Overgrown 1959 Lincoln Continental

overgrown-1959-lincoln-continental

While remodeling a home in Altamonte Springs, Florida reader Ray M. discovered this 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible hiding in the backyard of a nearby abandoned home. Having always dreamt of restoring a part of automotive history, Ray knew he needed to save it. He set about buying the car right away, but kept hitting road blocks. After some digging, he was able to locate the previous owner’s son, who put him in contact with their sister. He was then able to strike a deal with her and soon it was on its way to its new home. Ray hasn’t ever restored a car before and is in need of some advice on how to go about restoring this Lincoln.

overgrown-1959-lincoln-continental-interior

Ray cleared the tropical foliage from the car and things are surprisingly intact. The interior is going to need to be redone, but it appears most of the hard to find bits are still here. There weren’t many of these built in this color combo, which could make things a bit more difficult. Ray didn’t say what state the 430 cui V8 is in or if it’s the original motor, but hopefully it isn’t locked up.

overgrown-1959-lincoln-continental-front-corner

Even after sitting outside in the humidity of Florida for who knows how long, this Continental appears to be solid and should make for a great starting point. Like most of us, Ray is on a tight budget and could use some advice on what do with this big classic. If any of you have advice on where to find parts or how to go about restoring it on a budget, please feel free to leave Ray a comment below. Special thanks to Ray for sharing his find with us.

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Comments

  1. George Member

    This is a great convertible, and if passionate enough, worth restoring. It has to be one of the largest convertibles ever built, if not the largest (and I’m sure someone here knows!)

    I think “on the cheap” does not apply to any 50s luxury car. All that chrome is expensive, and there’s a lot of surface area to prep for paint, etc.

    The more work you can do yourself, the more you will save. I’d probably try to get the mechanicals sorted out, first, gradually work through other systems, and once you have it running well, see what’s left of your budget for paint, top, and interior restoration. Leaving it weathered might be a better option than MAACO paint and Pep-Boys slip covers.

  2. braktrcr

    Only advice I can give is to NOT disassemble the car, Clean it up, fix what needs fixing, likely Brakes, Gas Tank, Carb if it has one. Drive the car enjoy it. A full restoration will take a boat load of money and years. A little tinkering and some minor parts may have you grinning as you take your first spin around the block

    • Blake

      Totally agree on not disassembling. It feels like progress at first, but then the realization hits how many little pieces comprise any car. Making it stop and run and have safe tires and steering are the most important things. A blanket can cover the seat, and put what remains of the top down and enjoy riding in the Florida sun. As you get better educated on the car, you can start redoing other components a bit at a time. Enjoy this cool old car.

  3. Dan Farrell

    I agree about the restoration, I think the first sticker shock will come when he tries to find someone who can make a custom convertible top for that old tank. Reupholstering the leather seats will kill at least four cows and on and on and on.

  4. George Member

    and it’s so hard to find those baby-blue calves these days…………

  5. Horse Radish

    Being a Mercedes guy myself I cannot help directly, but I second what’s said above.
    DO NOT TAKE THAT THING APART, until you have a completion goal(s).
    Most first timers rip the cars to pieces and then stop, overwhelmed and discouraged.
    Good luck Ray !

  6. Ron Bajorek

    I would take the one gentlemans advice above, don’t disassemble, repair what needs to be repaired, restoring that rig would take all of 50K and then some. It is very cool

  7. Tom E.

    Restoring it on a budget, isn’t an option with a 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible……if you can do your own body work and interior, you might save a few bucks here and there, but the price alone for chroming all the parts and replacing rare rubber and restoring trim pieces, will put this restoration way North of $50k without even trying, sadly the only way to buy one of these is already done, after the guy’s got $75k+ in it and sells it for a loss…..

  8. joe lonzello

    Having owned a ’59 Continental convertible in high school Ihave to wonder what shape the floors are in after sitting outside in that Florida climate. Good luck it’s a great cruiser.

