My Two Lipstick 1976 Continental Mark IVs

My Two Lipstick 1976 Continental Mark IVs

Above:  Both of Sherman Lovegren’s Lipstick Mark IVs in front of his home in Fresno, California.

My Two Lipstick 1976 Continental Mark IVs

by Sherman Lovegren, Fresno, California

Originally published in the September-October 2002 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 248).

To this day I do not know how many Lipsticks were built. They were only built in 1976. I believe there were more white ones built than red ones. What identified the Lipstick was the white leather seats with the red striping. The white with red striping was carried over to the door panels. The instrument panel was red and carpeting was red and the seat belts were red. No other Mark IVs had an interior like this. The exterior was either white with red molding on the sides or red with white molding on the sides. The shade of red, Lipstick, was used only on the Lipsticks, but the shade of white was common to all Mark IVs. And the Lipsticks did not have padding on the hump on the trunk. The Lipsticks had two choices for the top. One was called Cayman; it looked like alligator skin. The other looked just like a normal padded top. These padded tops covered only the rear portion of the roof. You could get the padded top in either a red or a white. You could get a red Lipstick with either a red or white top, or a white Lipstick with a white or red top. The most luxurious carpet is not in the Lipstick. The most luxurious carpet was found in the Silver Series.

I bought the first Lipstick Mark IV in June, 1999, and it won a Ford Trophy at the Western National Meet in Irvine, California, that same year. That car was driven right to my door. The owner knew I was in the Lincoln club, and he brought the car right to my house and asked me what he should do with the automobile. He said his father, who was the original owner, had passed away. He knew it was an unusual car with only 17,000 miles. He wanted to know what the car was worth and how and where to sell it. As it turned out, I bought the car from this gentleman.

After I bought the car, I did some research through the Lincoln Archives. I never did find out how many Lipstick models were built, I think somewhere between 50 and 500. But I found out that only two were built like this one, that is without the moldings on the side. That is, the moldings that run the entire length of the car including up and over the wheel wells and across the doors. Through my research from Lincoln Archives, I learned that these two cars were not ordered this way. They didn’t have enough moldings in production to do a complete buildout, so instead of stopping production, these two cars went off the assembly line without the moldings. I do not know what happened to the other car.

The original owner of this car was from Michigan. He was a hockey player. He even had his logo on the license plate. It had MTK 10. MTK was his initial and 10 was his hockey team number on his back. I found out from the son that his father and mother loved that car. But they did not buy the car in Michigan. When the son was young the family moved to Stockton, California. The car was delivered new to Showroom Lincoln-Mercury in Modesto. I have been in that dealership many times. This car was in that dealership for quite a long period of time. It didn’t sell. Of course, red wasn’t a popular color. Finally, the dealer got a little nervous about it and decided he would have to do something to sell the car. He went down and had these Alliance spoke wheels put on it. That was quite a glamorous looking wheel.

After these wheels were put on the car, it brought enough attention that this fellow bought the car. Both he and his wife were school teachers in Stockton. The only time that Mark IV was driven was on weekends when it wasn’t raining. They would drive it to San Francisco for lunch or dinner or whatever. They lived in a condo right across from the school; they also had a second car, so basically the Lipstick Mark IV didn’t have to go anywhere. I bought the car from the son and the other. When I bought the car it was impeccable. I didn’t have to do anything except detail it. We had it in some local concours shows here in the valley. Wherever that car went, it drew a lot of attention. I did not leave the Alliance wire wheels on the car. I had Geoff Weiner get me a set of factory dish wheels. I kept the original tires on these wheels.

Not long after I returned from the LCOC meet in Irvine, Geoff Weiner called me and said, “Sherman, I had my Hemmings Motor News out, and there is a red Mark IV, it must be a Lipstick.” I said it must be a Lipstick unless it has been repainted. Geoff said it couldn’t be repainted, it only had 10,000 miles on it. Geoff was interested in buying the car himself, but he told me to call the seller. The car was in Kansas City, Kansas. I called there the day after Thanksgiving, 1999. The owner told me that the car at noon and I was at his house on a had been in the family since new. He said that the car was like brand new. I asked if he would send me some pictures of the car, and he did. I got the pictures the next day. I called Geoff and said I was looking at my Lipstick and looking at the pictures of the Lipstick in Kansas, and I told Geoff that it looked like the same car. I knew then it was definitely a Lipstick, however the one in Kansas had a moonroof, as well as the side moldings.

The weather was kind of nasty that day. I called this gentleman in Kansas back and said I had received his pictures. I told him I was willing to pay what he was asking for the car. I wanted to secure the car by making a deposit. The seller said the weather in Kansas was terrible, and when the weather was better in the spring to come back and get the car. That made me very nervous. I told him I had just purchased a big diesel motor home, and I had a trailer, and I said when there is a break in the weather I would be back to see him, but I would call before I came.

As it turned out, I left here on a Sunday at noon and I was at his house on a Tuesday morning. I looked at the automobile and I couldn’t believe it. The front seat still had the plastic covers on it, which the dealer put on the day the car was delivered. The purchaser of the car said he didn’t want anything to touch those white leather seats. The back seat had never been sat in. The wrappers for the seat belts in back had never been removed. The car was even more than I had anticipated. So I brought the car home and did a lot of detailing to it, especially under the car.

