“Give ’em Hell, Harry!”

“Give ’em Hell, Harry!”

President Truman’s 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Convertible

by William J. McElroy, Tirrman, Ohio

Originally published in the March/April 1999 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 227)

The Buck Stopped with Harry S. Truman, and so did the use of General Motors cars for Presidential service.

While campaigning for the Presidential election in 1948, President Truman’s staff asked a Cadillac dealership in Miami to provide automobiles for the President’s post election vacation in Key West, Florida.

The dealership, like most of the country, believed that President Truman was going to be defeated in the 1948 election. The dealership did not want the public to associate them with a public official who was thought to become a loser in the upcoming election. Remember that even the newspapers were so convinced that Truman had lost they carried headlines of Dewey’s victory, and, in fact, even Truman went to bed on election night thinking that Dewey had won. But earlier, Ford dealerships were asked to provide automobiles for the President’s campaign and vacation visits. The White House turned to Lincoln-Mercury and several Lincoln dealers in Florida. The Ford dealerships agreed to these requests.

The unwillingness of the General Motors family to provide cars during the campaign remained in President Truman’s memory. After Truman’s famous defeat of Governor Dewey, the President told his aide, John Steelman, to have all GM products removed from the White House garage. Ford was then asked to supply 35 Lincoln and Mercury convertibles for the inauguration ceremonies. President Truman thought the 1939 Lincoln Sunshine Special to be outdated in its looks and wanted a more modem look for the 1949 Inauguration. President Truman and Vice-President Alben Barkley rode in the 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible which later became known as 4-X. But if you look at photographs of the Inaugural Parade you will see that in addition to Lincolns, there are two 1938 Cadillac seven passenger phaetons and a 1948 Dodge convertible. According to Cal Beauregard these two Cadillacs were in White House service until 1956 when they were replaced by two new Cadillacs. So evidently the White House did not get rid of all of its Cadillacs per Truman’s request.

After the Inauguration, 34 of the 35 open Ford products were returned to the Ford Motor Company, the Inaugural vehicle being retained by the Secret Service to be used as a backup parade car and follow up car. This vehicle was later modified with runningboards, red fog lights, dual antennas, dual mirrors, dual spotlights and inside grab handles for the Secret Service agents while standing on the running boards. The electrical system of the car was also modified to handle the added electrical radio equipment. It was the Secret Service who named the car 4-X.

Little is known about 4-X’s life in public service. It was retired in 1961 probably because President Kennedy did not want
to be associated with such an old car. The car did spend some time at a used car lot (Bill Shier Motors) in Cleveland, Ohio and eventually ended up at Wards Auto Sales on Venice Ave. in Sandusky, Ohio. There was an advertised auction to take place at Ward’s and 4-X was one of the cars to be auctioned. Ford Sterling of Fredericksburg, Ohio was at the auction.
4-X went through the auction unsuccessfully and was not sold. Mr. Sterling arranged for the purchase of 4-X after the
sale. The 1949 Cosmopolitan convertible was taken to its new home in Fredericksburg, Ohio where is was driven occasionally until 1966 when it was last licensed. After that, 4-X remained in Mr Sterling’s barn – covered up on the second
level of the barn. Ford Sterling was a good friend of my family and we visited Ford on many occasions. My first recollection of seeing the big black Lincoln in his barn was in the early 1970s. I was four or five years old at the time. The car remained
there until Mr. Sterling died suddenly in 1992.1 purchased 4-X from the estate.

After six months of repairs, 4-X was once again on the road. New tires, fuel lines, brake lines, brake shoes, brake cylinders, window and top cylinders, hydraulic lines, belts, hoses, battery and radiator repair, exhaust system and much hard work hand rubbing out the paint job.

In 1996, I rebuilt the engine and transmission due to oil leaks. I then had a new top installed on the car and had the front
seat reupholstered. All the lights in the running boards were broken and gone except one. From that one light, my father
and I made a set of lights like the originals and repaired the running boards. The rest of the car is as it was.

Continental Mark VI

Continental Mark VI

By Tim Howley


Originally published in the Nov/Dec 1999 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 231)

Both the President and Executive Vice President of LCOC have recently acquired Continental Mark VI Bill Blass Series. However, the Mark VI has yet to achieve the popularity in our Club of the Mark V.

