Continental Convention

Continental Convention

ABOVE: Cavalcade of Lincoln Continentals parades past the Lincoln-Mercury plant under threatening skies.  166 cars turned out.

By Warner Hopkins, Jr.
Reprinted from Motor Life, January 1955, in the 2nd Quarter 1993 edition of Continental Comments (Issue # 192).

For those who have an eye for something special in automobiles, the official announcement of the new Continental by the Ford Motor Company was a double-barreled event.

Confirmation of the rumors took place, appropriately enough, at Greenfield Village, a spot Henry the First set aside (next to the Dearborn test track) for the preservation of as much American history as he was able to move.

Occasion for the historical moment was the national reunion of the Lincoln Continental Owners Club, October 15-16, 1954. This group consists of enthusiasts whose appreciation for the “last of the classics” led them to organize in 1953. Thus, there was a nostalgic air about the rosy promise of a bright future.

On hand were 166 of the 5,324 Lincoln Continentals built in the six years (1940-42, 1946-48) of production. The rare 1942 models, with horizontal-bar grilles, were present in surprising numbers.

William Clay Ford, youngest of the Ford brothers and boss of the new Continental Division, broke the news to club members in a talk that confirmed rumors more than it revealed additional details.

So great their affection for the Classic Lincoln Continental, scores of owners convened in Detroit to catch First Word (no glimpse) of the “new” one.

Lincoln Continental owners driving by the half-finished Ford plant which will be devoted to construction of new Continentals.

Elliston H. Bell presents a lifetime Honorary Membership to William Clay Ford.

Elliston H. and Henrietta Bell at the 1954 Dearborn Rallye.

The youngest Ford—he is 29—is also a Continental owner. However, he splattered up to the soggy tents during the persistent drizzle driving a $2,700 Thunderbird. To those who met him for the first time, this proved he was as smart as everyone said he was. For while the weighty Continentals spun tires on the grassy mud, the agile Thunderbird flitted about with ease.

The long rows of gleaming Continentals, sheltered by circus-type tents, undoubtedly gladdened the heart of many a purist. About one-third were pretty close to their original condition, except for tires and minor accessories.


Since no Continental enthusiast in his right mind would alter the body lines, the modified cars had all reworking confined to under-hood areas and interiors. Where engine conversions had taken place, Cadillacs were the popular choice. And the taste of a good many owners seemed to include lavish use of chrome, plus as much speed and power equipment as the cramped compartment would allow. One ingenious owner, clearly up against it, made an air cleaner fashioned out of two pie tins.

The precious collectors’ items, almost without exception, were in good-to-superb condition. A gentleman from New Jersey admitted it was only the third time he’d been caught out in the rain with his 1940 model. Another concluded that “most of us try to make them last as long as we can.”

William Clay Ford reputedly has inherited his father’s talent, that which produced the first Lincoln Continental. He already has supervised design of the New Continental which will cost about $10,000 delivered with the normal extras. ”It will be recognizable,” he said, “as a very modem version of the Continental.”

Although he did not elaborate on the styling, Ford did make some other interesting points: the name “Lincoln” will not be associated with the new car; it will be built in a plant now nearing completion devoted to its exclusive manufacture.

The Continental is not the first automobile to be reborn after a lapse of several years. As a name with an enthusiastic following, however, it stands alone. If it is built with the perfection and attention to detail the youngest Ford indicates, the new Continental may become the “first Classic of the Atomic Age.”

The Cavalcade parades through downtown Detroit during the early morning hours.

The cars assembled on the soggy grass at Greenfield Village.  Circus type tents protected many of them from the rain which came on and off throughout the day.

The 1938 Lincoln Zephyr V-12

The 1938 Lincoln Zephyr V-12

Originally published in the 2nd Quarter 1994 edition of Continental Comments (Issue # 198).

WEBMASTER NOTE:  Only the pictures from the original article are posted here.

Late ’70s Lincoln Pickups.  Where Are They Now?

Late ’70s Lincoln Pickups. Where Are They Now?

By Mike Schultz

Originally published in the November/December 2000 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 237).

Going through some old files, I came across the advertisements on the next two pages for two Lincoln pickup truck conversion companies that appeared in Hemmings Motor News in 1979. With increased interest in Lincoln SUVs and the expected debut of the Lincoln Blackwood pickup truck in the near future, I thought these might be of interest.

The Florida Motor Coach conversion of a Lincoln four-door Town Car into a pickup truck was advertised in the September, 1979 issue of Hemmings. This conversion company was located in North Tampa, Florida. The converted vehicle itself apparently does not have any special name applied to it, other than being called a “Lincoln Continental Pick-Up Truck.” From the drawing of the Town Car pickup truck conversion and the ad narrative, it can not be determined if the tail-gate is operable or fixed, although an apparent tail-gate opening handle appears in the drawing. Although there is no photograph of a completed pickup truck conversion of a Town Car from this company, the narrative in the advertisement indicates that at least one conversion “has been done”.

