Lincoln Continental Indy 500 Pace Car
Proud and triumphant postwar America turned its patriotic eyes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over 1946's Memorial Day weekend for the first running of the Indianapolis 500 since the festival of speed took a hiatus for World War II. America's eyes were inevitably fixated on the gleaming 1946 Lincoln Continental that paced the race, a shapely convertible originally penned by noted Ford stylist Bob Gregorie at the request of Edsel Ford himself.
Yet the attractive yellow Continental almost didn't make an appearance. As the race was quickly cobbled together at the previously mothballed Speedway, Ford had to source a 1946 Continental from an Indianapolis-area dealership. Traditionally, automakers provided the track directly with a car to use for publicity, so going through a third party was quite unique.
Although several Continentals were used as event vehicles, only one '46 Continental lapped the historic 2.5-mile oval on its first postwar showing. After being driven by Ford president Henry Ford II during the race, the Continental was supposed to have been given to race winner George Robson. Unfortunately, the victor was tragically killed in a plane crash later in the year. Instead, the Continental passed through private hands, including former Indy 500 driver Roger Ward until it was eventually acquired by noted collector Jim Covert, who commissioned a thorough freshening of its older restoration in about 2007.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
130 hp, 292 cu. in. side-valve twelve-cylinder engine with three-speed transmission with overdrive, leaf spring and solid axle front suspension, leaf spring and live axle rear suspension and four-wheel hydraulically-actuated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125"
Source: RM Auctions