Rare and Solid: 1942 Lincoln Continental Club Coupe

With a history that was defined more by excellence than by high volumes, Lincoln was the perfect environment for Edsel Ford to develop and express his creativity outside the watchful eye of his father. The cars that resulted were either extremely elegant or at the cutting edge of styling trends. Quite often they were both. The 1942 Continental was definitely at the cutting edge of bold styling, although maybe not as elegant as earlier offerings. However, with the intervention of World War II, production numbers were incredibly low, making these 1942 models a bit of a rarity today. This 1942 Continental Club Coupe appears to be a solid car that is just waiting for someone to return it to its former glory. It is located in El Cajon, California, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Lincoln classic has now reached $5,600 in what is a No Reserve auction.

Compared to its predecessor, the styling of the 1942 Continental was much squarer, with flatter tops to the fenders and the rear deck. The grill also received a substantial restyle, and even though both models shared essentially the same body, it is very easy to distinguish between the two. This Continental is finished in Black, which was 1-of-8 color choices that were available to the buyer that year. As I look around the various photos of the Continental, I’m not 100% convinced that it started out in life finished in its current color though. There are a few spots that indicate that the car may have been painted in a different color, and I believe that this is actually Chetwyn Beige. As for the paint on the car, it is looking tired and is also peeling in a few spots. I think that the car would really benefit from a strip back to bare metal. Having said that, there is no real reason why the car couldn’t be revived and driven as it is, with a cosmetic restoration taking place further down the track. The body of this one looks to be in good condition for its age, and the owner doesn’t mention any issues with rust. It appears that all of the external trim and chrome is present, and while some of it looks like it would respond well to a simple polish, items such as the bumpers will probably benefit from a full restoration.

Powering the Lincoln is the 305ci V12 engine. This was an enlarged version of the previous year’s 292ci engine and produced 130hp. With the introduction of the 305, the cylinder heads underwent a change, with the previous alloy units making way for cast iron heads. Some early 1942 Continentals found themselves equipped with Lincoln’s newly developed “Liquamatic” automatic transmission. However, this transmission was to prove so troublesome so quickly, that the company was forced to recall the eight cars that it had been fitted to, and convert these cars over to the standard 3-speed manual transmission. I don’t believe that this was one of those cars as the distinctive “Liquamatic” badge isn’t present on the dash. So, it would have started life fitted with the manual unit. The Continental has now been off the road for more than two decades, but the engine was fired-up by the owner about a year ago. It appears that he hasn’t attempted to start the engine recently, but he does say that it turns freely.

If you ignore the substantial collection of spider’s webs that adorn the inside of the Continental, the interior looks to be quite serviceable. The upholstery on the seats looks pretty good, while I think that the trim on the doors could probably be stretched and restored without having to resort to replacement. The material and pattern of both items isn’t original, so if the next owner is searching for complete authenticity, it would eventually need to be changed. The paint is peeling off some of the painted surfaces on the dash, and they appear to reinforce my beliefs about the car undergoing a color change at some point. I also believe that the bright metal trim on the dash should actually be predominantly gold plated, although due to the hand-built nature of these cars, that certainly isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule. Having said all of that, the interior of the Continental looks like it would come up really nicely if the dash was repainted, and if the rest of the interior trim was just given a seriously good clean.

As I said at the start, the intervention of World War II seriously curtailed production of the 1942 Continental. As a result, only 200 of the Club Coupe version were eventually built. It isn’t clear how many of these survive today, but there are still a few project-grade cars to be found in the market. If this one sells for anywhere even close to its current bidding price, then it would represent one of the cheapest buys in quite a while and is well below what you would expect to pay at present. That could make this 1942 Continental a great project car.

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Comments

  1. CCFisher

    My bet is that the entire front seat is a replacement piece from a later-model car. Bonus points to anyone who can identify it!

    Like 3
    • Will Fox

      The front seat maybe from a `56 Continental Mark II? I said that based on the 4-biscuit pattern I see in the center of the cushion.

      Like 1
    • Chuckster

      El cajon is twenty minutes from me, if I wasn’t trying to rewire my 53 lincoln I would give this a good look. I bet that v-12 sounds sweet. ( any tips on removing the dash on a 53 )

      Like 1
  2. Kurt

    Any way this engine could be souped up for a better power to weight ratio?

    Like 1
    • TouringFordor

      Yes, there a lots of speed parts for these. multi-carb manifolds, etc.

      Like 2
  3. Andrew Franks

    I am about 700 miles from this car but once again I have a space issue. I’m negotiating for a bigger facility. This car will sell first.
    You are North of $40,000.00 in restoration the way the car looks from the photographs, and it really needs upgrades like power steering and modern safe brakes (Wilwood Discs) for safety reasons. Also radial tires for driving. Someone should take this seriously and keep Barn Finders up to speed on the project. The car is absolutely rare and to be saved.

    Like 6
    • MikeH

      You list all the things you would change and then say you want to “save” it. Not my definition of saving.

      Like 3
  4. Sal

    A free tip to all sellers….

    Stop storing cars with the windows open!!!!!
    If its missing… use some duct tape and plastic. Then re-apply as necessary!

