The Lincoln MKT Concept

The Lincoln MKT Concept

Story and photos by Charles D. Barnette

Originally published in the March/April 2008 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 281).

The 2008 Lincoln MKT Concept premiered at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  Lincoln calls it a new premium utility concept vehicle.  In short, it is a  new way to tour in style.

Featuring a 3.5 liter V-6 EcoBoost engine with turbocharging and direct injection, the car’s engine produces the power and torque of a V-8 engine with the fuel efficiency of a V-6.  Ford will first introduce EcoBoost in the Lincoln MKS next year.  The EvoBoost engine provides the driver with the flexibility to switch back and forth between premium and E85 ethanol-gas blend.

To me the most unique feature of this concept is the recycled materials used in building her.  Two upcycled plastic materials, Valox iQ and Xenoy iQ, were used in making the Lincoln MKT body panels, energy absorbers, wire bundles, and glazing.  The resins are made from soft-drink bottles and other polyester waste, keeping them out of landfills, reducing energy consumption and shrinking the vehicle’s overall carbon footprint.

The interior, one find four executive-sized chairs offering comfort and unprecedented leg room.  Second-row heated and cooled thigh supports deploy from under the seats.  Footrests deploy rearward from the front seats.  It is hard to overlook the hand knotted rug made from banana silk that covers the floor and compliments the contrasting creamy pearl chromium-free leather seats.  The MKT concept’s center console contains individual air vents, audio and climate controls, and personal storage.

The exterior color is a rich Liquid Bronze Metallic paint complementing the chrome brightwork.  This concept also features Lincoln’s signature double-wing chrome grille.  The signature roofline runs the entire length of the greenhouse and remains uninterrupted.  The roof itself is glass, allowing in natural light.

This Lincoln concept truly strikes a balance of spaciousness, comfort, and fuel efficiency!

A 1949 Lincoln Coupe in the Family Since 1949

A 1949 Lincoln Coupe in the Family Since 1949

by Bill Vickers, Martinsville, Virginia

Originally published in the May/June 2003 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 252).

It has been my pleasure to read in Continental Comments about the restoration projects involving many of the Classic and Special Interest Lincolns of yesteryear. This saga involves no restoration, but maintenance over the last 54 years.

I remember sitting on the steps in front of my father’s office on a warm summer day in August, 1949. Two well dressed men drove up in a shiny black 1949 Lincoln Sports Coupe, and asked me if this was Dr. L. A. Vickers office. They were representatives from Bridge Street Motors, the Lincoln Mercury dealer at that time in Martinsville, Virginia. My dad was busy at the time, but called my mother to evaluate the new car. She must have been impressed, she chose the Lincoln over a Pontiac, Buick, and Cadillac.

The new Lincoln was a fresh and welcome addition to the family; the 1937 Pontiac it replaced was 13 years old and started to show signs of the aging process. New cars of all brands were rare commodities, and prospective buyers were on waiting lists for years because of World War II.

People were very impressed with the features of this car. The Hydra-Matic transmission was a big deal back in 1949.  The engine is quiet, massive and powerful. As an eight year old, I loved it when we approached slower traffic, and my dad engaged the passing gear and made the engine roar and snap our heads to the back of the seat. The radio had excellent fidelity and the antenna could be controlled from inside the car. The clock kept time well and the ride was very  comfortable.

The car had heater/defroster, left and right air registers, heavy duty suspension, white wall super balloon low pressure tires, fog lights, arm rest (rear), fender skirts, and signal lights. Many cars in the forties did not have signal lights. The engine required two water pumps and two thermostats.

Unfortunately, my dad passed away in June of 1950. My mother learned to drive after his death, and this Lincoln was our only car for 17 years. I begged my mother (Letha Vickers) to trade; but she reminded me that there were five of us children to be educated and the ‘49 Lincoln would go anywhere a new one would go. She also told me that when the next new car was bought I would probably buy it. Guess what, she was right! After I started teaching, I bought her a new ‘66 Ford LTD which she refused to drive. One day I drove the new Ford over to her school, left it in her parking space and drove off in the Lincoln. I have been driving the Lincoln ever since. This car continues to amaze me; after 54 years and slightly less than 200,000 miles it still loves to run. The 337 flat-head is still doing its job. It loves the highway, and seems to be very comfortable at 70-75 miles per hour with encouragement to go faster.

