(first posted March 2014. Based on comments and photos left here, this car was derbied)
I promised the owners of this ’58 Continental Mark III that I would post it at CC, in their efforts to find a buyer to keep this from being turned into a demolition derby monster. But looking at what has to be perhaps the ugliest pre-five-mile bumper ever tacked onto a car, maybe that’s what this beast deserves.
I found these two sitting next to a repair shop in Burns, OR., on my dash across the state in our new Acura TSX Sport Wagon. Even though we recently had another ’58 Conti featured in a CC by Carmine, I couldn’t resist stopping for it. These cars always have a Twilight Zone aspect to them, and a dusty high-desert town only adds to that quality, since those shows always had their highway scenes shot in the deserts near LA.
So did this Conti end up here because its female driver encountered the Twilight Zone in Burns, and never left? Well, that’s not too far off the mark (III). It belonged to the “second father” of the current owner, who also owns this shop. He was apparently quite the colorful character, who lived up on a hill a bit outside of town, and had bought the Mark III some thirty years ago, from California. That alone assures that its tank-like unibody is not suffering from structural rot.
That’s not say its leather upholstery and other interior appointments aren’t rotting away, or more desiccating and crumbling away, as there’s not enough moisture in the air for anything to rot here. Its former owner drove this beast around town for quite a few years, and used its gigantic trunk to haul all sorts of things; even livestock, if I remember the story right. Or maybe it was…
As a kid in Austria, I was aware of Cadillacs, and even encountered a ’59 coupe on the streets of Innsbruck. But I had no prior knowledge of the existence of these ’58-’50 Lincolns until I saw one in Iowa, where they were very uncommon. It was a mind-expanding experience, as pretty much everything about those first few months were. I was in awe, but struggled with their rather strange styling and details.
That certainly applied to its rather unusual “freestanding” dash, which oddly enough foreshadows a design used by GM in millions of cars and truck in the eighties.
I see how that massive lower section of the front door was used as an air conditioning duct for the rear passengers, but I can’t quite put my finger on what that toggle switch does. Close the duct?
Here’s a view of that mighty 430 cubic inch MEL V8, rated at 375 (gross) hp, and easily the biggest production car engine in the world at the time. Cadillac had a mere 390 inches at the time, and the Imperial’s hemi had 392. Looks like an aftermarket transistor ignition module on the fender there. According to the owner, it turned over a while back, so it’s not frozen. Just a bit dry, perhaps.
The asking price for this little project is $5000, but the owner wasn’t exactly shy about admitting that he’s take $3500. They really would like to see it go to some loving person with a deep pocket for its restoration. And the area code for Burns is 541, by the way.
That even includes the original air cleaner, along with one from a 289 Ford.
Here it is, in its full glory. Now you couldn’t bear to see it ending up in a demolition derby ring, fighting for glory or death? This sled deserves better than that, so come on and step forward. Yes, we need another CC project car to document on these pages along with the CC Project XJ, and this one would make a good long series indeed. As well as make getting the Jag to be a driver look like a cake walk.
Update: here’s a few shots of these in their prime: