Given lower sales and less-consistent design across the decades, Lincoln always seemed to play second fiddle to Cadillac in the U.S. luxury Pantheon, but its often-artful offerings made beautiful music together as the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club's 2007 Eastern National Meet took place June 13-16 at Cherry Hill, N.J.'s Holiday Inn.
The Lincoln & Continental Owners Club's 2007 Eastern National Meet attracted two nearly identical 1941 Zephyr three-window coupes with Darien Blue exteriors. The foreground car fitted with a blue interior belongs to Mike and Norma Petros of Canton, Ohio, while Charlestown, R.I., restorer Dan Falco recently finished the background car (with tan upholstery) for Craig Watjen of Bellvue, Wash.
Registration chairperson Bob Aquaro, showing a 1956 Capri coupe and a 1969 Continental sedan sporting lowered springs and Billet Specialties custom wheels, was "really proud of the Philadelphia Region Chapter" sponsoring the so-called "Liberty Bell" event. "Everybody really chipped in," he said, calculating in the wake of a year's intensive planning that "our total was 200 people and 90 cars, with 82 judged and eight on exhibition."
With the host hotel located just across the Delaware River from the City of Brotherly Love, Aquaro also reported that attendees "really raved about Thursday's tour to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Another group went to Atlantic City by bus and lost a couple of bucks, but they had a nice time." He felt similarly "blessed" for good weather during meet week, and asserted that Friday evening's auction "to raise money for the chapter was the most fun we've had in years. A lot of really nice stuff was donated, including Waterford crystal glasses with the Lincoln logo on them, and parts dating back to the '40s and '50s."
Given their common mechanicals, attendees of the LCOC Liberty Bell Meet could not resist comparing the radically different profiles of David Krewson's 1941 Continental Cabriolet and Edward Avedsian's adjacent 1941 Zephyr convertible.
Even with their eardrums under constant assault from the jumbo jets taking off and landing at Philadelphia's nearby International Airport every few minutes, event first-timers declared without exception that they were thoroughly enjoying Saturday's car show.
Shepard and Jane Ellenberg received much adulation for driving 150-plus miles from Millbrook, N.Y., in a maroon 1957 Mark II that the previous owner, a renowned Lincoln judge from Missouri, had put just 68 miles on in the decade after finishing a multi-award-winning restoration in 1995.
Shepard and Jane Ellenberg drove this immaculate 1957 Mark II more than 150 miles from Millbrook, N.Y., to attend the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club's 2007 Liberty Bell Meet in Cherry Hill, N.J. With front bumper guards, and the deletion of rear fender scoops on air-conditioned models, visually distinguishing it from the 2,550 built in 1956, this was one of only 444 hardtops constructed during the series' final year.
"She was known as a trailer queen when we bought her two years ago as my birthday present," Jane said, "but we bought the car to drive and have put 1,100 miles on it over the last two years." Having already displayed it at a couple of horse shows near their home, Cherry Hill proved an ideal venue for the Mark's first non-local meet, since the distance wasn't that great. "There were lots of waves and thumbs-up as we came down here on the New Jersey Turnpike."
Local enthusiast, Frank Staff, showing a 1972 Continental that had accumulated only 38,000 miles since it was originally purchased by his uncle Lester Mingin, said "I just joined the LCOC at the beginning of May, and they really go out of their way to make you feel at home."
Five-year-old Abbie and seven-year-old Allie Duncan are already vying for ownership of their father Eric's freshly restored 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV hardtop, which had been his father-in-law's daily driver in high school during the 1970s.
Of his powder-blue heirloom, he said "I have pretty much every piece of paper you could imagine, including the salesman's card." With a white vinyl roof and other options boosting the $7,302 starting price to $8,434.81 as delivered, Tom Tyson must have earned a nice commission from Stewart Lincoln-Mercury of Mt. Holly, N.J.
Frank also recalled, "When I was nine years old, it was a big deal to go my uncle's house and see his new car. My aunt was screaming, 'Do you believe he paid $9,000 for this?' She was livid. In the late '90s, she wanted to sell it off, but my youngest son Anthony, who's now 11, convinced her to keep it." In the end, "She also gave me my uncle's 1965 Thunderbird Landau, which has 48,000 miles on it."
Boosted by a recent cover story in Lincoln & Continental Comments, the compact Versailles (sold 1977-'80 as a Cadillac Seville rival) is finally being appreciated by collectors. The gold '77 model was shown in Cherry Hill by Connie Ross of Amber, Pa., while the adjacent, two-tone-gray '77 had just 4,800 miles on it when Michael N. Bradley of Delmar, Del., purchased it in 2002. After a round trip to Ford's 2003 centennial celebration in Dearborn, Mich., the odometer still reads only 7,000 miles.
The iconic, clap-door Continentals of the 1960s were guaranteed attention-getters at the show, but Harvey Schofield, a Professional Car Society member from Marlton, N.J., really pulled in the cognoscenti with a pair of coach-built rarities from Lehmann-Peterson of Chicago. "Out of 500 L-P Lincoln limousines made from 1964 to 1970," he said, "there are maybe 150 survivors, out of which just six have other than 34-inch center stretches (two prototypes, with 36-inch wheelbase extensions, were also completed in 1963) and here's two of them."
