(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:
A 50s American car with brown and beige interior? Egads! Who would order the most flamboyant car made in the most boring color combo on the planet?
I wish I had some spare semolians sitting around, as I have always had a thing for these. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the money to bring this beast back to the glory that it deserves.
I’m no fan of these cars but smashing it to bits is wrong on every level.Someone save it please
On the good side, the car looks relatively complete and the body looks solid aside from surface rust. On the bad side, it looks like it’s been baked in an oven, and the parts that it does need are going to be scarce.
Call me cold hearted, but cars like this are what demo derbies were invented for.
I hope someone saves it. I’m not a fan, but it has as much to do with the excessive ’50s as the ’59 Cadillac. Unfortunately to get that car looking like this would take more money and patience then I was allotted for this life
So why does the air cleaner live in the back seat?
Almost every older project level car has its air cleaner off. Must be a rule of old car storage 🙂
> 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?
My guess is it’s not a toggle switch but a joystick control to move the baffles that direct the airflow up/down and left/right. In most newer cars these are sliders or thumbwheels beside and above/below the vents, but that metal joystick is way cooler.
I saw a restored one of these recently it looked shinier cleaner ran smoothly but better not really.
Demolition Derby drivers want vehicles that can made to run well on the cheap so I would not be worried about this Continental becoming Demo Derby fodder. The only people who are going to buy this vehicle are Jawas or folks with deep pockets or people with eyes bigger than their wallet.
1958: The Year of Fugly.
Pretty much all around, as far as US cars went. WHereas the ’59s were bizarre and sort of the wildest expression of the whole “Fin Age”, with everything bigger, sleeker, longer, lower, wider, everythinger, most everything put out in ’58 was, well, misbegotten.
Cars made in ’58 are like your chubby Aunt Harriet, but all “tarted up” so that the final effect was garish and grotesque, not “sleek and sexy” like most ’59s.
Well ’58 is what probably inspired the ’61 Continental so there’s that.
I’m guessing you haven’t laid eyes on a ’58 Imperial coupe; or a ’58 Chrysler 300D; or a DeSoto Adventurer. Truly the sweet spot for the finned era. At GM, they had the 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Lincoln just went bizarro at this point. But, there really are some magnificent finned cars in ’58.
For me it’s about the persepective of the overall body dimensions.
A lot of the ’58s still held on to the taller, thicker body style (shoebox?). In ’59, that all changed with the leviathans that were wider, lower, and longer.
To my eye, the ’58s were more, um…”matronly” in proportion, while the ’59s were Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn wore the baubles, bangles and beads better than your Aunt Harriet.
I like these old cars having driven a friend’s 60 convertible on several occasions. Sadly someone will have to rescue this car with an open checkbook otherwise it is simply a donor car.
I don’t understand why people hate vehicles built in 1958 so much, I really liked the ’58 Mercury’s and Lincoln’s quite a lot.
I like the Cadillac lineup for 1958, The Chevrolet Impala was sort of a junior Cadillac that year as well..
Oh man! These have always been one of my very favorite Space Age cars.
Would I ever love to bring this rig into the 21st century! 1000 lb ft AC induction motor, 100 kWh lithium pack, all new paint and interior, and I’d see the USA in my Lincoln-Faraday.
All it takes is lots of money and lots of time.
Ask Neil Young how well that went! lol
His crew got careless and had a garage fire. LincVolt is rebuilt now, it’s a series hybrid powered by cellulosic ethanol. Neil took it coast to coast last year.
Pure electric is the way to go, like Tesla. My Lincoln would be pure electric with 300 mile range. Smooth, simple and space age.
Hmmm… Ethics discussion. Does this get saved in a wholesome, caring, Gwyneth-type of conscious uncoupling from its present custodians?
Nup, this is derby fodder. Kill it.
I’d actually like to see this in a demolition derby.
Now that truck on the other hand, I really like that. It’s 2400 miles away from me though, so it’s pretty safe.
Definately would like to see a CC profile on the pickup as well. I’d much prefer it to the Continental.
Need to bargain that asking price down a bit more so that this can become a LeMons racer.
My thoughts exactly! This barge would look sweet on a road course, getting passed by countless, lesser 70’s – 90’s cars. No theme necessary, just race as is…..
At that price and the fact it’s not body on frame, I think it’s safe from becoming a demo derby car. But that car has a face I don’t think even it’s mother could love. Maybe that’s why 1958 and “hate” rhyme.
