image source: hemmings
(first posted 5/18/2012. updated 4/18/2017) The 1958 – 1960 Lincolns were all about superlatives, especially in size. These were the biggest (non-5 mph bumper) Lincolns ever made (131″ wheelbase; 229″ overall length), as well as the roomiest ones: front and rear shoulder room that has never been surpassed, as well as extravagant legroom. Weight? The 1959-1960 Continental was the heaviest non-extended wheelbase American car built since WW2, weighing up to 5700 lbs. Its 9.00 and 9.50 x 14″ tires were the biggest ever made for fourteen inch rims.
The new 430 inch MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) engine for 1958 was also the biggest by far in its time, and with 375 hp and a big four barrel carb, it could push the the 1958 lead sled to sixty in some 8.7 seconds. But its thirst was single-digitly prodigious, to say the least. Given that 1958 was a major recession year, and thrift was in the air, it was time to get the big MEL on the wagon. So for 1960, its appetite was choked off.
A Carter ABD-2965 S two-barrel was installed, dropping power to 315 hp. Torque was probably only slightly affected, so the normal driving experience wasn’t impaired all that much. And reputedly, highway mileage was now solidly in the teens. Probably low teens.
The MEL engine had a combustion chamber that was fully inside the cylinder, made possible by a 10 degree offset in its top deck. Chevy’s 348/409 engines had a very similar arrangement, although with a valve placement that optimized porting for better high-speed breathing. But that was not the MEL’s main design goal; torque was.
The MEL’s design was also quite similar to Ford’s Super Duty V8 engine, which also appeared in 1958. I couldn’t find a full-size MEL cross section, but from the part that is shown above this SD ad, the two look very similar indeed. The MEL came in 383, 410, 430 and 462 cu.in versions, while the SD came in 401, 477 and 534 cu.in versions. The SD was a larger engine all the way around though, and weighed close to 1000lbs. But the head design is very similar.
Although the 430 MEL was the first American engine to attain a 400hp rating in the 1958 Mercury Super Marauder, its torque rating of 510 ft. lbs. is still a phenomenal number.
Under one of the most superb air cleaner housings ever sat triple two-barrel carbs, but it appears they were Holleys, not Carters.
The later MEL engine was detuned not just through a reduced carb size, but also smaller ports and valves, and a substantially reduced compression ratio (8.0:1). The two barrel 430 continued all the way through 1962, and its advertised horsepower was down to 300 for 1961 – 1962. For 1963, a four-barrel returned, but with a mild 320 horsepower rating, probably due other changes to emphasize smoothness and torque over top-end power. The luxury-car horsepower wars of the 1950s were long over, having moved into the lower-priced segments.
But in its heyday, the 430 had a brief NASCAR career, although the extremely heavy MEL engine made handling scary, and drivers were terrified at times of its tendencies at high speed.
The 430 MEL was adopted as the engine of choice for Chris-Craft boats. A detailed analysis of its strengths and weaknesses can be found at this Chris-Craft forum.
For 1966, the MEL’s displacement was increased to 462 cu.in., and it carried a 340 (gross) hp rating through its final year, 1968, when it was replaced by the new 460 “385” engine, which was lighter and superior in every way, thanks to improvements in casting technology and much improved cylinder head architecture.
Boat Anchor? NO BOAT MOTOR!
(Sorry couldn’t resist that one.) The lone ride I’ve taken on a boat with an inboard motor was in one powered by a Buick 350, that sucker had some thrust.
Very interesting article — I had no idea these cars weighed over 5500# nor did I know that FoMoCo de-barrelled these engines. I guess the real difference was the port size….no need for those secondaries. I wonder if the cam profile was altered as well.
Chevy did it to their 396 in 1969, Olds & Pontiac did it to their 455s somewhere in the ’71-’72 range and Buick offered a 2-barrel 455 in 1974 only.
Makes me wonder how effective swapping 2-barrel intakes for 4-barrel intakes would be on the various flavors of V8’s out there… I know lots of people have done it without touching the heads or cam.
Gotta head over to the Chris-craft forum now & absorb some more.
It didn’t work out too well for Chevy, at least in this particular case.
I maintain something was wrong with it.
I’m guessing that example didn’t have the optional F41 sway bar package.
I’ll also bet handling improved the following year when they went back to 15″ wheels. Add in radials and the difference would be night and day.
The undoubtedly ran it at the recommended 24 psi in the tires. jacking that up to 30 psi alone would have helped quite a bit. But yes, standard suspensions and tires on these cars back then were sorely lacking. And don’t anyone think that a comparably-equipped LTD or Fury would done any/much better. By 1969, Chrysler’s suspension settings had been softened considerably too.
