Connie Goes to Palm Springs

Connie Goes to Palm Springs

Connie Goes to Palm Springs

by Richard Gierak

Some triumphs take a quite a while to happen.  For my wife Shirley and me, showing our ’57 Lincoln Premiere, known as “Connie,” in May at the LCOC Western Region National Meet in Palm Springs was the culmination of a long journey.

But first, a little history…

My grandfather, Adam Gierak, drove only Lincolns his entire life.  He and my grandmother, Connie, moved to Palm Desert around 1965 from Concord, California.  I remember being driven to school in Concord in my grandmother’s Lincoln; I don’t recall the year or model, but it was large and beautiful.

Around 1981 I moved to Palm Desert to live with my grandparents and attend nearby College of the Desert.  At this time my grandfather was driving a 1977 Lincoln Continental and my grandmother a 1973 Mark IV. (This white-on-white Mark IV would later become my first Lincoln.)  Grandpa also had two 1957 Premieres covered in his yard which he would uncover and start once a month.  One was yellow and eventually landed with my Aunt Candy.  The other was turquoise and white with a Continental kit on the back.  Grandpa said the turquoise car was better but the yellow one looked nicer.

I arrived at my grandparents’ house driving a 1972 Honda Coupe with a 36 cubic inch, air-cooled engine with front-wheel-drive and 10″ wheels.  Unfortunately, I managed to blow the engine on my little Honda Coupe while running an errand for grandpa to Twenty Nine Palms.  I’ll never forget the white-knuckle ride home as grandpa towed me behind his Continental at 75 miles per hour!

Grandpa decided I would drive the turquoise and white Premiere until he could find me a suitable car. So, I drove this massive car to school and around Palm Desert for a couple months until he found a nice 1974 Ford LTD which I would drive for the remainder of my time there.

Fast-forward to October 1997 when my grandfather passed away just short of his 80th birthday.  I traveled to Palm Desert from Clayton California to be with my grandmother.  When she asked me if I wanted the turquoise and white Premiere, I enthusiastically said “yes” and returned the following month with a car trailer to bring the Premiere north.

For the next few years, I would start the car and drive it around the block every other month.  Eventually I became lazy and the car sat in my side yard, but in 2011 I had a garage built for it and began to get it running.  The LCOC was hosting a National Meet in Concord in 2012 and I was hoping to bring the car.  There was quite a bit of work to do.  Once the engine was running, the water pump seal gave out.  Next it became frighteningly clear that the brakes didn’t work – at all!  All four wheel cylinders were rusted completely solid.  I resolved these issues and thought she was ready to drive, but the night before the meet she wouldn’t start.

I spent that Friday night working to get the car started.  A little gas down the carburetor and she would fire, burn the gas off and stall.  Late in the evening I took the top off the carburetor and found the float bowls and body full of sand!  A little blowing and vacuuming along with a fresh fuel filter in the line and the car started just as I was ready to accept defeat.

Connie 2

Over the next five years Connie made some trips to Bay Area club gatherings and a few lunch outings.  In May of 2017 I decided to restore Connie to her original condition and began with pulling the engine and transmission. The biggest aspect was the body and paint work which took longer than I had hoped.  Connie came home with her new paint in December 2021 and I began re-assembling.  During her time in the body shop I cleaned, polished and refurbished literally every part of the car.  I had Connie parts stored in about 60 boxes and locations in the garage, all cataloged in a Google spreadsheet.

Connie gets her name

The Saturday morning of the meet I started the car to back her out of the garage.  On the seat next to me was a photo of my grandparents which is still in the car today.  As I began to back the car out,I heard a voice, as though my grandmother who had passed away in 2005 was saying clear as day:  “My name is Connie.”  I get flushed every time I think of that moment, even now.  Connie had been named!

I drove the 7 miles to the Concord meet with lots of attention from other drivers and Connie made her LCOC debut. 

Connie 3

Again, I was hoping to make the next LCOC Western National Meet, this time in Palm Springs and 10 years after Connie’s first national meet.  In addition to my assembly activity, Connie spent 3 weeks at the upholstery shop getting her new interior installed. She was completed in late April and what a sight!

