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Lincoln Continental Convertibles of the 1960's

2

Comments

  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    In the 1960's Wixom built Lincolns at the rate of 14 cars per hour, 350 per cycle, each car taking two weeks to make from raw materials to driving vehicle. Convertibles got a separate shunt line; all cars getting a 15.3 mile Road Test Around Wixom, and a 189 point check-list. Subsequent inspections either at the zone lots or dealer comprised of a 27 point checklist. Lincoln relearned how to make a quality mass produced car in the 1960's. Lincoln's volume a fifth that of Cadillac, so they could afford to take their time. No one who bought a '58 would ever have been back to buy a '61 unless they liked the style.

    Of the Convertibles, only the 66-67 leaks, the earlier cars don't as long as the top is aligned and the rubber good. The 61-3 tops usually stay working, were-as the 64-67's don't because of the Upper Back Panel Limit switch being out of adjustment, or someone has destroyed it in less than two seconds trying to adjust it without knowing how.... Yes it takes skilled labour to bring one of these cars back. But the factory put them under a third QC review before they were shipped to dealers...when new they were quite nice.

    Rolls-Royce were far from being junque at anytime in their history---behind engineering wise, perhaps, but you can always disassemble one, fix and return it to proper glory. They suffer from ill-abuse like any other car, and those are the ones that often have given them---post-facto---a bad reputation. I drove a 1970 Silver Shadow, RHD against a 1969 Lincoln sedan, and outdrove the Lincoln...the RR handling better, and outpacing the Lincoln...Lincoln catching the Rolls in the straights. I was rather shocked, since both cars were mine! We forget that R-R at Crewe only ever had 5,500 people on staff to make an amazing car---today they draw from the whole of BMW AG to make 'the best car in the world'---and it is.

    What is true is that in the 1970's Lincoln learned to make their accessories as reliable as the engines, especially considering that suppliers build most of the car. The QC for basic items like trim, body, engines, driveline, etc. are excellent, getting the myraid of features to work is another issue and time consuming.

    At the end of the day, LC Convertibles weren't bad cars, an in many places better or equal to anything else then available. Complex, and painstaking to maintain: absolutely. No different than a Ferrari or a Rolls-Royce.

    DouglasR
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    My experience with Rolls has been that they are troublesome cars requiring massive amounts of maintenance and money. For the price you paid, it was pretty sad I thought. Yes, you're right, engineering was about 1936, even in 1966. And that V-8 they came out with in the 70s and 80s was just awful. Defective right out of the box. God knows how many they replaced and overhauled. Quite the embarrassment.

    A Lincoln from the 60s would be a breeze to maintain next to a Rolls IMO. I mean, you don't have to pay $8,000 for a brake job do you? On a '61 Rolls you do. You don't need special training to fix most things on a Lincoln, which makes them more appealing than a Ferrari or Rolls---where hobbyists dare not tread.

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  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    S. H. Harry Grylls, the engineer who designed the Rolls-Royce V8 in 1953-58, used both Lincoln 368 CID and Chrysler Hemi as inspiration for their aluminum block, chrome-iron lined V8. It had to fit under the hood of a Silver cloud, thus its compact and narrow configuration unique to R-R. Bored out to 411.2 CID with new heads (changing the plug location) for the 1968-9 Silver Shadow the engine became a mainstain of the industry---the essential block still being manufactured by Cosworth for Bentley today. The V8 was built because the straight six engine had reached the end of its design parameters and could not be enlarged, having had 39 different crankshafts within its lifespan from 1922 to 1959.

    The V8 was derived from concurrent 1950's technology, coupled with decades of emperical experience at Rolls-Royce. The Merlin engines providing much input in the ultimate arrangement of the Rolls-Royce V8. Rolls-Royce even developed a DOHC version of the V8 in the 1970's---rejecting it due to its excessive noisiness at idle---moving to turbo-charging instead using a 1969 Silver Shadow test mule for its first pre-Bentley Turbo. The strength of the design is shown in the fact that its horsepower has more than doubled in its nearly 50 year production run, now standing at 453Bhp. Dr. Paefgen at Bentley intends to introduce a 550-600Bhp version of this engine in the next Arnage for 2009.