Can’t believe people thought that the ‘dive’ and body roll on these was acceptable… and 180s or 360 spins meant ‘good brakes!
Land yachts, perfect term for the ‘tech of the time’… The bias-belted tire squeal – now that takes me back!
Its making me laugh my ass off, frankly, Let’s do the Time Warp Again!
Lanes here are only 10 feet wide mostly, not quite enough for that cars capabilities at speed.
Amazing degree of front roll-over. The Chevy is cornering completely on the front tire sidewalls up to the outer wheel rim. Definitely not a car made for autocross events. Also an amazing degree of front rear braking imbalance in a 60-0 braking test with the 180 degree lockup pirouette. Amazingly unacceptable by any standards, even then. Another deadly sin–even possibly a real deadly sin, and thankfully a sin of the past.
The 4-barrel 318 Mopars in the late 50’s (and probably other years as well) had slightly different cams from the 2-barrel motors, confounding quite a few backyard mechanics who only got increased fuel consumption and little or no added speed by swapping their 2-barrel carbs and manifolds for 4-barrels.
A nice article. I love these treatments of forgotten engines. The big MEL was ancient history by the time I started buying cars, and was never really that widely used anyhow, since it was never put into any of the Fords (other than a few 60 T Birds).
I had no idea of the unique block and head design of these. All I knew about them was that in the 58 Lincoln, they delivered some pretty impressive 0-30 and 0-60 times in a nearly 3 ton car with an axle somewhere around 2.90. I do recall reading somewhere that the compression was dropped a bit after 1958 as well, from around 12:1 to something like 10.5:1.
When this engine was introduced, it had 10.5 compression across the board. That was apparently a little much for contemporary pump gas unless you backed off the timing a few degrees, so Lincoln-Mercury dropped back to 10.0 in 1959.
The Super Marauder was basically the same as the 375 hp engine in the Lincoln except for the carburetion: three two-throat Holleys on an aluminum manifold with a vacuum-controlled linkage. It was offered on Mercurys in 1958 only, although the manifolds and carbs were available as a dealer kit, so you could theoretically have installed in on any 430 MEL engine.
I always thought it was strange that they never has the factory 3 carb setup on the Lincolns, at least he Continental, the Eldorados came with 3 deuces or dual quads depending on the year through 1960.
Though one of these Lincolns with a tri-power on it probably had a GPF (gallons per foot) consumption, you just barely had enough gas to make it from gas station to gas station.
The only period road test I found of the Super Marauder engine noted that the idle was noticeably rougher than with the standard 4V 430, so I suspect that had something to do with it. Certainly, the ’58 Lincolns weren’t slow even without the triple carburetor set-up.
With an overdrive, my 1960 Mark IV gets 25 MPG on the road. It is bored & stroked to 545ci with aluminum heads & Tri Power
Back in 1961, I installed a 1958 Merc. Marauder stock out of a police Parklane station wagon, prisoner runner from LAPD. into a 1955 Ford F-100. I turned 130 mph in 11sec. at Fontana dragstrip 1n 1963. I ran A gas and A altered, just by installing a role bar. The front end would come off the ground at 90mph if you floored it in third gear. It was my only vehical so it was a driver.
Installed a 1959 430CI in a 1951 Ford with a front straight axle in 1965 and was never outrun on street dragging by any car, Buick, Chevy, Olds, Plymouth, Dodge, or other Fords. Right gear and the automatic lert them in the Dust!
Boy Paul, you didn’t waste any time whipping up an article on this topic. 🙂
Big two barrel engines are odd. Wouldn’t a spread bore 4 barrel carb be more effecient than a 2 barrel?
This was 1960. The spreadbore 4-bbl hadn’t been devised yet.
Yup, 6 more years till the 4300 appeared.
That ’58 Super Marauder air cleaner is gorgeous, and way ahead of its time. Flat, thin and chromed, like the highly styled engine covers of today.
I wonder what modern EFI and ignition could do with power and/or mileage and emissions on this monster mill.
That’s what I keep wondering about the beasts of the 60s and 70s. I am now obsessed with Holley EFI.
Visions of big block equipped luxuo-barges with EFI and gear vendors overdrives now dance in my head… If you could get one to get similar mileage to a modern 2wd Suburban or Tahoe I think you’d have to declare it a win.
Dan, there are several throttle-body EFI conversion systems out there now, not just Holley. One of the ones that is supposedly very good is EZ-EFI from FAST.
