1968 Continental Mark III Press Release

1968 Continental Mark III Press Release

1968 Continental Mark III Press Release

Originally published in the First Quarter 1995 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 203).

From Patrick J. Kelly of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania comes this 1968 press release on the Continental Mark III found in the library and research center of the Antique Automobile Club of America in Hershey, Pennsylvania:

Dearborn, Michigan, February 12, 1968. Diplomats, royalty, entertainers, classic car admirers and “carriage trade” buyers throughout the world have placed more than 1,000 orders for Ford Motor Company’s new Continental Mark III, the luxury personal car scheduled for introduction at Lincoln-Mercury dealerships in April.

E.F. (Gar) Laux, Ford vice president and Lincoln-Mercury Division general manager, said today that although few persons have seen the new motorcar and initially production will be limited, the company expects to sell between 13,000 and 15,000 Mark Ills in the first full calendar year.

Mr. Laux, addressing newsmen attending the national press-radio-television preview of the Continental Mark III, said the new car will continue the “momentum toward excellence” began by the Lincoln Continental and derived from a heritage that includes Henry Leland ’s original Lincoln and the first Lincoln Continental and the Continental Mark II.

“The momentum toward excellence, once achieved, is yours as long as you value it and protect it,” Mr. Laux said. “And that’s what we propose to do.”

The Continental Mark III will enter a steadily growing market of luxury and luxury/personal cars that annually accounts for about 440,000 units, a retail business worth about $2.5 billion. The present Lincoln Continental participates in this market to the extent of more than $250 million annually, Mr. Laux noted.”

The Mark III is a luxury car, a personal car and a two-door hardtop,” Mr. Laux said. “In other words, the Mark III is placed squarely in the center of the three most affluent and fastest growing areas of the market.”

Influencing the momentum toward excellence , Mr. Laux added, are the highest standards of design, manufacture, advertising , customer and supplier relations.

The new 460-cubic-inch engine which powers the Mark III, Mr. Laux said, is one example of the high standards of design accorded the new car. The 365-horsepower V-8, with a design background deeply rooted in the company’s performance engine program, is ideally suited to the Mark III, he added. The new engine also features advanced emission control.

Pointing out that January car sales by Lincoln-Mercury dealers were up 19% over Jan u a ry , 1967, Mr. Laux was optimistic about the balance of this year.”

Many of the new car purchases which were deferred last fall by the Ford strike will be made in this quarter of 1968,” he said. “Consumer reaction to the new models has been excellent, and we expect 1968 to become a banner year in the history of the industry.

“There seems to be no lessening in the American’s reliance on cars for his personal transportation .” He cited a steadily increasing car population, buoyed up by a scrappage rate of about seven million cars a year.

Mr. Laux also said that he expects Lincoln-Mercury sales to get an added boost this spring with a pair of new Mercury models—a hardtop and a convertible—with “yacht deck” simulated woodgrain side paneling and a new Cougar XR7-G, featuring a special handling package and power-operated sun panel in the roof.

Comparison Drive Test Mark II vs. Mark VIII

Comparison Drive Test Mark II vs. Mark VIII

Comparison Drive Test Mark II vs. Mark VIII

by Joe Sherlock

Originally published in the September/October 1995 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 205.

When Jim Farrell asked me to road test a 1995 Lincoln Mark VIII and compare it to my Mark II, I panicked. I had never done a published road test before. I looked at some of the recent tests in the car buff magazines and they were frightening. They were done with lots of instrumentation, reporting things like lateral acceleration in G-Force units, slalom speed, rates of deceleration, etc. Then there were the inevitable letters to the editor disputing the results— “In your test of the 1995 Clamshell 3.2 litre Deluxe, you claim a top speed of 113.4 mph. My buddy is an Indiana State Trooper and we borrowed his radar gun over the weekend and clocked my Clamshell coupe at 119.8 mph. Furthermore, your front track width measurements are incorrect….” You get the picture—lots of nit-picking, and I’d be exposing myself to the greatest group of nit-pickers of all—LCOC members, who will spend hours over a few beers discussing how many Mark IIs were really made and what’s the correct color of the windshield fluid reservoir cap on a ’77 Town Car!

