Lincoln Continental Coupe

This remarkable 1941 Lincoln Continental Coupe is believed to have been owned by Rita Hayworth, the beautiful Hollywood actress and dancer. In the 1940s, she was married to Academy Award-winning screen legend Orson Welles, who gained fame for such iconic films as Citizen Kane.

Jim and Cheryl Farrell, who co-authored Ford Design Department: Concept & Showcars, researched the story of Hayworth’s Lincoln and uncovered the following. Welles and Hayworth were likely involved romantically before the fall of 1941, and while she was on location in Georgia, records indicate a green Continental with green leather and whipcord interior was shipped to Atlanta. The December 1941 issue of Ford News contained a photo of her, standing next to precisely such a Lincoln with Georgia license plates (the same number H127443’s license plate has today), even though the house in the background seems to resemble her home in California. The Farrells also reference Mr. Jim Cubbison, an LCOC member, who spent summers in the 1940s at Lake Arrowhead, where he saw Welles and Hayworth there with such a car.

The next evidentiary item is a photo taken in 1942 of Hayworth sitting on the front fender of her car, promoting a wartime scrap drive. Carrying 1942 California plates, the car is of the correct 1941-model year. Regardless of the photography and all the mystery, Miss Hayworth is believed to have driven her Continental for about 30 years.

According to research by RM Auctions, it is believed the next owner of Hayworth’s Lincoln was her personal secretary, from whom it was acquired by an independent collector who sold it years later and lost track of it. In 2008, he was given the opportunity to inspect the car offered here and, although several elements proved incompatible with the aforementioned secretary’s car, numerous other details corroborated the two cars’ stories, including the fact that both eventually came out of Nevada and were formerly fitted with different engines with the same mounting points.

Regardless of whether these are the same car, we do know that the car depicted on these pages was acquired in the late 1980s by Ed and Kit McCormick. A thorough restoration was commenced before they sold the car to Mr. Art Astor in 1990, who used its engine for his own 1941 Continental Cabriolet. This particular Continental, however, was fitted with another V-12 engine that was acquired from Jack Cassan. In 2000, Mr. Astor commissioned a restoration by Bob Baldwin of Sunset Ford before it was purchased by the vendor in 2008. Since then, Chris Kidd’s Tired Iron Works of Monrovia, California further sorted the car by converting the electrics to 12 volts, flushing out the fuel lines and tank and rebuilding the carburetor and steering column. The car generally remains in outstanding condition. The brightwork and Paradise Green paint are excellent with only minor imperfections visible upon very close examination.

So, was the car offered here owned by Rita Hayworth and is it the same car purchased years ago from her personal secretary? Although there currently is no conclusive documentation to prove the matter beyond the shadow of a doubt, there is also no other Paradise Green ’41 Continental Coupe on the market with quite as convincing a provenance.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2011 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

120 bhp, 292 cu. in. V-12 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and ¾-floating rear axle, transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

Gallery: Lincoln Continental Coupe