    Having extraordinary familiarity with aluminum through its aviation engine history, the V8 used aluminum for both heads and block. Rolls-Royce maintained its characteristic cylinder bore arrangement even in the V8. The Aluminum content of the engine a unique patented/registered combination of aluminum, silicon, nickel, tin, and magnesium---giving great strength and heat dissipation. You can't melt the cylinder heads with a torch...they can get soft, but not break down the material! Failure of the owners to maintain proper coolants and regular flushing of the block caused problems not inherent in the design. Any engine will fail if it can't cool properly. Current use of GM's DEXCOOL prevents breakdown of the coolant passages and scaling of the aluminum.

    Lincoln's 430 engine, by contrast borrowed heavily from the same Merlin Engines. The design engineer had worked (If memory serves, a man named Phillip Martel) for Packard during the refit of East Grand Boulevard to produce Merlins in mass quantities. He used many features of the Merlin design for the Y-Block 430, itself derived from the Mark II 368 of 1956. The 462 being the same engine with different cylinder head porting, and enlarged capacity, the basic design lasted only 10 years, the R-R engine nearly fifty years!. The Rolls-Royce engine producing similar power and torque curves at 25% less the weight of the engine---giving the Shadow a nice weight balance for drivability.

    The Shadow style was inspired, in part, by the 1961 Lincoln Continental and the Graber Bentley's of the 1950's. John Blatchley, the stylist for the Shadow, admitted as much in a 1969 interview. Elwood Engel, who designed the '61 was also influenced by the same Graber style, and Facel Vega---a car that Blatchley had also looked at. So both cars share many common historical engineering and styling traits.

    As for the cost of a brake job on a Shadow: of course it is expensive---it uses air-craft type braking systems in conjunction with the Citroen licensed height control system pressured from two nitrogen accumulators. It is four times as complex as a standard system on a cheaper car---you always have power brakes even if the engine stops running---you get a couple of jabs of the pedal in case of an emergency. The Shadow brought Rolls-Royce to the forefront in the industry in terms of braking capacity, the old Birkigt designed Hispano-Suiza system adopted by Rolls-Royce in the 1920's having outlived its usefulness by the end of the Cloud era. Four wheel disc brakes with three hydraulic power systems and one mechanical system as back-up, all on independent suspension all round, meant the car really stops!. Lincoln could only boast of Kelsey-Hayes Disc Brakes in the front, and that with a single master cylinder prone to failure at 36 months.

    Lincoln convertibles and Rolls-Royce do share one thing in common: requiring proper maintenance and service to keep them it good fettle. Otherwise they become a very expensive habit to bring back to the fore. And they both look great in your garage.

    DouglasR

    (Sources: 'History of a Dimension', S. H. Grylls, Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1963)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,142
    why would Rolls Royce overdo it on the brakes, but then keep it nice and simple when it came to transmissions. For the longest time, they were just using GM hydramatics so the tranny in a Rolls Royce was really no different than what's in my '67 Catalina.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    Rolls-Royce did what every other manufacturer had to do in the 1950's if they wanted an automatic: they bought them from GM. Packard's Ultramatic did give the Shadow its influence for the "electric shift" mechanism used on the later generation transmissions. No other transmission but the Hydramatic had had such extreme testing and design evolution by the 1950's---having been used by Cadillac and Grant Tanks during WWII.* Rolls-Royce was never plagued by the 'not-invented-here' syndrome, and its engineers always looked at ALL possibilities before chosing, thus GM's hydramatic.

    There is the very famous story that RR engineers tore down the Hdyramatic, remachined it to Rolls-Royce standards, put it back together and found that it would not work! The 'rough' Cadillac standards were necessary for smooth operation. So Rolls-Royce built them under license to the same specification with an appropriate bell-housing to match their engines, and slightly different valve body to match the shift points and torque curve of the R-R V8. The other issue is that Packard spent $7Mn to develop their own Ultramatic, (also sued by GM for patent infringement, though they lost that battle), spreading their costs over 75,000 units per year (so they planned, meaning its cost $100 per car in the first year and $33 per car in the third year!). For Rolls-Royce to develop their own unit would have cost at least as much, but over volumes of 2,500 cars per year, meant that the transmission would have added at least $2,800 to price of every car in the first year, the costs not amortised over fifteen years to bring it into aligment with either Cadillac or Packard!! Even Lincoln used Hydramatics in the begining, not introducing their own transmission until 1956.