My brother Don and I shared driving time behind the steering wheel as teenagers. We also shared time standing in front of the judge for speeding tickets.


The original engine and transmission still power this car and it is very reliable. The only engine work was the replacement of exhaust valves in 1966. This repair was encouraged by the constant use of high-test gasoline over the years. Golden Esso gasoline was designed for higher compression engines of the late ‘50s, not flat heads of 1949.

The constant diet of high octane gas probably contributed to the burning of the exhaust valves. The car smoked until the exhaust valves were repaired. One of my high school friends called the ‘49 the “Smoke Wagon”. The name stuck, even after the smoking stopped. The valve job made the car perform like new. This was followed by a paint job in 1970, and it was re-upholstered at the same time. I am amazed that rust has not been a problem. Hopefully, I will have my nephew, Billy Anderson, a master restorer in Texas, give the ‘49 a master massage for its sixtieth birthday.

A transmission band broke in 1979, and was repaired; it has been performing well ever since. This Hydra-Matic transmission has proven to be exceptional. Also, these transmissions have four forward gears, the fourth gear is an automatic overdrive. The manual transmission had a manual overdrive. Lincolns were available in ‘49 with manual or automatic transmission. The clock still works on warm days, and the radio plays well.

This car has been like a family member. We drove it to all of our high school and college graduations. My brother, Don, taught me to drive on this car, when I could barely see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals. The ‘49 was given the nickname “Smoke”, this was to be expected since my brother, three sisters, and I had nicknames. “Smoke” made trips throughout the state of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, and New York. We drove it to the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

During the 54 years of driving this car, it has failed to start about 12 times. It has never left us stranded. Back in the sixties, we were returning from a trip, it sputtered a few times and stopped in the middle of the highway. I looked to the right and we were in front of a Lincoln-Mercury dealership. The mechanic replaced the fuel pump, and we were on our way.

In the mid seventies, I was reading a Motor Trend magazine which gave the me of the car credited with winning the first strictly stock NASCAR race. Guess what! It was a black ‘49 Lincoln just like “Smoke”. This was a shock to me, I never heard of Lincolns in NASCAR. I knew about the Pan American Road Races, but not NASCAR.\

Jim Roper hauled his Lincoln from Great Bend, Kansas, to the Charlotte Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, to win the first strictly stock NASCAR race June 19,1949. He received $2,000 in 1949 money for his efforts.

“Smoke” has appeared in the parade lap at some of the NASCAR races—the Martinsville Speedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Smoke” still has not been relieved of its transportation responsibilities. I drive it to work occasionally, and it makes certain celebrity appearances. Friends and relatives request its services in weddings and other special occasions.

Some senior citizen privileges have been granted to “Smoke”. It now takes three Continental Mark Ills and one ‘92 Town
Car to handle the transportation needs that “Smoke” once performed alone.

Many people have asked why the Vickers family has kept this Lincoln for 54 years. Firstly, I don’t think parting with it would be a popular decision with my siblings Don, Gloria, Tanya, and Sandra.

Secondly, we have great appreciation for its reliability, drive ability, and viability. Thirdly, Lincoln’s are addictive. The Vickers siblings and their children have purchased collectively thirty-nine Ford products, mostly Lincolns. Sixty-six relatives, friends, associates, neighbors, and observers have been inspired to buy Lincolns or other Ford products.

My mother deserves a great deal of credit for the longevity of the car. She was very persistent about maintenance; she believed in use, but not abuse. The oil was changed frequently, and all 28 grease fittings were serviced.

The car was delivered with Havoline Oil in the engine, and that same brand is used today.


A personal friend, and a former Lincoln-Mercury mechanic, Junior Fuller, was the main mechanic until his health failed.

One of the owners, Martin J. Lester of the dealership where my father bought the car still lives in the Martinsville area, and we still have a great relationship. Martin’s brother-in-law, Tommy Myers, was one of the salesmen, and he still lives in Martinsville, and he has been a friend over the years.

The present Lincoln-Mercury dealer, Jim Mills, has been a good friend and advisor for many years regarding the ‘49 Lincoln and other Lincolns bought from his dealership.

The Ford Motor Company deserves a great deal of credit for the viability of this car. The Vickers family believes that care, service, and maintenance may be important, but a quality product was needed originally. Automobile manufacturers have been busy producing cars over the years. The Ford Motor Company burns the midnight oil to produce classics.

Over the past 54 years, many miles, friends and relationships have occurred. We think this is very special. It all started with a black’49 Lincoln, more affectionately known as “Smoke,” purchased by Dr. and Mrs. L. A .Vickers on August 24,1949.

Editor’s comment: I love to receive stories like this because they are so rare…and this owner also has three Continental Mark Ills which he drives daily. We have another story coming up in the next issue of one-ownership that beats the Vickers car by a year!!  If you own or know of a Lincoln with longtime one-ownership share it with other members by contacting the Continental Comments editorial office.


Tom McCahill Tests the 1957 Lincoln

Tom McCahill Tests the 1957 Lincoln

by Tom McCahill

Published in the March/April 2003 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 251).
Reprinted from Mechanix Illustrated, February 1957

Back in 1953, Lincoln swapped its stovepipe hat for a beanie and gobbled up all comers in the 1,900-mile Pan-American road race. The next year they did it again, as hundreds of little Mexican boys screamed out to the rest of the competition, “They went that-a-way, senor!”

One thing about the Ford organization (which includes the Continental, Lincoln, Mercury, Ford and next year the Edsel) is that these boys are not set in their ways. With their Mexican successes behind them—successes which were accomplished because their cars were not only fast, but roadable and the finest-handling automobiles ever produced in this country— Lincoln switched character. Like the guy who reaches for his carpet slippers after he’s won the girl, or the gladiator who sheaths his broadsword after successfully pigsticking the dragon, Lincoln took off its competition coveralls, slipped into white-tie-and tails, and emerged as a conservative, distinguished gentleman with discreetly concealed muscles. The only holdover from the hell-for-leather “Mexican” Lincolns was the car’s outstanding roadability and handling prowess.

If a big car has ever been built that can out-handle the Lincoln, then I’ve never had the pleasure of driving it. This, plus terrific brakes, makes Lincoln as safe a car as has been built to date.

Performance-wise—meaning top speed and acceleration—Lincoln no longer is making a serious attempt to be the Whiz Kid of the drag strips or the speed trials. Like a retired Derby winner, Lincoln now rests on its laurels. Size went up, engine capacity was increased, and the old champ acquired a smooth but horsepower-robbing new transmission. In 1956, Lincoln was a close contender for the finest-looking automobile ever produced in the land of Soapy Williams and Walter Ruther.  The cars were still fast, but had acquired an Ivy League look that made at least one of their competitors resemble the Limehouse Button King. With the addition of Ed Sullivan’s stumping, Lincoln enjoyed the best sales year in its history.

Superb roadability plus terrific brakes make this new 300 hp. white-tie-and-tails job “as safe a car as has been built to date,” according to Uncle Tom.

There are many types of buyers of cars in the Lincoln class, and they include the successful man who has made his pile and suddenly realizes he has forgotten to have fun along the way. Lincoln made its main pitch in ‘56 to this well-regulated character of taste who wanted superb and enjoyable transportation in a conservative package, a car that didn’t have to go in for hand-tooled saddlery and a garland of silver dollar decorations that shouted “money” in a loud voice.

From a performance standpoint, give or take a wheel turn or two, there has been no increase in over-the-ground rapidity from the ‘56 jobs. Zero to 60 still takes 12 seconds. When correctly tuned, these big Lincolns will just edge the 110-mph. mark. They do, though, have a way of slamming into a corner or whipping through a bend with all the steadiness of a bowling ball transversing a laundry chute at speeds that would dump some of the competition head over teakettles.