Regarding the GVOD: If you can find a newer 4-speed automatic transmission with the same bellhousing pattern or an adapter plate to bolt-up to your engine, that may be preferrable to the GVOD. For about the same price as a GVOD, you get the overdrive gear and also a lockup torque converter to further assist fuel economy.
I have recently learned that my employment will be changing next year. (My position is being eliminated.) I’m welcome to continue working for the district, just as a classroom teacher (although I’m still applying for principal spots.) My commute is going to determine my next ride. 30 miles one way or greater = something made during this century and getting around 25mpg highway. 30 miles or less = possibly a cool old project car that runs and drives but I can slowly modify. (FI, modern radial tires, overdrive, tune up, ignition, dual exhausts = my definition of cool.)
Dan my advice is do both. Get your cool old ride and play with it on weekends, do stuff as finances allow. For your work ride, get a reliable, efficient and safe car like a Civic. For a work car, there is much to be said for four wheel disk brakes, ABS and airbags. Old cars can become horrid headaches and money pits when used as daily drivers. The cost of the mods you are describing can add up very, very quickly.
Dan, sorry to hear your position is being eliminated, hopefully you can land a principal gig and stay within 30 miles of home…btw is that ’67 Mustang you’ve written about anywhere on the horizon?
I’m a big fan of old daily drivers…my ’91 Caprice is drop-dead reliable and not that expensive to run. My thought is that you’d want something that was a good vehicle to begin with…”good bones” as they’d say if you were looking at a house.
Anything wearing a Bowtie will be less expensive than most anything else you can find plus most old Chevies have great parts interchangeability thru several years. Just do your research like you would buying a newer vehicle. If a particular car was an unreliable POS when new, it probably will be now…even more so…even though you just found one with 32,000 miles for $1000.
Let us know what you do…the CC nation wants to know!
My father has an unrealistic idea of what the Mustang is worth. I could buy a restored one for what he would like to get from someone. One of you once mentioned here that it is uncooth to argue with someone sentimentally attached to a vehicle and I certainly feel that way. Will he and I have a conversation about it come August? Sure. How it will go is anyones guess.
If he would make (or take) an offer like the one that put the Mustang in his hands in the first place I would be more than happy to enjoy it for the next 40 years. If he would put the keys in my hands as a wedding present I would move heaven and earth to get the car from Ohio to New Mexico and would start a restoration ASAP. But if he wants an excessive amount of money for it… no dice. My problem is that if that Mustang was not a family heirloom I would have very little interest in it. (Sorry I don’t really have a thing for convertibles.)
A Whale Caprice would make a great, cheap every day driver. When you consider that it would only cost like $1500 to buy one and repairs are cheap, especially if you can do them yourself, the 15 mpg really isn’t much of an issue. You are still driving for low dollars when you consider depreciation is practically nothing.
“30 miles one way or greater = something made during this century and getting around 25mpg highway.”
Sounds like a modern V8 American car could fill the bill. 2005 Mustang GT V8 or something along those lines? That’ll do mid 20’s highway with a manual gearbox.
I hope your job change turns out to be an opportunity rather than a hassle or a step backwards, Dan! It worked that way for me a couple of times, although at least one of those times it took me a while to realize that.
The greatest benefit of having spent 2 years working at central office is that I now know the worth of the local principals in our 5000 sq mile school district. I will not chose to work for a moron when I can drive a little further and work for someone I might learn something from.
I will say the best times of my life to this point has been spent in the classroom interacting with students from 6th thru 12th grade.
I wonder if McNamara saw this and had it killed, seeing the whole decorative assembly as a needless cosmetic bauble.
we built a 60s Lincoln at our shop with a fast efi and a pertronicks ignition not sure what he ended up getting for mileage though
My Grandma had a 58 Mercury Montclair 4D hardtop with the 430. I used to LOVE riding in that car, she would step hard on the throttle from a stoplight and it would bury you in the seat, big time fun for a 5 year old car junkie!
She always said that car would “pass everything on the road except a gas station and stop on a dime” (with its over boosted power brakes)
The best part was the speedo, it worked like a horizontal thermometer under the numbers, it started out green up to 35 then turned yellow up to 60 the red beyond that. It was all mechanical so you could watch the yellow dropping in front of the base green the the red would drop in front of the yellow, very cool!
Vauxhalls had the same speedo very cool
Had a ’58 Colony Park years ago. The speedo was a red bar with a white edge for a pointer. It never changed colors. You might be thinking of the 59-62 Olds speedos. They changed color exactly like you describe.