Given the temper of the times it is hard to understand how Lincoln was able to downsize so quickly for the 1980 models. The revolution in Iran brought about a sudden fuel crises in February which brought about an equally sudden decrease in car sales, but not in the sale of Lincolns, at least not at first. Things got much worse in the spring of 1979 and finally times caught up with Lincoln. By summer it was clear that the day of the big Lincoln was over. By now Lincoln inventories were so huge that production was halted on June 8. Yet, knowing the required lead times for new car designs in Detroit, Ford and its competitors had to be anticipating the trend to smaller luxury cars as early as 1977, and redesigned and re-engineered accordingly.

The downsized 1980 models were introduced in the fall of 1979, and at first sales were not much better than for the 1979 models. The Mark VI two-door chassis was down from 120.3” in 1979 to 114.4” and the overall length was down from 230.3” to 216”. A new addition to the Mark lineup was a four-door sedan on a 117.4” wheelbase, same wheelbase and essentially the same body as the Lincoln Continental which was downsized from a 233” wheelbase in 1979. The overall length of the Mark VI four-door and Lincoln Continental was 219.2”.

Lincoln four-door buyers now had a choice of the mid-sized Versailles, Lincoln Continental, Lincoln Continental Town Car option, Continental Mark VI, and Mark VI Signature Series.

With all of this downsizing one might expect that all of the full-sized 1980 Lincolns would be much smaller inside. Not so. In most models the interior dimensions were increased as a result of the new body styling. Rear seat legroom was increased and even luggage capacity was increased. The styling done either by or under Eugene Bordinat was extremely square and crisp with knife edges on the fenders. To this day the downsized styling remains controversial. Lincoln lovers tend to either love it or hate it.

1980 was the first year that the Continental Mark two-door was no longer a pillarless hardtop. The Lincoln Continental Coupe became a pillared two door sedan in 1974, but the Mark remained a true hardtop through 1979.

With all of the models, colors and options available for the Mark VI, 1980-83, it would take a small book to cover everything in detail. Therefore we will limit this article primarily to the Mark VI Designer Series and the changes in this series for each of the four years. The Designer Series seems to be the most sought after now, and we are beginning to see a few of them show up at our national meets. Our President and Executive Vice President are taking the lead.

The 1980 Mark VI offered the eight colors of the Lincoln Continental, plus Bright Red and Pastel Rattan on the two door only, Dark Maroon on the Signature Series only, and Medium Pewter Metallic, a standard Lincoln Continental color was
offered on the Cartier Series only. In addition there were nine optional colors as opposed to eight on the Lincoln Continental, the ninth color being Silver Metallic offered on the Mark VI Signature Series only. There were 14 Valino grain vinyl roof colors and 13 accent stripe colors.

Getting down specifically to the Designer Series: The Bill Blass had a white carriage roof with the look of a classic convertible complete with the Bill Blass anchor. (All of the Designer Series Models carried the designer’s signature in
one form or another. ) Body uppers were white. Body sides and body side moldings were Dark Blue with dual gold accent
stripes. Lower body sides were stainless. Lacy spoke aluminum wheels were color keyed. The leather seating surfaces were
in White with Midnight Blue accents or in all Midnight Blue. (A personalized engraved instrument panel nameplate further
defined all of the Designer Series models.) The Bill Blass was the only model in the Designer Series that lacked the oval rear window.

The Givenchy Mark VI had a light Fawn Metallic vinyl roof, body uppers and lowers, and Bittersweet Metallic body sides and body side molding. Accent stripes were Light Fawn on the Bittersweet panels and Bittersweet on the Light Fawn panels.  Wire wheel covers further defined the Givenchy Series. The seats were Bittersweet leather with no accents.

The Cartier had a Medium Pewter Metallic vinyl roof and body uppers, Light Pewter Metallic body side and body side molding and stainless steel body lowers. On the Cartier the vinyl roof was the landau type. The Cartier had single dark red accent stripes. Wheels were color keyed turbine spoke aluminum. Buyers had a choice of leather or cloth seats in a combination of Light and Dark Pewter.