Off to Palm Springs

We were finally ready to go to Palm Springs!  Heading south on Interstate 5, Connie glided down the road in style.  I was surprised to find her 368 V8 averaging about 15 miles per gallon on the highway, about double what my ’73 Mark IV would do with its 460 motor.

Connie 4We arrived Thursday evening in Palm Springs and truly enjoyed the weekend with so many LCOC friends that we hadn’t seen since the San Diego meet in 2015.  We participated in a tour and lunch with the club on Friday morning before driving to my grandparents’ house in Palm Desert.  They are long gone and yet it was very special for me to photograph Connie in the driveway of their former home, the photo of them on the back seat as always.

Connie looked fabulous on the show field Saturday and took home a 2nd place Primary Division award with a score of 92 points!  Needing to get home Sunday, we headed for the highway early that morning.  After hitting 3 little rainstorms rolling west toward Pasadena, we headed north on I-5 over the Grapevine.  Connie ran strong and fast up the mountain with nary a rise on her temperature gauge.  As we descended on the north side, I noticed a bit of a rumble in the front end; I assumed it was the road surface and made note to pay attention.

Homeward Challenges

As we reached the valley floor heading north, I also smelled burning brakes.  Again, I dismissed this as belonging to trucks since they all smoke their brakes by the bottom of the hill.  Then a vehicle to my left honked and instead waving or offering a thumbs-up they pointed at my left front wheel—just in time for me to make an exit to a large truck and auto plaza.  As I slowed and cornered very carefully to park in the near-empty RV parking lot, I could hear lots of rattling coming from the left front wheel.

Getting out of the car, I could see smoke pouring out of the hubcap!  Just in case,I grabbed my fire extinguisher.  Removing the hubcap, I found, rattling loose inside, the grease cap, pieces of the cotter pin, the castle nut, the washer AND the outer wheel bearing.  The hub had cocked a bit and was riding on (and grinding away) the threads on the spindle.

Having purchased a cotter pin and some grease at the truck stop, I raised the car and removed the wheel and the brake drum/hub.  The brake shoes were curled at the bottom and some lining had been burned away.  The spindle had about one fourth of its diameter, including the threads for the castle nut, ground away. I began working on the threads to see if I could get the castle nut to engage.  A few minutes with a file from my toolbox and some turning with the nut and I had ‘good’ threads again on the spindle.  I greased the inner wheel bearing and installed the brake drum.  I greased and installed the outer wheel bearing, washer and castle nut.  I tightened the castle nut as much as I dared given the compromised spindle threads, but it wasn’t far enough to get the cotter pin through the hole.

I put the wheel on the car and drove a couple of laps around the parking lot hoping to seat the bearings enough to allow some more turns on the castle nut.  I was able to get the nut far enough to allow half of the cotter pin to squeeze through the hole.  I folded the cotter pin over the end of the spindle, installed the grease cap and hubcap and we headed for home.  The temporary repair took about an hour and we drove 350 miles home without further incident.  At our next fuel stop I removed the hubcap and found (to my relief!) that the hub was cool to the touch which meant we had enough grease and smooth-rolling bearings.

Connie made it home in fine shape and sat for 2 weeks until we moved our home 100 miles northeast to Sutter Creek.  I checked the wheel bearing adjustment, adding a few turns and a new cotter pin.  Connie made the drive to our new home and I’ve since replaced the spindle, brake shoes and outer wheel bearing.  It was quite the adventure and we couldn’t be happier with how Connie looked, drove and brought us home safely.

Getting Connie restored and successfully showing her at Palm Springs was a long journey, but well worth the time and energy.  We look forward to showing her around our new community and joining the local car show in October.  I’m blessed and glad to honor my grandparents by restoring and driving this beautiful car, the last Lincoln remaining in our family.  If you’ve read this far, you know most of my story with Connie.  If you would like to learn more about her restoration process, she has a little website:

Stay well and I hope to see many of you at future LCOC gatherings!

Ford Product Development Center (PDC) Truck and Car Show

Ford Product Development Center (PDC) Truck and Car Show

The staff of the annual Ford Product Development Center (PDC) Truck and Car Show is pleased to announce its addition to the calendar of official events celebrating the Company’s 100th Anniversary of Lincoln!  The Lincoln Anniversary Team would like to invite all Lincoln owners to this exciting show, the only Company-sponsored, internal event of its kind.  The PDC Show is unique in that it emphasizes the product development aspect of the participant vehicles and includes a wide variety of models of many makes and types.  Company staff and management from all areas of product development attend to learn, and draw inspiration from, the heritage, features, and lessons associated with the field of vehicles on display.