I took the car to several local shows. It won Best of Show at the concours and at Fresno State College. The only LCOC meet I took the car to was the 2001 Mid-America National Meet in Houston where it won a Lincoln Trophy. Geoff Weiner and I talked about that car many times and Geoff said, “I sure wish I had bought that car.” I think a lot of Geoff, and I told him that when the time comes I would sell him the car for what I had in it, and I would donate the time that I put into it. At Houston, there were some people who were very serous in wanting to buy the car, but in Houston I received a call from Geoff in Perris, California, who said be sure and bring the car by his shop on the way home. So I told these people: “I’m sorry, but the car is sold.” On the way home, I left the car with Geoff and Laura and it now has a good home.

What happened to the first Lipstick was that I had it on display at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. It was there just a very few days and one of the investors at the Imperial Palace bought the car. His daughter had a Christmas party or something going on in Peoria, Illinois. She asked her parents if they could ship it back so they could use it in the Christmas parade. The last I head the car is still back there.

We have had both of these Lipstick cars in local shows together. When you have one Lipstick in a show you get attention, but when you have two sitting side by side it creates even more attention. Another amazing thing is how close the serial numbers of these two cars are. They were built only a few days apart.


Lincolns on Route 66

Lincolns on Route 66

Lincolns on Route 66
Williams, Arizona to the Colorado River, where the Mother Road is still very much alive.

by Tim Howley

Originally published in the July-August 2001 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 241).

Jerry James’ 1966 Lincoln Coupe at a ’50s nostalgia roadside in Williams, Arizona.

This is our second installment of Lincoln journeys on the mother of all roads. Last year, just after the Western National Meet in Scottsdale, Arizona new member Jerry James, Mesa, Arizona purchased a 1966 Lincoln Continental coupe from ?Richard Cronkhite. He has since put about 10,000 miles on the car and reports “I have enjoyed every inch.” Jerry and friend Gini  Tomas have traveled through New Mexico, Mexico, Utah and a lot of Arizona. Now Jerry shares his photos taken on old sections of Route 66 in Arizona. Our Route 66 journey with Jerry and Gini starts at Williams, Arizona, 45 miles west of Flagstaff. This was once the Gateway to the Grand Canyon” which is only 60 miles to the north. A l l / 2 mile stretch of the Mother Road runs right through the center of town which still abounds in Route 66 era motels, cafes and even a few old  time gas stations. Williams was the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by the Interstate (October 13, 1984) which explains why so many of the old roadsides still survive here. At the time the bureaucrats did everything to erase Route 66 from here to the California border but the old road refused to die. Now, 17 years later, Williams remains one of the best preserved sections of Route 66 anywhere from Chicago to Santa Monica. While mostly paved over by Interstate 40 for the first 25 miles west of Williams, Route 66 still reaches, nearly untouched by time, from 14 miles east of Seligman through Peach Springs, Truxton, Crozier Canyon, Valentine, Hackberry, Walapai, Kingman, Oatman, and Topack. This is a distance of 170 miles. Through the efforts of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, Historic Route 66 markers now leave no doubt in the motorist’s mind that this is a major part of the real Route 66.

Check out that cool pink and white 1955 Ford Crown Victoria parked next to James’ Lincoln Continental in Williams.


Seligman is one of the most famous and best preserved of all Route 66 towns. While I have not passed through here in several years, I am told that many deserted gas stations can be found, and very much alive motels and cafes still thrive here. This is the hometown of Angel Delgadillo, town barber who did so much a few years ago to keep Route 66 alive in this vicinity. He has operated a barbershop here since 1950 and before that his dad operated a barbershop at the same location. He has converted the town pool hall into a Route 66 museum and gift shop. His brother Juan operates the Snowcap Drive-In, another Route 66 treat. When Seligman was bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1978 business dried up in all the old towns. It was the Delgadillos who organized efforts to promote the town and the entire area as old Route 66 tourist attractions. The old Harvey House which once was the largest and busiest restaurant in Seligman still stands, although I assume it is now deserted. Seligman is the gateway to once upon a time Route 66 which ambles on west towards California. The road here should be traveled as slowly as the Joad’s jalopy in The Grapes of Wrath because there is much to see. You way want to pull off the road at the Grand Canyon Caverns, an attraction second only to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Around Peach Springs the road passes through the Haulapai Indian Reservation. Moving westward you will soon come upon Truxton which was established in 1951 to take advantage of a proposed railhead leading to the Grand Canyon. Like a lot of stops on Route 66 things planned never came to be but the town hangs on. 50 years ago Route 66 traffic was so busy through Truxton that traffic jams were commonplace and roadside business sprang up like tumbleweeds. The Frontier Cafe here is still humming with some of the best Route 66 meals in the area.

Keep on moving to Crozier Canyon and then Valentine where the last stretch of Route 66 in Arizona was paved in 1937. The next stop is Hackenberry, once a booming silver mining town, and now just a little better than a ghost town, but rich with Route 66 nostalgia. From here the road runs through Kingman which was lucky enough to remain near the Interstate so it has not exactly been frozen in time, but there are some old roadsides hereabouts. One is the Beale Hotel which was once host to movie stars and other illuminaries. Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh checked in here in July, 1928 when they stopped in Kingman to inaugurate a new 48-hour air mail service between Los Angeles and New York. Kingman is also the headquarters of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona located in an old Packard dealership on Andy Devine Boulevard, yes he once lived here. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married here in 1939. Don’t miss the Route 66 Distillery and its famous variety of Route 66 burgers and old highway artifacts.