The Pucci had a Light Fawn Metallic landau type vinyl top and uppers and Medium Fawn Metallic sides and lowers
and moldings. There was tri-band pinstriping. The wheels were color-keyed lacy spoke aluminum. Seats were medium champagne leather with light champagne bolsters.

The Designer Series was only available in the two-door sedan in 1980. A four-door in the Designer Series did not appear until 1982.

The standard engine for 1980 was the 302 with Electronic Fuel Injection and Electronic Engine Control. The optional 351 Cleveland or Windsor engine was equipped with a Variable-Venturi carburetor which proved extremely troublesome. Both engines had automatic overdrive transmissions. The 302 developed 132 hp, which was not nearly enough, and the 351 developed 140 hp which was probably a conservative figure. All 1980 Lincolns and Marks had EEC, a new Electronic Engine Control that incorporated an onboard computer and seven sensors to monitor engine operation. The Mark VI had an Electronic Instrument Panel with Message System, optional on other models. The Message center told you miles-per-gallon, distance to empty, had a Trip log, and monitored 11 vehicle functions. In practice this early computerization was not very reliable, and one or all computer units were frequently replaced, if not within the warranty period, after a few years or maybe 70,000 miles or so. A much more reliable new feature in 1980 was the keyless entry system which was standard on the Mark VI.

For 1981, the Signature Series and Designer Series were continued. There were 21 body colors offered on the Mark VI and seven were new. There were 11 standard colors, eight optional moondust colors and two Signature Series only colors. New interior colors were Nutmeg, Light Fawn, Medium Fawn and Gold.

The Lincoln Continental and Continental Mark VI engine was now reduced to one choice, a 302 developing 130 hp at 3,400 rpm.

In the Designer Series Mark Vis, the Cartier came in a Medium Pewter Metallic with matching landau style vinyl roof and matching leather or luxury cloth seats. Accent stripes were dark red. The Givenchy had its upper body sides in black, body sides in Dark Pewter and lower body sides in stainless steel. The interior was in Pewter with leather or cloth seats. Wheels were color keyed lacy spoke aluminum. The Givenchy also had a black vinyl landau style roof. There were red and gold accent stripes on the hood, body sides and decklid. Body side moldings were black. Wheels were wire spoke aluminum. The Pucci came in a Medium Fawn Metallic with a Light Fawn interior. The Pucci had a full vinyl roof in Fawn, tri-tone accent stripes on the body sides and decklid and Fawn body side moldings. Wheels were wire spoke aluminum. The Bill Blass had Medium Blue Metallic body sides with lower body sides in Light Fawn Metallic. The carriage vinyl roof was a midnight blue cloth. There were dark blue accent stripes on the body sides, and light fawn accent stripes on the decklid contours. Body side moldings were Light Fawn. The wheels were color-keyed lacy spoke aluminum. The interior was dark blue with light fawn bolsters. Seats were leather.

In 1982 the horsepower of the fuel injected 302 was raised to 134. The newly introduced Continental also offered a V-6
engine—and a Givenchy Designer Series. The Lincoln Continental Town Car became a separate series for the first time
and now added a Cartier Designer Series. The Mark VI was continued in the standard series and Signature Series. The
1982 Mark VI Designer Series was reduced to a Bill Blass two-door and a Pucci four-door, although a Givenchy two door
appeared later in the year. The Cartier was eliminated. There were minor trim changes on all models. There were 11 standard colors, five optional moondust colors and three two-tone paint options.

The Pucci was painted with Pastel French Vanilla uppers over French Vanilla Metallic body sides. The lower body section
was all stainless. There was a Pastel French Vanilla specialty roof in Bayville textured vinyl. Accent stripes were deep Dark Brown and Gold. Wheels were turbine spoke aluminum. The interior was all French vanilla with leather seats. An excellent example of a 1982 Pucci sedan is Richard Fiolek’s car from Detroit which won a Ford Trophy at the 1999 Eastern National Meet in Ellenville, New York.

The 1982 Mark VI Bill Blass was an interesting change from previous years which were always dark blue and a lighter contrasting color. There were now three Blass color combinations. One was a White Diamond Carriage Grain roof, white uppers, rich red midsection and white lowers. The second combination was a White Diamond Grain carriage roof over a stark white body. Both of these combinations had Opal leather seats dramatized by Red straps and buttons.

