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Lincoln Continental Convertible, Blue, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $69,900.
There are no clues as to the mechanical upgrades underneath and it instead presents as a finely restored Continental that looks remarkably authentic.
Hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when stunning machines like this 1948 Lincoln Continental cabriolet were simply used cars. People thought nothing of modifying the cars, and more than a few of these were converted to flathead V8 power or even OHV Cadillac engines. Depending on the replacement engine, performance and reliability were often improved, allowing these wonderful cars to be enjoyed on the road rather than lost forever or relegated to static showpieces.
It is certainly with that history in mind that this amazing Continental was created. Visually, it retains all of Bob Gregorie’s handsome design cues and looks for all the world like a freshly restored stock Lincoln Continental cabriolet. Underneath, however, it has been upgraded using components from a late-model Lincoln Mark V, including a 460 cubic inch engine, automatic transmission, front and rear suspensions, and all the creature comforts to which we have become accustomed today. The result is a car that looks almost completely stock but drives like a modern luxury car with no compromises taken along the way.
Finished in beautiful, rich Grotto Blue, the handsome lines of the Continental are undeniable. While the original design was groundbreaking in 1940, it aged well with its post-war facelift and remains a benchmark of automotive design whose echoes can still be found today. Paint and bodywork are exemplary, with restoration-quality workmanship throughout. This car retains 100% original sheetmetal that has not been cut or modified, and in many regards, it appears that the quality is even better than new. The builder was clearly an obsessive type, as there are areas which are ordinarily invisible that were nonetheless finished to a very high standard. The paint is two-stage urethane, but without modern metallics or a hard shine that tends to look inauthentic. There are no clues as to the mechanical upgrades underneath and it instead presents as a finely restored Continental that looks completely authentic.
No corners were cut in the chrome and other trim, either. The grille and bumpers alone probably cost as much as a new car to restore, and the current owner, who is a Lincoln collector of some note, remarks that he has never seen inner grille areas restored as nicely as they are on this car. There is no pitting, no grinding marks, and a lovely, deep, uniform shine to all the restored components. In addition, the stainless steel trim has been expertly straightened and polished, and all the plastic components are fresh reproductions or NOS replacements, including the parking and tail light lenses.
The tan leather interior is beautifully executed, and like the exterior, there are very few signs of the upgrades. The upholstery is luxurious and supple, the door panels feature correct stitching, and the tan carpets are unmarked thanks to a set of floor mats that have been in the car since it was finished. Upon closer examination, a few of the upgrades are visible, such as the small eyeball vents for the A/C, a switch panel for the cruise control, and a beautifully integrated tilt steering column topped by the original red plastic steering wheel, which has been fully restored. The original gauges have been refinished and are 100% compatible with the modern driveline, and the odometer was reset when the car was rebuilt, now showing just over 600 shakedown miles. While the original AM radio remains in the dash, a modern Pioneer AM/FM/CD head unit has been stashed in the glove box and is operated via a tiny remote that fits in your pocket. Also note that the original front seat has been converted to 8-way power assist, and the windows are now electrically operated, not hydraulic, which ensures reliability. Seating surfaces show only very minor use and no wear, and the back seat is completely untouched. The trunk is upholstered in matching tan carpet and houses powerful 6x9 speakers for the stereo system, which keeps them out of sight but still delivers impressive sound in the passenger compartment. A new tan canvas top has been fitted, and it too is now electrically operated. The only notable omission during the rebuild was the snaps to hold the convertible top boot in place, an easy fix for any upholstery shop.
Under the skin, however, this car is thoroughly updated. A Lincoln Mark V gave up its vital organs for the transplant, and the workmanship is extremely impressive. The engine is a powerful 460 cubic inch Ford big block topped by a 4-barrel carburetor and exhaling through a dual exhaust system that sounds appropriate. Finished in Ford corporate blue paint, the engine is an easy fit in the Continental’s engine bay, and clearances for service access are excellent. Look closely and details like the custom made radiator with its arched top tank will give you a good idea of how well crafted this car really is. The engine runs beautifully, staring instantly and settling into a comfortable idle, and the owner reports that it is capable of running effortlessly at 80 MPH all day with the A/C blowing. In fact, he claims that he’s never had a vintage Lincoln of any kind that tracks as straight and true as this one does.
The original Continental frame remains under the car, although the Mark V’s front suspension has been expertly grafted on, including modern tube shocks and powerful disc brakes, along with a fat sway bar. In back, there’s a Ford 9-inch rear with trailing arms and coil springs that give it an incredibly plush ride. The frame itself has been painted to match the bodywork, and all signs indicate that this was never a rusty car to begin with. The dual exhaust system has been artfully tucked inside the frame so there are no low-hanging components that will compromise ground clearance, and unlike many custom-built cars, this one is devoid of squeaks and rattles underneath. The only real clue that suggests this car is something other than what it appears to be are the wide whitewall radials on the original wheels, which wear beautifully restored Lincoln hubcaps.
Even purists will be impressed by the level of craftsmanship that went into the construction of this lovely Lincoln. Obviously the builder was careful to respect the original design, and the upgrades are not only as subtle as possible, but completely functional. I can’t imagine how much this car cost to build, but it likely exceeded the cost of a concours-quality restoration, and the result is a beautiful car that can be driven anywhere in modern traffic without worries. V8-powered Continentals are not unprecedented, and you will never see one as expertly built as this. With this wonderful Lincoln, you can forget the headaches that often accompany the purchase of an old car and simply enjoy the ride.
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Engine:460 cubic inch ohv v8, 4-barrel carburetor
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio