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Post-War Originality: 1948 Lincoln Continental

World War II caused an understandable interruption in the progression of U.S. automobile design and production. Most auto companies ceased assembly in early 1942 and did not resume it until late 1945 or early 1946. As a result, there were few ’42s built and generally no ’43s, ’44s or ’45s. Additionally, those autos made in the immediate postwar years are carry-overs from the prewar 1942 era. For Ford Motor Company, 1949 was a banner year with the introduction of the first post-war, “modern” cars making 1948 the end of the pre-war era. And that’s what we have for review today, a 1948 Lincoln Continental, located in Bellingham, Washington and for sale here on craigslist for $4,500. Thanks to Sol for the tip.

There are not a lot of details contained in this listing but there is enough to get a pretty good idea of the overall condition – and it appears to be original with a sound body and glass. While the design may be “dated” because it is a pre-war design, I think it still looks very pertinent to 1948 – an impressive looking car.

One of this Lincoln’s most interesting features is its V12 flathead engine. Research tells us that it is 292 CI with an output of 120 HP. Not sure about the originality of that air cleaner, however. Backing up the flathead is a three-speed manual transmission. No indication is made as to whether the engine will self-motivate.

The interior, what can be viewed, looks quite well-worn but very original. Nevertheless, it will need work if restoration is the way the new owner will want to go. This Continental appears to be on dry floor storage so that should help to mitigate floor pan corrosion.

No reference is made regarding the frame or underside, no images either, so ditto my above comment about the floors in reference to the rest of the underside. Floor problems aren’t really that big a problem, it’s when the rot gets into the frame/cross-member, etc. that the substantial challenges begin.

The best aspect of this car, besides the fact that it is a desirable post-war Lincoln Continental, is its completeness and originality. I have encountered barn finds where the photographs are shot of the car as it sits, as well as “before and after’s” where a good bath can really highlight the positives that are hidden under all of the dirt and dust. Left in “as found” condition makes me think the seller may have something to hide – though that’s probably not the case here. At the same time, that “as found” condition lends a bit of mystique to the subject too, so I guess it’s a judgment call. What are your thoughts, let the originality show through with a good cleaning or let it remain “Au Naturale”? Either way, I believe this pre-war Lincoln Continental would be a great restoration candidate.


  1. Arthell64

    Would be a fun car to bring back to life if the engine still turns over.

    Like 6
  2. JBP

    i would be more scared for engine, than for Frame rust. Frame is so nice thick material, to cut, and weld in. ist just a shitty Job, to take Body of..
    the worst around Frame restore, are Body Mounts.. especial if they are totally gone, so u must mount Body again, before u weld them in.. shitty Job…

    but what a nice Project, but i think that engine and transm. is pricy to overhaul..

    Like 0
    • Chris M.

      I love your commentary! Lol Plenty of insight and no lack of blunt grammar! Keep it coming!

      Like 3
  3. Bradshaw from Primer

    I know the americans took WWII very seriously with no cars built…instead tanks and other gear from the factories.
    Did the germans and Japanese do the same or did they continue car manufacturing during WWII?

    Like 1
    • JerryDeeWrench

      No European cars were manufactured during WW 2. In fact nothing was built except for military needs.

      Like 3
  4. Howard A. Member

    Being Halloween, there’s a scary front end only a mother could love. These sellers just don’t get it, for whatever reason, clean it up for heavens sake. The way it looks, few people will realize what a fancy car this was, the fanciest, and I bet it would clean up nice. IDK, I’d sure do it different. You can just tell these people probably stumbled on the car and don’t know much about it.This is quite a find, right after the war, not many had the money for a car like this, I bet that V-12 in it’s day, passed everything in sight. Amazing that motor didn’t end up in a hot rod, like most. Incredible find here, I read, 1948 was the last year for a V-12 Lincoln, and it doesn’t say, but many were equipped with O/D. I’ve never driven a V-12 anything, can only imagine what this car rode like. I believe like 1300 Continentals were sold, so someone knew it was worth holding on to.

