Long And Lost: 1953 Lincoln Capri


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We tend to see quite a few large, luxurious Lincolns from the sixties, seventies and eighties on Barn Finds, but not so many of the early fifties versions that are famous for their victories in the Mexican Road Races of 1952-54. These are great looking cars that in their day were strong performers and good handling cars, as well.


1953 Lincoln Capri’s, like the one pictured here, had a curb weight of 4340 pounds, were powered by the Lincoln specific four barrel, 317 cubic engine Y-block producing 205 horsepower, and drove through GM sourced hydramatic transmissions. For their day, they were quick cars that really handled well – the Lincoln engine that year produced more power per cubic inch than any other American made motor. In fact, the 1952-55 Lincolns were actually smaller than their predecessors, and all the Lincolns that came after them, and they look quite svelte compared to so many later cars that make us think of Lincolns as boat-like cruisers.


I am not sure what caused Lincoln to name its new top of the line model the “Capri” in 1952. Capri is an Italian island that was becoming known, more in Europe than in America then, as a tourist destination. It had been popular among artists and writers in the late 19th century, so maybe Lincoln product planners thought the exoticism of the name would be appealing to buyers.


It may not have been the name that did it, but the high end Capri handily outsold its lesser sibling Cosmopolitan model for all four years of this generation of Lincolns. In 1953, Lincoln sold 26,640 Capris, which were offered as four door sedans, two door “coupes” and convertibles, compared to just 14,062 of the less expensive Cosmopolitan line (sedans and coupes only).


The 1955 model year was the last for the 1952 design cycle, with few changes in design; the engine for that year was larger at 341 cubic inches, making 225 hp, and that year, Lincoln finally got its own automatic transmission. Annual sales declined to 27,222 units, of which 23,673 were Capris.


With only 12,916 two door “coupes” made in 1953, the black and red example shown in this Craigslist ad in Selkirk, New York, is quite rare now, and seems like it would be a desirable car for any Lincoln fan. This car is said to have been stored since 1964, so it is going to need a complete going over. While the seller claims it is “100% rust free” and “100% complete” with low mileage, a prospective buyer will need to check it out pretty thoroughly. Any missing parts will be difficult to source, and these cars are prone to rust; since it was on the road for more than ten years, it would be more than amazing if it turned out to be truly rust free.


The seller does not say much else other than that the “motor turns” and claims it will be a “super easy restoration,” but that seems quite optimistic to me. There are no pictures or mention of the interior. I’d expect some work will need to be done there, and given that it has power windows and seats, it’s likely electrical or hydraulic work may be needed. The seller admits the bumpers need re-chroming, and the pictures just don’t show enough to be able to tell what else will be required to get this car back on the road. The $9,800 asking price seems steep to me; Hagerty says that would be the price for a daily driving example in “fair” condition. Even if you have good mechanical skills and a well equipped shop, this car will require a considerable amount of work, is certainly worth the effort, just not “super easy.”

1953 Capri “Canyon Runner” –  photo courtesy of Jalopy Journal

At least for me, this 1953 Capri is a great example of a true “barn find.” It’s a car we don’t see that often, it looks great, and will be a fine driver, once the work it needs is done. It appears complete and restorable, and must have a pretty good story to go with it, but as with so many cars we see these days, the high prices of cars in better condition seem to make barn find owners overvalue their cars (it has been on CL for two months now). So, dear readers, what do you all think of this one? Are any of you Road Race Lincoln fans making plans for a trip to the Albany area to make a deal for this car right now?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Rock OnMember

    That is one butt ugly continental kit!!!

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    • BradL

      That would be the first thing to go.

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    • jackthemailman(ret)

      They all were.

      Like 0
  2. TJP

    Cool car, but a definite MONEY Pit from an investment point ;)

    Like 0
  3. MikeK

    Looks like there may be some other interesting finds in that garage.

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  4. Fred

    This is identical (including paint colors) to a display car at Fact-O-Bake, an Earl Scheib type paint shop in Pensacola FL in the ’70’s. What was different about the Capri? It was cut in half lengthwise and bolted to a wall outside.

    Like 0

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