    • Robert J

      Yep, My advice is to buy a mig welder and start scrounging up some sheet metal. Old washing machines and such. There is going to be a lot of cut and paste going on under this car and if it is a budget build you may as well weld up your own floors. Hopefully the frame rails aren’t shot. I am sure the front suspension, brakes and that top are already going to cost enough that this will not be cheap to get on the road.

  9. David G

    Agreed with all who stated it – Do the minimums necessary to revive and safety-check her driveability so you can enjoy having her. Also agreed – Only dismantle the parts / sub-assemblies necessary to accomplish the above, since the entire piece-part count on one of these cars most-likely breaks the 5-figure barrier! May have to ride around without a top for a while too so look out for those daily FL afternoon showers! Not that the top-install itself would be that ambitious for any competent top shop (of which there must be MANY in FL), but because you’ve gotta get that retractable rear window frame sub-assembly working well since it’s also the rear-most support bow for top-attachment on these cars. That thing not only moves up and down in the rear boot-well for top retraction, but itself has a retractable rear inner glass for day-to-day ventilation needs, yikes. Indeed, i believe these were the largest production-built convertibles ever made, at least by overall length – and maybe by curb weight as well…. Fantastic find!

  10. J. Pickett

    The body appears sound, but, if the structure is rusted, there’s a problem. This is an early unibody car. I agree with the above advice, make it safe and driveable. Keep looking on the web for a better interior, this may be a lot of work but will be cheaper than redoing the leather. Try to keep the original drive train for value later. Some Mercurys and Edsels used a 410 ci version of this motor and some things like bearings and gaskets might interchange. Look hard for someone who will do the top. But you can keep it a nice day driver for a while. It is a beautiful car. Let’s bring it back to life.

  11. Jim

    With paint, body, electrical, mechanical, chrome work, tires, brakes this could get very expensive to restore. Contact Lincoln Land in Clearwater Florida they can advise you with any and all questions. Good Luck.

  12. mightycujo

    Hemmings.com is also a big help in finding some parts you find you need. I used to do some light restorations decades ago and it helped me tremendously. They had one 59 Lincoln Continental Convertible listed for sale.

    http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/carsforsale/lincoln/continental/1572487.html

  13. Bill

    Put the top frame down, roll the car into your garage. Fix the brakes, then engine & tires. Drive it it nice weather with the top down until you can afford a new top.

  14. Dave

    To digress just a moment, this car was a favorite of Mad Magazine back in the day and showed up many times…that said if you can get away with paint and an interior along with safety items enjoy the ride!

  15. jim

    what a land yacht, great find. make it a driver and have a whole lot of fun.

  16. George Member

    Don’t forget that Lincoln Land is near you in Clearwater. I’d sure give them a call.

    http://www.lincolnlandinc.com

    • stigshift

      Lincoln Land isn’t cheap, but Chris and John and the team will have everything you’ll need. I’ve known them personally for 20+ years. They’re good people. But you sure as hell didn’t start off with a ’65 Mustang. Best of luck on your project. I have always lusted after the ’58-60 Lincolns.

  17. Richard

    The Lincoln 430 is NOT an FE engine like the Mercury/Edsel 410 mentioned earlier in this thread. It does have some design features similar to an FE, but it’s a unique engine all by itself. It was also a rare optional engine in T-Birds of the “squarebird” era (’58-’60).

    • David G

      You’re right, this 430 is one of what many now call the MEL engine family since it was used exclusively in the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln products when intro’d in 58. (Also became an optional engine for the 59 & 60 Squarebird line). The Mercury 383ci and Edsel 410ci (“E-475”) engines were other variants of this ‘Wedge’ engine design. Then later in the mid-60s it became the Lincoln 462ci engine til it died out in 65 or 6 (?). To confuse things, there was also a 410ci FE variant available to Mercury buyers in 66 or 7 iirc, just about the time the original MEL engines were phasing out. LOTS of parts out there for these MEL engines – most everything’s available w/o too much trouble. I love ’em because they’re torque-meisters Deluxe, lots-n-lots-o-torque on the low end. Guess that’s why some race boaters of the late-50s and 60s harvested them from wrecked Lincolns or Mercs back in the day. Super-reliable, super-strong on the bottom end, nice and cool-running all-dayers….