Kingman to Topack on the Colorado River was once the roughest stretch on all of Route 66. In 1953 the old road was replaced by a new alignment that went south of the Black Mountains and was essentially the path of 1-40 today. For those adventurous enough the old road remains. It climbs precariously to Oatman, then descends in wiggles and winds to Topack. The entire area within miles of Oatman, an old mining town, is all ups and downs through the hills, easterners would call them mountains. You may want to bypass Oatman and take Interstate 40 directly from Kingman to Topack. But for the true Route 66 lover, Oatman is filled with old Route 66 treasures. (Gable and Lombard honeymooned here.) Topack is the last Arizona town before California where 60 odd years ago the Joads came to their first sight of the Land of Milk and Honey. That’s another Route 66 story for another day.

Jerry did not write this Route 66 saga. This story comes from my own Route 66 files. John and Joanne Lower are sending me much Route 66 material. Jerry has sent us a report that will soon appear in our Lincoln Driver’s column.

Parked in front of a deserted service station in or near Truxton.

In busy downtown Hackenberry, note the ’50s Corvette in the background.

Route 66 ruins on the outskirts of Hackenberry.

Edsel Ford’s ’40 Continental

Edsel Ford’s ’40 Continental

by Dave Cole

Originally published in the Summer 1980 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 141).

Certainly, every Lincoln Continental owner knows how that fine motor car got its start. The story of how Edsel Ford, the then president of the Ford Motor Company, commissioned his designers to build him a special convertible coupe based on the finest European designs of the late 1930s, which resulted in the first Lincoln Continental Cabriolet of 1939, has been retold countless times in the pages of this magazine over the last twentyfive years. Also, it is fairly well known among Continentalists that Edsel Ford owned a 1941 Continental Cabriolet at the time of his death in 1943, and that that car is now on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But it is virtually unrecognized that Edsel Ford also owned, for probably a year or so, one of the early 1940 Continental Cabriolets. The Lincoln assembly plant record cards on file at the Ford archives do, however, include a card that describes Edsel’s second Continental. Let’s take a look at it and see just what information that card contains.

There’s no mistake about whose car it was. Right across the top of the card it says “Shipped to Mr. Edsel B. Ford” of the “Home Office.” The serial number is H-92969, and the body number is 06H56-20, the twentieth 1940 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet started. Production on these cars did not commence until December 13, 1939, and Edsel’s ’40 convertible rolled off the assembly line a couple of weeks later, on December 28,1939.

Youll remember the story about how the first Continental, the ’39, was shipped upon completion to Edsel Ford’s winter vacation home in Florida for his use there, and how his neighbors’ enthusiastic response to the beautifully styled Lincoln-Zephyr convertible prompted Ford to add the car to Lincoln’s production offerings for 1940. On the card detailing the particulars of Edsel’s ’40, you’ll see that this car, too, was shipped to Florida for Mr. Ford’s use there, during his 1940 winter vacation. Note the penned notation in the middle of the card, “800277—Jacksonville. This billing for purpose of shipping car to Florida only, 2-22-40.” Jacksonville, of course, was the district office that served all of Florida at that time. But that shipping date came nearly two months after the car was completed. Presumably, Edsel had had at least six weeks to enjoy the new ’40 convertible around Dearborn before the car was shipped off to Florida, but the surviving records are not clear on that point.

While the assembly record card gives no evidence that this ’40 convertible was structurally any different from the others built at about the same time, and lists only a radio and white sidewall Firestone tires as accessories, it does note that the paint and upholstery were all specially selected. In all probability, Edsel Ford himself picked them out.

The car was painted in Benton Gray, the only ’40 convertible to be finished in that shade. Edsel Ford often chose a shade of gray for his personal cars. Surviving records indicate that his ’39 Continental was done in Eagle Gray, and his ’41 convertible now in the Ford Museum was also finished in gray; Ditz. Pewter gray metallic lacquer. Benton Gray, the color used on the ’40, had been used by Ford before, however; it is the same shade as was used on the 1936 Lincoln-Zephyr dashboard and window mouldings—a medium metallic gray with just a touch of red and maroon in it, according to the paint formula. It appears that the dashboard of Edsel’s ’40 was also finished in Benton Gray, like the body of the car, instead of the usual Metallic Mahogany.

The upholstery in Edsel’s ’40 is noted as having been a combination of tan leather and a special Bedford cord material with the code number 2-1890. The leather was the stock tan color used in other ’40 Continentals, but the whipcord was darker than the customarily used Z-160 cord, more of a taupe color, and with wider whales. The usual whipcord used in Continentals had 9V2 ribs to the inch, while the special 2-1890 material used in Edsel’s car had 8 ribs to the inch. The top  was likewise a special material, Jonartz #5490, about which we have not been able to find any information. However, given Edsel’s impeccable taste, it would seem likely that Jonartz #5490 would have been a taupe or gray color, harmonizing with the other colors used on the car.

While no early history of this car survives, it seems likely that Mr. Ford kept the ’40 convertible for no more than a year. In all probability, he disposed of it when he took delivery of his ’41 Continental Cabriolet. One thing is certain, however; Edsel Ford’s ’40 Continental still survives! The intervening forty years have been unkind to it, but it is still in existence, and will be restored, according to its present owner, to the same specifications as when Edsel Ford first took delivery of it.

