Edsel Ford was well known for having a rather keen eye for style. While his father before him was a pragmatic businessman with little time to devote to frivolity, Edsel knew that there was plenty of room in the market for stylish, beautiful cars and knew how to sell them. Edsel had a habit of commissioning special one-off cars based on production models to test out new designs. Before the days of the big auto shows, Edsel would simply take his special cars on holiday to show off to his wealthy friends. For 1939, he commissioned Ford’s chief stylist, Bob Gregorie to pen a “personal luxury car” based on the V12 Zephyr chassis. Gregorie delivered a gorgeous design with a long hood to cover the twelve-cylinder engine, teardrop headlamps and unadorned slab sides with no running boards, sitting low and long on the chassis. It was a beautiful design, one that proved an instant hit with Edsel Ford’s friends who immediately wanted their own. He may have used different tactics from his father, but Edsel Ford was still a very crafty business man who knew more than a thing or two about selling cars.
The Continental, as this new car became known, went into production in 1941 and remained a mainstay of the Lincoln lineup for many years, albeit with a gap during World War II. It went through a series of minor stylistic changes and mechanical refinements through the years. The Continental proved to be a very successful model, but with the death of Edsel Ford in 1943, FoMoCo was reorganized by the board and with that, Bob Gregorie departed soon after in 1946, thereby ending his remarkable run as the head of styling. As part of that restructuring, the Mercury brand was added which eliminated the need for the junior Lincoln Continental, with the final units leaving the line in 1948, making it the last American car to feature a V12 engine.
This attractive example is from that final year of production, wearing desirable convertible bodywork and presented in a pleasing shade of dark blue over a maroon interior with a tan canvas top. Most recently part of a large collection of important Ford Motor Company products, it has been restored to a good standard of quality, showing some minor signs of use and wear since completion. The paint quality is good, with deep gloss laid down on nice, straight panels. Brightwork and exterior trim have been well restored and have aged gracefully, with wide whitewall tires, chrome trim rings and wheel skirts completing that classic Continental look. The maroon upholstery presents very nicely, particularly against the blue paintwork and the interior trim has been restored to very good condition. The distinct dash features a large speedometer echoed by a big, bold clock on the passenger side, with a grand chrome radio fitted between. The style just hints at the extravagance to come in the 1950’s.
As it should be with any classic American personal luxury car, this Continental features power operated windows and a power convertible top, all of which function as they should. The 292 cubic inch flathead V12 engine runs strong and is the epitome of smoothness, delivering its 100 horsepower and 180 ft.lbs. of torque through a flat curve – returning effortless top-gear performance. The ease of use makes the Continental a very popular choice for touring and road events, and as an added bonus, it is the very last car to be awarded Full Classic status by the CCCA. Well restored and thoroughly usable, this Continental will make a fine companion for weekend excursions or CARavan touring.
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