Mysterious 1954 Lincoln Show Car Reappears
by Tim Howley
Originally published in the March-April 2004 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 257).
In about 1980, while driving through the Point Loma section of San Diego, I happened on a custom 1954 Lincoln Capri coupe at a service station. I was told that it was originally a 1954 Lincoln factory show car, and I was given the name of the owner who was in the construction business. He had no interest in collector cars, only in selling this Lincoln for an outrageous price, which, as I recall, was something like $10,000. I have since lost his name and address. Now I receive information from Sonny Gray in Houston, Texas, that the car has surfaced and belongs to David Schurmann, also living in Houston. Unfortunately, the car has deteriorated much since I last saw it over 20 years ago.
According to correspondence from Sonny Gray, the car’s VIN plate reads “54WA 5004H#.. .then.. .BS 60A SPECSPEC-K-1-86.” The car came to Texas from San Diego in about 1983, as best as can be determined by a key chain advertisement. A receipt was found for a battery purchased in Arizona in 1983, indicating its final trip east to Texas. Evidently, the car was abandoned and left derelict in Texas. According to information from the garage/salvage yard seller, the auto was stored in a bam by an older couple, and then eventually moved outside before the building collapsed. The car then sat outside deteriorating for a lengthy period. Then the garage/salvage yard owner bought the car and eventually sold it to David Schurmann.
The car is totally complete and intact, and the body is straight with no rust, except for much surface rust. There are only two dings in the stainless trim. There is no Capri nomenclature on the exterior, only on the instrument panel. Old
Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and a Continental kit have probably been on the car since new. All the chrome needs replating, including the wire wheels. The car is sadly in need of paint and a new interior. The car does not roll freely, and the engine is seized.
There are quite a few clues that indicate this was a factory customized job for the 1954 show circuit. 1. The factory data plate reads “SPEC/SPEC” in the area indicating “color” and “upholstery” on standard models. 2. All interior metal garnish trim is gold plated. This includes screws for the windshield and back window trim, the trim itself, horn ring, switch surrounds, power window surrounds, step shields, and front seat base, etc. 3. The instrument panel, window arm rests, and wide metal trim between the headliner and side windows are painted a metallic pearl. 4. The upholstery is silk in red and white with gold piping. The white sections have a heavy scroll floral embroidering. The red areas on the seats are pleated with gold piping. The headliner is white silk. 5. The car originally had plush white carpeting. This is evident in the area visible when the front seats are tilted forward for rear passenger entry and exit. The front seat now has an aftermarket seat cover. The rear seat does not have a cover. 6. Door lock mechanisms and striker plates are chrome plated.
Some other indications of the car’s possible show status are the following: the trunk lip at the base has a professionally designed and installed shelf with an opening for the locking mechanism; there is a professionally designed and installed plaque on the area below the left side of the trunk; this is body mounted; the plaque is the Lincoln Knight’s bust within total shields; the design is divided into four sections with a single initial within each section; and the Initials are “S V G M” .
The color is difficult to determine as it is so badly faded and there is so much surface rust. But, it appears that the original color on the firewall was that very rare chartreuse which Lincoln offered in 1953-54. But the bottom of the firewall has been painted black, and the color under the rocker panel moldings appears to be a flat medium green so popular in 1954. Then the entire car was painted a pearlescent white with a green tint, but the only none faded portion of that color is on the underside of the trunk lid. Then the car appears to have been repainted again. The car is heavily undercoated. Recesses around the headlights have been painted body color. The paint is so badly cracked and shrinking it looks like the bottom of a dry lake bed.
A sedan customized something like this was the Maharaja, a 1953 Lincoln Capri done up for Ford’s 50th Anniversary and the 1953 auto shows. That car was painted gold with gold trim, and with an interior not unlike this 1954 Capri coupe. Ford also did up a pearlescent white 1953 Lincoln convertible with gold trim. There were more custom Lincoln show cars in 1955. At the time. Lincoln tended to put special paint and trim jobs on stock Lincolns, and later many of these cars were sold to friends of the Ford Motor Company. Several such cars have appeared in Continental Comments and other publications, but there seems to be no record of this one.
Could this car be a missing 1954 Lincoln-Mercury show car, and, if so, how did it get to San Diego, and then to Texas?