Then I discovered a role model—Tom McCahill. McCahill tested cars for Mechanix Illustrated in the Forties to early Seventies. Everybody called him Uncle Tom, probably because he was the kind of uncle everybody wished for.  He was a no-nonsense guy who loved cars, dogs, driving fast and a couple of scotches at the end of the day. He palled around with notables, too, including band leader Paul Whiteman. Unk tested cars using nothing but a stopwatch, a heavy right foot and the seat of his pants. His prose was legendary; he once compared the handling of a ’57 Buick to “a fat matron trying to get out of a slippery bathtub.” The swivel seats on the ’59 Imperial were “as easy to get into as a floating crap game.” My friend Marty Hayes and I once brought a copy of Mechanix Illustrated to high school when asked by our English teacher to cite examples of every modern, enduring prose. The teacher was not amused by Uncle Tom’s prose. Tom spoke bluntly, too—his opinions were firm and, if you didn’t agree, well too bad.

So…armed with nothing but a heavy foot, the seat of my pants and a digital stopwatch which I got in 1989 from a BMW dealer as a premium for test driving a new 7-series (I liked the watch better than the car!), I headed to Detroit to wring out the Mark VIII. When I picked the car up, my first impression was that this was indeed a personal luxury car. I felt surrounded by instruments—the dash and console seemed to wrap around me and everything was within easy reach. As I moved off into traffic, the car felt, well, agile. You point it; you punch it; it it goes. This was not a car that would take some getting used to; I felt at home immediately. I hadn’t been to Detroit in 10 years and I had forgotten how much the streets get beat-up from those cold winters. Asphalt and concrete don’t like big temperature changes. They get brittle when it’s cold and they don’t like to be hammered by cars and trucks with chains and studded tires. Choppy, potholed roads didn’t bother the Mark VIII. That air-suspension just smoothed everything out. The computer controlled suspension just soaks up the bumps and potholes, but when you throw the car into a corner, the computer instantly responds and stiffens everything up so that the Mark doesn’t wallow and thrash around. McCahill would have said that the Mark VIII was as “smooth as a vanilla ice cream soda that’s been standing in the sun.”

By comparison, step into a Continental Mark II and the controls are generally within easy reach, although the heater and air conditioning controls are set low enough that you’ve got to take your eyes off the road to make adjustments. The Mark II rides softly but wallows in the corners— big time. You shouldn’t try any tricky cornering in a Mark II anyway; you’ll just lose those expensive wheel covers when they go flying off the wheels. Replacements are over $200 a pop—if you can find them. Uncle Tom would probably tell you that they’re as rare as having ladies of the evening become members of a church choir. The Mark VIII is an exceptionally quiet car, too. When you punch the gas, you’ll hear a nice although muffled V-8 rumble as the car takes off. When you’re at cruising speed there’s a real absence of noise. Tom would say that this Lincoln is “as quiet as a night with an archbishop.” If you need some sound, crank up the JBL audio system. It’s great and creates the same theater of sound effects as the Bose system found in competitive contemporary cars. The Mark II is a pretty quiet car for a Fifties hardtop, but the vent windows and lack of door pillars make it hard to prevent wind noise at freeway speeds. Turn on the Mark II’s Town and Country radio and all you’ll get is AM after the vacuum tubes finally warm up. The six-way power adjust seats in the Mark II are very comfortable for me; we’ve taken lots of long trips in ours and the seats feel as good after eight hours as they did when I first got in. The Mark VIII seemed to have 37-way power adjust seats. I certainly liked them and I think that they can be adjusted to fit just about any driver. We didn’t take the Mark VIII on any long trips but, if we did, I’ll bet they’d still feel great 10 hours after we started. Tom McCahill would have liked the Mark V III’s seating comfort to a La-Z-Boy recliner upholstered in cream puffs.

What about performance? Well, the Mark VIII is a real hot rod Lincoln. The engine spools up quickly and you can easily burn rubber from a standing start if you don’t engage the traction control switch. I clocked 0 to 60 in seven seconds flat; Motor Trend says this puppy will do a quarter mile in 15.4 seconds with a trap speed of 95 mph. I have no reason to disbelieve them. What about the Mark II? Well, Motor Life tested one in 1956 and said it would get to 60 mph. in 11.5 seconds. This was respectable for the day, but not earth shaking. My own Mark II does 0-60 in about 12 seconds if you start in low and manually shift, although it never sounds happy when it’s pushed. In contrast, the Mark VIII sounds very happy when you push it. It’s a little unfair to compare the Mark VIII and Mark II directly. The Mark II is a much heavier car, and it has less horsepower. When the Mark II was new, FoMoCo declined to list its horsepower, but everybody knew that the Mark II had the ’56 Lincoln engine which was rated at 285 hp. SAE changed the way they rated engines beginning with the 1971 models. So, by today’s measurements, the Mark II probably has 200 or so horses. That’s no match for the 280 ponies under the hood of the lighter Mark VIII. (FoMoCo personnel told me that every Mark VIII engine is dyno tested and that it consistently pulls around 300 hp. FoMoCo has continued to rate it at 280 hp. to keep insurance premiums reasonable.)

