- Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

How one man turned this rotting Lincoln Continental into a work of art

Talk about a second lease on life

1w ago
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In the words of my photographer friend Charles Frerking, “name a car that says ‘I mean business’ more than this era of Lincoln Continental.” I think he hit the nail right on the head with that one. Coming in at 18 feet of chrome, suicide doors, and pure class, this is Ken’s 1964 Lincoln Continental. Oh, man.

If I told you this Lincoln was once buried in mud up to the rocker panels, would you believe me? If I told you that damn near everything on this car is original and just masterfully restored, would you think I’m lying?

Image courtesy of Ken Montes

Image courtesy of Ken Montes

See a few years ago, Ken was looking for a suicide door Continental. This in itself is a hard task as many of these are either beat to hell or modified in one way or another. This particular one was being sold by Tomlinson’s Auto Body, which is now Kniesel's Collision Shop in Auburn. At the back of the shop, down a muddy hill was this “burial ground” of cars that the owner planned on restoring at some point. It was the cheapest car there and like I said, it was buried in mud up to the rocker panels. The side windows were busted out, the upholstery was eaten by everything, it was sun-weathered and waterlogged but under all that, there was no rust and it was all original. It even has the original manual complete with the salesman’s business card and the dashboard plaque containing the original owner’s name.

The story goes that the owner of the shop drove it down there and parked it 10 years ago where it sat and wait for the day it would be revived. That day had come. Ken brought his van down, yanked it out of the mud with three locked-up wheels, and trailered it to his shop.

Image courtesy of Ken Montes

Image courtesy of Ken Montes

Now, these old Lincolns use vacuum lines for pretty much everything, including the door locks. There was no chance that vacuum lines would work after 10 years of sitting but just in case they did, Ken threw a battery in the car and flipped the door lock switch.

And the car replied with a satisfying *click*.

Not only did it mean that the lines were still intact, but they still held vacuum after all that time. Thus began the restoration process.

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

The hood and trunk always rust through on the Continentals so instead of replacing them, he kept them on the car and patched the rust holes with fiberglass. The big, beautiful bumpers were re-chromed with and the stainless steel was repolished to a mirror finish. Mechanically speaking, the oil was changed, everything that was seized was promptly unseized, and the bad gas was siphoned from the tank.

The interior was redone but is still original to the car, right down to the switches and trim pieces. The dash was reupholstered but was never removed from the car, much like the engine. Ken even talked to Mike Moreno, otherwise known as The Lincoln Man on Jay Leno's Garage, for advice on what not to touch if it wasn’t broken. The only things that aren’t original are the driver’s seat floor mat and the rubber seals and hoses.

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

The exterior was painted in 2017 Lincoln silver metallic with a fitting interior color from a Ford Expedition. Incredibly, all the badges were still on the car and just required a thorough cleaning and polishing to return to their shimmering state.

The only modifications done to this Continental are a modern AC system for the boiling California summers and Accu-ride air suspension so you can cruise down the avenue like a real mob boss. Tasteful, and frankly perfect for the vibe that this American icon gives off.

At the end of the day, everything works as it should, including the gauges. The only thing on the fritz is the radio as fixing it meant removing the dash and risking damaging the vacuum lines. The car has never left California and remains a beautiful example of engineering and craftsmanship. It now serves as the perfect automobile for upscale downtown dates and classy prom dances at his daughter’s high school.

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

The restoration work on display here truly speaks to Ken’s abilities to make miracles with his hands. If you’ve read my previous collaborations with him, you’ll know that this guy makes his own aero parts for his GT40 and also modified a golf cart into a Gulf Cart. If there’s somebody you can rely on to take on a project and do it right, look no further than Mr. Montes right here. The looks, the sounds, the smells that this car makes are all as they should be and I can’t imagine a cleaner and more perfect example. If we’re talking about turning water into wine, then Ken turns cars into works of art.

The first time I had the privilege of swinging open its suicide rear door, I could’ve sworn I took a step back into a vintage Lincoln dealership. If you blindfolded me, threw me in the backseat, and told me I was in a time capsule Lincoln that had just come from the Ford family private reserve, I would have zero reasons to call you out on your bluff.

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

Image courtesy of @frerkingsweetphotos

Best of all, this Lincoln Continental is for sale. If you like what you see here, it can all be yours for $45,000. If you’re truly interested in owning a showroom-quality piece of American history, you can’t go wrong with owning this Continental.

Huge thanks once again to Ken for sharing another one of his beautiful creations with me. There’s never a boring day at his shop and I’m always thankful for the opportunity to write about the rides in his garage.

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