Back in 1973, Tom Akins, who runs an auto restoration service in Uhrichsville, Ohio, wrote to me, as the historian for the ’40 Continentals, and described a partially customized, badly deteriorated ’40 Cabriolet that he was trying to buy. The serial number was H-92969; the body number, 06H56-20.1 wrote back and said, “Aha, you’ve found Edsel Ford’s own personal car, have you?” and followed up with the particulars on the car as given in the records. As you might expect, Tom was thrilled to learn that the car he was seeking was of such historical significance, but he asked that no mention be made of his intended purchase until the deal was firmed up. In due time, the deal was consummated, and Tom began the long search for all the parts that will be needed to put the car back in shape. Last we heard, nearly everything was at hand, and all that was lacking was the time necessary for the restoration.

Tom sent the pictures which you see here, showing Edsel’s ’40 in the condition in which he found it. The V-12 is missing, but the remainder of the running gear is all strictly 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr, just as it should be. The body work, on the other hand, has suffered extensive modification, and even though the customizing was never fully completed, it will take a lot of time and effort to undo it all. All four fenders were leaded to the body, the rear deck was cut down and the lid leaded shut, and all trim was removed. The top bows were all missing, removed when the body was altered, and lost. Then to make matters worse, the car was left uncovered out in the open for about fifteen years, so the rust is extensive throughout the body—floor ready to cave in, and the rocker panels missing altogether. Tom is an avid Lincoln collector, however, and he has managed to gather the parts that it takes to put the car aright. It won’t be easy, but one of these days this 1940 Lincoln Continental will show up at an Eastern National Meet, looking just like it did when Edsel Ford took delivery on it back in the winter of 1940.

Designing the Continental Mark VII

Designing the Continental Mark VII

Above Image:  The Concept 100 Show Car was very close to the Mark VII but lacked any evidence of a centerpost.

Designing the Continental Mark VII

by Tim Howley

Originally published in the July-August 2001 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 241).

The Mark VII design originated with the Concept 90 show car done in the late ‘70s and introduced on the show circuit in 1981. This was followed by the very similar Concept 100 car. While retaining a recognizable Continental grille, this car was extremely aerodynamic and added the fluted side trim of the Mercedes. There were also styling cues from the Boxer Ferrari 365GT4/BB and BB512. The Concept 90 was very close to the Mark VII introduced two years later right down to the flush headlights, wheel covers and flush windows, It is hard to imagine that Ford would give away most of the Mark VII’s styling in a show car, but at the time Ford was trying to get the public accustomed to the Mark VII’s radically new styling. About the only difference between the Concept 90 and the Mark VII was that the earlier did not have a “B” pillar, that is it was a true hardtop.

Originally the move to the Mark VII was called Project 198X, and the idea was to develop a whole group of American cars in a European tradition with emphasis on technology, driveability and aerodynamics. Out of this Project 198X came the Thunderbird, Tempo/Topaz and finally the Mark VII. After the Concept 90 and Concept 100 there were two Mark VII designs, one with sealed beam headlamps, and the other with the body flush aero headlamps that became a Ford first. This was a very expensive way to go, but it had to be done because until May, 1983 the government did not permit the new type of headlamps.

Prior to Project 198X Ford had its aerodynamic Probe futuristic cars, but did not take aerodynamics very seriously. From the Continental Mark III through Mark VI Ford management was sold on the boxy look in luxury vehicles. But the luxury market was changing with Mercedes and BMW who were offering functional and extremely driveable aerodynamic cars. Meanwhile Ford management resisted change. Then Ford management changed to a younger group with overseas experience. This new management was much more willing to accept the new styling themes.

In an interview with Car Design magazine in 1983 Jack Telnack stated, “It is always difficult to sell a revolutionary concept, particularly in this town (Detroit) where management is surrounded by other Detroit products. My theory is that Ford has always been most successful when we didn’t follow anybody…when we went off in our own direction…provided we had good reasons for doing so.

A Mark VII type of car was first designed in 1979, even before the very square and formal Continental Mark VI was introduced. The original designers of the Mark VII were director Bob Zokas, executive designer John Aiken and design manager Allen Ornes all working under Jack Telnack, Chief Design Executive for Ford Motor Co. Telnack returned from Europe in 1977 and even before then all Ford products in Europe were wind tunnel tested.

In the late ‘70s Ford built a wind tunnel testing facility in Marietta, Georgia. Their first real aero effort in the U.S. was the ’79 Mustang.

You might say that the Mark VII was an aerodynamic anomaly because of its traditional Continental grille and hump on the decklid. There is little doubt that these features fought aerodynamics. Without them the coefficient of drag would have been lower than .38. But these were important styling cues that management felt had to be retained, especially when going through a radical styling change. Much better aero could have been obtained with no grille at all, with a completely smooth front end and the air intake below the bumper. But such a front end would have totally lacked Mark identity.

Introduced in 1983 as a 1984 model the Mark VII was never intended to stay in production for nine model years. In fact, the Mark VIII was already well along the way at the time the Mark VII was introduced. In late 1988 development was started on what might be called a Mark VII stage two. This car would have softened the front and rear end appearance without eliminating the Continental grille or decklid hump. Then mysteriously the whole project was scrapped. The Mark VII would stand in its original form until an entirely new 1993 Mark VIII could be introduced in mid 1992.