The grounds in Dearborn cover nearly a half mile of Rotunda Drive along the PDC Staff Buildings’ lawn frontage.  All Lincolns – as all vehicle classes in the event – will be parked in a single area (includes Lincoln entries normally distributed between Pre-War Cars, Post-War Non-Ford FoMoCo-Branded Cars, and Trucks).  The PDC Show is comprised of vehicles owned by collectors and museums from throughout the United States and Canada (and occasionally from other countries, as well).

We are extending the invitation for Lincoln owners until May 31, 2022.  Details below:

When:  Friday, July 15, 2022 
Where: Product Development Center, 20000 Rotunda Drive (for GPS purposes), Dearborn, Michigan 


Feature Cars (To Be Identified) Setup at 5:00am to 6:30am

–      General Arrivals from 6:30am to 8:30am (sharp)

–      Executive Tour at 11:30am (approximately)

–      Participant Raffle at 12:30pm (approximately)

–      Lockdown ends 1:15pm (approximately)

–      Most vehicles leave by 3:30pm (estimate) 


–          Complementary calendar of each vehicle in isolation (via photo station; photos taken by WHQ Archive photographers)

–          Pre-printed owner card

–          Dash plaque

–          Automatic entry in participant raffle (one chance per each participating vehicle)

–          Lunch for low purchase price

–          Trailer parking

–          On-site clean portable toilets and washing stations

–          On-site security

–          Separate dedicated lane on Rotunda Drive for entry to the show grounds

–          Others to be announced 

Vehicle requirement

–          Complete vehicles in presentable to concours condition to fulfill the primary goal of education and inspiration

–          Representative historical example of the model

–          Preferably in factory appearance, though not mandatory

–          Owners can nominate and, upon confirmation, participate with multiple vehicles 

Instructions for registration:

–          Simply send the following information, along with any questions, via email (DGLICKM1@FORD.COM) for each desired entry: 

o   Name

o   Mailing Address (kept confidentially)

o   Phone (kept confidentially)

o   Year

o   Make

o   Model

o   Any significant fact or equipment (optional)

o   One front picture minimum reflecting current appearance of vehicle 

–          Show staff will send confirmation within a week of receipt

–          Owner replies to complete the confirmation process

Thank you in advance for your interest in joining Ford Motor Company’s 100th Anniversary of Lincoln celebration at PDC Dearborn!

Western National Meet – Palm Springs, California, May 4-8, 2022

Western National Meet – Palm Springs, California, May 4-8, 2022

“A Martini Lifestyle, are you ready?”

Click here to register now!

Click here to view event and hotel information.

Pull out the suntan lotion, your sunglasses, gloves and hat.  Get that gallant Lincoln serviced and ready.  It is time to head down the road to the “Playground of the Stars”.  A week of movie stars, classic cars, fresh air and fun await you.   You may see Ann Hathaway (The Devil wears Prada) or Leonardo DeCaprio (Titanic) visiting their homes in the area.  John Travolta’s plane, grey with a large orange “T”, can be seen hanging at the airport from time to time.  Suzanne Somers (Three’s Company) and Barry Manilow are often seen out together for dinner at one of the local restaurants.  If you want to live in one of the star’s homes, Sylvester Stallone’s house is currently on the market.  However, if the glamour of stars does not appeal to you, and you would rather spend time on a golf course, there are about a hundred available, with all different levels of difficulty and beauty.  If you have a more rugged nature side, there are over a hundred hiking trails around canyons and through groves of native palm trees or maybe a scenic horse ride along one of the many beautiful oases appeals to you.  The famous Pioneertown is only a short drive away.  Walk down Main Street just as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans did along with Son’s of the Pioneers in their TV series.   The point being, there is plenty to see and do while you are in the area.

This highly anticipated Car Show Meet takes place Saturday, on the Desert Princess Country Club and Golf Course in Cathedral City adjacent to the Double Tree Hotel, our host hotel.  It will be a gathering of some of the very finest cars our members have to offer, in a picture-perfect desert setting.  Featured car classes will meander down the golf course set aside for our use.  What better way to feature those glamorous Lincolns.