    And I know I should just let it go…. by why exactly does a car NEED power steering and radial tires. How exactly does power steering make a car safer?

    Like 7
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      I agree with it not needing power steering the way it worked back then was to have very little negative caster, and larger steering wheels. If you’ve ever driven something with standard steering you’d know that you don’t start pulling on the wheel until the car starts to roll, then they steer quite easily. One other thing that I’ve learned about rare cars is they are much harder to find parts for, when I say that I refer more to the fact that body parts and trim are the hard to find stuff. Mechanical parts are often the same as lesser more common models and aren’t that hard to find. I’m restoring a 51 dodge and things like lenses and mirrors are way harder to find even a good rear fender was proving difficult and I ended up spending quite a bit of time restoring the original. At least now I can say that the sheet metal is all original. I’m not apposed to having disc brakes on this car I see the way people drive these days and they’re either on there phone or in a big hurry. I know when I’m on my bike I have to really watch out for other drivers. A DIY restoration as funds will allow can be done much cheaper the hard part is sticking to the project until it is done. I sure hope some with the means will buy and restore it.

      Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      Sal,

      As to the open window issue, I agree 100%. That said there may be a very good reason why the windows are open. Starting with 1941, many luxury cars, Lincoln included, offered power windows. The system was based on hydraulics, using [yikes] DOT3 brake fluid. The system used powerful springs to lower the windows, and a motor & pump system to raise the window. [using the switch, pressing it down simply opened a solenoid at the base of the hydraulic window cylinder, and the window went downward. Pressing the switch up, the solenoid was again opened and the pump motor turned on, making the window raise up.

      Now after 60 to 80 years of negligence and decay, the cylinder seals have always failed, and allowed the windows to slowly drop down on their own. Back in the 1970s I bought a beautiful 1953 Packard 7-passenger LWB sedan equipped with power windows, the car sat protected in a dry garage for 40 years, but all of the windows slowly dropped down, due to the constant 24 hours per day, 365 days per year pressure from those strong springs.

      And another problem with these systems was where all the brake fluid that leaked out of the cylinders ended up; That DOT3 brake fluid, very corrosive to lacquer paint, leaked out the bottom of the doors [typically ALL along the bottom of the doors], and onto the rocker panels, effectively peeling the paint right off the rockers and lower door areas.

      For long term storage what the owner of the car should have done [and this is the correct method to keep the windows up] is to install small rubber wedges at the base of the window glass, the more the window tries to drop, the more force the wedges exert to keep the windows in place.

      And of course all the reproduction or rebuilt cylinders, flex lines, & pumps now available to replace the old brake fluid systems, use either ATF or similar hydraulic fluid that won’t hurt the paint.

  5. bigdoc

    Because power steering makes driving a whole lot easier thus safe. Manual steering in these old cars was a sure way to build muscles. Radial tires provide more of feel for the road and provide a better ride. IMHO

    Like 1
    • Tom Bell

      The only difference of any note with manual vs. power steering is when parallel parking. Mods like that destroy the originality and serve no real purpose. Enjoy driving it like it was intended when built.

      Like 8
    • Charlie Member

      Not a museum piece. So make it drive well and drive it. Good car for the Hemmings Great Race.

      Like 1
  6. Chuck Simons

    My friend, Frenchie Lagasse had one of these in Mentryville, Ca. Was his pride and joy. He never did finish it (so I’m told)…I wonder.

  7. Dominick Toscano

    Seat assemblies look to be original to me..Not even close to a 56,or 57 MKII seat assembly. Just appear to be upholstered at one time in a different pattern of the 50.s era cars.

    Like 1
  8. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    If I may interject, you guys are spoiled. Yes, power steering would make this hulk of a car easier to manuver, disc brakes would certainly stop this 2 ton block of metal much better than the 4 wheel drums, and radial tires would improve the ride and handling probably 100%. But this is a 1942 vehicle, with no p/s or brakes or radial tires. It’s a relatively rare car and was driven for years without these modern “safety” convenientes. And look, there are no signs of it being in a major accident because of no p/s or dics brakes. Some cars with large production numbers with quite a few survivors can be modernized. Bigger engine, p/s p/b disc brakes, radials, dual exhaust, 21 speaker stereo. IMO, this is NOT one of those cars.
    It should be fixed up, shined up and kept completely original. Driven to car shows, driven around town like it was in 1942.
    You want an old car with modern conveniences, get a 1994 something.

    Like 18
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      One thing you should consider, in 1942 we didn’t have any cell phones and there were way less cars on the road. The pace of life and road speeds were also much slower, back then you didn’t need anything more than drum brakes now your on the road with cars that will stop on a dime and give you change, I’d be afraid to drive this with less than at least front disc brakes.

      Like 1
  9. Will Owen Member

    I do vote for radials, if nothing else, just because of the much better sense of direction they transmit to the chassis. They also lighten the steering considerably. No need for fancy Michelins or whatnot; I improved the ride and handling of my ’60 Falcon by a huge amount with a set of 4/$120 dealer takeoffs from my favorite cheap tire store in Nashville.

