Lincoln’s 2002 Concept Continental

Lincoln’s 2002 Concept Continental

by Charles Barnette
photos by Rusty Thompson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Jim Raymond

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

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

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

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

1935 Lincoln K LeBaron Convertible Sedan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1937 Two-window Berline by Judkins


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dearborn, Michigan Police Department

Dearborn, Michigan Police Department


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lincoln Continental Owners Club Members

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

The Jack Nicklaus Edition Lincoln Town Car

The Jack Nicklaus Edition Lincoln Town Car


Originally published in the January/February 1996 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 207).

The title is a little corny, but the idea is to occasionally spotlight the sleepers— Lincolns less than ten model years old, that may become tomorrow’s collectibles. Surprisingly, there are quite a few, and here we think is one of the best bets, or maybe we should say a hole in one.

In 1982, Lincoln-Mercury Division became the exclusive automotive sponsor for TV coverage of 17 Professional Golfers’ Association tournaments. By 1992, Lincoln-Mercury Division was the title sponsor of the “Lincoln-Mercury Kapala International” golf tournament. It should probably come as no surprise, then, that in the fall of 1991, Lincoln offered a 1991 Jack Nicklaus Edition Town Car.

At first it was marketed only in the Southwest. By January 1992 it was being sold nationally as a 1992 model. Although the Jack Nicklaus Town Car was discontinued after the 1992 model year, in February, 1992 Lincoln-Mercury Division reported that for the first two months it was offered nationally, it accounted for 20% of all Town Car orders. We don’t know the total production numbers for the Jack Nicklaus Town Car, but despite all the hype over sales figures for a two month period, it can’t be all that many.

Two exterior color/trim options were offered—“deep jewel green clearcoat metallic” and “arctic white clearcoat”. Some, possibly all, Jack Nicklaus Town Cars have contrasting vinyl roofs, (white on green cars and green on white cars). All Jack Nicklaus Town cars came with white leather upholstery with green piping on the seats and the Lincoln star on the seat backs sewn in green thread. Special badges with the “golden bear” and Jack Nicklaus’ signature appear on each front fender, on the lower deck lid and on the dash above the radio. The carpeting and floor mats are dark green, and the front mats have a small “golden bear” sewn near the outside edges.

Some dealers have also added chrome fender reveal moldings and gold plated exterior trim. About the only thing the car didn’t come with was a golf club compartment and a set of golf clubs. We guess that the ultimate golfer’s Lincoln would be a classic model of the ‘20s or ‘30s with an authentic golf club compartment and painted jewel green with a white top.

The Much Misunderstood Mark VI

The Much Misunderstood Mark VI

By Jim Farrell

Originally published in the September/October 1997 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 218).

In the mid-1970s, when the Mark VI was conceived, Lincoln-Mercury product planners decided it should have all the interior room of previous Marks, be smaller on the outside, weigh substantially less and retain the same classic lines the Mark Series was famous for. No, it wasn’t as impossible as it sounds. By 1976, the Mark VI’s designers had met the goals the product planners had set. By the time the new 1980 Mark VI was introduced on October 12, 1979, Lincoln-Mercury Division thought it had one excellent automobile and they expected their market penetration to remain strong. By the end of the 1980 model year, Mark VI sales had plunged by more than 50%. What happened had less to do with the Mark VI itself than with the economy and government regulations that relegated big cars like the Mark V towards the same fate as the dinosaur.

The Mark V was to be the first downsized Mark Series Lincoln, but engine availability and other factors dictated that it be approximately the same size as the Mark IV it replaced. When it came time to design the Mark VI, Gale Halderman, who was in charge of the Lincoln-Mercury Design Studio and his executive stylist, John Aiken planned to build a car even smaller than the Mark VI turned out to be. The availability and use of the mid-sized Mercury Montego chassis dictated that the car they originally designed as the Mark VI be up sized. A really downsized Mark would have to wait until the 1984 Mark VII.

Halderman says that the focus groups that offered opinions on the final design of the Mark VI gave it the highest marks given any of Ford’s contemporary cars, except for the rear taillights, which originally extended up and over the top of the fenders on the prototypes. Comments from almost all of those in the focus groups said the Mark VI was great, except for “those funny looking taillights”. Needless to say, the “funny looking taillights” were changed.

Halderman and John Aiken, as the primary designers of the Mark VI, designed it to appeal to a specific group—well off, middle age or older men who wanted a sporty looking four passenger car, and that’s what the Mark VI is. The Mark VI had the misfortune of being designed at a time outside influences were set to conspire against it, starting just before the time it was introduced. Although Halderman didn’t know it at the time, in many ways, his original instinct that the Mark VI should be smaller was right on the money.

In the early 1970’s, the government also became more involved in the automobile business, even dictating some traditional design aspects. Government regulation is sometimes given as the primary reason for the Mark VI’s poor sales.