An Interview with Gordy Jensen on ’60s Lincoln Continentals

An Interview with Gordy Jensen on ’60s Lincoln Continentals

An Interview with Gordy Jensen on ’60s Lincoln Continentals

by Tim Howley and Doug Mattix

Originally published in the May-June 2001 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 240).

In June, 2000 Tim Howley and Doug Mattix visited Gordy Jensen at his home in Bloomington, Minnesota. Gordy has won 18 major awards in LCOC with his ‘60s Lincoln Continentals. In 2000 his 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible won the L. Dale Schaeffer Trophy and his 1961 Lincoln Continental sedan won an Emeritus Award at the Western National Meet in Scottsdale, Arizona. Then his 1961 convertible went on to win the Elliston H. Bell Founder’s Trophy at the Millennium Meet in St. Louis, Missouri. That car is pictured on this issue’s front cover parading through Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Here is the interview, Gordy’s story as he told it to Tim and Doug.

Gordy Jensen with his two yellow ’61s at the 2000 Western National Meet in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Question: When and how did you get into Lincolns?
Jensen: I remember my father driving up in a red 1962 sedan that he owned new. I thought that was a great car. At that time I was about seven years old, old enough to start appreciating these kinds of things. He drove that car all over the Western Canadian provinces, seeing customers. He drove it as fast as it would go. He needed a car that could suck up the bumps and still go at 110 miles an hour because it was a long distance between stops. We also rode up and back in that car to our lake cabin, which was about 210 miles away. He pretty much wore that car out, and then he traded it off in 1967 for a green 1967 sedan which I still have. I recently restored it, and we received a Ford Trophy for it in 1999 in Ellenville, New York. Years ago, I took my driver’s test in that car.

Gordy Jensen’s yellow ’61 sedan and convertible at the 2000 Western National Meet in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Question: So when did you start collecting and restoring?
Jensen: Well, I started when my dad sold me that car in the early ‘80s. I think he sold it to me for something like $200. It was my car to drive around. And I didn’t have any money to collect cars at that time. In fact, I never even thought much about other people who were into this kind of car. But in the early ‘80s I went to New York. I started making a few bucks. I started buying copies of Hemmings Motor News. I could look at the Lincoln section and say wow, all these cars for sale. Then I found out about the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club, and I joined in the mid ‘80s. I then I started buying cars because of the job I had. I put on finance seminars all around the country, especially in California, Texas and Seattle. Each time I would go to one of these areas, where the cars weren’t rusty, I would often find a car I wanted and often times buy it. When I bought a car I would get a weekend or a few days off, and I would fly there and drive it home. I drove many cars home from all over the country.

This is the way I bought this yellow ‘61 convertible that I restored. I probably shouldn’t have bought that car because I paid too much for it, $4,500, and it was really rough, but not rusty. It hadn’t been driven in five years. It was in the Spokane, Washington area, and somebody had painted it orange with a paint brush and used it as a goofy car in a Halloween parade. The tires were flat. I flew out there and the owner put on some tires that held air, and I gassed it up to leave late one night in January. Can you believe that? I noticed as I was filling up at Spokane, Washington that the gas was running out of the tank. This was at about 10 p.m. that night in the winter, and I was going to drive this car back to Minnesota, which is quite a drive. I hoped that the leak was at the top of the gas tank or in the neck. I decided to watch the gauge, and if the gauge stopped dropping quickly after 50 miles or so then I would know that the leak was in the top; this turned out to be the case. So I ended up driving it back. On my way back I got into a parking lot in eastern Montana late the first night. I got onto a sheet of ice and I could not stop the car and I hit a pickup truck in the parking lot.

The Jensen family at home in Minnesota with the ’67 Sedan.

I was probably going a half a mile an hour. It was a sheet of glare ice in a dead end parking lot and every space was full. I could not stop that car. It just slid in and hit a pickup, just a tiny little mark. It was about 12:15 a.m. I didn’t want to wake the owner, so I went to the motel and told them to give a note to the owner asking him to call me when he came to pay for his room in the morning. Anyway, he called me and came out and looked at the dent and said, “Ah, don’t worry about it, it’s a company car, it’s a tiny dent, thanks for telling me,” and he drove away. So I drove the car home. On the way, most of the exhaust fell off and I would check the gas and fill the oil. The oil would be off the stick every time I stopped, and the car wouldn’t go more than 55 miles an hour. It didn’t have the guts to go any faster. In addition, the car’s heater didn’t work so I had to wear my hat and gloves. Finally I did get it back to the Twin Cities, and it took me about 10 years to get to restoring this car. We just got it done a couple of years ago.

Question, what was your first LCOC show and car?
Jensen: 1990 in Indianapolis. It was a green 1967 convertible. It was a great car and everything worked on it, except when I went to the judging the thing just threw up on me. The top wouldn’t go down, the trunk lid wouldn’t go back. Ron Baker was there to tweak it and talk it down, and it still wouldn’t do it. But the next show we went to in that car we won the Elliston Bell Trophy. That was the Eastern National Meet at Shawnee on the Delaware, Pennsylvania in 1990. We had never won a major award before and we got the Bell Trophy. I couldn’t believe that. That was a shock.