The “Coloma” pickup truck conversion, from the Caribou Motor Corporation, San Francisco, California, utilized a Lincoln Continental Mark V from the years 1977 through 1979. The advertisements for the Coloma conversion kits appeared in the September and November, 1979 issues of Hemmings. The Coloma conversion was actually just a conversion “kit” costing $2,395.00 that the customers could buy and then either install themselves or have “an experienced body man” spend about 50 hours” to make the conversion. There is no mention in the advertisement if the kit manufacturer also installed the conversion kits on customers’ Mark Vs. The photographs of two different colored Mark Vs in one of the Coloma advertisements indicate that at least two of the Coloma Mark V pickup truck conversions were completed, presumably by the kit manufacturer itself. The photograph of one of the Coloma conversion kits being installed shows that there is no tail-gate during the installation process, leading to my conclusion that the tail-gate, once installed, was probably operable, even though there is no obvious evidence of an outside tail-gate handle in the photograph of the completed Mark V Coloma conversion.

Also, there is no indication in either of the advertisements for the Coloma Mark V pickup or the Town Car pickup as to whether the conversions were or were not authorized by the Lincoln factory or if the factory warranties were effected in any way by the conversions. However, especially with the Coloma conversion kit, it can be assumed that the factory would not have made any representations or warranties, since the kits could be installed by the car owner himself.

It would be interesting to know more about both these Lincoln pickup truck conversion companies and their products; such as how many conversions or conversion kits were made or sold; are there any company records left; are there any unsold Coloma conversion kits still sitting in some old warehouse; how many of the completed conversions, themselves, are left, if any; and are any of the completed conversions owned by LCOC members or have any ever been shown by LCOC members and judged at national meets.

While numerous photographs of obvious one-off and home-done Lincoln pickup trucks have been shown in Continental Comments over the years, there is apparently not much known, or at least not published, about Lincoln pickup truck conversions and conversion companies, whether done with or without factory authorization. I’m sure there must have been other conversion companies that made Lincoln pickup trucks (or maybe even station wagons) besides just these two companies.

I invite other LCOC members to let us know about additional Lincoln pickup truck conversions and hope that any members who have them will consider entering them at LCOC National Meets in the future, even if just for show. The extra variety of custom Lincolns, whether pickup trucks, station wagons, convertibles, parade cars, limousines, hearses, or even hot rods, etc. is, in my opinion, always a welcome addition to the usual groups of Lincoln cars we see at every LCOC meet. I believe there is a welcome place at the LCOC table for not just the purists who painstakingly restore their Lincolns to exacting factory specifications (after all, I helped to write the LCOC’s Mark II Authenticity Manual), but also for those members who are just as interested in and dedicated to their custom Lincolns, of whatever type and vintage. In fact, I suggest that we should have an occasional issue of Continental Comments dedicated to Lincoln conversions, especially the factory authorized or dealer prepared conversions.

(The ads on the following two pages [below] are reprinted from 1979 issues of Hemmings Motor News.)

Exiting in Style: The 1979 Collector’s Series

Exiting in Style: The 1979 Collector’s Series

By Jim Raymond, Fort Worth, Texas

Originally published in the November/December 2000 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 237).

Wisely and with great execution, Lincoln had adhered since its inception in 1921 to the automotive maxim, Length times Width times Weight equals luxury. But by 1980 this formula would instead equal violation of federal standards. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements and emissions regulations were to become ever tighter during the new decade and Lincoln could no longer make a vehicle of the traditional luxury size.

But there was still 1979.  The last of the big ones. And so they created the Collector’s Series, … “to epitomize and commemorate this elegant, era of the traditional Lincoln” , stated the 1979 brochure. Available as an option package on both the Lincoln Continental and Continental Mark V, this car would include as standard equipment, a far greater number of features than any other 1979 Lincoln, and even some not even available on any other Lincoln. They would truly achieve their goal.

Establishing a “drawing room” feel for the interior, Lincoln covered the seats with unique “Khasmin II luxury cloth”, an automotive fabric of the highest quality for the time. Leather was also available. But Khasmin II was not limited to the seats, as Lincoln also used it to wrap the interior garnish moldings and sunvisors. And rather than vinyl for the headliner, Lincoln chose Harvard cloth, another fine fabric. Cushioning the occupant’s feet was 36 ounce Tiffany-cut pile carpeting. This was twice the weight of the floor carpet in the standard Lincoln Continental. Meeting the eyes directly, the padded portion of the dash in the Mark V was covered in real leather, and both the Lincoln Continental and Mark V had a steering wheel with a wood grain insert. To protect the owner’s luggage, the trunk was lined with 18 ounce carpet, the same weight as that used in the interior of the standard Lincoln Continental. Further complimenting the trunk ensemble was a leather-bound tool kit. Protecting the owner’s manual was a handsome leather covering, and protecting the owner himself was a navy blue collapsible umbrella. All of these features were unique to the Collector’s Series cars, as they were not even available on any other Lincoln.