    Rolls-Royce did not overdo it on brakes; their testing on concurrent conventional 1950's power systems found fading and failure after repeated hard stopping---which the old system did not do. Thus they went with an adapted Citroen system---prototypes called "Burma" and "Tibet" were driven 1Mn miles before production began. Quite simply, they never wanted their customers to 'restyle' the front ends of their cars because of premature brake failure---major brake service required every 48,000 miles!

    Lincoln by contrast, had tried disc brakes in the 1950's on prototypes, but the control mechanism/fluid technology was not up to the pressure/temperature ranges required of disc brakes: the result was boiling brake fluid and loss of brake pressure. 'Treadl-vac' systems used in the 1950's were OK at best and disasterous at worst, they were not up to the task of repeatedly stopping a 5,000 plus pound vehicle. If you have ever driven a 50's Lincoln across the Blue Ridge Parkway you know what I mean. Lincoln did not arrive at a near perfect brake system until 1967-9 with the advent of the combination of Kelsey-Hayes calipers and rotors plus the dual master cylinder made by Bendix. The Hydro-boost system was an improvement over the vacuum booster, but it was coupled with the cheaper single piston Ford derived calipers, which are not as effective as the Kelsey-Hayes units, the rotors were also not as thick and warped sooner.

    Test a 1967-9 Lincoln against a Silver Shadow, and throw in a 300Sel for good measure and you can gauge were braking technology really was in the 1960's. It was extraordinarily good, and not outdone until the advent of electronic controls on brakes.

    DouglasR

    *Use of automatic transmissions in Grant and Sherman tanks used by Montgomery at El Alemain in 1942 allowed the British Army to defeat Rommel's Panzers because they could turn faster into the firing zone, and likewise escape out of firing range before Germans could strike---offsetting the difference in armor plating and gun capacity. Rolls-Royce could not ignore such 'testing'.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    The parallels to Lincoln are quite apt in some ways. Lincoln was once a very prestigious automobile, especially in the 1930s, but the parent company never put the investment in it to keep up the car's reputation. It challenged Cadillac a few times but could never sustain itself. Now the company seems to have lost all identity. Really a shame. The KB Lincolns of the 30s were magnificent cars.

    I'm not impressed by the mythology of Rolls Royce. It's a great example of a product "resting on its laurels". After WWII, the car simply did not deliver what it promised in the 1930s. The British auto industry was going down the drain and Rolls went with it.

    The Rolls is a prime example of useless complication and a waste of talent and resources IMO. Everything was "good on paper" and sounded terribly impressive as churned out by Rolls PR department, but in the real world people are not Spitfire mechanics, they pay $100K for a car and they want to turn the key and drive it (or have their chauffeur drive it). For all that complication in the 70s and 80s, you got a fussy old-fashioned and rather clumsy car better suited to 1935 than 1985. Nice wood and leather though, and the Brits made the very best chrome for a long time. So my two cents about Rolls is: "All show and no go".

    The final word on old Rolls Royces from the 70s and 80s is, I think in the resale value. You can't give them away. Buyers run away in droves....they are virtually worthless. You could get more for a nice Camaro than a 70s Rolls.

    Cars are like everything else in that it is in the "execution" that it all works out or doesn't. Promises, statistics, specifications, testimony from engineers...all well and good...gee, the Corvair sounded so good, too, and so did the Vega. You'd buy one in a minute if you just read the brochures and never drove the car.

    HYDRAMATIC: The Rolls Hydramatic was is a Rolls case and it was valved differently and changed a bit internally, so no, it's not really like your Catalina in the sense that you couldn't switch them. I think Rolls was desperate for an automatic that worked well since they couldn't design one themselves apparently--and didnt' have the money anyway, even if they could.

    One has to remember that Rolls was a very undercapitalized company and bled money for decades. The car company was completely unprofitable, and no wonder. Without subsidization from its aircraft division, and its subsequent purchase by the Germans, it would have been long dead, an outdated, uncompetitive and eccentric piece of English history way too long in the tooth for the modern age.

    Finally the Rolls is a decent car again, thanks to German technology (and money).

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  • parmparm Posts: 723
    OMG! I thought classic car discussions in the Edmunds Forum were put out to pasture years ago - which I always thought was a misguided decision by the powers that be.

    As I'll explain, I've not even bothered to check in here for a few years. For someone who was within a whisker (if not closer) of buying a collector car 4-5 years ago, I've had absolutely no interest over the last two years. But, that's what a divorce will do to you. My passion for collector/classic cars was absolutely and completely sucked out of me. But, I'm much better now. I'm actually allowed to handle sharp objects these days. LOL!

    Anyway, more shocked I could not be to see a Lincoln discussion thread I started back in '02 was still alive and kicking - well, alive anyway. Hello Shifty (Joe). Glad to see you're still riding heard here. I'm even more glad you have this outlet again to share your impressive knowledge on this subject. And, I see Andre1969 is still here too. Wonder if any more of the "old guard" are around anymore.

    Hope to make return visits here.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    Hi parm!

    Yep we're all here with some new folks, too--but we don't hang out in this discussion much.

    We're in Project Cars quite a bit, as you might imagine! Drop over there!

    Shifty

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,142
    Welcome back! Sorry to hear about your divorce; I can relate to what you're going through. I went through a divorce about 10 years ago, and it wasn't fun.
  • My lincoln top is giving me all kinds of trouble, I believe stemming from the upper back panel limit switch (and possibly some stubborn relays). Where should I go for help? Are there any rebuild shops that know these lincolns very well? Also my fuel sending unit appears to have failed. Is this common/easy to replace?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    You know I was talking to a Conti owner a few months ago and he told me there are a couple of convertible top "gurus" around the country that can help with this...I think you'd need to buzz around the Lincoln Club boards and find out who these guys are. Apparently precise alignment is one of the problems with top operation. Maybe one of the clubs has published a manual on this problem, that would be great...to follow those who have gone before you.

    Also I went through Hemmings Motor News and picked out two promising websites that sell Lincoln parts for your car, and they might lead you to something else:

    www.markii.com

    www.lincolnlandinc.com

    one's in FLA and the other in Calif.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    The Lincoln dealers HATED working on those things!

    Everything has to be working just right or else it won't work. The 1957-1959 Ford retractables were even worse!

    Dozens of relays, limit switches and miles of wiring!
  • OK looks like I found the guy who is the guru for these tops. He travels around with all parts and knows not only all the relays/switches/motors with the tops, but all electrical issues with the continentals--- web site www.convertiblelincolns.com
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    I have heard stories of those Ford Skyliners' tops failing halfway through the raise/lower cycle. Fortunately, there was a manual override so you wouldn't have to drive around with the top at "half-mast." I believe this happened to my Uncle Johnny with his red and white 1957 Ford Skyliner sometime in the early 1960s. Was this a frequent peril with the 1960s Continental convertibles?
  • prometheepromethee Posts: 2
    Hello Douglas,
    I find your comments very insightful. I am presently sourcing a nice example to keep. Which year would you recommend for a Sunday car? I live near the tropics and the local climate would discourage having it as a daily car. It would probably get fried. They are awesome cars and I hope I can make a proper decision to keep one for a long long time.
    Appreciate your insights.
    John
  • prometheepromethee Posts: 2
    I am presently sourcing a nice example to keep but my limitation is I have few resources to maintain these cars where I live. So reliability is very important. While I know this seldom goes with classic cars but I have been hearing great things about the Lincolns of this era. Appreciate any comments and tips to point me in the right direction. Please include the good, bad and the ugly so I can be armed with a realistic mindset to pursue the 'perfect one'. Thank you in advance for your input.
    John
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    You might want to join the Lincoln Continental Owners Club:

    http://www.lcoc.org/index.htm

    I'd certainly consult them on everything except value estimates.

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,972
    the rear lights were in the bumper, so i think it was a mid sixties model.
    couldn't get too close due to traffic.
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Well. It's nice to see a thread I started seven years ago (Yikes! That was one wife ago!) has been resurrected. Does such staying power make me perceptively far-sighted, or just old? Fellas, that's a rhetorical question - no answer necessary. :P Any-who, that was back in the days when this forum was pretty active . . . . . . I miss those days.