Been in the boat business 26 years now in the North Portland area, have spent countless hours doing service calls on the docks, and have yet to see one of these Chris-Craft 430’s. Lots of 283 Chev’s, and I know where several Chris-Craft side oiler FE427’s are lurking,including reverse rotation ones! (as late as ’72 MY,in boat years), but have never seen a MEL
They were only used by CC from 1960 – 1966, during the 430’s production run. The 427 Ford replaced it in 1967 or so.
The 430 was replaced in 1966 by the 462 MEL, also with a 4-barrel. The 462 continued into mid-1968. It was replaced by the 460-385 Lima series.
Curiously, the 460 was gradually phased in over the early months of 1968.
The folklore is the that after the 460 was announced, management discovered a cache of fresh 462s in a warehouse,and used them up first.
Therefore, there may still be a few 68 Continentals running around with either engine, both factory correct. If it has a 460, it’s a late production model for sure. This, BTW, doesn’t apply to MK-IIIs, they had the 460 from the start.
As for the 427, was strictly a race-only engine in it’s best years (pre-’68 and solid-lifter), and only 4-speed, and no Power Steering, Power Brakes or AC. There was a plan to offer a toned-down, hydraulic-cam version in a variety of ’68 models, including Galaxies, Torinos, Mustangs, etc. Ford’s plans were thwarted in 1968 due to a protracted and bitter strike.
In the end, only a few Cougars got the engine. As a result The content of the whole Ford line was affected in many ways, whether because of simple non-availability of components, or the bean counters simply deleting them to make up for lost ground financially.
By the fine-print in this ad, it seems that Ford actively discouraged volume sales of the 427.
All the marine 427’s I have seen are based on the ’68 hydraulic cam version
Oops-Cant remove comment-I just now see CC, not Ford. , regarding engine usage.
Somehow I thought we still referring to Lincolns, not watercraft. My bad.
I wonder if Lincoln customers during the 58-60 period really cared about very small improvements in MPGs? If you could afford the car, you could afford the gas.
Y’d think that someone in the Cadillac/Lincoln price class would be relatively impervious to economic bumps, but sales for Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial went in the dumper in the 1958 recession.
Back in the day I got to drive my Dad’s ’63 Lincoln 430 with four barrel carb. It was a good runner. I remember reading road tests that suggested that the ’62 and earlier two barrel carb and mainfold could be easily exchanged with the newer four barrel set up for increased power. I had a ’66 Lincoln with the 462 and it was another good runner. But as stated the 460 Ford/ Lincoln engine was a superior design with improved power and economy.
The Marauder air cleaner is nice, but check out this ’67 Riviera Gran Sport air cleaner that was used with the new 430 motor. Yes, they were all painted red. It’s known as the “Star Wars” air cleaner among Riviera fans.
OOPS! Forgot to link picture.
I always found the whole Big Block/2bbl idea odd just as others have said here.
The strangest ones, to me, were the GMs though. They had the Q Jet starting in 65 and with the turn of a screw you could limit how much air the carb would allow. Heck, by 69 everyone had a spread bore of some sort. (I’m not a 2bbl guy at all, the only 2bbl carbs I’ve found to be worth anything are the MC 2300/2350 series.)
Penny pinching at its best?
The MEL engines were interesting for sure. It’s funny how close they were in design to the 401-534 Super Duty family.
Back in the day I did quite a few 2 to 4 barrel swaps on Chevy engines. I did not touch the cams. The four barrel increased power noticeably, probably about 20 HP on 305 or 350 with mild cam. Couple with adding dual exhaust, the power increase was almost night and day. On the two barrel engines, with a vacuum gauge, I could see a slight rise in vacuum full throttle at high RPM. On the four barrel gauge would stay pegged at zero.
I never noticed loss of fuel economy from these swaps as long as I kept my foot out of the secondaries. The primaries in the Quadrajet were no larger (probably smaller) than the two barrel venturis. Even the old 4GC had small primaries.
I always felt the two barrel was mostly to save money at mfg. They are simple and probably were more reliable than the four barrels.
My Dad purchased a gorgeous in1960 a new Mercury Park Lane Convertible. It was black with red interior. It got nicknamed the Queen Mary. I was 12 years old at the time. Sometime in the late 60’s my Dad and I removed the heads off that 430 and took them to a shop to have them rebuilt. I do remember that big two barrell carburetor. I drove it all through high school and just loved it. The car could cruise beautifully at 90 to 100 mph all day.
I bet the girls were lined up to ride in that baby!
Just a couple of notes, there is at our local boat yard a aft cabin Chris about 50’+ with twin 430’s. Back to the subject. I have two- a 58 Turnpike, and a 59 Mark IV. bought for me by my father around 1961 and 62 when I was in high school. I cant have enough praise for these. My mind says they were too good thats why they were dropped. Maybe i was the first to drop a 430 in a 1950 F8 truck. Most people don’t know all FE bells flywheels
etc. bolt right up and use a FE starter. Truck would blow the doors off them C80’s.
I had to swap exhaust manifolds so they dump from the front to clear the steering box. I own a machine & fab works co. I am machining adaptor plates for MEL to AOD’s. My son bought me a one owner clean F350 / 460 pig. I spent a grand, and it still cant get out of its own way. Gets 2mpg and maybe 40mph downhill. Been on forums that say it can be this that this that. I want a 4bbl Holley & that cant be done without machining that I dont have prints for. So I will have the only 1996 F350 “430”. crank drive PS. But the big problem is, I have to buy an expensive majic box for the transmission.
I love your Mercury,any chance of some more pictures& a feature?
Yes I do, but for some reason they won’t load. How about this one. I’ll try again for the 430 F8 and Lincoln. thanks sam
While there are many “haters” of the ’59-’60 Lincolns on this site, I personally find this car gorgeous!
I cant get the F8 photo lets try again sam
430 cid F8 5speed two speed axle air brakes
Friend of mine has a ’58 Merc Park Lane 2 dr HT project car that I’m giving a lot of thought. The car is 99 % complete (missing a valve cover) the chrome & glass are good (I don’t do show cars, just like nice drivers) & theres a lot of NOS parts out there, so I’m seeing. The transmission is keeping me tossing & turning in bed on what to do if I end up with this car. Since it has the Teletouch push buttons & they wouldn’t work with a later C-4 C-6 or AOD, I’d have to put a very unsightly floor shift in it and that is NOT an option (I’m not a purist but I hate altering my interiors) or is there a kit out there that the Teletouch would still work?? (I see rebuilt ones out there for about $225, not bad)
Did you say the big Lincolns had 14 inch rims? Hmm, don’t care for that so have to go 15s with baby moons maybe (or small Medalist hubcaps with trim rings)
Didn’t these cars use the FMX transmission that was in almost every Ford from 1958 into the late 60s? Or was there a difference between the FX and the MX in the early years? Anyhow, if you are considering a C6 (I don’t think a C4 would stand up to the big MEL engine), why not just stick with the older unit that was plenty robust and plentiful? Surely the low-volume pushbutton controller bolts onto the outside of the regular Ford/Mercury automatic? This is all theory, mind you, never having tried dealing with these. But I do know that the Cruise O Matic that dates from 1958 and runs up through at least 1967 was NOT a C6. But is there anything a C6 would do that an FMX would not? After all, both are non O/D 3 speeds.
The ’58 Lincoln has always been pretty low on my radar. I’m sure that rather low sales combined with a long time lack of collector interest is part of that. But, the idea that these cars had some impressive hustle that is still respectable today makes me want to spend some time in one all the more.
A black ’58 Lincoln four door is one seriously bad-ass American car……
I just really like the way that car looks, esp, in black. “Bad-ass” is an apt description!
Black is definitely the color to get one of those cars.
It sure is. Someone, I forget who, described it as “the car to have for weddings, funerals and murders”.
Excellent review of an overlooked engine. I had a 462 -powered ’67 Lincoln for 13 years. The stock carb was a 4bbl Carter, as I recall. It was a beast, as noted here, essentially a truck engine put in a car. The mileage was singularly terrible, all the time, although everything else was built to a very high standard, for the time.
I have a ’60 Lincoln convertible. I had the 430 rebuilt, but the rebuilder ignored advice and put the replacement flat topped Egge pistons in. I had pistons made from a 1963 design (good squelch pattern) and dynoed the motor both with the flat pistons and the new ones. The flat pistons made 195 HP! That’s gross on the dyno stand. At a 7.1 to 1 compression ratio, it’s an air pump! just changing the pistons bumped the compression to 10.1 to 1 and generated 245 HP. Addition of a 1963 intake and an Edelbrock 4bbl. took it up to 285 HP. Torque went from 336 ft. lbs. to 372 to 463. So, the morale of the story is…don’t use flat pistons in a MEL rebuild!
Just a small detail, but I was surprised to see that the compression was back up to 10.25:1 by 1967:
The 430 was at 10.5 in ’58, lowered to 10.0 in ’59 and stayed there through ’65.
From the ’58 Mercury brochure (1st of 3):