Friday, July 18, 2014

A mighty 2-tone Lincoln with unexpected racing credentials

I was riding the bike home from work one beautiful evening when I took a side trip through Red Hook. I'm glad I did because look what was waiting for me out by the docks!
This mighty vision is a 1954 Lincoln Capri. Built to compete with Cadillac and Packard, the Capri debuted in 1952 and quickly became the top selling Lincoln.
This car is dripping with style on every surface! Just look at the lines on the side of the headlight surround. This was a very classy car when it rolled off the assembly line.
This Capri still wears most of it's 2-tone paint; Canterbury Green on the bottom and Empire Green on the roof. Most of the chrome is present too, leading me to believe that somebody's restoring it.
One tiny detail that is missing is the Lincoln crest featuring a knights head clad in armor. These knights are all over the car though, so stay tuned. I love how the chrome band wasn't enough so they just added a slab to the front under the Capri emblem.
The overall shape on this behemoth is rounded with very few edges anywhere in the design. Show-car examples with perfect paint are truly dazzling, but the soft contours highlight any flaw in the finish (not that it matters with this primered, rusted, patina'd beast).

These taillights look like the sort of light you'd see on an ocean liner, which is appropriate enough. Details like the taillight/reverse light housing are more architectural than automotive. There are more skyscrapers with this sort of detail than cars.
Here is another knight, this one protecting the keyhole for the trunk lock. The next generation of Lincolns had the knight covering the keyhole as well, but the access was so much cooler; you had to lift up the visor of the helmet to expose the lock! So cool it seems almost impossible.
*By the way that faded coat of arms evolved over the years to become the Lincoln star logo which is still present on the current models.
So many details are almost lost in the beat-up condition of this ride. L I N C O L N embossed into the rear bumper, with the letters filled in with black. The really fussed over the brass tacks.
From this angle the ocean liner vibe is in full effect. The chrome band wrapping around the base of the cabin is repeated twice below giving the impression of movement, something that was missing from the slab-sided disaster of the final 1959 Capris.
It's been a long time since cars had their names written out in such classy fashion. This car has all the style of a movie palace from the '20s.
Imagine trying to find one of these! Yes, this Capri has a matching original set of Lincoln hubcaps from 1954 on its body-colored wheels.
In 1954 the 5th and final Carrera Panamericana road race was held. This race is legendary in that it ran 1,900 miles across Mexico, mostly on completely underdeveloped dirt tracks barely more than paths between villages. Out of the 150 cars that started the race only 85 finished. 2 of the top finishers were brand-new 1954 Lincoln Capris! Imagine taking this luxury barge and pressing it at an average of 93 miles per hour across nighttime deserts and along cliffside trails for over 20 hours! The overall race was won by a Ferrari that managed the distance in only 17 hours 40 minutes, but the Capri showing was incredibly strong as they finished #1 and #2 in their class.
As this was built during the Jet Age there is a stylized plane for a hood ornament.
The interior on this car is pure awesome! Air conditioning was offered by Lincoln in 1954, but I couldn't discern if it was installed in this car. Just about every other option seems to be present. That pushbutton radio has 8 tubes in it, and the speaker is located behind the subtle screening just above it. In the top section directly above the radio you can just make out the square clock. To the right of the clock is the all-important lighter since 99% of the people buying this car new would've smoked.
Before air bags you could really summarize your overall vision with the design of the steering wheel. The center horn ring is like a fighter jet coming at you, with the stylized Lincoln cross above a V looking like some religious iconography. The chrome circular grid behind the horn ring has no purpose other than looking cool. 
Here we can see the awesomely deco numbers on the speedometer. The gas gauge is on E, which is the least surprising thing about this 2+ ton cruiser. The knobs emerging from the rounded white screen are mechanical, controlling vents and heater temp by cable.
There are even little knight heads on the leading edge of the front fenders.
The sun was setting rapidly on me that evening so I feel lucky that I encountered this Lincoln when I did. If it were mine I'd be compelled to paint it in the red body/white roof colors of the original Panamericana racer which had "Saludos Amigos" written across the front in white script!

No comments:

Post a Comment