  18. joe lonzello

    Be sure to check rear axle where springs/shocks attach.They can break loose causing the whole rear to wobble. Had to get mine rewelded. Tops of fenders can rust through above headlights. Aside from the power steering pump my engine ran well.no troubles with top or breezeway window.

  19. mightycujo

    If the engine won’t turn, I’d recommend removing the spark plugs, putting some Marvel Mystery Oil in the firing chamber, replacing the plugs so trash cant get in there and letting it sit for a few days. That’s freed up a few engines for me at times and is the cheapest place to start, imo.

    Hope you have tons of fun driving it.

  20. Howard R

    Hey, if all else fails, it would make a great mid century modern design planter.
    You wouldn’t even have to replace the top. While I do respect the outrageous
    aesthetic sensibilities of these cars, & they deserve to be preserved,economic
    considerations probably preclude anything more than a good cleaning & safety
    issues addressed. Btw, recently , a ’59 MK III w/new paint & very nice overall
    condition sold for $21.450 before buyers premium in Ft. Lauderdale at Auctions
    America. We both missed that one..!

  21. Ray M

    Wow. I am in total shock that my “swamp find” made it in. This really is an incredible car and it is my intention to bring it back to life. I had one guy who restores cars for a living take a look and he said easily $100k, with the chrome alone swallowing up to $30k. I thought, that can’t be right. But many of you have confirmed what he said. So, I guess I will do what the consensus here has suggested…get it running and road worthy and then enjoy it. Maybe one day when I’m making millions I can go for the total restore…ha. Thanks, everyone. I will send in updates from time to time and hopefully they’ll get posted.

    • stigshift

      Get it running and enjoy it. Prevent further decay. Drive the hell out of it. Have fun. Drive to Dunedin and take me for a spin.

  22. Jim-Bob

    Whatever you decide to do, remove the carpets-NOW! After that, pull any drain plugs in the floor, or even drill a hole or two. I would also clean out any leaves in the cowl and the fenders between the wheels and doors. I would also consider getting a wire brush and some Rustoleum to treat these areas. This will keep it as dry as possible and slow the corrosion down.

  23. NOSLEEPATALL.COM

    This is a nice 29k original mile Convertible Continental that we found at a swap meet in NJ a while ago. Car was awesome!
    http://nosleepatall.com/27k-59-continental/

    • RogueInLA

      How much did it go for?

  24. 2VT

    It’s a 2 for 1 project. For every $2 you put in it it’s worth $1. So make sure you want it as you will forever more be pronounced, man and car

  25. Barry Norman

    I have a 60 convertible. You can get your convertible top shop to order a top for it even with the embossed Continental star in the side ! They’re not that expensive. Chris Dunn at LincolnLand and Herb Scheffer will become your best friends !! Keep us posted !

  26. RogueInLA

    Hoo boy, what a car! I passed on a clean runner about 20 years ago for $2500 (ex wife thought it was butt ugly). They’ve got great presence.

    First thing I’d do is carefully jack it up and get it on stands, make sure you put the stands under the suspension, and go over the underbody. If the unibody is heavily rusted, it may be just a parts car, unfortunately. Big money to fix rust in one of those if it’s too far gone, and unsafe to use as a driver if it’s badly rusted. If the body checks out, while it’s up in the air go over the brakes, new lines, etc, (“if it’s rusty, replace it”, no sense trying to save money on brakes). Also check the starter and wires for fraying and good connections while it’s up, it’s easy to pull the starter and have it bench tested. Drain the fuel, if it’s really bad you can pull the tank and have it cleaned. Blow the lines out, and check for rust and rot.