Performance is, of course, a relative thing. A 1956 Volkswagen would get to 60 in about 30 seconds. A ’56 Corvette would get there in about seven seconds. The Mark II was in-between, but nearer to the Corvette than the VW. Today, the performance gap has narrowed a lot. A 1995 Volkswagen Golf will get to 60 mph. in under 10 seconds; a new Corvette LT-1 in just under six seconds. At seven seconds, the Mark VII is still nearer the Corvette than the VW. Uncle Tom would have probably said that the ’95 Mark is “as hot as a Saturday night in a room full of Jane Mansfields.”

Do I have any complaints about the Mark VIII? Well, when I first drove one in late 1992, the interior looked too stark. Since then, the Lincoln folks have added some rosewood trim to warm things up a little, but it still seems a little too clinical for me. The interior side panels on the door seem kind of flimsy. By contrast, the Mark II’s interior speaks volumes about luxury. It’s got lots of detailing around the dash, on the side panels and on the upholstery that says, “Hey, we spent a lot of hours making this thing!” The exterior of the Mark II was considered conservatively styled and relatively chromeless  compared to its contemporaries when it was first introduced, but it sure has a lot more chrome than the Mark VIII does. I do like the optional chrome wheels on the Mark VIII; they add a distinctive touch to the exterior. A couple of extra pounds of chrome in the bumper areas and a set of whitewalls would make the Mark VIII just about perfect in my book. The Mark V III’s price is very competitive with other contemporary luxury coupes and, in 1995 dollars, it’s about 33% less pricey than the Mark II. (A $10,000 domestic car in 1956 was unheard of, one reason why the car was so short lived.) Oh…and my other complaint about the Mark VIII was that I had to give the car back to Ford. Until I realized that I had to return it, I was, as Tom McCahill would say, “as happy as a pack of fleas at a dog convention.”

Lincoln L2K

Lincoln L2K

Lincoln L2K

Excerpt from Lincoln Design Heritage, Zephyr to LS, 1936 – 2000 by Jim & Cheryl Farrell

Used by permission.

The L2K started out as a Mercury sportscar proposal intended for production. In late 1992, Jack Telnack passed on a request to Richard Hutting at Concept Center California to the effect that Ford wanted Concept Center to prepare proposals for a 2-passenger Mercury sports car — and they were given two weeks to submit those proposals to Dearborn. Four designers at Concept Center spent two weeks preparing proposals which were sent to Dearborn. Nothing more was heard and everyone at Concept Center thought the project had been canceled. In February 1993, word came down that the project was alive and a proposal submitted by designer Bruce Berkey had been selected. The sketch Berkey had submitted to Dearborn was never returned, but a photo of it appeared in the Design Center’s newsletter called Highlights.

Part way through the clay modeling process, Concept Center designers were told the sports car was no longer going to be Mercury but had to become a Lincoln. When the clay model was finished, Concept Center designers and clay modelers went to used car lots in the San Fernando Valley where they bought a ‘93 Mazda Miata and drove it back to Concept Center. There the Miata body and running gear were removed, the wheelbase was lengthened by reversing the rear suspension and the L2K body was installed. A prototype SHO engine was installed in a northsouth direction and bolted to a C-6 transmission. An engineer was sent from Dearborn to help wire the engine. The interior, although designed by Berkey, was built by Littlejohn, a local job shop.

During the build process, the grille was changed to conform with Ehab Faoud’s design which was meant for use on all Lincolns. The wheelcovers as designed by Berkey represented a stylized “M,” for Mercury, but they were later changed.

After the L2K was finished, the Concept Center crew took the L2K to the Saugus race track where Hutting, Berkey and others drove it for about 100 laps around the track, sometimes at speed.