    Like 2
    • Andy

      The truth is, the Zephyr V12 was a troublesome engine as it was just 1½ flathead V8s with no extra engineering. They were famous for overheating due to their undersized coolant passages, and a lot of them got replaced with V8s over the years. 120 hp was about in line with a lot of other brands at the time–I’d guess the Lincoln’s big advantage was low-end torque that meant you could pull away from 20 mph in high gear. The year after this was built, Cadillac and Oldsmobile brought out their ohv V8s and flatheads were doomed.

      Like 5
      • Bob C.

        The following year they also started using a 337 Ford flathead v8 in place of the v12. It was borrowed from larger Ford trucks.

        Like 2
    • Roger

      My cousin has the engine and transmission from one like this in a ’36 Ford rat rod truck he has been building and yes it has an O/D in it.

      Like 0
  5. Alex Wiley

    It is not a Continental, just a Lincoln 4 door sedan.

    Like 14
    • Frank Perez

      You are correct.
      I am surprised no one else mentioned it.

      Like 3
  6. cltyler

    Alex has it right , no Continental, it s a Zephyr. Continental are 2 door cp. with the trademark exposed rear spare tire behind the “bustle trunk “

    Like 6
    • Fred W

      Alex is correct, it’s a Lincoln, no longer called Zephyr by ’48. They also made around 400 Continental Cabriolets, one of which sits in my garage (wish I could post a photo). Mine is modified, many were as the V-12 was problematic (overheating mainly). Percentage wise, most Continentals were saved because they were declared a full classic in the early 50’s. Very few Lincoln sedans were saved so this one may be even more rare than a Continental. I found out the hard way (on a Lincoln Facebook page where I posted a photo) that there is not a lot of love out there for “Hot Rod Lincolns”- the owners tend to be purists. Lots of love on the “Hot Rodders” pages though!

      Like 4
  7. Tucker Callan

    My buddy had a `47 convertible. Engine came out of a `53 Lincoln, but man, could that car cruise! Power Top, Power Windows, Power Doors, Power Radio. (no knobs-just a scan bar) We would cruise the Finger Lakes of Western NY & listen to Commander Cody & Jerry Garcia! Ah, those Halcyon Days :) – Charlie`s son still has the car!

    Like 7
  8. Will Fox

    Seeing that front end peek out in the first photo reminded me of an old movie that was on last weekend; “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?” with Joan Crawford & Bette Davis. Shot in `62 as a then-current day setting, Bette drove an aging `48 Continental. What an old hulk it was, compared to the cars that drove by in that movie! But then again–Bette Davis played an “aging old hulk” herself!

    Like 3
    • Howard A. Member

      Hey Will, that grill always reminded me of that guy with the billiard balls in his mouth. And thanks to the others for clarifying what this. Got to admit, it’s still a pretty cool car.

      Like 3
  9. Stevieg

    This here was my Dad’s dream car, same model year he was.
    He was a man that thought he was a decent mechanic, but I would, time after time, see him turn a wrench on a vehicle & a couple hours later there would be broken tools, new dents kicked into something and a tow truck heading to wherever he was lol.
    Good thing he is no longer with us. I would have to tell him about it, he would buy it & it would end up in worse shape lol.

    Like 2
  10. Del

    I like Andy’s comments.

    This is probaly worth zilch.

    Doubfull it will run again unless rodded

    Like 1
  11. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Hopefully someone with the resources will latch onto this beautiful post war relic and restore it to its original condition.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  12. canadainmarkseh

    This is a cool car if I had the money and a place to put it I’d buy it. Yes I’d keep that engine and get it running. Over heating wouldn’t be as big of a problem up here north of the 49th. Measures can be taken to help that. For one thing a bigger radiator and twin electric fans come to mind as well as a 160 degree thermostat. I don’t think this car is worthless, as for presenting it all covered in filth might be an advantage to the buyer when it comes to negotiating the price. I get that some cars are beyond hope and need to be crushed, but solid examples like this need to be rescued. If we just keep pushing everything through the crusher there will come a time when this history is all gone.

