ABOVE:  The Boano Coupe as illustrated on the cover of Auto Age, November 1955

Originally published in the January/February 1996 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 207).

For years, stories have circulated in the automotive community that some, and maybe most of the 1950’s concept cars long thought destroyed, still exist. Joe Bortz, who collects and features concept cars in his Chicago “Blue Suede Shoes” museum, has at least one Ford Motor Co. concept car from the ‘50s that was supposedly found deep in the Michigan woods many years after plant employees certified it as having been destroyed. Because the ‘50s concept cars usually weren’t road worthy, or if road worthy, not thoroughly tested, they were often destroyed at the end of their perceived useful life. This was common practice at Ford Motor Co. It was felt best to literally “eliminate” any potential liability problem. Even at Ford Motor Co., however, no consistent policy was followed. The 1955 Lincoln Futura survived to become TV’s Batmobile and the 1953 X 100 is to this day on display at the Henry Ford Museum.

According to a popular version of the story, employees unable to watch these beautiful machines cut up for scrap, spirited them out the back door in the middle of the night, and ever since then have kept them hidden in the woods, or more likely in private garages. As these employees have retired, or so the story goes, a few of these long hidden concept cars have come out of hiding. Until more of these “lost” concept cars either show up or with the passage of even more time, fail to appear, there is no real way of substantiating or debunking stories about other concept cars that are said to still exist but haven’t yet been documented. Based on the concept cars certified as destroyed, but confirmed to still exist, the least that can be said is that there is some truth to the stories.

One of the concept cars long thought destroyed is the 1955 Lincoln Boano Coupe, also called the Indianapolis Sports Coupe. The Boano Coupe is one of the most unusual looking Lincoln concept cars ever built. Although most concept cars contain styling features later found on production automobiles, it’s hard to see where any of the styling cues on the Boano Coupe ever made it into production. It certainly doesn’t look like any production Ford Motor Co. product ever built. Because the Boano Coupe was built in Italy at a time that the Ford Design Studio was also turning out a whole series of concept cars that accurately predicted styling on future Ford Motor Co. cars, it seems probable that the Lincoln Boano Coupe was intended to be a fancy, sporty type car for the boss and nothing more.


Most of Ford Motor Company’s records on the Boano Coupe were destroyed in the Ford Rotunda fire in 1962. Records that do exist claim that the Boano Coupe was destroyed in the late 1950’s. Contrary to what these records say, and to  paraphrase Samuel Clemens, reports of the demise of the Boano Coupe were premature.

Since 1972, LCOC members Chuck and Rith Hannah of Hawthorne, New Jersey, have owned the one and only Lincoln Boano Coupe. As nearly as they can tell, they are the fifth or sixth owners. Although they have not been able to document what they have been told about what happened after it left Ford Motor Co., it was apparently owned, at one time, by movie actor Errol Flynn, passed on to his niece at his death, was for sale at another time on Ed Juris’ Nyack, New York Showroom floor, and was later sold by its New Hampshire owner to a friend of the Hannahs. The Hannahs’ friend bought the Boano Coupe to restore, but after getting the first bill from a local restoration shop, he quickly changed his mind and sold it to the Hannahs. Chuck has talked to a salesman at the Ed Juris dealership who remembers the car and to Errol Flynn’s niece, a lady named Smith, who confirms that she inherited it from the famed movie actor upon his death.

Boano Coupe Badge

Built in 1954 but titled as a 1955 Lincoln, the Boano Coupe was at least the third special one-off car that Henry Ford II had built for his personal use. One of these earlier special cars was similar in looks to the post war Lincoln Continental V-12 but it was built on a Mercury chassis. See Continental Comments #184. The other one was a custom Model A Ford Sportsman designed by Bob Gregorie.

The Boano Coupe looks very vaguely similar to a 1984 drawing done by Bob Thomas, a retired Ford Motor Co. stylist, of a proposed 1949 Lincoln Continental. See Continental Comments #179.

The Boano Coupe was named after its builder, Italian designer Boano of Turin, a former partner of Ghia. It was built on a modified 1954 Lincoln chassis and has a 123” wheelbase like other 1954 Lincolns. The body is all steel. The car is also fully functional. It is powered by what appears to be a pre-production Continental Mark II engine, that even has cast aluminum Mark II valve covers. The power steering and brake assemblies look identical to those on the Mark II. The car, which has a metric speedometer and odometer, showed 12,000 km (about 7,200 miles) when the Hannahs bought it; the mileage appears to be original. The rest of the instruments are stock 1954 Lincoln. The engine has never been apart; the valve covers appear to have never been off. The engine and transmission numbers match original Ford Motor Co. records. The Hannahs have rebuilt the transmission and in the process were able to confirm that the transmission is the same as was used in the Mark II. Whether the engine & and transmission were with the chassis when sent to Italy for body construction, or were installed after the car was returned to Dearborn, is unknown. (The car was first shown at the 1955 Turin Auto Show and arrived in the United States in late 1955.) The electrical system is 6 volt.

By the time the Boano Coupe was built, plans for the Mark II were fairly well set, and thus it seems unlikely that it was ever considered as a prototype Continental.