The L2K was then shown at the LA Auto Show where it got better reviews than the Mercedes SLK it was designed and built to compete against. It was then trucked back to Dearborn where it made an appearance at the Detroit Auto Show. Upper management at Ford decided there would be no Lincoln sports car. After that, the L2K was shown at Pebble Beach and was then sent back to Concept Center where the body was removed and destroyed; the rest was recycled.

The L2K: Exciting Performance in a Two-Seat Luxury Coupe from Lincoln

The L2K: Exciting Performance in a Two-Seat Luxury Coupe from Lincoln

The L2K: Exciting Performance in a Two-Seat Luxury Coupe from Lincoln

by Carolyn Burke, Lincoln-Mercury Public Affairs

Originally published in the First Quarter 1995 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 203.
The two-passenger sports car comes of age in the L2K concept car from Lincoln. This appealing convertible brings an aura of sophistication to the sports car arena. The L2K takes classic and contemporary cues from its Lincoln heritage while retaining the heart-pounding performance demanded by driving enthusiasts. Its name means “Lincoln 2000”.

The rear-wheel drive L2K, designed at Ford Motor Company’s California studios, is powered by a 3.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 engine delivering approximately 250 horsepower through a four-speed automatic transmission. The experimental engine may appear in future Ford products and features a state-of-the-art EEC-V electronic management system. Weighing approximately 2,900 pounds, the L2K delivers power coupled with economy.

Sporty, elegant styling characterizes the L2K, from its vertical Lincolnesque grille to its high-intensity projector headlamps. A unique, high mount stop lamp in the spoiler behind the passenger area combines styling with safety.

The spoiler achieves a significant reduction in wind noise for the driver and passenger riding with the top down. The underbody is fitted with full-length aerodynamic panels for improved low-drag characteristics.

The L2K’s wide stance results in an appealing appearance while providing stability and responsive handling. Front and rear integrated bumpers meet current federal safety standards. Seventeen-inch tires frame the sculptured chrome wheels.

A custom, silvery Light Sapphire paint accentuates the car’s beauty and is complemented by a Medium Sapphire leather interior.

The interior blends an ultra-high comfort level into a complete wraparound design. Carefully styled seating follows the practice of ergonomics by fitting the seat to the person. In acknowledging the role of driver and passenger, the L2K disproves the notion that a sports car is required to provide cramped, uncomfortable seating.

An inviting, performance-oriented cockpit welcomes the driver of the L2K. Analog gauges grace the dashboard, a reminder of the rich history of two-seater sport vehicles in which needles and numbers measure performance. The gauges also serve as a cue to occupants to forget the digitized symbols of office life.

Creature comforts abound in the L2K – from the plush seats to a sound system that includes a mini-disc changer in the rear console between the seats that is removable for security purposes. There are no exterior door handles. the designers left them out to preserve the flowing lines of the car’s sides. The doors open with the push button of a key fob.

Excellent trunk space – which at 11.5 cubic feet is cavernous for a car this size – provides storage of luggage and recreation gear, making the L2K the consummate open-road touring vehicle. Dual airbags provide an extra margin of safety.

The L2K’s dimensions include a 93-inch wheelbase. Overall length is 158.4 inches; width is 71 inches. The Goodyear P245/45 x 17 tires were specifically designed for the L2K and feature an asymmetrical tread designed for high-performance handling, low noise and a luxury ride.

The 1946 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

The 1946 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

The 1946 Indinapolis 500 Pace Car

by Samuel Landers

Originally published in the Summer 1975 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 121). Reprinted in the March/April 2001 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 239).

Editor’s Introduction: In recent years I have been photographing Pace Car Yellow Lincoln Continentals at our National Meets. In this issue we are including several of them. The story on the original Pace Car Yellow Lincoln Continental, printed in Continental Comments 26 years ago, is reprinted here:

“The Pace Car which was used in the Indianapolis 500 race on May 30, 1946 was a Lincoln Continental Cabriolet. Henry Ford II drove the car at 100 mph on the pace lap with Wilbur Shaw, Speedway President, at his side. The car’s appearance at the Memorial Day race was one of the first public showings of the 1946 Continentals.