    Like 4
  13. JagManBill

    Sell the V12 to someone doing a concourse resto on a Contie. Install a nice, simple Ford 300 I6 (don’t forget to paint it Lincoln green) with a C6 behind it, 9″ Ford rear end (if needed), uprate the brakes to mid-60’s Bird discs (if I remember its a bolt in at the ball joints), Clean it up and enjoy driving it

    Like 5
  14. Rob

    Uhm, that’s not a Continental.

    Like 1
  15. bigdoc

    Could be a beautiful car but I would get rid of the V12 and try to get disc brakes all around paint it a deep black and enjoy

    Like 0
  16. Robert White

    One cannot recreate the authenticity of those racoon paw prints in the age old barn dust that is covering the car no matter how much those paw prints add to the originality so they must be considered a selling feature IMHO.

    Sometimes leaving the dirt & dust on the car adds to the originality of the sale. Some car enthusiasts would likely be interested in scrubbing it all up after they buy it too. The BIG reveal is wash day for the new owner. And that is the prize for the new owner.


    Like 2
  17. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I’m wondering if this is a ’46 Lincoln as there are no door handles. The ’46 Lincolns had push buttons, the ’47 and ’48 models had twist handles. Unless the handles are missing, this might be a ’46. The sedans don’t seem to bring the big money that cabriolets or club coupes seem to. I can see this sedan going the resto-mod route as that would probably be cheaper than a full restoration.

    I like to see a pic or two of a barn find in “as found” condition, but then I’d want to see some pics of the car cleaned up, inside and out. I feel that’s the best way to go for getting as much as you can for a barn find and for potential buyers to see the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Like 1
  18. Ken Carney

    Definitely a ’46. After enlarging the picture of the right side of the car, I could
    see the pushbuttons. Yes, the V-12 was,
    and is a very troublesome and finicky
    engine that requires a lot of maintenance
    to keep it running property. It was also the first engine that I helped Dad rebuild
    for a friend of his who had a ’37 Zephyr
    4-door sedan that he drove on a daily
    basis. Bear in mind that this was 1966,
    and new parts were already scarce when
    it came to the V-12s and thankfully, there
    was a fella named Joe Levavich, who had
    been running an auto parts store since the late ’30s. If he didn’t have it, you didn’t need it. Well, Joe did have an
    overhaul kit for this engine, but as I
    recall it now, Dad said that the kit was
    for ’40s model V-12, but all the parts
    interchanged with the ’37 block we had
    to work with. The only thing we did
    differently was to install a set of custom
    made aluminum pistons that had grooves
    for 5 rings instead of the 3 ring setup used in the ’37 engine. Don’t know how
    they did it, but Dad and his friends enlarged the cooling passages before they put the new parts in the engine. They also milled the heads a bit to work
    well with the new pistons they put in.
    As 6 volt batteries were getting scarce at that time, the car was also converted to
    12 volts so that a better starter could be
    used to compensate for the extra compression they got when the new pistons and milled heads were added.
    We must’ve done something right. That
    engine ran as smooth as fresh churned
    butter, and made more power too. And me, I was the one who, under my father’s
    watchful eye, installed the heads, intake
    manifold, and carb along with the upper
    and lower radiator hoses. I had a really
    good time and learned a lot about an
    engine in the process. That’s when I
    was bitten by the old car bug. And the
    rest, as they say, is history.

    Like 10
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      Love your story Ken. May we encourage our youth in this same path.
      God bless America

      Like 2
  19. Ken Carney

    Might’s well forget that John, if it doesn’t
    have a controller or a computer screen,
    they’re not interest. My young niece
    certainly is though. She’s not afraid to
    get her hands dirty under the hood either.
    And boy, does she like Mustangs! I’m trying to get her to look at other cars as
    Mustang prices have gone north of six
    figures for years now. Even so, she’s a
    good kid and I’ll do my best to keep her
    interested in the hobby.

    Like 2

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