The late ’50s Lincolns must surely rank near the peak of the scale of heinous-ugliness… Yes it’s not that common, and would possibly be a shame to demo-derby it, but really, rule 1 of classic-car-love is the car has to not make you want to tear your eyes out after seeing it. This thing breaks rule 1 by a country mile – which, incidentally, it about as close as I’d want to get to it.
Yeah Scott you need to like it as you walk up to it for a drive.
Love it, love everything about it. One of my favorite Lincolns.
Do you know why? The price is too high!
/apologies to that guy who ran for office in New York.
I see that guy moving his CR-V around all the time. He still wears the gloves.
The store behind it in this picture, “Physical Graffi Tea”, is called that because it’s located in the ground floor of the building used on the cover of the Led Zeppelin album.
And yeah, $3,500 seems like way too much. This car needs almost everything. I love these insane Lincolns (and The Twilight Zone is my favorite show of all time, go figure) but that price is just too damn high.
I’d hate to see this basically un-rusty car DD’d. I know a “concours” rest would be a lot of money, but–even if the engine/transmission is shot–what would it cost to get it on the road with some sort of workable driveline (authentic MEL or not), decent repaint, and a new interior (even if not OEM-replica)?
[Sorry to be showing my ignorance of $$$ practicalities.]
It appears the right front fender top has some Bondo on it…Hmmm?
This sled is an excellent candidate for the Eco-Boost transplant, like its sister Edsel got: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-follow-up-1959-edsel-eco-boost-daily-driver-has-racked-up-over-25000-reliable-and-economical-miles/
This Conti, at about 5000 lbs, is a lot heavier than the Edsel (3600lbs). The 2.3 turbo four would really struggle with it, and the gearing would be all wrong. Not a good combo.
If you have to “ecobost” a car this massive I’d think the Ecobost V6 found in the F150 would be the way to go. It would still have to spank the original V8 for fuel economy.
There ya go.
Much better choice. The image below showing torque at the wheels is only a computer simulation, but it’s usually pretty accurate. The twin-turbo V6 would definitely have enough oomph to haul around the Mark III, at least with a modern 6-speed transmission, and would no doubt be faster and more fuel efficient as well. This is for the 365HP/365lb.-ft. version of the V6 in the Taurus SHO, but there’s also a 430lb.-ft. version available in the new Expedition/Navigator. That would be the one to get, but I couldn’t find detailed specs on it.
Personally, though, I’d have a hard time separating this car from the mammoth V8 it left the factory with. I like Neil Young’s car and I think an EcoBoost Mark III would be cool as well, but I’m not sure it would be as cool as the (now rare) 430 cubic inch MEL engine.
As a low-tech ecoboost concept perhaps turbo a 351, set up so that highway cruising is off-boost. A real Ecoboost engine would blow the budget for a low-buck build, and if going all-out how about using the V8 turbodiesel from a modern German luxury sedan, or Range Rover? Over 500lb-ft and they are quiet enough to not make it sound like a tractor (may need to add a lot of sound insulation to the engine bay)
Good thing the truck sitting next to it isn’t a Unibody with I6 else I’d be on my way to it now…..
Floor the go pedal on these monsters & they’de rise up several inches due to the torque tube driveshaft and awaaaaaaaay you’de go ! Had one for a short while but the 6 mpg and parking space &no garage at the time drove me nuts – but you know, no one else in town had one ! Please save this – if nothing else – repaint it, park it on the lawn and put flower boxes all over it !! That’s called Yard Art !! Then tell the HOA to stuff it ! Bye now !
I am fairly sure that these cars had an open driveshaft, not a torque tube set-up.
The only Lincolns uglier than this are the ones they make now. What an ugly dashboard. O well from the 60s to the last of the town cars Lincoln’s were beautiful. Hopefully in a few wears Lincoln will have another 40 year run of beautiful cars.
CC is 1 for 1 selling cars so far. I hope this one moves and we get a follow-up.
I wasn’t aware of just how bizarre that front bumper of the ’58 was. Or of the lengths Ford went to resculpt it each year to 1960. Worth a good half hour of Google time all by itself!
no car from 1958 should be in. demo derby, period. that said, this would be a difficult restore indeed and you would never be able to get your money out of it.
I agree Matt. Let those demo people take their own little boring daily drivers and enter them. I don’t get the derby thing away; they just slide into each other in soft mud until they have burned up a motor or transmission. Let them get out on a tract and try it in stock cars, which will hopefully help thin the herd and stop the destruction of such cars as the one in this article.
An enthusiast never expects to get his/her money out of a project car; that is not why they do it. One who expects to get a return on such is not an enthusiast but instead is a used car dealer. There is a big difference in an enthusiast and a used car dealer’s state of mind when it comes to the subject of classic automobiles.