The Continental Pace Car was an experimental prototype car and had a special cream colored exterior paint. (This color later became a standard color for the 1947, ‘48 Continentals known as ‘Pace Car Yellow”. The interior had a contrasting (maroon) colored dash with special white or ivory colored plastic knobs and steering wheel. The white plastic hardware was not the original equipment as manufactured, but was added to the car before the day of the race. The seats were also special order. They were a combination of dark (red) leather with tan whipcord. The door panels were also (red) leather. The car came equipped with chrome bands, amber fog lights and probably overdrive. It did not have a radio. In the days before the race the car was dressed up with white sidewall tires and both doors were lettered to commemorate the race day.

The winner of the Indianapolis race was George Robson, a 37-year-old driver from a suburb of Los Angeles, California. The winner received many prizes, but the experimental Continental Pace Car was not one of them. Instead, he received another Ford Motor product.

The Continental Pace Car was returned to Dearborn after the race. On Saturday, June 1, the car was to be in the historic Automotive Golden Jubilee parade. It is then believed that the car was used for a short time by someone in the Ford family. The history of the car after this time is unknown.

The exact identity of this car is not known for certain, but there were only a very few of the 1946 Continental Cabriolets produced in time to make the race. Of these, the one which most closely matches the description of the Pace Car is Cabriolet body #8, serial #139428. This car was painted cream and had tan leather and whipcord upholstery and trim. The tan colored leather seat trim is the only apparent discrepancy that this car had with the available photos of the pace car. It is possible that the upholstery could have been changed as was the plastic hardware.

Body #8 originally had a factory identification number of 6E-1 on its first production card instead of the normal serial number. This number is probably the identification number of a 1946 experimental prototype. The date of assembly for this car cannot be found on any one of the three production cards associated with the car. The two extra production cards were probably early development or prototype changes.

On April 9, 1946, an invoice was written to deliver the car to the Ford Transportation and Equipment Department for use at the Dearborn Lab in Michigan. This was probably in preparation for the Indianapolis race.

The shipping date on the last production was July 3, 1946. It was then shipped to the Long Beach branch in California. On the back of one of the cards is a notation which reads “Tag 20th Century Fox Films Corporation. Sold November, 1947”. This is the last information on the car. (Below is the 1946 press release:)

‘ Detroit, Michigan – Henry Ford II, grandson of the founder of the Ford Motor Company, will be carrying on an established family tradition when he slips behind the wheel of a 1946 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet to set the pace for the Memorial Day race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 30.

Both his famous grandfather, Henry Ford, and the late Edsel Ford, father of the 28-year-old President of the Ford Company, have served as officials of previous races. Edsel Ford led the roaring pack across the starting line as official pacemaker in 1932. And Henry Ford served as referee of the 1924 race.

Riding beside “Young Henry” this year in the sleek, low-slung pace-making Continental, will be Wilbur Shaw, Speedway President. Traveling at 100 miles an hour, the car will set the pace for the first renewal of the 500-mile automobile race classic since the war.

Old-timers, familiar with the fact that the Ford name has been associated with the Speedway since 1911, when the first 500-mile race was held, are looking for history to repeat itself this year. They expect a new speed record will be set by one of the 33 qualifiers whom Mr. Ford will lead across the starting line.

They point out that when Henry Ford acted as referee in the 1924 race, L. L. Corun and Joe Boyer, riding the winning car, set a new record of 98.23 m.p.h.

In 1932, when Edsel Ford served as referee as well as pacemaker, Fred Fram averaged 104.144 m.p.h. to set a new record.

Back in Detroit, the master craftsmen who built this year’s pace-making Continental Cabriolet are watching with pride the attention being given the car. They know its appearance at the Memorial Day races will be one of the first public showings of this new Lincoln Continental model. And on Saturday following the Memorial Day race in Indianapolis, the pace-making Cabriolet will be driven in the historic Automotive Golden Jubilee parade in Detroit which will also mark the 50th anniversary of the operation of the first Ford car by Henry Ford on the streets of Detroit.

Delayed by reconversion and the steel shortage, only a few of these postwar luxury automobiles have been completed at the Lincoln plant so far this year. However, the company is doing everything possible to increase production.

Built to custom standards, the Cabriolet has been planned for beauty, convenience and comfort. Its exceptionally low lines add to its distinctive appearance. The top operates hydraulically by pushbutton, and the windows raise and lower by means of hydraulic window lifts. The car has pushbutton door controls, long soft-acting springs, triple-cushioned rubber installation, and a wheelbase of 125 inches.

Seats are broad and deep, full-cushioned with foamex rubber padding and upholstered in soft top-grain leather. Wide doors and curb-level entrance make it easy to enter and leave the car. Under the rear deck the Continental Cabriolet has a weather-sealed luggage compartment with plenty of room.