Plans are being finalized to add technical seminars to the list of activities.  The renowned “Lincoln Whisperer” is ready to help you understand the hallowed secrets to making that convertible top work more than once.  There will also be a technical program on a/c systems and repairs, what works best to keep you cool.  Who knows, there may be our own version of “Click and Clack” questions and answers to those other car issues too.  Some slight changes are in progress to the standard weekend format, such as Friday Night’s event will take place at a large warehouse housing several private collections of cars.  Friday night’s event will include adult beverages, food plus a silent auction.  We understand the fabulous jazz singer Kathryn White will be performing there for your enjoyment that night too.  Our drive tour will take you by homes of several stars culminating at yet another large private automotive collection.  We have not forgotten those less car crazed among us, which I call “Car Widows”.   We are preparing other great events to choose from.  We have 24 exciting ideas we are narrowing down to which ones will fit into our schedule.

Even though the dates state May 4-8, you will need more time to take in and enjoy all the fun.

Registration will be open this December.  Go on line now to reserve your room at while we still have some rooms in our reserved block for LCOC.  Be sure to mention the LCOC name for the best room rates.  Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

We look forward to seeing everyone in Palm Springs, for “A Martini Lifestyle”, a weekend years in the making.

John Burge & Ron Cressy, co-chairs  

View Western National Meet 2022 Promo Video

LCOC Show Cars Celebrate Continental Nameplate’s 80th Anniversary at LCOC’s Eastern National Meet (Part 1)

LCOC Show Cars Celebrate Continental Nameplate’s 80th Anniversary at LCOC’s Eastern National Meet (Part 1)

LCOC Show Cars Celebrate Continental Nameplate’s 80th Anniversary at LCOC’s Eastern National Meet (Part 1)

Nine decades of Lincolns and Continental models graced the show field at the LCOC Eastern National Meet held in September at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y.  From Tony Russo’s 1927 Model L roadster to Erling Onsager’s 2018 Continental some of America’s finest luxury vehicles provided a kaleidoscope of colors and styles covering nearly all eras of Lincoln history.  What an impressive sight!

Beautiful first-generation Continentals were among the most admired entries along with John Talbourdet’s ’37 sedan and Danial Falco’s ’41 Zephyr. Others were Paul Wilson’s ’40 Continental, Tony Rosso and Franklynn Koehler’s ’41 Continentals and Bruce Anderson’s ’46 Continental.


Rare and elegant ’56 and ’57 Mark IIs, a ”59 Mark III and other ’50s Lincolns delighted spectators. James Dunn’s ’55 Capri and Rusty Rentsch’s ’56 Premiere were there as was William White’s ’59 Mark III, Walter Blankenship and Dave Kirkpatrick’s 54 Caprils were shown along with ’56 Mark IIs owned by Peter Mann, Kenneth Lewis, John Keesee, Lawrence Durocher, Joseph Armstrong, and Keith Collana and ’57 Mark IIs owned by David Kraus and Edward Avedisian. Below are some prime examples of these coveted vintage cars.

Several iconic slab side Continentals of the 1960s—both sedans and convertibles—were on hand for the fun.  Among these were Mid-Atlantic Region host Owen Clarke’s ’63 convertible, Wayne Sawyer’s ’63 sedan, Jeanne Talbourdet’s ’67 convertible, and a ’66 Lehmann-Peterson limo owned by Joe Columbe. Ray Mastronuzio’s ’65 Continental was on display along with David Moyer’s ’66 convertible. See below.

Seven Decades of Lincolns Starred at LCOC Western National Meet Car Show

Seven Decades of Lincolns Starred at LCOC Western National Meet Car Show

Seven Decades of Lincolns Starred at LCOC Western National Meet Car Show

Great cars and scorching Colorado weather added sizzle to the centerpiece car show of the LCOC’s 2019 Western National Meet in Grand Junction. But triple digit temperatures failed to wilt the enthusiasm of  LCOC members on hand to show off their beauties. Eight decades of Lincolns and Continentals made it to this year’s meet, with cars from the 1970s and newer predominating—perhaps because they were equipped with A/C?  No matter, all that were on the show field were spruced up and looking their best!  

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