Stainless Steel Lincoln Continental Convertible at Williamsburg, 1993
By Tim Howley
Originally published in the July/August 1995 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 204).
One of the most most unusual cars displayed at the 1993 Eastern National Meet in Williamsburg, Virginia was a 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan brought to the event by Bill Westfall on behalf of the owner, Allegheny Ludlum Steel, a pioneer in stainless steel development. This car has 190,000 miles, the engine has never been gone through, and was just starting to use oil in 1993, only proving how long these engines can go. The car is a 1966 with a 1967 grille and some 1967 trim. It has both 1966 and 1967 parts.
Originally three of these Lincoln Continental convertibles were built. This one and one other are are in daily use. The other was in Dearborn at the time of the meet. This one is kept in the Philadelphia area. Allegheny Ludlum uses these cars for sales purposes and they take their clients out in them.
These cars were hand assembled at a cost of approximately $300,000 each. Two were built for Allegheny Ludlum’s promotional use and a third one was built for the Ford Motor Company, Lincoln- Mercury Division. Two were built very late in 1966 accounting for the combination of 1966 and 1967 trim. The third one was all 1967. Later Ford decided to dispose of this third car but it had been in an accident at Ford and was almost demolished. Eventually it was almost given (free) to Allegheny Ludlum who restored it. It is now in the Thompson Museum in Cleveland.
These are not the only Allegheny Ludlum stainless steel cars. The whole story goes back to the late ’20s when Henry Ford dreamed of a stainless steel car that would last forever. The first stainless steel cars to appear were Model A Fords back in 1930. Three of them were built. They had a conventional Ford chassis and running gear, wooden floorboards and stainless steel bodies—or “Allegheny Metal” as it was called then. Two of these cars were scrapped during world War II; the third one may survive.
In 1936, six 1936 Ford stainless steel two-door sedans were made by Allegheny Ludlum. This time the floorpans were made of high carbon steel rather than wood. At least four of these Fords survive. One is in the Thompson Museum. Two still belong to Allegheny Ludlum and a fourth may be in the hands of a private owner.
In 1960, two stainless steel Thunderbird hardtops were built. Allegheny Ludlum still retains both of them, and both are regularly driven.
All of these cars were used for advertising and promotional purposes by both Ford and Allegheny Ludlum. None of them were easy to build because stainless steel cannot be stamped into shape like other types of steel, one reason why there have never been any stainless steel production cars other than the DeLorean. How these cars were built is a story in itself. The most difficult task in building them was shaping the roof panels, hence it was somewhat easier to build the Lincoln Continental convertibles than the others. The Thunderbirds and the Lincoln Continentals have stainless steel exhaust systems which have never been replaced.