As rapidly as possible, the Lincoln Division is distributing its new Continentals to branches throughout the country for spring showings. But due to the fact that all Continentals are custom built by skilled Lincoln craftsmen, production is very limited. The Lincoln Division already has a substantial backlog of orders for the Continentals on hand despite the fact that the 1946 model has just begun to have public showings.

The Continental Coupe sells for $3,445.00 list price and the Cabriolet for $3,511. These prices do not include state, federal and local taxes or company charges for distribution and delivery.’ “

1958 Lincoln Restoration Story with a Happy Ending

1958 Lincoln Restoration Story with a Happy Ending

1958 Lincoln Restoration Story with a Happy Ending

by Tim Howley

Originally published in the May/June 1999 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 228)

Our cover car is a (Matador?) Red 1958 Lincoln Continental Mark III Convertible which won a Ford Motor Company Trophy at the 1998 Eastern National Meet in Fort Myers, Florida. It is owned by John Hofmann, Tampa, Florida, and was restored by Herb Scheffer of Mainly Convertibles in Tampa, Florida.

Since 1958 Lincoln Continentals were extensively covered in Continental Comments #193, Third Quarter, 1993 we will only dwell briefly on their history here while going into a detailed account of this car’s restoration.

1958 is the most unique of all 1950s Lincoln Continentals. It is a highly controversial car from a styling and body engineering standpoint. It had extensive problems as a new car, making it difficult to restore. It is much misunderstood by the public at large, and even Lincoln collectors tend to either love it or hate it.

In 1955 there was a belief in Detroit that unitized construction was the wave of the future. Therefore, when Lincoln broke ground for its new Wixom plant, 15 miles northwest of Dearborn that year, they decided to design the plant to build unitized automobiles, both the Lincoln and the forthcoming four-passenger 1958 Thunderbird. While Thunderbird, due to its smaller size, was not a problem to build the Lincoln was because nobody had ever built a unitized car this large before.

The new Lincoln, because of all the strengthening required for its unitized construction, turned out to be the heaviest and longest car built to date since World War II, a 131-inch wheelbase, 229 inches overall, and 4,927 pounds in the convertible.

The stylist in charge of the 1958 Lincoln project was John Najjar who was told explicitly by Division head Ben Mills that the objective was to beat Cadillac. The new unitized construction dictated a new direction in big car styling. The overall height, well below five feet, still permitted more interior room than the 1956- 57 Lincoln. The new Lincoln in no way made styling concessions to the round and roily polly 1958 Cadillac with its infamous fins or the wedge shaped Chrysler. It was as square as a 1958 house and nearly as large.

In the beginning, John Reinhart designed a 1958 Continental, which while large, had softer lines. But when the decision was made to scrap the Continental program and disband the Continental Division the Reinhart design went out along with it. The final design became a very different car with the Continental name and roofline tacked onto the 1958 Capri and Premiere body.

Like the car, the engine was all new, a 430 cid V-8 which was so much more successful than the car that it was continued through 1965. In the original 1958 version, this engine had 10.5:1 compression ratio, Holley four-barrel carburetor and developed 375 horsepower. With a Mercury Marauder three two-barrel carburetor option, horsepower was raised to 400. After the first model year, Lincoln chickened out on the horsepower, dropped the Marauder option and lowered the horsepower rating to 350 in 1959 and 315 in 1960.

Initial reaction to the 1958 Lincoln and Continental was encouraging. Buyers were pleased to see a Continental at half the list price of the 1956-57 models and with a choice of body styles. But 1958 soon turned out to be a year of poor sales for nearly all U.S. makes. It was a combination of a sharp and unexpected recession and a sudden public turn to smaller, more economical cars. In 1958, American Motors and Studebaker actually enjoyed an increase in sales, and Volkswagen made a tremendous sales leap forward. The Lincoln, standing as the largest of American cars, was hit hard. After 41,123 Lincolns had been produced for the 1957 model year, only 29,684 Lincolns and Continentals were produced for 1958.

The 1958-60 Lincolns and Continentals quickly developed a reputation as inferior automobiles. Herb Scheffer, who restored our cover car, does not go along with the factory and car hobbyists at large who for years have been very critical of these cars. He says, “These are wonderful cars, beautiful in their strangeness, an attempt to be creative and innovative, an attempt by the auto industry to move forward and try different things. Yes, they have their flaws and problems, but their virtues outweigh their faults.”