    These have a mile of wiring, and you’ll need to go through all of it, critters love wires, and nothing worse than putting power to your new ‘baby’, and have smoke start pouring from under the dash, the engine, the fenders, etc. Lot easier to fix frayed/chewed wires than pulling apart a melted wiring harness (don’t ask how I found this out). First time you put a battery in it, make sure you have someone inside the car, and behind it, checking for smoke so you can yank the battery cable off in a hurry if you have to.

    As mentioned before, marvel oil works wonders, but I read somewhere that a 50/50 mix of kerosene and ATF works better, probably good to do a little searching on that. Pull the valve covers and make sure there’s no rusted rockers, and soak them with whatever you decide to put in the motor to free it up, even if the rockers look good, it can’t hurt to prelube them after all these years.

    While the engine is soaking, it’s a good time to pull the carb and have it checked and clean, old gas will really gum up a carb, and it’ impossible to clean all the passages with it on the car and intact. Pour some ‘engine free’ in the intake while you’re at it, remember, this has been oil free for years, so it’s no doubt bone dry everywhere. I’m not familiar enough with these to know if they can be preoiled with a shaft down the distributor, but if they can, it’s a good idea to do that before the first turn of the motor. Oh yeah, don’t forget to drain whatever is in the engine and put in new oil before you try to start it, not a heavy oil, something to work thru the motor quick, and you’ll be draining it again before driving anyway.

    Then there’s plug wires, points, and on and on and on and on. But damn, it is fun.

    There should be a “Car Restoring For Dummies” book, to give a checklist of all the things to go thru before the first ‘fire up’ and the ‘first drive’. (I’m NOT calling anyone a dummy, fyi).

    I realize a lot of this is obvious to a lot of people, and perhaps the lucky new owner already knows all this, but hey, he asked.

    Good luck, and I hope it turns out to be a keeper, you’re one lucky son of a gun.

  27. Webby

    I’m amazed its in that good a condition,especially with the foliage we see in the first photos.
    I’d suggest wiring a tempory fuse into the fuse at the battery as an additional safe guard
    for when you power it up for the first time.

    And power one circut at at time, until you’re sure that the wiring is OK

    Not for the starter motor obviously, but to protect the yards of wireing elsewhere

  28. Rene

    I don’t know whether this is the largest convertible ever build. But I know that the ’59 Cadillac Eldorado or the ’76 Eldorado is worthy competitors for the title!

  29. Ray M

    I’m blown away by all of the great info, guys. Thanks to everyone who took time to offer their advice, especially RogueinLA, whose doctoral thesis on car restoration will become my basic how-to manual (haha). No doubt I will take ALL of these helpful hints into account, because this actually IS my first rodeo. And yes, I will definitely be getting to know the guys at Lincoln Land in Clearwater.

    To answer a few general questions, all of the engine parts are there and in fairly good shape, so that was a pleasant surprise. The unibody is basically rust free, an even bigger surprise, given it was sitting out in the jungle for so long. There were puddles of water inside the car and a lake in the trunk, so it definitely hadn’t rusted through. Most of the rust is found in two places: the front edge of the hood and the bottom of the doors. Tonight, I will post pictures on Facebook and provide a link here, if anyone is interested.

    I know this is a daunting task, but I’m in no hurry because my motivation is not to make money from it. I really, really want to keep it, so I’m hoping to save a lot by finding good deals on parts online. And I will attempt to do a lot of the work on my own. I’m hoping that my finish carpenter skills will cross over to fixing up this old beauty. It’s is going to be a longtime labor of love.

    • Larry

      Way to go Ray, you have the right state of mind. Do it for the love of it. I wish you the best of luck . And when done and you are on you way to Dunedin to pick up Stigshift please stop by Valrico and pick me up, the first round is on me.
      ENJOY!!!

  30. Matt

    If you have to do it on a budget, consider a restomod where you don’t worry about originality or if you have the style in you… Rad Rod it!

  31. tomokc

    Not one to tackle if on a tight budget.
    That series Lincolns were/are the largest unibodies ever built. Think the WB was 131″.