Visible to the general public, the exterior was decorated with triple pinstripes (as opposed to double on other Lincolns), a gold-tone grille, coach lamps, and turbine-style cast aluminum wheels. Two colors were primarily offered for the Collector’s Series, navy blue, and white. However a handful were painted silver metallic (color code 1Y) and a handful, diamond blue metallic (code 38). All Collector’s Series have “Collect” stamped on the cowl tag and include the color code.

The 1979 advertisement to the left shows a Continental Mark V Collector’s Series and a Lincoln Continental Collector’s Series at the John. F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

To be a true luxury car, it must be replete with a host of servants available to one’s beck and call. Thus, in addition to the features on a Continental, standard equipment on a Collector’s Series included the following:

  • Automatic headlamps
  • Automatic high beam dimmer
  • AM-FM stereo 8-track
  • Power antenna
  • Rear window defroster with heated outside mirrors
  • Lighted vanity mirrors, left and right
  • Tilt steering wheel
  • Cruise control
  • Illuminated entry system
  • Remote control garage door opener
  • Overhead dual beam map/dome lamp
  • Power door locks
  • Power mini-vent windows
  • Delay wipers
  • Remote trunk release
  • Right-hand remote-control mirror
  • Coach roof
  • Wide band white sidewall tires

Available as options were traction-lok differential, four-wheel disc brakes with Sure-Track (anti-lock on the rear), engine block heater, heavy duty battery, illuminated outside thermometer, fixed glass moonroof or power moonroof, CB radio, trailer towing package, and leather upholstery. With so much standard there was little left to add.

And so in all respects, Lincoln created a car that epitomized “what a luxury car should be” and which commemorated the era of the traditional-sized luxury vehicle. It truly was conveyance in the grand manner.

Mary Klinger’s 1979 Mark V Collector’s Series

Jim Raymond’s 1979 Lincoln Continental Collector’s Series

Silver 1979 Lincoln Continental Collector’s Series

Art World Recognizes Lincoln Style and Beauty

Art World Recognizes Lincoln Style and Beauty

ABOVE: 1941 Lincoln Continental Coupe, original factory press release photo.

Originally published in the November/December 2000 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 237).

1941 Lincoln Continental Honored by Museum of Modern Art 50 Years Ago in 2001

By Ken Goode, Bennington, Vermont

2001 marks the 50th anniversary of the memorable display of a 1941 Lincoln Continental at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The landmark 1951 exhibition, eight automobiles, featured cars as “hollow, rolling sculpture”.

The eight autos were selected by MoMA’s distinguished director of architecture and design, Philip Johnson.* Mr. Johnson’s choices were suggested by experts who included Raymond Loewy, Howard “Dutch” Darrin, and Cameron Peck. American autos selected, in addition to the Lincoln Continental and foreign makes, were the 1937 Cord and the World War II Jeep, the latter cited as “a beautiful tool for transportation”. Although not displayed, recognition was given to, among others, the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr, 1939 Cadillac 60 Special, 1947 Studebaker, and 1949 Ford.

The popularity of the eight automobiles led MoMA to mount another auto exhibition in 1953, entitled “Ten Automobiles”. The only American car displayed was the newly-debuted 1953 Studebaker hardtop coupe. MoMA had no subsequent auto exhibit until last year, which focused upon environmentally-friendly, conservational vehicles. The museum has, however, since 1972, maintained a permanent collection of automobiles, beginning with a postwar Cisitalia 202 GT. Added have been a 1990 Ferrari Formula 1 racer and a 1963 Jaguar E-Type roadster.

The displayed Lincoln Continental in 1951 was a light-colored coupe, perhaps Paradise Green or Rockingham Tan. Curiously, the show’s catalog pictured a different car: a dark-colored one, credited to Bimel Kehm. These catalogs are rare … one is owned by Dave Cole. The text, along with photos and the full design analysis of the Continental, was published in OCee Ritch’s 1963 book “The Lincoln Continental.”

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the MoMA display, it’s noteworthy to reflect upon the early, stellar recognition bestowed by one of the world’s premier museums upon the classic Lincoln Continental. Today, appreciation and indebtedness to those wonderful, long-ago events is proudly shared by all of us!

61Lincoln Art Wins “Award of Excellence at Pebble Beach

Above:  Ken Eberts with his award winning 1961 Lincoln Continental painting.

LCOC member Ken Eberts received an Award of Excellence at the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance for his painting of a 1961 Lincoln Continental, entered in the Automotive Fine Arts Society Exhibition which is an integral part of the concours.

Ken’s painting titled “The Art of Elegance” plays up the fact that the 1961 Lincoln Continental was one of the most elegant production automobiles ever produced. The Lincoln is surrounded by other forms of artistic elegance, including a model wearing a ‘60s Pierre Cardin ensemble, and the elegant architecture of the Museum of Art.

The message that Ken has tried to get across is that the Lincoln is not only elegant, but is art, in the the same way that the building that houses the fine art is also art.