Question. What have you learned over the years about restoring these cars, especially the convertibles?
Jensen: Well, you don’t want to start with a rusty car. I think I have done my last rusty car. Actually, I do have one that has some rust in it that I might attempt. But it would be a car that I would totally strip and totally dip the whole shell in a tank. I’ve never done that before. You have to be careful when you do that because you can strip some of the protective coatings on the metal in places that you don’t realize will be problems later. Down the road you may open that area to corrosion. The rust on this car (also a ‘61 convertible) is from age and exposure to the elements. It’s not rust from road salt. Rust from road salt is just terrible.

Especially in these rusty unibody cars, you just don’t want to get into them. I suppose in 50 to 100 years when people are desperate to find a shell to begin with they’ll figure out a way to bring those cars back, but today to go after and start with a rusty car, I think is a mistake.

Question: Do you believe in sedans as donor cars?
Jensen: I don’t like to tell people that because I love the sedans. But money wise it is efficient to buy a reasonably good sedan, good trim, options, especially the little pot metal pieces that you don’t have to replate, and use it as a donor car for a convertible. It’s too bad but that’s the way it is. A lot of the parts that everybody out there is buying, they don’t realize it but they are off a donor sedan.

Gordy’s father’s 1967 Lincoln Continental sedan was his first car.

Question: In addition to your house, where do you keep all of your cars.
Jensen: I have them at the cabin at the lake, at the office, anyplace that I can find to stash them There are probably 16 of them at Baker’s Auto, now Steve Ouellette’s place. Some I bought out east and never brought them back here, they are stripped out for me at Steve’s. Also, if you’re going to store cars you must have good dehumidified, temperature controlled space. Up here in the north country, with the weather changes, you have to worry about stored cars’ temperatures getting below the dew point inside the building because it will coat both the inside and the outside of the metal with  condensation. Of particular concern are the rib areas of the hood and the trunk lid, especially in the convertible trunk lid. Example: the ‘64-65 trunk lid. It is very difficult to switch over a sedan trunk lid into a convertible trunk lid for ‘64-65. That’s a big, big job. So the ‘64-65 convertible trunk lids are probably the most rare and valuable ones, and you don’t want them to get condensation in the ribs. I think when they made them they didn’t put any protective coating on the metal on the inside of the ribs. All of them will eventually rust out if you don’t dip them inside of the ribs. We pour a metal etching primer in the ribs and then we slosh the trunk lid and the hood so that the primer seals all the nooks and crannies in the ribs. When we are done the trunk lid is better than new.

We have our cars up at our lake in northwestern Minnesota. We have a 50 by 56 foot garage for the nice cars that are finished. It’s temperature controlled, dehumidified, and has a security system. I have another area that’s about the same size that’s not temperature controlled. It’s pretty nice storage for rougher cars and parts. Across the lake I bought a farm with a great big tin shed. It was 45 by 80 feet and I made it into 60 by 80 feet. It has a dirt floor. That’s where I store the parts cars and some restorable cars. The farm has a barn that is full of cars. In addition, some cars are sitting outside which I don’t want to do but I have yet to find a place for them.

Question: How do you feel about storing cars in barns?
Jensen: A barn is not that good for storage. I wouldn’t store a good car in a barn. If you need to, make sure that the building is well ventilated. What you don’t want is a closed in space that’s damp all the time. As the temperature goes up and down it remains damp and there’s constant condensation on the cars. But if it dries out quickly it’s not quite so bad for storage. I’ve found that cars that I’ve stored in the tin garage that has the dirt floor have been fairly well preserved because the building has fairly good ventilation The cars do get wet but they dry quickly. The sun is another killer of cars. Being out in the sun is not good either. The sun heats up the sheet metal and it wrecks the wiring by making the wires brittle.

Another problem that’s coming on with these ‘60s convertibles is that all the wiring is getting old and brittle. The moving wires are the biggest potential problem, like the wiring assemblies on trunk lids and tops. If you start breaking old wires you may have to dig them out of a restored car. It’s a big job to go retrace a broken wire. This ‘61 convertible is the first car where we took the entire master wiring harness out and had it rewired front to back. It was about $5,000 to do all of the wiring, but it needed to be done. The car had spent a lot of time outside and the wiring became brittle. I probably could have bought a better car for less money. The way I restore a car is I take it all apart, down to nothing. I figure if I buy a nice $20,000 car I will take it all the way down to the same point as I would a solid $3,000 car. So why not save $17,000 and start with the solid $3,000 car? You must replace the interior and redo the mechanical anyway. I believe that in the way WE restore cars, the metal will last longer than the metal of an extremely low mileage original car.

Question: Why do you limit yourself to the ‘60s unibody cars?
Jensen: It’s a learning curve. The more cars you do of the same type the easier it is. I really like the cars of the ‘50s, particularly the 1958-59 and ‘60. I really would like to get one of these someday, but I don’t know if I want to restore one because that would be a new learning curve, a new game. I’m getting too old; I’m 45 now.

Question: How come you haven’t bought an early car, like a ‘20s or ‘30s Classic, or a Lincoln-Zephyr or an early Lincoln Continental V-12?
Jensen: Again to me it’s a learning curve. The problems with restoring those cars are a lot different. I understand it’s more of a search for parts, but I would guess that the electrical systems are a lot easier because they’re simpler, and there’s not a lot of options. I like the ‘60s for their their classic lines, especially the earlier cars, 1961 to 1965. I think they’re going to be worth a lot of money someday when people find out that the complicated top systems are very reliable when the entire system is rebuilt from front to back. Most people fix only the part of the system that fails when that part fails. Then they use the car until the next part of the top ; then fix that part…and so on. The result is that buyers at auctions have heard horror stories about top systems and won’t pay a high price for these cars. My restored cars very rarely have top failures, and when they do the failure is minor.