The third combination was a Black Cambria carriage roof, black body uppers, red body midsection and black body lowers.
The interior was all black with either black cloth seats or black leather with contrasting Red straps and buttons.

On all models accent stripes were white and red, and wheels were either aluminum or full wire, not just wire wheel covers.

The Givenchy Mark VI had a Black upper and Medium Dark Pewter Metallic lower with a black vinyl grain coach roof. Lower body sides were stainless. There was either a Pewter cloth or leather seat trim with Givenchy seat buttons. The Givenchy further had black body side moldings, and Red and Gold dual accent stripes.

Those who attended the 1999 Eastern National Meet had the rare treat of seeing a black and red 1982 Bill Blass recently
acquired by LCOC Executive Vice President Mike Simco. Brad Luse found the car for him on a used car lot in Albany, New York. It was owned by an old couple who bought the car new and only put 84,000 miles on it. Just before selling the car they spent $1,100 on the computer electronics and replaced the Black Cambria carriage roof. The car is loaded with accessories including a CB radio located in the glove compartment. The car still drives like new and gets 23-24 mpg at
highway speed utilizing automatic overdrive.

For 1983 the Continental was offered in a Valentino and Givenchy Designer Series. (Evidently the V-6 was dropped. The horsepower of the V-8 was back down to 130. Eleven new colors were available on the base Marks plus seven new dual shade combinations. These colors were the same as the Lincoln Continental except Antique Mahogany Mist replaced Scarlet. The Givenchy Designer Series was dropped and the Pucci was now available in a two door as well as a four-door. The Pucci was painted Blue Flannel Mist and had a carriage roof in Dark Blue Cambria cloth. Opera windows were deleted. There were wide body side moldings with a dark blue vinyl insert and silver sparkle accent stripes. Lower body sides were stainless. Wheels were turbine spoke aluminum.

The interior was Academy Blue with either leather or cloth seats. The Bill Blass was either Midnight Black uppers and lowers with French Vanilla body sides or French Vanilla uppers and lowers with black body sides. If the car had Midnight
Black uppers and lowers there was a black Cambria cloth top and French Vanilla interior with leather seats. If the car had
French Vanilla uppers and lowers then the top was a French Vanilla vinyl grain and the French Vanilla interior was cloth. Body side moldings matched the predominant color and accent stripes were the reverse of the body color. Wheels were
wire-spoke aluminum.

Our front cover car is Doug Mattix’s 1983 Bill Blass Mark VI photographed in back of his home in Rowlett, Texas. Doug purchased the car about two years ago from a member in San Diego, California. The car has since received much  mechanical attention and will soon have a later model 302 engine.

Doug Mattix points up several problems with 1980-83 Lincolns and Marks. If the 302 engine was not cared for from the time it was new and if the oil was not changed regularly the oil has a serious problem of stopping up the oil screen and the oil pump and the engine loses oil pressure. Plus the timing gear and timing chain are weak spots on any of the 302 motors from this era. They have a plastic cam gear that wears and a timing chain that stretches and at 70-80,000 miles they need to be changed. If you wait for the cam gear to break then you lose timing and it bends the valves and you go through even more damage than if you replace the timing gear and chain in time.

They also had an EEC2 (engine management system) that was only used in 1982 and 1983. They had several problems with this system which they never did get worked out so they went to an EEC4 system in 1984 with a throttle body fuel injection, and then in 1986 they went to a sequential port fuel injection and a different engine management system which has proved to be virtually trouble free.

To overcome the inherent problems with the 302 in Doug’s 1983 Mark VI, he has decided to replace the original engine with a later model sequential fuel-injected roller cam engine. Instead of having hard lifters that ride on the camshaft like in a racing engine. They started putting in the roller camshaft engines in 1987. With dual exhaust these engines put out 150 hp
as opposed to a mere 130 hp in the 1983 Lincoln. By changing the chip in the computer you can probably get 175 hp out
of these later engines.