When I tested the ‘57 Lincoln it was under rather odd circumstances. I had been hired by the General Tire Company to rip  their new Dual 90 tires apart (if I could—and I could not.) The car selected for this test, by me, was the big Lincoln Premiere. Though my main job during my first runs with the ‘57 Lincoln was to test these tires, I also had quite an interest in saving my fat neck, which was one of my reasons for choosing the car I did. I’m happy to say I didn’t goof. One series of brake and tire tests called for standing on the brakes as hard as I could and bringing the car to a full stop from speeds up to 105 mph. This was on rough concrete. These tests were so severe that the brakes burst into flames, but the Lincoln brakes grooved a straight line down the roadway like a bullet from a tournament rifle, and literally stopped the car in its tracks. It doesn’t take a wagonload of imagination to figure the stress such a test creates, not only on brakes, but on the frame, wheels and every component part. I made nine of these stops, and then went to the highspeed turning area. Here, in a 360 degree turn, less than 120 yards in diameter, I kept this Lincoln going at rollover speeds for more than 40 miles, trying to rip the tires off. (Although I was being paid to test tires, this 1957 Lincoln was getting a helluva test, too.)

Frankly, in a lot of cars I know, I wouldn’t have had the guts to try the tire test I made with the Lincoln. Afterward, I made wetted-hill stopping tests on grades of more than 30 per cent with the car running at a good head of steam. On the  road race circuit (or road-handing course, as they sometimes call it), I gave the Lincoln everything it had. As to handling in safety, there’s very little more I can say, but that for these professional tests of tires I selected Lincoln to pull me through.

Style-wise, the ‘57 Lincoln has been sharpened up considerably over ‘56. The car is two inches longer and now boasts four headlights which give it the appearance from head-on of Paul Bunyon and his brother challenging you with over-and-under shotguns. The rear fins have been flared out and tail lights now remind you of a fire in a Gothic chapel. The long, uninterrupted hoodline could easily serve as a picnic table for the Notre Dame football squad, and the four-pronged star from the ‘56 Continental has been respoked and now appears not only on the hubs but the tail, front fenders and hood. The rear fender line, which starts just aft of amidships, produces a lowering illusion, as do the flattened-out front fenders. Anyway you slice it, this car is not quite as conservative in appearance as it was in ‘56, but the added garnishes do not detract from the overall dignity any more than a good custom-made striped shirt detracts from an expensive blue suit.

As Ford’s Engineering Division can rustle up more men on it s proving grounds on 20 minutes notice than Nassaer could produce last November for the Canal Aquatic Sports, I wasn’t too surprised to find out that some of these boys had their heads under the hood during the long summer months. The ‘57 Lincoln sports a new Carter carburetor, which is smooth but unexciting, and some other goodies which are too frivolous to note. For my little bag of dough, this is a great automobile, conservative on the performance side, but capable of becoming a wildcat with the addition of a few such things as a hot cam and a transmission that is less of a calorie-consumer. While doing this piece, I had to pinch myself into realizing that Lincoln, once the hottest road car in America just a calendar page or two ago, is reaping a bigger, heavier harvest now by appealing to the man who would rather hear the sound, substantial thud of a Chase Manhattan Bank vault door than the strains of You Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Houn’ Dog.

Lincoln’s 2002 Concept Continental

Lincoln’s 2002 Concept Continental

by Charles Barnette
photos by Rusty Thompson

Originally published in the March/April 2002 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 245).

“Appearing at the 2002 International Auto Show in January in Detroit was the Lincoln Continental Concept. The car had also appeared at the 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show where it was introduced for the first time. It is a formal design intended for use as an executive car. To see the return of the so called “suicide doors” from the ‘60s was uplifting. It is good to see Continental embrace the design features from Lincoln’s past. Of course, Lincoln prefers to call these four doors “center opening” doors.

The car is a fantastic vision of the future Lincoln. The wheels are 22-inch polished aluminum. A Lincoln star badge divides the large LED lamps. The cabin of the car is centered within the wheelbase. The concept vehicle is powered by a 6.0 liter V-12 engine. The four round headlamps use an innovative remote light generator technology where a single source transfers light through fiber optics to each lamp.

Inside the car, the seats are covered in reach aniline-dyed leather. Rear built-in laptop tables stow in the console. The console houses controls for the window lifts, power door openers, the display screens, and other functions. The instrument panel is built around reconfigurable screens that display vehicle systems, including the concierge services, navigation, telematics, and the THX-certified audio system.

Unique to this car is the decklid that traces a parallelogram as it opens to maintain its horizontal orientation. A large luggage tray slides out to present luggage and golf club cases. We cannot finish describing this car without mentioning the cigar humidor and umbrella holder built into the interior of each rear door. And, oh yes, a drinks cabinet dispenses water and other beverages with the cabinet being fitted between the rear seats.