When you talk to Herb you will find that he really loves and cares about all 1958-60 Lincolns. When almost everyone was down on these cars, when you could barely find parts for them, when nobody was willing to help you with them, he went to work on restoring them and supplying parts for them.

Herb points out that the the second two years seem to be more refined in the assembly process but they still inherited many of the 1958’s basic flaws. Herb further comments that while the three years look very similar they are vastly different. However, Herb says that while 1958-60 Lincolns are tough cars to restore, a 1963 Lincoln Continental, for example, is a far more intricate car and in many respects is far more difficult to restore.

Herb also notes that the 1958 cars have an inherent vibration problem, and this is not simply due to the large unitized bodies. The way the headlights are designed, they grab the wind.

Our feature car was not completely restored by Mainly Convertibles. Herb Scheffer bought the car from a California owner who had done much of the restoration groundwork. He had done a lot of small piece repairs and detailing. He had gotten a lot of the parts for the interior trim, dash and instruments. He had done the undercarriage overhaul and detailing His efforts made completing the restoration a lot easier for Herb.

This was probably a California car most of its life, meaning no rust. The owner, either himself or through Mainly Convertibles had put in much effort and had purchased a lot of parts, and is to be commended said Herb, but the owner finally concluded he did not have the twenty some thousand dollars needed to complete the car with paint, upholstery, chrome, etc. So he sold the car and all the parts to
Herb in partially disassembled condition. Herb was not sure what he was going to do with the car so he put it aside for a year. Then he pulled the motor out, media blasted all of the body, and proceeded to complete the car. Knowing the problems with 1958-60 models, and expecting to experience the worst in the restoration, Herb was in for several pleasant surprises. Herb says he has never seen floor pans in such good condition, no rust, which is unusual for any convertible, especially a 1958 Lincoln. Herb discovered that the car had been in a collision many years ago and they had done a very poor repair job. The car had been hit in the left rear quarter, but there was no rear “frame” or structural damage. The front of the car was never touched and barely had a parking lot ding on it.

Herb believes that this was a low mileage car. He thinks that after it was damaged it was poorly repaired and then not used very much. He concluded that the car had been used as a pickup truck at one point because they had taken all of the top mechanism out.

There are two morals to this story. Some of the best old car buys come in baskets, and while 1958-60 Lincolns as a general rule are difficult to restore, there can be exceptions.

But this owner had spent lots of money on the car. For example, he had the dash padding redone by Just Dashes which is a $750 expenditure, and the car came with no end of small trim parts. There was even all new vinyl with the heat sealing in it. The owner had upgraded parts, and the motor was wonderful. Still, Herb took the motor down to be sure. The bearings were perfect. And this was an original motor. Herb did have to go through the transmission and all of the engine subcomponents and accessories.

Herb also redid the body repairs properly, did the prep and paint, the reassembly, installed new tires, brakes, the metal lines, and the exhaust system. He put in all new leather, a trunk kit and did a great amount of detailing. The list was endless.

A lot of the electrics were still in good shape but Herb went through them anyway. All of the top mechanism hydraulics were replaced. Stainless steel lines were installed for brakes, fuel lines and transmission. The stainless trim was polished. Some of the chrome was redone, but not all of it. The front suspension was in very poor condition and had never been properly rebuilt until Herb went through it. Fortunately, many new suspension parts came with the car.

Since the accident caused no structural damage, the body lined up perfectly. Herb took all the windows out and when he put them back in they lined up perfectly. “Everything on this car just worked when restoring it,” Herb comments. “This car was friendly, it pretty much did what it was supposed to do, and it’s rare that they do that. A lot of times they just fight you all the way. But the owner had done things like rebuilding the carburetor, redoing the instruments, had put the cloth lining in the glove box, he had done just a lot of the little detail work. He had filled little bags with parts that were all painted and ready to be put in”.

While Herb was putting the car back together with really no plan for its disposal, John Hofmann called. Hofmann had known Scheffer for seven years and his brother has a 1959 convertible. When Herb told him that he was working on a 1958 convertible Hofmann expressed an interest in seeing the car. When he saw the parts of the car freshly painted, he bought the car at an agreed upon completion price. The car won a Ford Trophy at its first LCOC National Meet.