In purchasing any 1980-83 Mark VI two-door today you will probably find that the driver’s side door panel is worn. Good
used panels for this door are not easy to come by and you will probably end up respraying the door panel you do find to
match the rest of your car’s interior. Since the Town Cars with their shorter door panels are more plentiful you can buy a
cover that glues on and you can dye it to the color of the door panel. It is not a perfect fix but it is an easy and cheaper fix
than buying a whole door panel. Unfortunately, they do not make these covers for the two-door models.

We do not know why there are so many more Mark Vs than Mark Vis showing up at LCOC National Meets. Production is certainly not the reason. From 1977 through 1979 Lincoln produced 36,562 Mark Vs. For 1980 there were 20,647 two-door Mark Vis, then 18,740 for 1981, then 11,532 for 1982 and 12,743 for 1983. This is two-doors only, not four doors, and in most years four-door production was greater than two-door production. There is no production breakout for the Designer Series.

The conclusions for the limited number of the Mark Vis surviving as collector cars are rather baffling. Despite the much higher production of the Mark VI than Mark V, far more Mark Vs are in our club, and in fact, today you will probably see more Mark Vs on the road than Mark Vis. The reason for this could be the problems that Doug Mattix has pointed out with the earlier 302 engine. It was not a very powerful engine, which made for not a very popular used car. The problems with the engine resulted in engine failure at an early age and when the engine went the car was junked.

Doug Mattix believes that right now the Mark Vis are at their low point in value, and now is the time to buy one, if you are
lucky enough to find one with low miles or in otherwise premium condition.

Lincolns Repeat Clean Sweep Victory in Mexican Road Race

Lincolns Repeat Clean Sweep Victory in Mexican Road Race

Second straight 1-2-3-4 win again proves Lincoln King of the Road!


Originally published in the Fall 1976 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 126)

Here are the Official Results

Lincolns beat all competitors and 86% of sports car entries

JUAREZ, MEXICO – Four 1953 Lincoln Capri Coupes finished 1-2-3-4 in the International Standard (unlimited stock car) Class of the Mexican Pan-American Road Race, Nov. 19-23, in a spectacular repetition of Lincoln’s clean-sweep victory over the same route the year before.

The four Lincoln production cars, showing superb handling over all kinds of roads, led the stock car field from start to finish over the 1,912-mile course that lived up to its billing as the world’s toughest automotive race.  Only 61 of 177 starters finished.

Lincolns had scored a clean sweep of the first four places last year.  And this year they did it again – against a bigger field in the same championship fashion!

Chuck Stevenson, with Clay Smith as co-pilot, came in first with a new record of 20:31:32.  Walt Faulkner, Jack McGrath, and Johnny Mantz finished in that order – all less than two minutes behind Stevenson.  Co-pilots were Chuck Daigh with Faulkner, Ronald Ferguson with McGrath, and Bill Stroppe with Mantz.

Italy’s Lancias captured top prizes in the International Sport Class.  Porsches took top money in the Sport Special Class.  A Chevrolet finished first in the Special Standard Class for production cars up to 115 horsepower.

Starters in the 59-car International Class in which Lincoln scored the clean-sweep victory included Chryslers, Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, Packards, Mercurys, Buicks, and a Jaguar.

By far the biggest sensation of the race was the uniform high performance and stamina of the American-build Lincoln production cars.  While other entries faltered, fell back, or dropped out, the Lincolns delivered top performance with safety throughout the endurance run – the on-the-road test that means the most to the American motorist.

Only six of the sports cars – especially designed for road competitions – finished in less elapsed time than the four Lincolns.

Hunter to the Rescue!

Hunter to the Rescue!

Fred & Lyn Hunter’s 1941 Lincoln-Zephyr Ambulance

Cover Car Story by Tim Howley

Originally published in the March-April 1999 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 227)
The stellar attraction at the 1998 Eastern National Meet in Fort Myers, Florida was Fred and Lyn Hunter’s 1941 Lincoln-Zephyr ambulance from Fort Lauderdale. While nobody is certain how many Lincoln-Zephyr ambulances were built, this appears to be the only one left, certainly the only one restored to show condition.


Technically this vehicle, which won a 1st in the Modified Custom Class, is not a Lincoln-Zephyr, but a Custom Limousine. It is not even a conventional Lincoln ambulance in that it does not have a raised roof.