The vehicle is 214 inches in length, 76.7 inches in width, and is 59 inches in height. It is a beautiful car worthy to be called a Lincoln Continental. The Lincoln designers never cease to amaze and delight Lincoln lovers.”

A Matter of Distinction: Custom Body Lincolns of the ’20s and ’30s

A Matter of Distinction: Custom Body Lincolns of the ’20s and ’30s

by Jim Raymond

Originally published in the March/April 2002 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 245).

Lincoln’s Custom bodies were build in lots of 25-100.  All Lincoln custom bodies were of higher quality than many of its competitors, such as Packard.  Lincoln utilized the work of America’s finest custom body builders of the day.

Individual. Unique. Distinctive. These terms are ones which many auto owners wish to have applied to their cars. Even in our modem age, aftermarket wheels, gold trim packages, “carriage” or “coach” roofs (supplied by individual trim shops) are not unusual to be found on late model vehicles. But this is not a recent phenomenon. It has existed almost since the beginning of horseless personal transportation.

Prior to WWI, many purchasers of luxury cars were not content with merely having a “standard” model offered by a luxury car maker. Yet it was not an easy, convenient matter to obtain a car that was “individual”, “unique”, or “distinctive”. The first step in the process was to obtain a chassis from the manufacturer (Cadillac, Packard, Pierce, etc.) of one’s choice. This chassis would include the frame, suspension, drivetrain, wheels and tires, and probably the fenders, hood, and running boards. If the modifications desired were not great, the customer might go ahead and purchase an entire car, as one does today. Next, the customer would have this chassis delivered to the custom body manufacturer. A visit to the custom shop ensued, to discuss the details of the final product. This would include decisions about color (and color schemes), type and pattern of upholstery, amount and type of wood trim in the interior, type of carpet, and shape of the body. Often, the shop would make most of the suggestions about these choices, as they were ordinarily more adept at artistic expression than the average car owner. More than likely, additional visits to the shop were necessary as construction progressed (much like having a house built). While there were numerous custom body manufacturers, there was not one on every corner (certainly not a good one) and each visit could entail an out-of-town trip.

1935 Lincoln K LeBaron Convertible Sedan

As noted previously, other combinations may have been the case. Some customers may have had the custom shop produce the fenders and hood also. Or, they might deliver to the shop a completed “factory” car, and have only minor modifications made. Regardless of which combination was involved, the car would properly be referred to as a “one-off’ custom. No other car would look like this one. But the process of acquiring a custom car would be radically simplified shortly after WWI by our beloved Edsel Ford.

Henry Leland produced his first Lincoln for the 1921 model year. In 1922, Ford purchased Lincoln from Leland and Edsel was made the president. Leland had recognized that his initial cars looked rather stodgy, and before selling to Ford, had begun soliciting the assistance of stylists from some of the custom body firms for suggestions on how to improve the appearance of his cars. Edsel continued this practice.

Edsel however, realized that the acquisition of a custom body car should be easier/less expensive for the customer. Edsel didn’t create the idea of catalog customs, as they had existed previously on a small scale with some other manufacturers. Rather, he chose to be an innovator of them. Edsel approached many of the well known custom body manufacturers and requested proposals for designs that would be made in lots of 25, 50, 100, or similar amounts. Designs approved by Edsel would then be displayed in the Lincoln brochure or “catalog”. (Thus the name “catalog custom”. “Series custom” is also used, as these lots of 25-100 constituted a “series” of cars. Either term distinguishes it from a “one-off’ custom.) All a customer had to do was go to the Lincoln showroom, point to which of the series custom cars in the catalog he wanted, select a color and upholstery, and place an order. While this car would not be quite as exclusive as a one-off custom it would greatly simplify the process of obtaining a car that was not like the standard factory edition. And as there were never very many made in any one year of a particular series, the odds of pulling up next to someone with a car just like yours were still extremely low. As well, since one-off customs were literally “one of a kind”, as they were quite expensive to produce. One might well have to pay $12,000 to $15,000 for such an article. In contrast, series customs could be had for as little as $5,000. By 1925 the Lincoln catalog custom program was in full swing.