While there were a lot of regulations the automobile industry felt was strangling it, those regulations affected all manufacturers the same. Government regulations were not the reason Mark VI sales plunged. In 1979, a second oil crisis, this one caused by the Iranian Revolution, hit the Western World. The demand for all big cars plummeted. Just after the Mark VI was introduced, interest rates also shot up, on their way to a record 20%. By the end of 1980, the demand for big cars bottomed out, rebounded and then bottomed out again.

The Mark VI was not the Mark V. The perception of many, at the time, was that the Mark VI should be bigger than the Mark V, which was bigger than the Mark IV, which was bigger than the Mark III. The Mark III, IV and V were sporty, uncompromising big cars. The Mark VI went the other way. It was eleven inches shorter and 930 pounds lighter than the Mark V. The Mark VI was also 1.7 inches higher than the Mark V and the window line was lowered giving the Mark VI a slightly different image than the sporty looking Mark V. The Mark VI was also designed to appealed to a slightly older age group than the Mark V on the theory that baby boomers were growing a little older. (Apparently, many of those baby boomers weren’t old enough to appreciate the Mark VI.) Although it hasn’t been well publicized, the Mark VI also used many Lincoln Town Car body panels.

By 1985 over 200,000 Town Cars were sold. By 1988, over 400,000 Town Cars were sold. In many ways they look like Mark VIs even though 1983 was the last year the Mark VI was built. If anything, the Mark VI was a few years ahead of the market. If the baby boomers were too young in 1980-83, they were just the right age to buy the Town Car in 1985-89.

Styling of the 1980 Mark VI followed the rest of Ford’s product line but it did a better job of it. All Ford products of the late ‘70s were square and followed the so called “three box” theory of design. The Mark VI was not as square as the ‘77 Fairmont or the ‘79 Thunderbird, but there was a family resemblance. By the early 1980s, the square look had run its course at Ford Motor Co. and by 1984 the new Mark VII showed the more rounded aero look ushered in by the 1982 Taurus and Sable.

In 1980 and every year the Mark VI was produced, sales were a disaster. Even if you take into account the all new four door Mark VI, in 1980 total Mark VI sales — two door and four door — were a little less than 39,000 compared to the almost 76,000 Mark Vs produced in 1979. In 1981-83, Mark VI production hovered between 26,000 and 36,000.

Just because the Mark VI didn’t sell well doesn’t mean it was a bad car. Quite the contrary, the Mark VI was probably the finest Mark series automobile built as those lucky enough to own them today will attest. The Mark VI was the quietest Mark built to date. The steering was also much quicker and the car had a better seating position and more headroom. The biggest advance, however, was the industry’s first automatic overdrive transmission that gave the Mark VI about a seven miles per gallon advantage over the Cadillac Seville or the Mark V. The most important difference on the Mark VI was inside. Even though the exterior is smaller all the way around, Mark VI interior measurements were increased over the Mark V and even bettered the 1980 Cadillac!

After some quality control problems in the late 1970s, by the time the Mark VI was built, quality was king. After many years of “big” engined Marks, in 1980 the 400 and 460 cid engines were dropped in favor of the 302 and the 351 cid Ford corporate engines. Both engines were used on the 1980 Mark VI and both had Ford’s third generation computerized Electronic Engine Control. Mark VIs with the 302 came with fuel injection and those with the 351 cid optional Windsor engine came with the two-barrel carburetor used on the Versailles.

Reliability plus comfort plus classic good looks make the Mark VI a real bargain and its only a matter of time before more people begin to realize it. One who has always recognized the superiority of the Mark VI from the day he bought his new is Gene O’Connor of San Rafael, California. After five new Cadillacs, Gene decided that it was time for something else. By 1980, Gene and many others felt Cadillac had lost its luster. After comparing the Cadillac and the Lincoln Mark VI, Gene came to the conclusion that the Lincoln Mark VI was not only better looking, it had the Cadillac beat in just about every other way. Cadillac had already started to downsize and to many former Cadillac owners, it looked and felt that Cadillac had abandoned the luxury car buyers who weren’t ready to downsize yet — if ever! (Gene says he was unhappy with the last two Cadillacs he owned.) Gene was one of the first of a whole host of former Cadillac owners who helped close the gap between Cadillac and Lincoln in the 1980s.

In November, 1979, Gene ordered a new Mark VI four-door from Marin Bay Lincoln-Mercury. Since it was the first year for the Mark VI four-door, Gene felt he’d like to duplicate the four doors of his previous Cadillacs. When the four-door Mark VI that Gene ordered came in, he didn’t like the color. The dealer offered to order another Mark VI for him, but in the meantime, Gene got a look at a silver and gray metallic Cartier Designer Series Mark VI two-door that had just come in and he liked it so well he changed his mind. Because Gene wanted the 351 cid Windsor engine and a full size spare tire, the dealer was able to locate the exact car he wanted in San Diego and soon Gene was the proud owner of a two-door Mark VI. He has kept it in showroom new condition for the past 17 years and 128,000 plus miles. Gene bought his Mark VI on January 11, 1980 for $17,350 plus license and sales tax and it came with every option available, except a moonroof.

