Car Show Classic: 1958 Continental Mark III Convertible – A True Survivor

(first posted 6/20/2013)    I can hear it now: “Didn’t we just look at one of these?” Well, yes, but it is Lincoln week, and since it has been nearly a year since I first laid eyes on this remarkably preserved Continental, I feel that the time is right. And my seeing it again at the recent cruise night at South Park Mall on June 8 revived my memory. So, let’s take a closer look at the Wixom-produced example of the road-going Chris-Craft…

1958 Lincoln-12

The 1958 Lincolns and Continentals were bigger than a Cadillac, plush, and with their 131-inch wheelbase, clearly had lots of stretch-out room. The expected assortment of coupes, sedans and hardtops were all shown in the annual roster, but if you wanted a convertible, there was only one way to go.

1958 Lincoln-02-03

The dreamboat of the line was clearly the Continental Mark III convertible. No Lincoln Premiere or Capri drop-tops were offered, so if open-air motoring was a must, you needed to be prepared to shell out a princely $6223 for one of these yachts.

1958 Lincoln Ad-02

As you would expect, plenty of options were available on the already well-equipped Continental ‘vert, which boasted not only a top styled after the steel-roofed hardtop coupe, hardtop sedan and pillared sedan, but even had the very same power retractable backlight!

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Yes, the Model 68A Continental Mark III convertible was a marvel of luxury and comfort by 1958 standards. It even had air suspension as an available option. Good luck finding one though, as only 2% of production had it.

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All Continentals got the 4V, 430 CID V8 under the hood, with 375 horsepower. And if you wanted more power, you could have it, for a 400-hp version was available with three two-barrel carbs. It was good for 400-hp at 4600 rpm.

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These prodigious V8s were necessary, as these cars stretched 229 inches long and were hardly light on their feet. The lightest 1958 Continental Mark III was the 4802-lb. hardtop coupe, while our featured CC was the heaviest, at 4927-lb.

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But what about this car’s story? That’s the whole point of this article. Fortunately, the car’s current caretaker was nice enough to put up posters with the car’s history. Click the pictures to read a bigger version.

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Interersting fact: This car was sold brand new at Lundahl Motors, in downtown Moline, IL. If you’ve been reading my CCs for a while, you may recall that my parents bought all their Volvos from Lundahl Volvo. Yes, the dealer was one and the same. They started out selling Lincoln-Mercury, added Volvo as a sideline, and in the late ’60s or early ’70s, became a Volvo only dealer.

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Here are some “as found” pictures, which I always love to see.

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Here’s the interior, which was as sleek inside as it was bulky outside. The instrument panel is particularly attractive to me, with the “TV screen” enclosing all the gauges and primary controls.

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Neat little details abound, such as this ash tray in the rear armrest.

I first saw this car at the 2012 Geneseo show last September. As you can see in these pics from that occasion, the convertible top used similar engineering as the steel-topped 1957-59 Ford Retractable.

Unlike the Retractable, however, the Continental sported a REAL trunk separate from the top well and mechanism. It just wouldn’t do for Lincoln owners to have to put their parcels in the miniature horse trough that was the Retractable’s “trunk.”

Here’s a better picture of the instrument panel. I am having a hard time deciding which I like better: The 1958-59 “TV” dash, or the engine turned, Jaguaresque panel used on the 1960 model. They’re both cool.

The first time I saw this car it still had the original air cleaner and valve covers. As you can see in the engine picture further up this post, some refurbishing has been going on. I hope the owner hung on to the original parts, though.

So, in closing, I clearly have a thing for these little-loved Lincolns. I even have not one, but TWO of the excellent 1/18-scale 1958 Continentals by Sun Star: A convertible in Autumn Rose and a hardtop coupe in Seneca Blue. Paul has his Peugeots and Corvairs; for me, I guess it’s 1977-79 Bonnevilles and these Continentals. Isn’t variety great?

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