How many of us remember these vehicles from their day? Since this and other Lincoln ambulances have been featured in The Way of the Zephyr, it is fairly safe to say that few remember them racing to accident scenes before, during and shortly after World War II. This ambulance is linked to a 1937 model. There is evidence that Derham built Lincoln-Zephyr ambulance conversions up until 1938.
A 1938 Derham Zephyr ambulance was used by a hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania. They were seen on the streets of Beaumont, Texas. There was a 1937 model in England during World War II. The Henry Ford Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan had a 1941 model with a raised roof. If any of our members have recollections of any of these, or any others, reports of sightings would be appreciated. Like UFOs, Lincoln-Zephyr ambulances are elusive. But one has definitely landed in Florida. While its origin remains somewhat mysterious, much of its history has been documented.

This ambulance and a 1937 model belonged to an ambulance service in Pasadena, California, maybe not since they were new, but certainly during the World War II era. In 1948, the owner of the service supposedly retired and put the two ambulances in storage, so the story goes. The 1937 model was sold at an undetermined date, and there are only rumors that it still exists. This 1941 model was sold in 1970 when the owner died. In September, 1970 it was advertised for sale by Dale Weller of South Pasadena, who was selling it for the estate. It was then a two-tone, light blue top and darker blue bottom, was dirty and was not running. It was purchased for $350 by Sig Caswell, a well known collector in the Los Angeles area. It was at that time not considered much of a rarity because Caswell removed the engine and transmission. The engine is still in another Lincoln-Zephyr. The next owner put a 1942 Ford V-8 truck engine in the vehicle and rented it out to the movie studios. At some point during the ‘70s the ambulance was repainted to a light blue body with medium blue fenders.


In the early ‘80s it was bought by Merv Adkins, a well known collector of Lincoln-Zephyrs and dealer in parts. Adkins retrieved the original transmission from Caswell and coupled it with a 1942 Lincoln-Zephyr HV-12 engine. He then returned the vehicle to duty-this time carrying parts to Pomona and other swap meets. The vehicle showed up at the 1984 LCOC Western National Meet in San Diego along with Adkin’s customized Lincoln-Zephyr pickup truck. In the fall of 1994, Adkins sold the ambulance to Fred Hunter, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who completely restored it. The restoration was not done to the exact original. The color was changed from blue to red. The interior was done in tan leather, originally it was in black leather. However, no alterations were made to make this an old ambulance with modern running gear. Even the performance modifications are correct to the era.

According to Jim Farrell, “This particular ambulance started life as a 1941 Lincoln Custom Limousine. It was built on October 15, 1940 and was shipped to California where it was originally titled as a limousine. It came with power windows, electric wipers, a divider window and rare under seat hot water heaters. It was originally painted black and had a tan pinstripe. To convert the limousine to an ambulance, a custom-built rear section was added to the roof, but the roof was not raised as on other ambulances. The back quarter window frames from the Lincoln Custom were extended for the longer back side windows used on the ambulance. The back door was custom made. It has an ash framework and is covered with sheet metal. On the inside of the patient area, there were small compartments built into the side panels, which were fabricated from sheet aluminum. There is also a built-in vent in the roof, but other than that and the gurney, there is no other special equipment.

Fred Hunter describes the restoration thus: “The extended roof was riveted on and leaded over. The lead never cracked in all those years, so we left it on. Whoever built it cut out the rear part of the floor from the back seat to the trunk and replaced the floor with an angle iron framework, then covered it with a one inch thick oak plank floor which was further covered with linoleum. A big metal panel over the rear axle provides more room. Our biggest surprise was how the body sides were stretched. The rear fenders are the same as used on the standard Lincoln Custom, but the body was widened so that, when attached, there was about 2 1/2” to 3” overlap of the body over each fender. This alteration is hard to tell from the outside except for moving the gas filler door lower on the fender.”