    If I were in pursuit of an old Continental, these Wurlitzer-jukebox-looking things have never been on my list … but this is almost sweet enough to generate an itch I’d consider scratching. Having a kinda nice interior helps too. As is the fact it’s just a month or two younger than I am, and maybe in almost as good shape.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Will Owen [and the Barn Find group],

      I’ve run radials on many older 1940s & 50s American cars, but there are some safety situations I would like everyone to realize.

      1. Running radial tires on wheels that were not intended for tubeless tires: YES, I’ve had customers bring in their cars and tell me they are having a problem with the radial tires losing air pressure, or in hard cornering the tire pops inward off the rim.

      If your car uses tube type rims, & is set up for tube type tires, you MUST use tubes with tubeless tires, radial or bias-ply. The purpose of a tube is more than just a balloon to hold air under pressure, it keeps the tire’s sidewall and bead area pressed tightly against the rim.

      2. Radial tire sidewalls flex far more than old bias tires with a much stronger sidewall. Some manufactures thru the early 1950s had wheel rims that depended on the stiff tire sidewalls. One side effect of running radials [even with tubes] on these more flexible rims is having the wheel covers or hub caps pop off on hard cornering.

      Another side effect of running radials on older rims is what I call “wheel cover rotation”. This happens when the wheel cover [the type that uses friction “spikes” at the edge of the wheel cover to hold onto the wheel’s rim edge] gradually rotates from the flexing of the wheel. this results in the rubber valve assembly being folded sideways or actually cut in two [causing a flat tire].

      For many years I used to remove the rubber tire valve assemblies and install brass& steel truck tire valves, or for the earlier cars needing tubes, I had to order tubes with HD valve assemblies.

      In the 1990s I had a wonderful client whose family still drove 1950s Luxury cars as their daily drivers in the Washington DC area. His stable included a 1953 Packard Patrician, 1954 Chrysler New Yorker, and a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood. I installed the truck valve stems in all 3 cars, and the problem was solved.

      And remember, if you don’t want to replace an expensive set of new tubes because they failed after only a few hundred miles, remember to check the inside of the tubeless tire RIM for any type of surface defect that can put a hole in a tube, like spot weld flashing from attaching the outer rim to the inner rim, and even a patch of rust can act as sandpaper to grind a soft spot in the tube. If you can run your hands inside the drop center of a rim, and feel something, then the tube will feel it too, with each rotation of the wheel!

      • Will Owen Member

        Bill: Thanks for reminding me of the tube/tubeless differences, which I am definitely old enough to remember but more than old enough to forget as well! The oldest car I’ve put tubeless radials on was a 1960 Falcon, well within the easy-swap range. As time goes on the major innovations, things that were Big News in their time, tend to just melt into that wad of stuff we used to think about but don’t anymore.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Forgot to mention the need to ensure if you change from Bias Tires to Radials on an older vehicle, you MUST change the tubes to ones designed to handle Radial & Bias as well, or the old Bias tubes won’t handle the side scuffing.

        I remember a car collector who changed all 4 of his fairly new bias ply tires to radials on his pre-1955 car, but as the tubes were only about a year old, he used them again. He went thru THREE SETS of 4 tubes on a long trip up north, until someone who understood the situation realized the previous 2 tire shops were simply taking the number off the failed tube and replacing it with that same tube number [the wrong tube for radials]. Once they had the correct tubes for radials, he had no more problems!

      • TimM

        Great reading Bill McCoskey!! I’ve had some of those issues and you’ve just set me straight!! Learn something new everyday!! Thank you!!!

  10. Bob McK Member

    Is it true that these V12’s are tough to work on and keep running well?

    • Bill McCoskey

      Bob McK,

      As these V12 flathead engines began to take on mileage, coupled with lesser grades of fuel, and many mechanics just not familiar with them [big mistake to simply assume they are just a Ford V8 with 4 more cylinders]. Situations like using modern spark plug wires and cleaned & re-used spark plugs gave these engines a bad rep. Today, once all the older bugs have been worked out, if kept serviced, these are no more a running & service problem than any other car of similar age.

      • Bob McK Member

        Thank you Bill. I have been looking at one of these, but was concerned about the V 12

  11. Del

    Wonder who first owner was ?

    Obviously someone rich.

    Be nice to know its story.

    Like 2
  12. Kurt

    Sold.

  13. Charlie Member

    And if your car has real wire wheels, like a Jag or Austin Healey they may not be up to the lateral force a grippy radial tire will cause, the bias types would slide, you can drift a radial tire, but they hang on far longer.

  14. Bill McCoskey

    Bob McK,

    If you do pick up one of these V-12 Lincolns and need parts, years ago a friend of mine named Alan Whelihan in Adamstown [near Frederick], Maryland, had a huge [and I mean huge] V-12 Lincoln stock of parts, both new, NOS, and used. His company is called Vintage Auto Parts, LLC. I restored several V-12 Lincolns, and Alan was invaluable in helping. Alan also specialized in obsolete Mercedes parts too.

    • Bob McK Member

      Many Thanks Bill. That is very helpful.

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