95% Complete! 1948 Lincoln Continental Convertible

Pre-war Ford Motor Company products got a long lease on life. As late as 1948, Ford and its subsidiaries, Mercury and Lincoln were still working off of designs and architecture that dated to 1940 or 1941. World War II had been a significant interrupter to the domestic auto industry but for an understandable reason. The year 1949 would bring about a big change but let’s take a look at the last of the era with a 1948 Lincoln Continental convertible, located in Green Valley, Arizona and available here on craigslist for $17,000. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

Get a good look at that grille. Some might say that it is a face only a mother could love, while others may suggest that it belongs in a Stephen King novel. It’s just fantastic! All of that metalwork, a style that we haven’t seen in many years and probably won’t again. The images available for this Continental don’t reveal a lot of close-up detail but the primered rear quarters are evidence of either bodywork or parts replacement. The seller states that this Lincoln needs complete restoration but what can be spied looks reasonable. I’m a bit confused by the “nearly 95% complete” claim, I guess that means complete with 95% of all of its parts. The issue is that 95% complete and “needing total restoration” doesn’t really jibe. The convertible top fabric is not installed but the new fabric top comes with the car and it’s sitting in the back seat. OK, I think maybe a 3% deduction for that item so now we’re talking 92% complete.

Under the hood is a Lincoln 292 CI, V12 flathead engine that develops 120 gross HP. It develops it, however, when it’s actually running which this example doesn’t. The seller is very forthright, “does not run, must be transported by truck”. Underhood looks very complete as in nothing is missing so hopefully, the non-running problem is something minor; hopefully.¬† OK, there’s another 7% demerit, now we’re down to 85%. As for gear changing, this Continental had Lincoln’s only choice, a three-speed manual transmission with overdrive. Interesting to note is the fact that a Lincoln was not available with an automatic transmission until 1949 and then only by using GM’s Hydramatic, a unit that Lincoln’s arch-nemesis, Cadillac, first employed nine years earlier.

The interior of this Lincoln looks great. The dash, instrument panel, seat material, door cards and what can be seen of the carpet look either well preserved or replaced – no reference is made by the seller. This is a 72K mile automobile so age would be more of a factor than use. Again, I’m wondering about the “needing total restoration” comment, the detail and accompanying images don’t send that message.

It is possible that the seller has a very high standard for this Continental and the concept of having a nice driver may not be something that is acceptable, thus the comment regarding the perceived needed restoration. Or maybe there are some real serious issues underneath in terms of structural integrity. Or maybe the engine is in worse shape than anticipated, we won’t know without asking questions. This example seems like a great starting point towards ownership of a fine post-war convertible; interested parties should make inquires. That said, I’m sticking with 85% complete, what do you think?

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  1. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Magnificent old Lincoln. The grill reminds me of an old, high end, cast iron wood burning stove.

    Like 16
    • Howard A Member

      I thought of the guy with the 3 billiard balls in his mouth. California plate, who knows what Hollywood bigshot may have owned this. Not the boom mike operator, that’s for sure.

      Like 5
  2. Fred W

    I’m pretty familiar with these, have an identical one in the garage (but mine is a restomod). The mentality among the “original” Continental crowd is “nothing less than perfection will do” , which I can understand, but I still like my less than perfect one that I can drive up to Home Depot without concern. These are unique in that they are the only post war full classic, and there were just a few hundred cabriolets made. Guess I did OK since I spent less than this and had my running barn find up and fully roadable in about a month.

    Like 17
  3. normadesmond

    Is this what Baby Jane Hudson hauled Blanche to the beach in?

    Like 7
    • Charlie
      • normadesmond

        Wow, pretty close!

        Like 1
    • Moparman Member

      Coincidentally, the movie was just on last night, and it was then I noticed that it was a manual shift car, and it appeared that Bettye Davis was actually driving it. I’m also curious as to how many of the commentators actually get the “Baby Jane” reference?! :-)

      Like 3
      • JP

        Yeah, whatever happened to her?

        Like 2
      • Moparman Member

        @ JP: Rated as one of the best movies of the 1960’s; Check this review on it a IMDB:


        Like 1
      • JP

        Great movie, for sure. Also its companion “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” Both awesome.

  4. Angel Cadillac Diva

    The Lincoln Navigator tried a similence of this grill a few years back. Didn’t work.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member


      Like 1
  5. charlie Member

    As a 6 or 7 year old in the late 40’s I had 7 toy cars. One was a red rubber ’46 – ’48 Continental convertible. One was an iridescent blue fastback Buick that gave off plastic fumes. One was Ford panel truck. The other three were trunk back 30’s cars of some indeterminate nature. The Continental had aluminum painted trim. I knew it was a very special car, very different from what I saw on the roads of the time, but had no idea what it was. When I was in high school there was one in town, which had the most wonderful exhaust notes I had ever heard, and this was the age of Fords with glass packs. And maybe 20 years ago I frequently drove by one rotting in a field. By current standards it is an enormous car. Oh had I the time, the money, and the room.

    Like 3
  6. The one Member

    V12, Puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrs like a kitten.

    Like 4
  7. schooner

    See that style of grill again? Already have. Have you seen the new 7 and 4 Series? The kidneys have become fat asses.

    Like 2
  8. JP

    This actually seems like a pretty good deal, depending on what’s wrong with the engine. If nothing serious, you’ll easily double your money as soon as it runs. Of course there’s the rest of the running gear which is a complete mystery…

    Like 2
  9. Mike Taylor

    This Contential and the few before it is and will ever be the most beautiful car ever built. My father had a black four door sedan with soft green interior. That was in 1948 !! There is nothing to compare. There are many pretty cars now so l will just keep looking.

    Like 1
  10. Kenn

    I agree with Fred W-the seller feels perfection is the only way to go, hence the “needs total resotoration” opinion. However, it does need the top installed, and there may be problems/missing parts to the top mechanism which is why the new top is not on. If I had the $ it would be in my garage for the V-12 alone! Unless I could find a Cadillac V-16!

  11. Peter Phillips

    The author says: “As late as 1948, Ford and its subsidiaries, Mercury and Lincoln were still working off of designs and architecture that dated to 1940 or 1941.”
    Yes, and if you’ve ever crawled underneath one of these, the front and rear suspensions are even older than that! This thing has transverse leaf springs, front and rear, and the differential looks exactly like a Model A Ford from 1928! The front suspension design and layout resemble that of a Model T, just a little bit thicker to withstand the extra weight. The chassis of these cars was positively ancient in 1948! We restored a ’47 not too long ago. They are not easy cars to work on, with the distributor right behind the fan, the long tubes that hold the spark plug wires, and a radiator that must weigh close to 100 pounds!

    Like 3
  12. Mountainwoodie

    Man, I’d feel like the Shizzle driving this baby around.
    Years ago….like in the mid nineties, a guy who owned an antique store in San Diego drove one to work every day and parked it outside in front of his emporioum, I gave him a lot of credit for that which outweighed his……ahem….demerits,

    Even If other commenters are correct about a Continental owner’s pursuit of perfection, I still wish the seller would disclose what exactly is the problem with the no op status. But I guess he figures a buyer who wants this doesnt care at 17 large.

    Like 3
  13. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    The only registered AACA Classic I ever sat in and started by myself (in the early 70s) was this automobile and in this color. It was part of a static collection at the Lazy Susan Dinner Theater in Woodbridge, Virginia. The proprietor of the establishment allowed me to crawl all over that car and even took my picture next to the front fender using my father’s Brownie camera. I must have been around 7-8 years old.

    Like 1
  14. Bob McK Member

    I need one of these in my shop.

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