1955 Lincoln Boano

From 1959 until he retired in 1985, Chuck Hannah operated a full time automobile restoration business. Chuck says he has always been partial to Lincolns. The first car he restored was his own 1948 Lincoln Continental coupe. In addition to Duesenbergs, Rolls-Royces, and Pierce-Arrows, Chuck has restored several 1941 Lincoln Continentals, three 1942 Lincoln Continentals, his own 1942 Custom, several Mark IIs, including his own, lots of Lincoln-Zephyrs and so many ‘60s four door
convertibles that he has lost track of the number. He admits to having owned at least ten ‘60s Lincolns. Since retirement, Chuck has limited his collector cars to a 1954 Lincoln Capri two-door hardtop, a Jeepster, a 1965 and a 1966 Corvair, two Cadillac Fleetwoods, a 1950 Cadillac Derham limousine originally built for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the 1955 Lincoln Boano Coupe.

Ford Motor Co. was surprised to find out that the Boano Coupe still existed, but was very helpful in supplying the Hannahs with the information still available. They also offered to buy the car back, if the Hannahs ever decide to sell it.

When the Hannahs bought the Boano Coupe, it ran well, but had been damaged by a dash fire. Heat or fire had scorched the dash and driver’s seat, and cracked the front windshield. The back window was apparently broken out to gain access to fight the fire. The carpeting was gone, probably removed as a result of fire damage, but there was evidence that the carpeting had originally been orange.

Chuck Hannah with the Boano Coupe

Right after the Hannahs brought the Boano Coupe home, Chuck began its restoration. The orange paint was removed right down to the metal. The metal finishing on the car is fantastic. All butt welds on the hand constructed body are finished so well, very little filler was originally used or was necessary during restoration. Chuck was able to match the original paint to a stock Lamborgini color. The car’s custom Italian made radiator was rebuilt, and all the chrome and 24 carat gold plating were redone. The original detailing was fabulous.

After months of trying to find replacement windshield and back glass, Chuck contacted a glass manufacturer in Wisconsin who agreed to reproduce them. Molds were made by putting stiff mesh wire into the rubber moldings in place of the windshield and back glass, and then making the form rigid by applying fiberglass resin to the wire mesh.

Because someone else’s car always came first, the Hannahs have never completed the restoration of the Boano Coupe. Consequently, it’s spent most of the time since 1972 in the shop and out of public view. Right now, it’s being repainted again. As soon as that’s done, and the car is back together, the Hannahs plan to get it on the road and to an LCOC national meet.

Contemporary articles published when the car was new don’t do a very good job of describing the car. Just above the front bumper in the center, the name Lincoln is spelled out in small block letters, and on the front just below the hood is a gold plated Lincoln crest identical to the crest used on the 1948 Lincoln Continental. The front and rear bumpers, the headlight pods, tail light pods and the front fender chrome strips were all custom made as were most of the other trim pieces. The roof is fixed; it cannot be removed. The gas filler is located in the center of where the trunk lid would otherwise be and is released by an interior lever. There is no exterior trunk or outside rearview mirror. At the openings at the back of the front fenders are fake exhaust pipes. The openings at the front of the back fenders are also fake. (Contemporary news articles explained that if the car was put into production the front fender openings would be used to exhaust engine heat, and the rear fender openings would be used to cool the back brakes.) The full wheel covers on the car are made of spun bronze with smaller Mark II type fins separately attached. The wheel covers are attached to special hubs on stock Lincoln wheels by “spinning” them on.

The hood is hinged from the back by chrome plated cast hood hinges. When opened, springs on the hood hinges hold the hood up without need for other support. The fan shroud is about 15 inches deep and made of finned and polished aluminum. The firewall and fender wells are covered by polished aluminum panels.



A checkered flag is located in front of Indianapolis script on each front fender. Gold plated script on the back fenders identify the car’s builder, Boano Torino. Behind the Boano Torino script is the Boano family crest. The same crest is also on the plate where the back license plate would normally be recessed into the center of the back bumper with a Plexiglass cover in the same shape as the bumper. (There is no provision for a front license plate.)

The most interesting exterior feature of the Boano Coupe is the drawer where the spare tire and jack are located. The drawer is below the trunk area. It is also released by a lever from inside the car. The center of the back bumper between the tail light pods functions as a handle that pulls out with the drawer for easy access to the spare tire.

The car is strictly a two passenger model. It has a one piece seat bottom and separate seat backs that fold forward to give access to a small luggage area behind the seats. The upholstery is orange and white pleated leather. The power door windows are operated by an internal cable and pulley mechanism. The door garnish moldings are painted metal shaped to appear as if a continuation of the instrument panel. The black steering wheel and steering column are stock 1954 Lincoln. The turn signal stalk and the shifting control are also stock 1954 Lincoln and are located on the steering column. The metal unpadded instrument panel is car color, but there is no radio (although one was installed aftermarket). There is no glove box either. The instrument panel face can be closed off by means of a metal panel that unlocks and slides down out of sight to reveal controls and full instrumentation finished in 24 carat gold plate.

1955 Lincoln Boano Coupe images

There you have it. A very unusual one-of-a-kind Lincoln long thought lost is really alive and well and awaiting completion of its restoration. If the truth be known, the Hannahs are probably a little puzzled by all the fuss others are making over the car that, to them, has never been lost.

What about the other “lost” concept cars? If they are out there, how do we encourage their owners to go public? There’s probably not one answer that fits all situations, but there are solutions. After 30 or 40 years, Ford Motor Co. is probably as happy as hobbiests to learn that these national treasures may still exist.

Webmaster Note:  A special thank you to David Moyer for sharing this color photo of the Boano Coupe taken at the 2007 Greenwich, CT, Concours d’Elegance.

1955 Lincoln Boano Coupe Color Photo

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