Lincoln Continental Coupe
If E.T. “Bob” Gregorie gave life to the Lincoln Continental, surely Edsel Ford was its godfather. The Zephyr, which had its roots in John Tjaarda’s “Sterkenberg” studies of the late 1920s, became the savior of Lincoln at its 1935 introduction, a time when the big Model Ks were selling barely 2,000 cars a year. A semi-unitary sedan or coupe, the Zephyr used a small V-12, at 267 cubic inches hardly half the size of the K’s engine, and, more importantly, sold for a third its price. Lincoln sales promptly rose by a factor of six.
Returning from Europe in 1938, Edsel sketched for Gregorie a concept that he wished to build on a Ford chassis. Gregorie did detailed drawings based on a Zephyr convertible instead, and the result was the Continental. The hood and fenders were extended about a foot, and the car sectioned horizontally by four inches. The bustle back and outside “Continental” tire were the finishing touches. The car was built and Edsel took it to Florida that winter. Legend says that his friends were so taken with the car that 200 of them placed orders.
The Continental went into production in December 1939, and a coupe version soon followed. Production was modest, just 404 in 1940 and 1,250 the following year, but it had the intended effect: a trend. Jackie Cooper had one, and Frank Lloyd Wright and Raymond Loewy both bought them to customize for themselves.
By 1941, the Model K Lincoln was gone; the Zephyr was the Lincoln. For 1942, the modernist style dictated a more massive front end, which was applied to all Lincolns, the Continental included, albeit with a delicate horizontal bar grille. Purchased by the current owner, a prominent collector, in 2007, this car was formerly owned by noted New England collector Charles Cawley. Handsome in maroon with leather upholstery, it is an excellent representative of the first year of the redesigned Lincoln Continental.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in July of 2011 at The Inn at St. John's, Plymouth, Michigan.
125 bhp, 292 cu. in. L-head V-12 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring and torque tube, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel