1963 Lincoln Continental - Reader Ride

By: Lachlan McCann

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Open top dreaming in a '63 Lincoln Continental


Lachlan McCann's 1963 Lincoln Continental

I‘ve had this car almost 18 months now, I bought it from a guy in South Australia. I’ve had a bunch of old cars. My dad buys and sells old cars for a living, but I’ve always wanted a Continental. I was looking at importing one from the States. I was pretty open as far as criteria but I just wanted a ‘61-’64 Continental; hard-top or soft-top didnt really matter. I thought I could only afford a hard-top to be honest. Black was the preference for colour, but I was happy to settle for another. I had a ‘48 Chev at the time, which I was going to sell to buy a Lincoln. But this came up advertised in South Australia. As soon as I saw it I knew it was exactly what I wanted, being triple black and a convertible. It was my ideal year, too. So I rang the guy up and bought it over the phone. I had someone look at it for me, but I knew it was what I wanted and the guy was a pretty good guy. He seemed honest.

When the car got here I saw that it was everything I expected. This has a 7-litre 430 cubic inch big block Ford motor, or an MEL 430. It’s the factory engine and pretty much everything else under the bonnet is factory. It has a few reliability changes, the distributor is electronic and the radiator has been upgraded but everything else is as it was. The paint is pretty much original too, some parts have been redone but it’s never been fully restored, which I kind of like about it. It’s a pretty honest car, all underneath is tidy and rust-free, these are really hard to find in that sort of condition. Mostly it’s a survivor car I guess.

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These things were presidential cars back in the day, so JFK was shot in a stretch version of this car, but he also rode around in Continentals during other engagements. For their day, they were top-of-the-line. Power steering, power brakes, electric windows all around, electric seats, even electric quarter windows, central locking. For a car built in ‘63 its got everything you could possibly think of.

This particular car had the unique thing, being a convertible it had all the top of the line options, but this one wasn’t delivered new to a dealer. It has a plate which is what they call a DSO, which shows it was either a Ford Executive car from new, or a U.S Government car. The plant they built these in was in Wixom (Michigan), but they had a fire which destroyed all the records. So there’s no way of chasing who got the car new. I do know a little bit about the car’s history. Aside from that, it was in Utah for a long time and it has Utah plates, so it was registered there.

It’s pretty rare to see a car like this from Utah that hasnt been driven on the salt flats out there. I’ve also got a newspaper clipping that shows the car was repossessed then sold at an auction in the ‘70s. I found that out by Googling the VIN number. But in recent history it was pulled out of a barn in Utah in 2011 and shipped to South Australia, and someone spent a lot of money on it. There’s one guy in the world who specialises in Lincoln Convertibles, and travels all over the U.S in his motor home. His name’s John Cashman, and he’s really well known in the Lincoln scene. There’s a receipt for his work on this car totalling eight or so thousand dollars. I’ve had cars from Texas and California that have been less tidy than this one.

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In ‘63 they made about 3000 of these in Convertible, and around 30,000 hard tops. In Australia, I’m only aware of around five or six of these, so you’re not going to pull up at a car show and see two of these. Since I’ve bought this I’ve been offered substantial amounts for it, but I looked long and hard for it and I plan on keeping it. I’ve even just spent a fair chunk of money ordering some new suspension from the States. It’s going to be bagged all around. It’s going to be bad-ass when it’s done. There’s plenty of cars I’d like to own, don’t get me wrong, but I just can’t bring myself to part with this one.

Value guide: An original good condition '63 Lincoln Continental could fetch upwards of $50k. 

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