The vehicle always had the two roof front mounted red lights. The rear mounted roof red light has been removed in the
restoration. Fred has added a roof mounted siren. He has also added red lenses to the accessory fog lights on the grille. The dual spotlights were probably original equipment. The original rear quarter windows had a cross and the letter “M”. Fred has installed rear quarter windows with the cross within the Lincoln-Zephyr teardrop logo. Fred returned the engine back to a 1941 HV-12 with an Edmunds dual carburetor manifold, dual Stromberg 97 carburetors and polished aluminum heads. As swift as the original V-12 was it was not swift enough for all the added weight of an ambulance. Remember in the old days, it was the first ambulance service to the scene that got the business.

If you put this ambulance alongside today’s rescue vans it looks pretty simple, and is totally devoid of today’s high tech life saving equipment. Of all our modern advances, healthcare stands in the lead. One can only speculate on how many lives
were lost in the old days because ambulances were so simply equipped. We can also ponder upon the many old time accidents and other emergencies this ambulance serviced. Could W.C. Fields, William S. Hart and Leslie Howard, all of
whom died in the ‘40s, have been carried in Fred Hunter’s ambulance. Who’s to dispute it?

The 1956 Mark II from the Marmaduke Collection

The 1956 Mark II from the Marmaduke Collection

Originally published in the Fall 1976 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 126)

The Lincolns featured on the following pages and the cover belong to club member Don Marmaduke of Denver. Don has been a Lincoln owner for many years and has owned several impressive examples. Though we are featuring the Marmadukes’ Mark II, I feel that the 1930 LeBaron convertible roadster and particularly the 1934 KB Brunn Victoria convertible helped set the trend which let to the designing which became known as Continental Styling.

The Model L LeBaron has been part of the Marmadukes’ collection nearly as long as their Mark II.  It came to Denver in 1958 after several owners, the first being in of all places, Pasadena, California.  Designated the type 185, this is one of the early Lincoln convertibles.

The convertible with roll-up windows became very popular with Lincoln owners, so popular in fact, it led to the demise of the roadster.  With the convertible in production, styling efforts began to evolve to the five-place sports convertible.  Don’s 1934 represents the “continental styling” available to Lincoln owners after Waterhouse no longer supplied bodies for K series chassis.  The graceful “Victoria” roof lines are the legacy left to the modern Continentals.  This is but one of two known surviving examples of less than ten built in 1934.

Like the other Marmaduke Lincolns, the Mark II is very much part of the Marmaduke family.  Don and his wife bought it in Kansas City in 1957.  The Mark II was then only 6,000 miles old.  The Marmadukes were on vacation in KC when their late model large brand X fell apart.  On the way to the large brand X dealer to try again, Don spotted the Mark II on a used car lot.  When he returned with Ginny, she approved of the Mark II and its looks at first sight.  Of all the automobiles Don has owned, this is the one which can truly be called “their”, the Marmadukes’ car.  Today it resides in the family four-place carriage house alongside the 1930 LeBaron, the 1934 Brunn and the Mark III.  With 32,000 miles showing on the clock, the English say, the Marmadukes’ Mark II ranks among the best of the surviving low-mileage Continentals.

Continental Mark II Cruiser

Continental Mark II Cruiser

By Jim Farrell

Originally published in the Sept/Oct 1996 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 212)

Over the years Continental Comments has, from time to time, featured articles about Mark IIs customized in one way or another. In Comments issue #134 there was a centerfold picture of a Mark II radically modified after Alex Dryer owned it. The customized Alex Dryer Mark II was first pictured in Comments #65 and resurfaced in Comments #190. Other Mark IIs have been customized over the years, but generally to lesser degrees than the Dryer car.

Most Lincoln and Continental enthusiasts rightly assume that it’s impossible to improve on the looks of the Mark II as built. That plus the rarity of the car and the high cost of acquisition have also acted to discourage too many “hot rod” Mark IIs. It should come as no surprise to us, however, that some hobbyists see things a little differently than we do. One of those people is Gary Meadors of Alamo, California. Gary has recently completed the ultimate “American Graffiti” car. You can tell from the picture it’s a Mark II, but a Mark II that has had all the modern tricks done to it that make it into the ultimate cruiser or street rod.

