In 1938, Edsel Ford asked Ford designer Bob Gregorie to design and build a custom car. This car would be Edsel’s personal conveyance. Edsel wanted some specific characteristic, mostly taken from the European styling of the day- long hood, short rear trunk, and the feature that became synonymous with its namesake- a rear mounted spare tire. Gregorie took his first design, the Lincoln Zephyr, and “hot rodded”, creating a custom coach-built body that became the Lincoln Continental. Two were built, one became Edsel Ford’s daily driver, and the other was purchased by Bob Gregorie himself. The concept was so popular, over 200 orders were placed with Lincoln, not too shabby for a car that cost more than the average house at the time.
The 1940 models were all hand-built bodies, as the production tooling had not arrived yet. these cars had regular door handles instead of the iconic Zephyr pushbuttons. In 1941, the production tooling arrived, and some changes were made- adding turn signals to the front fenders and the classic pushbutton door handles. Most of the Lincoln Continentals were cabriolets, with a tall folding convertible top.
Flash forward to 2016, when sibling co-owners Jimmy and Lindy Johnson of Chickasha, OK met up with Jefferson Bryant of Red Dirt Rodz, about taking over a potential build, the discussion quickly turned to Lincoln Zephyrs. Jimmy mentioned they owned a 37 Zephyr, and sitting next to it is a 1941 Lincoln Continental. Purchased by they father between 1956 and 1959, the car has sat in a warehouse ever since. They had been looking to get this car built, and now was the time.
Red Dirt Rodz took possession of the car in late September and started the research. There were quite a few items on the car that were clearly not factory. The top was the wrong shape, there were no turn signals, the interior was not original, and the functional hood latch was gone (the original hood ornament was also the latch). As it turns out, this car was a Kustom from the late 40s/50s. The top was very unique as the peak was gone and it slopped rearward to the deck. The interior was not cloth, rather a quality vinyl in a red and cream pattern. the turn signals and hood latch were both shaved, smoothed over with lead body solder, and the car at one point had a v-8 with dual exhaust.
The original top had been redone by Carson Top Shop in California. We found one other car that had the exact same top design, which was built by Carson, and that was an Kustomrama car. We thought for a moment that this might be that car, but then we found where that car is today. This top is identical, and non-functional. Additionally, we found receipts in the glove box starting in 1952 from California, including the business card of the salesman that sold the car out of used lot in Hollywood to a Marine from Oklahoma stationed in Camp Pendleton. It seems this young man drove the Lincoln back and forth from California to Oklahoma. Eventually, after 2 engine rebuilds, the receipts stop and we know it was sold to the Johnson family.
So what do you do with a half-built, dilapidated Kustom that has sat in a warehouse for nearly 60 years? Restoration is not what the owners want, they already have a restored Zephyr. We needed to rebuild this art deco Kustom as it was intended to be, a 50s era Kustom with some modern flavor. Instead of traditional Kustom, this will be the pinnacle of decadence in the Kustom style, we call it “Kustom Luxury” This post will serve as the home for the progress of the Lincoln, so bookmark it and check back often for progress reports.
Here is the plan for the Lincoln Kontinental-
1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, one of approximately 40 left in existence
50s-era custom build with modern running gear
550-hp LS2 built with Summit Racing and Comp Cams wired with Painless Performance
TCI Street Fighter 4L65E transmission
Art Morrison front clip with tubular control arms
Vi-King coil overs
Rack and pinion steering
Art Morrison rear ladder bars with 9” housing
Wilwood brakes front and rear
Hydroboost assisted brakes
16″ wire wheels with wide whites
Custom cast aluminum Duvall-inspired windshield frame
Carson smooth top
Fenders welded to body
Trunk sectioned 3.5 inches
Frenched 39 Ford taillights
Frenched 39 Ford Deluxe headlights with HID
One-off billet aluminum hood hinges
The interior will be 50s-style upholstery on sculpted heated bench seats, front and rear. The interior will look like the 50s but feel like 2017. Buckskin leather with oxblood suede diamond tuck inserts. All the modern creature comforts- AC, power windows, discrete high-end stereo system, leather upholstery, cut and sewn carpeting, custom Autometer Art Deco gauges, engraved filigrees on various interior trim components (knobs, seat brackets, etc)
Paint is from Axalta, it is a custom dark cherry candy