    The LCOC is a great reference source. The folks there know these cars backwards and forwards. If you have a technical question, they'll be able to answer it. Still, speaking as a non-Lincoln owner (at least, not yet!), I would say there are more than a few in the LCOC who would challenge Shifty's opinion as to their knowledge of market value regarding these cars. I know an owner/seller is usually the last to catch up to the market, so I'm not necessarily disputing his call. But, it's a good thing he stated that view "in here" and not on the LCOC site. Unless, of course, the laws of chemistry and physics have been suspended and pouring gasoline onto a small fire no longer produces heat. ;) :shades:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    I always base arguments about value with evidence. If they can produce evidence and not opinion, I'm ready to change my mind. But if a club member insists a car is worth X dollars because that's what he put into it, or because he "heard" of someone "asking" this much, or "heard" of someone getting "that much, that's not "market value" that's just a rumor, a wish and a prayer.

    club members are not disinterested parties, and that's why they aren't good appraisers. They're great for restoration advice, however, and certainly know more than I do on THAT subject.

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  • I'm hoping someone can help me. Kids were playing with the roof and smoke came up from under trunk, passenger side. Trunk moves up about 2." It sounds like another motor is suppose to engage. That motor is not engaging. Pretty sure it's not that motor; rather it's the switch or mechanism that allows that motor to engage.
    Has anyone had this problem?
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Lincoln & Continental Owners Club

    Click on the link above and then click on Bulletin Board and then click on The Lincoln Forum Net. There, you'll find a wealth of knowledge from Lincoln owners. If they can't answer your question, nobody can.
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    edited February 2010
    I gotta admit, I'm pretty smitten with this one 1962 Lincoln convert. It was recently on ebay and the $20,300 high bid didn't meet the seller's reserve. Yeah, the engine is far from sanitary, but that can be rectified. Too bad there aren't any views of the under-carriage. Two messages I sent the seller while the auction was in progress went unanswered. :mad:

    What should this car sell for???
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    The bid was absolutely market correct, right on the money, IMO. The car looks like a high #4, low #3, probably a repaint of a tired old car underneath. The underside will look like the engine; the interior is pretty nice but we can see lots of scratches in the trim, dry old floor mats, etc. Car is obviously a repaint and not that good of one.

    So yeah, $20K is all the money. Once again, eBay bidders know what they're doing in this case at least.

    It's a "driver" at best, and would need a complete tear down to make it any nicer.

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  • parmparm Posts: 723
    62 Lincoln convert at Amelia Island RM March auction

    OK. Call me a gull-la-BULL, but this looks like a nice one. Yeah, yeah. I know. Much like a wife, the convertible mechanisms of 1960's Lincolns are painfully complicated and expensive to keep happy. But, if you have a nice one, who cares? (I'm talk'n about the car here!) Hey, it's not a problem if it breaks while the top is down, right??? :P The pre-bid estimate is $30K-$45K. Can't believe I'm saying this, but the low end of that range doesn't sound too terribly whacky - which means the car is probably worth high $20's? Many of the cars in this auction are from an estate collection. Does that tend to make it a safer buy? What's everyone think of this one? Should I start packing my bags for a March visit to Florida? :blush:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    edited February 2010
    Yeah, high $20Ks sounds right---if you read between the lines of this auction poofery, you can see that a) it's an older restoration b) the interior needs detailing (aka "dirty and unglued in places" and c) the paint has scratches which they say can be "fixed"---but guess who pays for that?

    So on the face of it, sounds like a high #3 car. As for the top mechanism, it had better work when you buy it. It's not that the top mechanism is so complex---but it can be tedious and maddening to get right.

    Why don't you fly me down there to inspect it for you? Amelia Island is of course a real hell-hole, and I wouldn't want you to have to go through that. No, don't thank me, it's my job.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    The "cons" of those old Lincolns far outweigh the "pros".

    I really do love the way they look. In a straight line, they drive nicely too.

    But, they were troublesome cars even when new. The dealers HATED working on the power tops and they had electrical and vacuum problems that were vexactious to track down and fix. Thsy also crack exhaust manifolds which are a B***H to replace.

    Still, I do appreciate a nice one when I see one.
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Lincoln convertible fix it guy

    Kind of nice to know that as a classic Lincoln owner you can get your convertible top fixed by an experienced repair dude who makes house calls. ;)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    Talk about a niche market!

    So when he decides to retire or give up, then what?
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Don't try to confuse me with reality . . . . . . :P
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