Schofield's standard-wheelbase 1965 model, constructed for the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, could still accommodate his 6-foot-3 frame comfortably, because the partition only filled in the space between the headliner and the top of the front seat. "Isn't that shrewd?" Schofield asked. "This car is a tribute to Peterson's ingenuity. The rear compartment air conditioner is also mounted in the trunk, instead of in the partition as on 34-inch limousines." His adjacent 1967, meanwhile, was one of only two done by L-P as an 8-inch mini-stretch, and "was originally built for John Searle, the CEO of Searle Pharmaceutical in Skokie, Ill. Though he had some downtown Chicago directorships, he was a regular-type guy who didn't want to be chauffeured in a big, long Cadillac limousine."
Though it added $8,000 to the $12,099 base price, Lincoln managed to build 5,159 Diamond Jubilee Edition Mark Vs during the Ford Motor Co.'s 75th anniversary in 1978. Three near-identical, velour-upholstered examples finished in Diamond Blue Clearcoat ' the package was also available with Jubilee Gold Moondust paintwork ' were fielded by James Marchione of Helmetta, N.J.; Timothy Bernadzikowski of Laurel, Md.; and Michael N. Bradley of Delmar, Del., (just 6,584 original miles).
Full Classic Lincolns, like the 1920s Model L and 1930s K-Series, were notably absent, but the strong turnout of 1940s Continentals and Zephyrs offered suitable compensation. The oldest car on exhibit, an all-black 1940 Continental Cabriolet brought from Manchester, N.H., by Charles Blais, epitomized all that Lincoln enthusiasts admire about Eugene T. Gregorie's greatest creation for Edsel Ford, while a 1941 Zephyr convertible owned by Ed Avedsian of Lexington, Mass., was constantly compared, proportion-wise, to the adjacent 1941 Continental Cabriolet shown by David Krewson of Newton, Penn. Another big attraction, especially when they were juxtaposed front-to-rear for photos, was a pair of 1941 Zephyr three-window coupes with identical Darien Blue exteriors. The first car, which also had a blue interior, had been owned for three years by Michael Petros of Canton, Ohio, who said the previous, New Hampshire-based owner "was in the midst of a divorce, so he wanted to sell me speedboats, Corvettes and many other things." The second coupe, bearing a Rhode Island license tag belonging to Charlestown, R.I., restorer Dan Falco, had just been completed for Bellvue, Wash., collector Craig Watjen.
In spite of the two shown in Cherry Hill side-by-side, Falco said surviving examples are extremely rare, because, "Everyone thought the Continentals were the classics. Most (of the Zephyr coupes) were hot-rodded or broken up for Continental parts."
Painted Palomino Buff just like the car depicted in the ad leaning against its bumper, James Westervelt's 1955 Capri hardtop from Tenants Harbor, Maine, also warranted scrutiny as the conceptual dividing line between the 1952-'54 "Road Race" Lincolns and the larger, flashier models sold in the latter half of the decade (Glenn Kramer, one of the show judges, also recalled that, "Jack Kerouac wrote a short story about being picked up by a woman driving this car in this color"). Though he's owned more than 40 Chevrolet Corvairs over the years, as well as a 1940 Pontiac, 1953 Packard and a 1955 AMC Metropolitan, the Capri was Westervelt's first Lincoln when he purchased it last August at the Owl's Head Transportation Museum Auction, after being egged on by some Lincoln friends who accompanied him to the event.
The car was from Miramichi, New Brunswick, and it needed a lot of wiring work, but Westervelt said he just fell in love with it ' being one of the few cars he's seen that looked good with a Continental kit, and the added length of an external spare posed no parking-related challenges, because he has eight garages on his property. He says he keeps building them, because his wife has stipulated that he can't own more cars than he has garages.
1958-'60 Lincoln Continentals are not to everyone's taste with their canted headlamps, Baroque sheet-metal sculpturing and awesomely heavy unit bodies averaging 5,000 pounds-plus at the curb, but Pittsburgh-area residents Eric and Gina Duncan took obvious delight in the Cameo Rose-colored 1959 Mark IV coupe that had been in their family since 1972.
"It ended up being my father-in-law's daily driver in high school," Eric said, before it was cleaned up and put on the show circuit by Gina's grandfather Robert Follett. Having sat for a decade after Mr. Follett passed away, the car was recently treated to a two-and-a-half-year restoration at Chris Dunn's Lincoln Land in Clearwater, Fla., which was completed just in time to be delivered to the show field on the Thursday morning prior to judging. "Though it's going back to Pittsburgh on a trailer, we do plan to drive it," Eric promised. "I'm especially eager for my father-in-law to see it. We bought it off him and meant to keep it in the family. Our two little ones, five-year-old Abbie and seven-year-old Allie, are already fighting over who gets it when I die. To them, it is the Big Pink Barbie Car."