About 15,000 miles ago, Gene had a Ford rebuilt 351 cid Windsor engine installed. He has also recently replaced the transmission, the carburetor, the water pump and the alternator, all of which he sees as normal maintenance, given the mileage on his car. Gene’s Mark VI has seldom been driven in the rain, has had liberal and frequent amounts of Lexol applied to the leather upholstery and has been frequently waxed. The most rain the car has ever seen was on the way to the Fresno Western National Meet in 1996, where the car won first in class. The paint and the vinyl top are original and like new. For the miles on the car, Gene’s Mark VI is in remarkable condition. Clearly, high mileage and daily use do not mean your Lincoln can’t be a show car.

In 1996, Gene made the decision to keep his Mark VI, instead of trading it off, because it is the last of the classic Lincoln Marks and it is as comfortable as any new car on the road today. Gene also finds that as the years pass, he gets more comments on the great looks and condition of his Mark VI and that reinforces his determination to keep the car and keep it in like new condition. When Gene looks at new cars, there’s not much the Mark VI doesn’t have that he sees on new cars, Lincoln or otherwise. The dash is digital and it has a key pad entry system and they both work flawlessly.

After riding in a couple of friends’ Mark VIs, there’s one piece of advise Gene has for those collectors thinking about buying a Mark VI. Be sure it has the 351 cid engine. Gene just doesn’t think the the 302 has the power needed to climb hills the way a Lincoln should.

We hope to hear from Gene in another 17 years about how his Mark VI is doing. One thing’s for certain; it will still be one of the best looking Lincolns around.

Graveyard of the Zephyrs

Graveyard of the Zephyrs

By Bob MacDougal

Originally published in the January/February 1996 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 207).

While vacationing in Cape Cod over Columbus Day weekend, I was reading want ads in the local paper, and came across an ad for an antique auto yard sale of 100 old cars, including 21 Lincolns,  mostly Zephyrs and some Continentals. The sale started the next day at 10 am. Our son, Mike was staying with us for the weekend and said he would like to come along. So we borrowed some tools from my neighbor, packed a lunch and left at 8:30 am. so we would be there when it opened.

We were some of the first ones there, and the owner told us that his father had passed away and left him the cars and trucks, and left his sister the house and land. She had given him one week to remove the cars, as she was going to clear the property and sell it. By now, it was raining a downpour, so we put on our raincoats and headed into the brush and trees. The place was a disaster. The cars had been driven or pushed into a field, and the brush and trees had grown up around and through them.

I gave Mike a crash course in 1940 to ‘48 Lincoln grilles, and he went on ahead. I kept hearing calls of “here’s another one”, as I checked out the ones we had already found. I yelled back “keep talking” so I can find you. The brush was so dense that when I was checking out a 1941 five-window coupe and turned to leave, there was a 1942 Lincoln sedan only 15 feet away and we hadn’t noticed it.

The owner was very adamant that he only wanted to sell whole cars and not parts. The Lincolns were just rusted-out hulks and wouldn’t even make fair parts cars, let alone something to be restored. We came back the next day and managed to talk him into selling us some water pumps and exhaust manifolds off some V-12s which were lying on the ground covered
up with old car hoods. He told us that he might sell parts off the cars on Friday and Saturday if we wanted to come back then.

I returned on Saturday morning with fellow LCOC member, Howard Ryan and plenty of tools. Howard brought his trailer, as he hoped to get the Mark II that was there. The owner wanted $1,800 for the Mark II but was now down to $500. It was so badly rusted, it wasn’t worth that, so Howard salvaged some parts from the ‘42 while I worked on a pair of ‘41 sedans.

We were working less than 100 feet apart but still couldn’t see each other. We just yelled back and forth to keep in touch on our progress. After spending most of the day working on and checking out cars, taking pictures and talking to the owner, we called it a day.

All together, we counted 11 pre-war Zephyrs, mostly 1940-’41, including two ‘41 convertibles, three post-war Lincolns, three post-war Lincoln Continental Cabriolets, one ‘49 Cosmopolitan, two 1956 Lincolns and one Mark II. All of the cars were in such extremely bad condition that very little was salvageable. If you opened a hood or trunk lid it would break off at the hinges. When I tried to open the door of the ‘41 five-window coupe I found myself sitting on the ground with the door handle in my hand and the door still closed.

On the long drive home, I had time to think about how sad it was that all these cars, not just the Lincolns, had gone to waste. The owner told us that this was the second time the yard was cleared. During the Korean war, his father and uncle had sold for scrap metal a yard full of cars and then started collecting all over again.

Neighbors that we met while we were looking around told us that the father and uncle would never let anyone on the property or sell a part. The owner was going to save one of the 1941 convertibles and fix it up. He’s about 20 years late.

Out of respect for the owner’s privacy, I will only say that the yard was located somewhere in Massachusetts, and by now all the cars have gone to be crushed.