Leave the pickup. Take the cannoli.
According to New Deal Used Cars…
One of the greatest comedies ever. Loved it.
The angular arrangement of the front headlights makes the car look angry. A drivetrain swap from an early 90’s Dodge Ram diesel would surely make it sound angry too! A set of 7.00-15 bias ply snow tires on all four wheels would complete the angry look!
While on an aesthetic level I prefer the reworked ’60 from this generation, I still like these ’58 Lincons for the sheer in-your-face late 50’s space-age-gone-crazy styling. Is it beautiful? Absolutely not. Would I love to have it in my driveway? Absolutely. I don’t get the widespread hate.
I’ll agree with the comment that no car from 1958 deserves to die in a derby, no matter your opinion of the individual car in question. While a full restoration would probably be a very expensive undertaking, this car would make a great driver, or even a mild custom.
I got a kick out of seeing the solid state ignition kit…at the time, it was the “high tech” add-on, I also built one with my father from a kit from Radio Shack, I remember the big power transistor on the heatsink, we put one on our 1973 Ford Country Sedan (actually a wagon) circa 1973 (15 years after this car was made) but after an ignition coil went bad on the car at the end of a long trip, my father yanked it (actually only needed to disable it , there was a button to do that) as he thought the box was the cause of the coil’s demise. I doubt it gave us much of an improvement in fuel economy on the 400 cid engine; I think mainly it was to slow down the deterioration of the points (making less current go through them, so they wouldn’t pit, but you still had to grease them). Probably few people still remember replacing points and condensor (or maybe filing down the points) or setting ignition dwell angle, or for that matter timing…kind of like rebuilding a carburator not much call for that now, but back then you couldn’t ignore your ignition system (plus changing spark plugs more often).
For some reason the ’58-60 Lincoln styling elements is reminscent of some Chrysler styling in the 60’s…the canted headlights (which I still think look weird, but were probably considered “modern” or “different” …see, I have four headlights now, not just two), and 10 years later they were hiding them underneath doors…as well as the scalloped side panels in the body. Chrysler smoothed out these elements, and didn’t do the upright C panel (they played with other shapes instead) but to me it seems like they were trying to make the car look “new” or “modern” but to me it just looks odd or dated (probably was cutting edge styling at the time). Would the Edsel be as maligned as it is today if it were more cleanly styled (but still only around from ’57 to ’60?)…but back then the styling was probably considered progressive, this was before the really sleek styling which to me seemed to start in the ’60’s (not so many gimicks in the styling).
No offense but that is one ugly car, I think someone at Chrysler was prowling the showrooms for design ideas.
I rather like them. Unfortunately it’s so massive that you must take the whole car in to appreciate it. For this reason pictures rarely do it justice and tend to exaggerate the proportions.
That is gorgeous!
I don’t get the hate either. Sure, once you see what came in the 60s and stuff, it seems a bit overwrought, but I think it’s a perfect example of the times. And I’m sure it has so many nice little details that make it so special, like many cars from that era.
It looks like a soft top, but I’m assuming that’s a hard top convertible like the Ford Skyliner?
I’m derbying it!!!!!!
Not the same car.
I’m demo derbying it!!!!!!
That dash pod is something. GM went all in with this theme beginning with their ’78 mid-size cars. I can’t say I was a fan of what GM did, but it certainly fits on this car that was trying all sorts of new ideas.
It reminds of a lot of today’s cars. Lots of creases and folds that make for a rather busy look. But, ’58 was a transition year away from the taller and narrower cars of the mid ’50s, and wild experimentation was rampant with all the American manufacturers. Amazing how the next generation of Lincoln did so much to set the tone of ’60s large car styling.
If this car has any hope, it really needs to be rat rodded. Restoration would cost more than the National debt and parts are scarce. Even a rat rod job would be a significant amount of work.
Was strong!!! Had a lot of fun.
I used to hate these cars but in recent years I’ve really come to like them for what they are. Big, ungainly, overstyled and overweight yes but they certainly had a Lincoln “look” and a definite presence on the road. Really like the pics of these cars when they were new and strangely enough, particularly the one in bright pink.
I think this is the car that even FoMoCo disavowed a few years later when they brought out the Continental Mark III coupe – it was like this series of Marks from ’58-60 didn’t even exist.
Super strong car!!!
Super sad ending.
The best part is how this guy came here just to brag in everyone’s faces that he’s destroying a rare 50’s landyacht.
“Look at me guys, i’m derbying it!!!! I’m destroying it, and there’s nothing you can do!”