In addition, I believe a real classic car is one where people in 100 years will like the car. The ‘60s Lincolns are that type of car. Kids 15 years old putting groceries in my ‘63 convertible at the grocery store say, “WOW, your car is cool.” They are not that interested in the ‘50s Chevy s. The people who like ‘50s Chevys are people who admired those cars when they were young.

Question: How many people do you have working for you directly?
Jensen: There isn’t anybody that’s full time for me. That’s one of my projects within the next year or two, I’d like to get my own shop. I have some guys who want to do it, I just have to come up with the money. I used to have Byron Bodie and Gary Arneson do all of my work, but Byron doesn’t do it anymore. He used to be a Vietnam helicopter pilot, and now he flies helicopters down in the Grand Canyon. Gary Arneson is probably the main guy here in Minneapolis now. He is an electrical and mechanical wizard, and he and Byron really know these cars. I would like to do something with Gary, get a garage and have four or five cars up on the rack. Of course, Steve at Baker’s Auto is always restoring one for me.

I bought eight cars from Hans Norberg, one of which was a ‘61 convertible that happened to be about five or six days ahead in production of the yellow ‘61 convertible. Remember I told you that I also have a ‘61 convertible that is just one serial number ahead of my yellow convertible. I looked in the LCOC Directory in the VIN numbers and I happened to see that Don Pepper in California had a ‘61 convertible that was one serial number ahead of mine. I called him, went to California and ended up buying the car and 12 others. He said I may not want this ‘61, it’s been hit pretty hard, but I said I had to have it if it is at all restorable. It is white with a red and white interior. The problem was that it was hit really hard in the left rear comer. I took it to the rack to straighten it, and the left rear was four inches to the right, four inches high, and three inches forward. I called it the accordion car. I sent it out to Richard Liana, and apparently he and the guy with the rack have straightened it. Richard is one of the best welders I have ever seen. He can fix just about any twisted wreck.

Editor’s Note: Gordy has some strange stories to tell. While hauling home a rose beige 1963 convertible the car caught fire. Gordy didn’t know how it happened since the hood was locked shut. The the interior burned out. He billed the insurance company more than he paid for the car, collected the money and he still has the car. (He convinced the insurance company he would have insured it for more than he paid for it.) Once he bought a car upside down from Don Pepper because the car had fallen off a fork lift. On another occasion he went up to one of his cars that was stored in a parking ramp only to find objects flying out the window of the 1966 sedan. Upon looking inside he found a street person living in the car, and he had been living in there for months.


Some Awards You’d Rather Now Win

Some Awards You’d Rather Now Win

Above Photo:  Kurt’s ’63 in tow at the Little Czech Bakery

Some Award’s You’d Rather Not Win

by Kurt Wetterling, Arlington, Texas

Originally published in the March-April 2001 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 239).
Reprinted from the Continental Gazette, newsletter of the North Texas Region.

The Salado event is one I look forward to every year, the 2000 one being no exception. My wife and kids seem to always have activities planned they can’t break themselves away from so it has become a tradition for my dad to make the drive  down with me, providing a perfect opportunity for male bonding while making the three hour or so drive south from the metroplex. As has been a custom for several years, a group of North Texas members meets in the Albertson’s parking lot in Duncanville and caravans to West, where we stop for fuel, Czech pastries and ‘car talk’. This year we had eight cars in the caravan, the oldest being Jake Fleming’s ‘41 Lincoln-Zephyr, the newest being Gary and Doris Watson’s ‘90s Town Car. The theory in caravaning has always been “safety in numbers”.

With the usual chit-chat out of the way we headed south on 1-35 by about 9:35 early Friday morning. We were pulling into the parking lot of The Little Czech Bakery a short hour and a half later, parking our Lincolns right in front of the bakery, drawing a crowd of admiring patrons. Everyone fueled their cars, had a cup or two of coffee and enjoyed the baked goods that West is famous for. Time came to head out for the last half of the journey and we all made our way out to our cars and headed out of the parking lot, one by one. Well, almost all of us. I was the last to join the line up because my ‘63 Lincoln Continental wouldn’t start. I didn’t worry too much about it at first because I saw Joe Hill and Jake Fleming still in the  parking lot so I knew I wouldn’t be stranded. Or at least I thought I wouldn’t be. Within minutes, both Joe and Jake drove off to join the rest of the group not realizing I was having mechanical difficulties and wasn’t with the group ahead. So much for “safety in numbers!”

Thinking that perhaps the carburetor had flooded attempting to start the car, my dad and I elected to let it sit, cool off and let any accumulated gas evaporate before we tried starting it again. Dad bought a can of aerosol starter to see if that would make a difference once it was time to try again. While getting spark, the car would still not turn over. Rather than waste any more time I headed out on foot across 1-35 to a Goodyear Service Center to see if a mechanic might be available. It turns out he had just gone to lunch, but they recommended I go to the local Ford dealer for help. He was located just a short couple of blocks further south on 1-35. I headed south on foot.

Once at the dealership, I explained my predicament and asked if they had someone they could send down to attempt to get the car started. “We don’t have any personnel we can send out, we’ll have to tow the car back to the dealership and try to work on it here”, they explained. “So be it” I answered, “but let’s not waste any time. I don’t want the rest of my group to get worried when I don’t show up.” (Like that was ever going to happen!) I hopped into the wrecker and went back to my stranded Lincoln and sun-burned dad.

Little time was wasted in getting the rear end of the Lincoln mounted on the tow bar and soon we were off, leaving a crowd of onlookers behind at the bakery who weren’t nearly as admiring as they had been two hours earlier. We headed south on the access road and began to turn into the driveway of the dealership, a narrow, uphill affair. About then the tow truck jumped up in the air and a loud banging sound went off behind us. Sadly, my ‘63 Continental convertible had fallen off the tow truck, the tow bar becoming lodged in the leaf springs of the car making it impossible to move. I jumped out of the wrecker (I know why they call them wreckers now) and looked down the driver’s side of the car looking for any signs of damage. Counting my blessings, I barely even felt the wrecker driver tug at my sleeve and pull me over to the passenger side of the car.

I wasn’t sure if it was my heart or a Czech pastry in my throat as I looked at the bent sheet metal, twisted rocker moldings and crumpled wheel well chrome from where the tow bar had jammed itself into the side of my car. All of a sudden the fact that it wouldn’t start two minutes earlier was a rather unimportant fact. The wrecker driver headed up the hill on foot to get help and notify the manager that he might want to make himself available. Shortly, a crew of men showed up with hydraulic jacks, etc. and began the process of surgically removing the tow bar from my undercarriage while the wrecker driver began searching through the paper for help wanted ads. I sat on the curb and pondered what I had done to anger the car show gods in such a way that they would show me such disfavor. In the short span of less than two hours I had encountered mechanical difficulties, been abandoned by the rest of my entire group and seen my car subjected to the worst damage I had seen since the engine caught fire on my way home from purchasing the car six years ago.

Finally the car was dislodged from the wrecker and was on its way to the service bay. I was on my way to the manager’s office. “I sure am sorry,” he said. Somehow I didn’t sense the passion in his voice I had hoped for. (I was thinking more along the lines of an offer from him to take his own life as a token of the dealership’s undying sorrow and regret of the pain they had caused. Okay, so I over-reacted at first.) “We don’t have a body shop” he replied. “What do you mean, you don’t have a body shop. You’re a Ford dealer. What happens when someone buys a new Ford and it gets wrecked?” “We take it to the Chevy dealer to be fixed” he admitted. “Well, get in your car and I’ll follow you to the Chevy dealer. I’m not leaving this town without an estimate of what it is going to cost to repair this car.”

And off we went. Him in his Ford, my dad and I in my Lincoln to see what the Chevy dealer’s estimate would be to fix the car that the wrecker had dumped in the driveway. Once there, I was instructed to pull it up on a lift so that the  undercarriage could be inspected for damage. In attempting to do so… the car wouldn’t start. After repeated attempts, I got out of the car and suggested that the service manager get a couple of his highly trained staff over to the Chevy dealer to start the car they had just fixed so that I could get an estimate of the body damage and be on my way. You can imagine the crowd of Chevy repairmen who gathered around to watch as the Ford crew went to work on my Lincoln. I’ll leave the comments that went back and forth to your imagination.

Again, they got it started. Up on the rack it went. Damage was confined to body work, the undercarriage came out of the deal unscathed. A written estimate was worked up and handed to me along with the business card of the manager. “I want something more than just your card”, I told him. “We’ve been here for 25 years” he reassured me. “I’ve only been here two hours, and it hasn’t been all that pleasant. Give me something in writing.” He wrote on the back of the estimate that the dealer ship would accept all liability, signed it, handed it back and we were on our way. Or so we thought. The car wouldn’t start. Again the Ford crew dove under the hood and went to work, this time blaming the problem on a vacuum in the gas line not allowing fuel to get to the fuel pump. Whatever. I just wanted out of West. Motor still running, Dad and I jumped in and put it in gear. “Are we going to Salado or back to Arlington?” Dad asked. “What else could possibly happen? We’re going to this show if it kills us!”

The next hour and a half was completely uneventful. We cruised down 1-35 at 70 miles an hour all the way to Salado. We exited at Salado, crossed over the overpass and actually had the Stage Coach Inn in our sights when the car died. We literally coasted all the way down the hill, into the parking lot and into the first available open space. My dad and I looked at each other and I said, “Well, at least we know we won’t have to sleep in the car.” Neither of us had much humor left.

Once word got out on the trials and tribulations of the trip from West, Lincoln club members surrounded my crippled Continental and over the next two hours diagnosed the problem for what it really was, a fuel pump with a valve stuck in the closed position and proceeded to actually rebuild it in the parking lot with tools from Jim Raymond’s trunk and the expertise of new Houston member Michael Calistrat and Jake Fleming, the rest of us holding flashlights. Thus were the highs and lows of last year’s Salado trip. Wrecked and abandoned in West. Repaired and rejuvenated in Salado. And the proud winner of the C. Michael Black Hard Luck Award for 2000. I just can’t wait till next year.

Kurt and his Dad with the car as Salado and the car finally on display at Salado.