Lincoln has had a rocky history, almost throwing in the towel three times, first as an independent company.
Henry Ford’s wife seems to have liked chauffeur-driven cars, though, which Ford didn’t make, so she had a Cadillac. That’s sort of embarrassing, and it’s rumored that Henry bought Lincoln Motor Co. to get his wife out of a Cadillac. The second time the Depression almost did them in. Fortunately, Edsel Ford, Henry’s son, came up with the Lincoln-Zephyr in 1935, and that saved the car brand again. The third time was during the years 1958-60, when Ford Motor Co. clearly misjudged the market.
The Lincoln Continentals from 1958 through 1960 were the most massive cars built in America since World War II. They were huge, built on a 131-inch wheelbase, weighing more than 5,000 pounds and almost 19 feet long. They were a bomb. Only 2,044 were produced. Lincoln during this time period lost close to $60 million, or about $618 million in 2023 dollars. Robert McNamara, then Ford Motor’s vice president for vehicle operations, suggested they just discontinue the Lincoln brand.
They decided to give Lincoln one last chance, though. The design studio submitted a proposal: a more formal look for the 1961 Thunderbird. However, management changed that, and the proposal became the plan for the next Continental.
“We wanted the car to be a statement of elegant simplicity,” said John Najjar, the 1961 Continental’s designer. “The car should be like an elegant lady in a simple black dress with her jewelry nothing more than an uncomplicated diamond necklace.”
The idea called for a four-door sedan and a four-door convertible, the first production four-door convertible since the 1951 Frazer Manhattan. The 1961 Continental was 14.8 inches shorter than the 1960 model with a wheelbase 8 inches shorter. It was a six-passenger vehicle, so to make entering the back seat reasonably easy, “suicide doors” (hinged at the rear instead of the front) were required in the back.
The Continental convertible was priced at $6,713 ($68,500 in 2023 dollars), which was $646 and 300 pounds more than the sedan but about 1,000 pounds less than the 1960 model. The new 1961 Lincoln Continental was a big success, selling 22,307 sedans and 2,857 convertibles with the status and prestige of the line soaring, so much so that it became John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine.
Today’s featured vehicle looks like the car President Kennedy was in when he was assassinated. It’s a 1961 Lincoln four-door convertible owned by Danville resident Dustin Oxborrow, who is the second owner, acquiring the car in 2018.
“The original buyer was a naval aviator who flew out of Alameda,” he said. “After his retirement from the Navy, he worked for Boeing in Washington state before passing on, but his wife kept the Lincoln. The car just sort of sat with the family. It was an important car for her, and it was very tough for her to get rid of it.”
She agreed to sell it to Oxborrow for $27,000, knowing he wasn’t going to buy and flip the car for a quick profit.
“It was an ‘honest’ car, no rust, no real issues, but aesthetically it had been painted white, and the paint job was not great,” Oxborrow said. “The top was bad, and didn’t work. It had a couple of bent rods.”
These were not surprises to Oxborrow, but this also was not acceptable to him. The biggest surprise was when he raised the top for the first time and a dead rat and about a pound of Skittles fell out of the roof folds. Oxborrow suspects diabetes got the rat.
He is clearly a perfectionist, so he had every single system in the car evaluated and either redone, reworked or replaced — even minor things like the way the windows work and the door locks, along with major things like the motor, transmission, power top, paint, interior and wheels.
Incidentally, the wheels are just the opposite of what one would expect. They look like shiny new standard factory wheel covers, but they are actually custom chrome wheels designed to look like the much cheaper shiny new factory standard wheel covers.
This car had 81,000 miles on it when Oxborrow bought it and had been used to pull a trailer. The engine is a 430-cubic-inch V8 rated at 340 horsepower and, of course, has an automatic transmission. It appears that Ford included everything they knew how to make automatic in this car. For example, when the top is raised or lowered, no manual locks, catches or clamps are required like in most convertibles — it’s all automatic in this car.
This $27,000 car is now an $80,000 car with all of the restoration but still is a good financial investment.
“The high mark right now is $650,000,” Oxborrow stated. “They go pretty regularly for drivers (vehicle that are actually driven by the owners) for $125,000 to $150,000.”
This owner is a collector, not a trader, though.
“I think they made 2,860 convertibles, and there are less than 200 on the road today,” he said.
Have an interesting vehicle? Email Dave at [email protected]. To read more of his columns or see more photos of this and other issues’ vehicles, visit mercurynews.com/author/david-krumboltz.
Soruce : https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/08/06/me-my-car-61-lincoln-in-danville-said-one-of-under-200-on-road-today/