Junked Classic: 1959 Lincoln Premiere–Crashed Alien Spacecraft


I use the word “alien” because this car would be alien to most people–how many individuals living today would be able to identify this as a Lincoln, let alone name the correct year?  These vanished from the roadscape over 50 years ago, and these Lincolns are not “iconic” like a ’57 Chevy or a Mustang, or even the 1961-64 “Kennedy” suicide-door models forever associated with that tragic day in Dallas in November of 1963.

The car next to it is a Facel Vega Excellence, which was featured in a previous post.


This ’59 Lincoln has been sitting here for a least a decade;  more likely two decades or more.  I’ve only been able to photograph it recently because a couple of other junkers were towed out, providing room to take some pictures.  The New Jersey inspection sticker on the windshield expired June of 1974, so this baby has been off the road for quite a long time.

It’s amazing how well this interior has held up considering how old it is combined with a total lack of care.  The dash pad is not warped or cracked;  the seat seams have not split;  the door panel looks pretty good;  and the steering wheel has a few little cracks but nothing major.  And the chrome horn ring isn’t broken!

Photo of a nice example.


These 1958-59 Lincolns had a dashboard design that was totally unique.  There was a protractor-like speedometer set in an upright panel that resembled an elongated TV screen.  All kinds of exotic optional equipment could be controlled from here including Automatic Starting (moving the transmission selector lever to N after a stall to engage the starter;  “Multi-Luber” push-button power lubrication;  “Autronic-Eye” automatic headlight dimmer;  FM radio tuner (first in America in 1958);  plus other extra-cost goodies that your Lincoln dealer would be happy to demonstrate for you!


Yes, sitting behind the wheel of this Lincoln, I started to imagine what it would be like to pilot this ancient spacecraft down the highway.  227″ long, 80″ wide, yet merely 56 1/2″ high (but with plenty of head and legroom) and over 5000 lbs. of road-hugging car weight!  A 430 cubic inch V-8 with 350 horsepower and something like 490 lb./ft. of torque.  A transmission which normally starts in 2nd with one smooth upshift to 3rd, with so much torque that the well-insulated V-8 just makes a steady, low throbbing sound the whole time.  And of course, power everything!  This is what “super-luxury” driving was all about in the ’50s.  And if there’s any Mexican Road Race DNA left in this ’59 Lincoln, I’m thinking the roadability will be more solid and satisfying than what the super-soft Cadillac was offering up.


Speaking of Cadillac, if people hated gigantic fins and wild space age design so much, why did the ’59 Cadillac out-sell the Lincoln by like 5 to 1?  Compared to Cadillac, this Lincoln seems rather upright and conservative, sort of like Abe Lincoln’s stovepipe hat.  To me, Cadillac says flashy “Look at me!” new money, while Lincoln says understated, conservative old money–well suited to people like Mrs. Igor Cassini, Cholly Knickerbocker, and Thurston Howell III.  (However, I’m sure a lot of “old money” people bought Cadillacs too!)  Imperial, Chrysler Corporation’s luxury offering, was also an excellent machine–but its sales figures were even lower than Lincoln’s!

Apparently there’s some body repair on the rear door which is now deteriorating, but look how clean and rust-free the rear wheel fender arch is!  Normally this is an area that often rusts out.  And I think that’s just surface rust on the rocker panel.


The unitized bodies of these Lincolns were dipped in a rust-preventive solution at the factory.  I’ve noticed that many of the 1958-60 Lincolns I’ve seen are remarkably rust free!  When I closed the door, it shut with a solid, precise thud–further proof of the solidity of unit body construction!

On the back window is this decal from East Stroudsburg (Pennsylvania) State College.


The subject car is pushed up against a fence so I can’t show the front. But this is what the ’59 Lincoln front end looks like.


In this brochure, the 1959 Lincoln is shown as the direct descendant of the great Lincoln motorcars of the past.


Lincoln’s vision of peak mid-century modernity:   New buildings in the “International Style”, and the “newest expression of The Lincoln Look.”


Another expression of an ideal: The top-of-the-line Continental Mark IV in a residential setting. The house is large, certainly new, and not International Style but a kind of American/English “Colonial Lite”. Presumably it has a garage big enough to house a motorcar of such ample proportions.


If  I were to get one of these, I’d prefer the ’58 because it’s the original, “purest” version of the design.  Some very exotic paint color combinations were available, such as this example in Starmist White and Rosemetal Metallic.  Rosemetal Metallic was a special, custom color which a customer had to pay extra for.  (Capri model shown, one trim level below Premiere.)

Despite all the good, intact features of this car, it appears to be too deteriorated overall to be restored cost-effectively, relegating it to “parts car” status.  Its fate is uncertain and not very hopeful, but at least I preserved images of it on Curbside Classic before it’s too late!