Understand, there were not simply 25 of the 100 series custom Lincolns available in any given year. Rather, there would be approximately that number of customs for each of several different body styles. Some body styles might be produced by a couple of different manufacturers in a given year. For example, in 1932 both Judkins and Dietrich made coupes for Lincoln. But this duplication was rare. And as it were, each would look different from another, such that a buyer of a Judkins coupe did not have to worry about his car looking like his neighbor’s Dietrich.

A particular custom company would likely make more than one style car for Lincoln in a given year. Brunn made cabriolets, convertible victorias, and broughams in each year in the late ‘30s.

Most custom shops specialized in certain body styles. Locke normally made open cars. Willoughby focused on formal, closed types.

So what then, was a “factory” body car? It was one which was manufactured either by a volume producer of auto bodies, or in the Lincoln factory itself. From the mid 20s through 1934 the vast majority of Lincoln’s “factory” body cars were produced by Murray, a company that normally made bodies in large volume (i.e.- thousands a year for “normal” cars). From 1935-on Lincoln made the “factory” cars “in-house” . These factory cars were typically designed by Lincoln itself. And though not manufactured by a custom company they were nonetheless built to Lincoln’s (Edsel’s) high standards. As high, as it were, as those of a custom body manufacturer.

Some series custom cars were, in fact, only designed by the custom firm; the body actually being produced by the “factory” source. This was true for the 1931 LeBaron roadster, for example.

Was there a difference in quality between a factory body Lincoln and a custom? Richard Hopeman, the president of the Lincoln Owners Club, and Thomas Bonsall, the noted Lincoln historian, have both observed it is very doubtftul Edsel Ford would have allowed anything out of the factory that was not of the highest quality. In reading done by the author about Edsel, this is very easy to believe.) As will be noted in the quote below, in some cases, Edsel required of the custom shop a quality that was higher than they would otherwise have produced. A standard which was certainly equal to what he would have applied to the “factory” cars.

In a letter to the author dated July 12, 2001, Richard Burns Carson, author of Olympian Cars, made the following statements about the difference in factory and custom Lincolns:

“I think you are on to an important insight about the quality level of all classic era Lincoln bodies, production and  catalogued custom alike. Lincoln’s construction solidity standards were routinely the highest and most exacting within its field, and Edsel Ford had no qualms about applying such standards to custom coachbuilders’ catalogue submittals. Thus, a 1932 Lincoln Style #KB-241 Dietrich Convertible Sedan actually wears a more solidly constructed body than a Dietrich Packard of the same era and body type; Ray Dietrich admitted as much to me on several occasions.”

“Can we agree that constructive quality and ‘finish’ achieved their highest sustained levels on classic 1920-39 Lincolns, regardless of body origins? And if so, then where might we find a quality differential between ‘production’ cars and catalogued customs? I submit ‘distinction’ to be the key word here; Lincoln’s many series custom buyers received more ‘distinctive’, personally tailored automobiles, and this observation is not limited to their configurative and overall contour aspects.”

“For example, you are right in supposing the ‘production’ cars embraced the finest available grade of cloth upholstering fabrics as did the customs, however in terms of varieties and combination effects the results couldn’t have been more divergent. Single or duotone Bedford Cords; shorn weave stripped broadcloths; ‘distressed’ leather; leather and cloth combination schemes; radical two-toned rear compartments-none of these appeared on the ‘production’ cars.”

1937 Two-window Berline by Judkins


“Woodwork trim follows the same general lines. Lincoln’s standard wood trim was perennially well executed from quality stock (unlike Packard, they never stooped to ‘wood decal applique’ on pressed metal!), and yet the effect remains quite tame alongside some of the custom jobs. And just as Judkins was the most adventurously fluent concerning special upholstering schemes, Willoughby & Co. were the pre-eminent craftsmen of trim wood within America’s custom coachbuilding industry. They did it entirely inhouse in Utica, rather than buying from Linden and Hayden as others did.”

So how much more did this extra distinction cost? In the first box below are comparisons of the prices for selected Lincolns:

In almost all cases, it required more money to purchase a custom than a factory body. Some of the above body styles were, by nature, more costly to produce, and thus would be more expensive regardless of who made them. But simply, if one wanted a custom, it came at a higher price. And how well did the customs hold their value? From the November, 1935 Red Book Used Car Market Report, these card had the wholesale values shown in the second box [above].