Yep, sounds like a typical man boy tool.
While I agree in principle, these things aren’t super rare. I’ve been kind of looking for one for a while to add to my collection, and the supply still exceeds the demand (meaning that the money is not there to fix up a basket case).
As long as you are not looking for a convertible (which this one wasn’t), you can find decent examples for under $20K all day long. This one was scrap which was never going to be restored.
That is among the very saddest photos ever posted here…but no, I didn’t have a spare $3500, either.
When ever I see one of these, I’m reminded of the movie “North by Northwest” when Eva Marie Saint escapes after shooting Cary Grant.
excellent movie, nice photo with Mt. Rushmore
I always think about Claire Marrable (played by Geraldine Page) driving one while making plans to plant yet another evergreen along side her driveway in “Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?” (I’ve read where the car she drives is a 1960 Continental Mark V sedan, but I can’t really tell for sure just what exact model it is.)
After dabbling in old cars from ..1983 to 1998
I found that it was a hell of a lot cheaper in the long run to buy a done car.
There are some beauties over at Hemmings, like this one. Cost about the same as a new Lexus. (It’s what nice cars cost, one way or the other.)
Yeah thats what I did bought a running driving fairly original car.
Um…is it the same car? The car in the original pictures is a Continental (note the round taillights). The pictures by “Demo Derby Brent” show a standard Lincoln (with two oblong pointed taillights).
I think you’re onto something…not only do the tail lamps not match, the interior and rust patterns appear different, as well.
I’m not seeing those differences at all. I do see that the front bumper as installed on the finished derby car is from a much later model car – why? The OEM bumper is a massive battering ram – did the owner sell off the bumper and then have to install another one? Or is there something in the rules of that particular derby that would prohibit the original bumper?
Look at the picture posted with the riviera boattail in front of it, those are clearly different taillights. The derbies car also has much less exterior patina, look at the roof
Those Lincoln’s were the Lexus of 60 years ago. High quality, smooth riding, roomy, comfortable, innovative and powerful.
I don’t think that this car was ever really considered “beautiful”, even when new. The design is too over the top. busy and just plain bizarre! The previous 1956 models were just your typical Fifties design. It didn’t matter that the even earlier 50’s models were winners at the Carratera Pan Americana. nobody really cared. It sure didn’t equate to sales against Cadillac. I think that this car was an attempt to “out Cadillac, Cadillac” in the size and baroque styling department. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) this was a styling dead end however it did clear out the doldrums and lead to the spectacular 1961 Lincoln Continental.
It isn’t that these cars are ugly in themselves, although they would certainly qualify on that count. More to the point, it’s the ugliness of an era when we thought it perfectly OK and a sign of wealth and progress to carry a 125 pound dowager lady from point A to point B in a 5700 lb monster, negative consequences be damned.
Of course, with six pack ‘pickup trucks’ now posing as the family sedan, gussied up with leather and chrome, 400 hp lurking under the hood, and head-to-head with the Lincoln weight wise, it is an era that keeps coming back to haunt us.
Ummm, the Derbied car above is NOT the car featured up top. The derby car is a 58 Lincoln Premiere, as shown by the taillights/rear trim panel and the thick stainless trim on the rear quarters. The feature car is clearly a Continental Mark III.
This car may have wound up in a derby, but not in the one shown by DemoDerbyBrent/Brent Lewis
I love the 58s. Extremely interesting whereas the Cadillac is dead common, especially among vintage cars nowadays. I think that the Lincoln Is so far out of context with today’s cars that it’s hard to say that it’s ugly or beautiful. From a technical standpoint, this car had the largest engine of all ’58 luxury cars and the highest horsepower rating. I love these cars!!
Put a set of tank like threads on this barge,and take it just about anywhere on almost any terrain.The ultimate off roader. No road? Mow down some trees and make your own! The perfect vehicle for Earth Day.
Guys and gals it is pretty obvious that we have been trolled here. That is not the same vehicle. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the Lincoln met a good fate, but we don’t have to be manipulated by an obvious troll probably in his mother’s basement or Moscow…LOL!
After revisiting this post, I no longer feel guilty about loving my Navigator.
I simply can’t look at these Lincolns, and their canted headlights, without thinking of Roger Smith (the alien, not the GM exec).
Eternal demo derby car in this country is the mid 50s Humber Super Snipe one ran at Waikaraka park a couple of weeks ago and won yet again, I know where that car lives its pretty beat up but no doubt will run again or they will run their other one which also shows signs of being derbied previously.
You can do a lot with one of these!