his own.

“One of my father’s best friends, Roger Hayman, was a Ford employee and previous Mark II owner,” Rick Schmidt said. “My father thought of Roger and called him up. Within a couple of hours, Roger calls my father back and says, ‘how would you like Mr. Ford’s car?’”

The William Clay Ford Mark II is bright blue, inside and out
The William Clay Ford Mark II was blue, inside and out

“My grandfather went up and bought it (the William Clay Ford car) and drove it back to Florida,” Rick said.

Rick’s father did some mechanical and cosmetic work on the car, which was driven by Rick’s grandfather into the 1990s, at which point a full restoration was done.

While showing the William Clay Ford car, Schmidt’s father met Edson Williams, a retired Ford executive who owned the Benson Ford Mark II. Despite several conversations, they couldn’t agree on a price. But Williams knew the Ford cars should be together and left a note in his car instructing his family to sell it to the Schmidts after Williams’ death.

Green is the color the Benson Ford version
Green is the color the Benson Ford version

Rick Schmidt said it was probably 2006 when they got the Benson Ford car, and it wasn’t long thereafter that his father revealed, “I know where Henry II’s Mark II is, but it’s an absolute basket case.”

What they bought, Rick said, was a million rusty pieces. However, a “challenging, extensive and expensive” restoration put the car back together.

“I’m pretty excited to see them all together,” Edsel Ford II said of his uncles’ and mother’s cars being parked together at the Hilton Head event.

So excited, it turns out, that Ford has been doing some research and has learned that not only is his grandmother’s Mark II still around, but so is a fifth one that was specially built for his aunt, Josephine. In fact, Ford hopes to stage his own concours at his grandfather’s estate in Michigan just for cars once owned by Ford family members.

“We have probably three or four cars that belonged to Edsel and Eleanor,” he said, adding that if things progress as he hopes, he’ll invite anyone who possess cars previously owned by his grandparents, parents, or aunt and uncles to a “special weekend.”

In the meantime, organizers of the Hilton Head event hope to provide a pair of special weekends for classic car enthusiasts. It started in Savannah, Georgia, this weekend with the 10th annual Savannah Speed Classic vintage races and concludes November 1-2 with the 13th Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival.

Multiple Choice: ’47 Caddy or ’48 Lincoln?

Silver Auctions’ March sale at Fountain Hills, Ariz., included 191 vehicles. Among them were a couple of post-war American luxury cars. Given your choice, would you bid on the 1947 Cadillac Club Coupe (blue car) or 1948 Lincoln Continental (red car)? Which would you want in your garage? Tell us why via the “Share your comments” box below.

 

 

Vehicle Profile: 1961-1969 Lincoln Continental

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The 1961 to 1969 Lincoln Continental was designed by Elwood Engle and his team of designers in order to capture a larger part of the luxury car market from its biggest rivals. The overwhelming success of this vehicle prompted, then President of Ford Motor Company (and first ever President of the Ford Motor Company outside of the actual Henry Ford family), Robert S. McNamara, to continue the Lincoln Division.  He was considering dropping it, along with the Edsel line, due to previously sluggish sales.

This huge, rectangular, flat-paneled, aircraft carrier sized, boxy looking beast was truly a vision of beauty to behold. At 212.4-inches in length, 78.6- inches in width and 53.6-inches in height, it was still smaller than the previous design run which ended in 1960. The wheelbase was 123-inches for 1961 to 1963 and grew to 126-inches for 1965 to 1969, which added more legroom to the rear seat passengers. Amazingly, the weight was kept nearly the same (from nearly 5,000 to over 5,700 lbs during the production run from 1961 to 1969), but still the heaviest make of all U.S. luxury car offerings.

Initially, the Lincoln Continental was available in either a four-door sedan or convertible, with “suicide” rear doors (with opening at the leading edge of the rear door, which were actually used to ease entry and exit for the rear-seat passengers).  A two-door sedan was introduced in 1966 to rave reviews. Although 1967 marked the end of the convertible model, the 2 and 4-door versions continued until 1969 before the next generation Lincoln would make its debut in 1970.

All the Lincoln Continental models (this was actually the first time in history that Lincoln and Continental would be used together outside of the “Mark” series) would come nearly fully equipped with all the goodies Lincoln had to offer at the time. Another historical first (for a car made in the USA) was the offering of a 2-year, 24,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty by Lincoln on all its models.

On the convertible models, the trunk lid would mechanically open from the leading edge. This came with a hidden nightmare of electronic and hydraulic issues that would frustrate many technicians in years to come whenever they needed repairs. Many grille and tail-end changes were made over the 9-year run and the interiors/features evolved with the times. The huge V-8 increased from 430-cid to 462-cid in 1966 and then went to 460-cid in 1968, while always being supported by a three-speed, heavy-duty, automatic transmission.

This uniquely designed vehicle was showered with accolades, both inside and outside the automotive industry and even received the prestigious “Bronze Medal” from the haughty Industrial Design Institute (which rarely recognized the automotive industry). This American Icon of heavy metal engineering and design has been used by Hollywood in many movies, TV shows (most recently seen in the hit series “Entourage”).The Lincoln Continental has been driven by hoards of celebrities and was even the chosen by J.F.K as the Presidential parade vehicle (code named SS-100-X). This was all due to the refinements, unique innovations and the distinguished look that Lincoln Continental had provided to a “hungry-for-change” buying public.

The Lincoln Continental was beautifully designed by Elwood Engle and his team, under the direction of Robert McNamara (who, incidentally, went on to become the Secretary of Defense for both J.F.K. and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Presidential terms).  The convertible models are especially coveted today and will bring all the money at any event they show up in any “salable” condition!