  32. Chris A.

    I’m surprised to read that the floors and trunk aren’t rusted through. Ray may be lucky in that the car he spotted outside may not have been out there more than a couple of years or htat the top worked to keep water out for many years. The advice is good on the engine work, but the radiator will need to be pressure checked for leaks after flushing. For freeing up an engine, there is also a gum and rust solvent called “Kroil”. You’ll need to be patient if the engine is frozen up, it may take some time for the solvents to work. You’ll need t okeep at it with the solvents as they are tin enough and can drain out through the piston ring end gaps.Dropping the pan, cleanig it out so you can check for solvent drainage will give you an idea as to progress. The one time I had to use Marvel Oil and Kroil, I wamed it up as hot as I could get it, then poured it through a funnel with a long neck. The freeing process n the MB straight 6 took two weeks. Don’t get discouraged, this is one neat car that you won’t see at evry car show. Please keep us posted.

  33. Olivia M.

    Nice car Dad.

  34. Ray M

    stigshift and Larry…I will pick you guys up next week when I have the car finished. Ha. Here is a link to my photo album on Facebook…

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200286065731367.1073741824.1145299919&type=3

    For some reason, I didn’t take a picture of the engine, but I will this weekend and post it Saturday night. I’d be curious to see what anyone here thinks.

  35. stigshift

    Great pictures, Ray. It really does look pretty solid. Even the chrome looks decent. Great find!

  36. michael

    I like the headlight arrangement. Loved the look when I was a young Boy. Good luck with it and as the others have stated, check the underneath real good and if it does run,,,, BRAKES are the most important part. If it won’t stop then everything else is fruitless.

  37. Reijer

    If Ray’s on a tight budget, he should run the other way – fast. These cars are very expensive to restore. Parts are hard to find and expensive. Check out thelincolnforum (dot) net to get a feel for pitfalls and prices.

  38. RogueInLA

    Any updates?

    • Ray M

      Hey Rogue,
      Sorry it took so long to reply. Should have sent you an update before now. My apologies. Well, I do have an update. After keeping the car outside under cover for the last year, I was finally able to bring it home to store in my garage. Trust me, I wanted to do it a lot sooner but had issues with the house (was in foreclosure due to divorce but was able to save it) and didn’t want to bring it here until I sorted that out. So now begins the task of bringing this baby back to life. I have your message from last year printed out and will use it to try to get the engine running. I spoke to John Cashman today and he referred me over to another guy from the Tampa area named Herb. I have an email out to him and will see what he says but I may take a drive down there this weekend or next to speak to him in person. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks for your great advice a while back. Hope I can put it to good use.

      • RogueInLA

        Glad to hear it’s moving forward, thanks for the update!

  39. Gregg Cooley

    Ray is going to DEFINITELY want to visit Lincoln Land in Clearwater, FL http://www.lincolnlandinc.com/….a great source for KNOWLEDGE and PARTS!!!!
    Also John Cashman http://www.convertiblelincolns.com/ would be a great person to speak to, John is THE Lincoln GURU for 60’s Lincoln Convertibles, and knows much about the 50’s Lincolns, too!

  40. Chris A.

    Welcome back Ray. Nice to see you are still interested in getting your Lincoln back on the road. As others have pointed out, safety is the big issue with the systems and as you do resotration work. Think about wearing a mask and safety glasses as you remove the rust. Although it might cost you a few bucks, trailering it over to the Lincoln Land guys for a real thorough going over may save you financial grief if a major structural problem is spotted and the car cannot be made safe. The best money I ever spent on a car restoration was the factory shop manual. As I look at yours, its like a “squarebird’s” big brother. I still have a soft spot for the 1963 4 door Lincoln Continental. there was no such thing as a cheap Lincoln, beautiful cars made with premium materials. Good luck.

  41. Reijer

    Chris A. is right: no such thing as a cheap Lincoln. Sadly – as the article states – Ray is on a tight budget. The 58-60 Lincoln Continental is the largest ever constructed American unibody car. If there are serious rust problems – walk away Ray. Buy the best car you can afford and start from there. By the looks of things, this is a parts car.

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