The percentages make it appear the 1929 customs held their value. A ’29 Willoughby limo was worth 1.0% of its original cost and a ‘29 factory limo, 1.2%. But think of it this way: the buyer had to spend $900 more for a Willoughby but it was worth no more at trade-in time. And at almost three years of age the customs clearly did not hold their value. (Perhaps the cost striking aspect of these prices is how poorly luxury cars held their value back then. Even if one considers a 20% dealer markup, a ‘29 Willoughby limo would only have been $78 retail. To put this in perspective, imagine today (2002) being able to buy a 1995 Town Car, that cost $40,000 new, for a mere $500. Another feature of note: of the various body styles listed here, the one that had the best (or least unfavorable) depreciation was the factory 5-passenger sedan. Limousines and open cars were, for the vast majority of people, not practical for daily transportation. Thus they lost a greater percent of their original cost.)

And how has their value faired today? In the third box below and to the left are the values for the above cars from the 2001 Cars & Parts Price Guide, in #1 condition:

There appears to be a bit of an edge to the customs. But perhaps more revealing than anything else about the prices today, is the high value placed on open cars.

Edsel Ford had been a great sponsor of catalog custom cars and he retained a great passion for them all the way to the end of production of Lincoln’s super-luxury cars in 1939. As such, Lincoln offered far more custom models in a given year than all other luxury car makes, save Duesenberg. (That make did not produce any of its own bodies; all were done by custom firms.) In almost any year, fully two-thirds of the models Lincoln displayed in its catalogue were customs. And during the final three years of K production (1937-39), 17 of the 21 models offered each year were customs.

The effects of the Depression on custom builders were devastating. The demand for such cars was small by the mid-’30’s  and virtually non-existent by the end of that decade.

This then, was a custom body by Lincoln. Built to the highest quality standard, it embodied distinction and individuality, and offered the luxury car purchaser the opportunity for personal expression with a minimum of effort.

Alongside are the primary custom body manufacturers utilized by Lincoln from 1921-39. Listed are the location of the company, the years in which they made bodies for Lincoln, the number of series custom cars they produced for Lincoln, and the last year in which they were in business.


Dearborn, Michigan Police Department

Dearborn, Michigan Police Department


Originally published in the Third Quarter 1981 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 145).

The happiest Police Department in the country is Dearborn, Michigan. They ride around in their 25 Lincolns, 1981 Town Cars or Mark VIs.

Sticker prices on these Lincolns are $15,000 to $18,000, but they are being leased for $1 each per year. In addition, the Ford Motor Company handles all services on the restraint system and repairs any breakdowns, promptly.

Some of these Lincolns are used for surveillance, but most are marked and rigged with such familiar police car equipment as flashers, sirens, prisoner restraints and emergency gear.

Louis B. Ross, Executive Vice-President, Product Development Group for Ford’s North American Automotive Operations, noted that “Ford believes this program will provide real-world experience of our lastest inflatable-restraint design which could contribute to the development of future passive restraint systems.”

The air-bags being tested are fully operational and have been under development for four years. Ford representatives began working with the Dearborn Police Department a year prior to develop this experimental program.

It is estimated that each of the Lincoln squad cars will roll up between 50,000 and 75,000 miles in the coming year. Drivers make entries in log books provided by the company to assist Ford engineers in obtaining needed data during the regularly scheduled inspections.

Already there is valuable test data. Police Chief John T. Connolly reports that the Lincolns average 10.5 miles per gallon, compared to 8 miles per gallon with the previous Ford LTDs. “We feel that this is pretty good economy when you figure how tough traffic patrol is on any car. There’s a lot of round-the-clock driving in heavy traffic, a lot of idling time and a lot of quick starts.”

The Dearborn Police are the only ones in the country enjoying such luxury. But, this isn’t the first. Details are not known, but they have a picture of a 1932 Lincoln being used by their predecessors.


Lincoln Continental Owners Club Members

That luxurious 1981 Lincoln behind you as you drive in Dearborn
might not be another member following you to the Eastern National Meet.