Before explaining what makes this Mark II so much different than the pristine, perfect restorations we usually see at our national meets and in the pages of this magazine, it helps to know a little about Gary Meadors. Gary grew up in a small farming community in central California in the 1950s. As a farm boy, he got his driver’s license at age 14. The movie, American Graffiti is about the California car culture Gary grew up in. The closest bigger cities when Gary was growing up were Visalia and Fresno, where “cruising the gut” was the ultimate participation and spectator sport every night of the week and especially on weekends. Gary’s “thing” is cruising and he believes that practice makes perfect. Over the years Gary has graduated from his first cruising vehicle, a ‘48 Plymouth, to a Tee bucket roadster, then to a “deuce sedan” (‘32 Ford) and now to a 1956 Continental Mark II.

The ultimate luxury car of the ‘50s to many became the ultimate street rod to the guy behind the Good Guys street and hot rod car shows.

In the ‘50s and ‘60s, cruising became an art form in California, and by the ‘70s, Gary, his wife Marilyn and their two sons were cruising from one end of the state to the other. By the ‘80s the Meadors family was cruising not only in California, but thousands of miles a year to Tulsa, St. Paul, Indianapolis, New York and every place in between. Pleasure soon transformed itself into a successful business and now Gary is the guy behind all of the very successful Goodguys street and hot rod car shows you see advertised in newspapers and street rod magazines all across the country.

Since Gary’s hobby has turned into a successful business career, he has now indulged himself in what he sees as the ultimate cruiser—a custom Mark II. Gary says that when it came time to replace the deuce sedan, which was first built in 1972, he was looking for something really unique and different from what other street rodders were building. The Mark II cost $8,000 to begin with, and from listening to everything that has been done to make Gary’s ultimate street rod and who did the work, we’re not sure even Gary wants to know what the final bill was. At the very least, it’s not polite to ask, but making a statement in today’s street rod culture is certainly not cheap!

The bottom six inches of the body were found to be almost rotted away when the car was disassembled and stripped. That was repaired, but then Gary took a path different than the one taken by most of us who restore old cars. A new frame was fabricated using the same cow belly principles employed when the original Mark II frame was designed. This one, however was made to accommodate a 460 cid. engine, a beefed up C-6 transmission, and the front and rear ends from a ‘77 Ford LTD station wagon. Disc brakes all around were used. The only non Ford, component taken from another manufacturer was a late Chevrolet tilt steering column.

The original dash was totally redone and BMW late model adjustable seats were installed. A new air-conditioning system
was installed and a modern stereo system was built in.

The inside doesn’t look much like the original, but Gary says that real efforts were made to preserve the timeless exterior
styling of the Mark II. Windwings were removed, as were the rocker panel moldings and the door handles. Other body
modifications include 17 inch custom made wheels, ‘52 Ford filled headlight rims, custom outside mirrors and a custom
grill. The bottom parts of both bumpers were also painted body color. The spare tire hump on the trunk was reworked and lowered slightly. The car was painted a deep blue and upholstered in medium gray. The car has no pin stripes, flames or other ornamentation on it. Gary says it rides and drives great, except that it wants to stop at every gas station.

This club is one that prides itself on the accurate restoration and preservation of all Lincolns and Continentals, but it also
makes room for and recognizes modified custom Lincolns and Continentals. It’s probably too much to hope that those who pride themselves on the authentic and accurate restoration and preservation of classic Lincolns can ever truly appreciate street rods and customized Lincolns no matter how well done they are. Maybe the converse is also true. There is a moral to this story, however, and in a strange way it reinforces the beliefs most of our members have.

Usually the cars that have been made into the most successful street rods are the ones that have been the most radically
modified. They have been chopped, channeled, sectioned and just about everything else to become expressions of their creator’s concept of what the car ought to look like. The emphasis with most street rods has been to change the original looks of the car as much as is consistent with modern practice and individual taste. Not so with the Meador’s Mark II. The emphasis was on keeping as much of the classic Mark II look as possible, even while creating a unique street rod. That’s about as high a compliment as can be made to the original designers of the Mark II and it reemphasizes what all of us have taken for granted for the last 40 years—the Mark II is one of the most beautiful car designs ever created and it looks as fresh today as it did 40 years ago. Purists and street rodders can at least agree on one thing—if cars looked as distinctive today as the Mark II still does, the American Automobile industry would be in overdrive.