Sunday, January 4, 2015

Show Car Sunday returns with a Glitzy Lincoln finally gets its due!

The dog days of winter are just settling in and I've finally got some free time to go through the backlog of great rides I've encountered over the past year. We'll start off 2015 with a majestic yacht that was (and may still be) parked at Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook. I was there celebrating my 40th birthday, Zach Galifianakis was sitting at the table next to us, and this mighty beast was parked below:
This thing is in command of the situation! What we have here is a 1957 Lincoln Premiere in the factory color Desert Buff. This is the only year the Premiere looked like this; the 1956 had a single light on each side, and the 1958 had stacked lights that were at a V angle pointing in towards the bottom. This is a rare and well-appointed example of 1950s American optimism and luxury.
Very busy, very flashy styling was the name of the game for '57. Just look how complicated this side of the front is! We have 2 different size headlights, a turn signal and running light built into the same wide housing, a faux vent/light running toward the middle of the car from the center of the headlight housing, both of which sport a textured metal grid design. It goes without saying that everything is outlined in chrome of various thickness. One detail I absolutely love is the tiny line of body color paint in front of the lower edge of the faux signal; just enough to show that it is set back. 
This is a well-proportioned car in light of its immense size. The chrome molding running along the side is much more subtle that most of the rides of this era. The engine powering this 4,900lb beast is the Lincoln 368 Y-block V8. This engine was only used in Lincolns, and only for '56 and '57, so getting rebuild kits and parts can be worrisome. A 3 speed automatic transmission was standard.
Another faux vent whose main purpose is to make the car look even cooler. It does manage to mimic the angle of the taillight housing though, adding continuity to the design.
There isn't a detail that was overlooked by the design team at Lincoln in the '50s as illustrated by the sleek door handle, covered keyhole, and ergonomic indentation that is wider at the top than the bottom much like the shape of a hand opening the door. Lincoln had 3 models in '57; the Capri at the bottom, Premiere in the middle, and Continental at the top. All Lincolns were the pinnacle of the Ford Motor Company lineup above Edsel, Mercurey, and Ford (in that order).
It's 1957 people; fins grew out of just about every domestic car except for Nash/Rambler. This is a relatively restrained example with the slightly angled gothic taillights emerging from almost perfectly level fenders. LINCOLN is just barely legible in this pic hidden amidst the striped chrome panel. Reverse lights were far from a standard feature in '57, but Lincoln owners got all the bells and whistles.
Ugh, awful, WHY DO THIS?
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my most-hated automotive accessory; the Continental Kit. It consists of a spare tire being mounted outside of the trunk, in this instance with a greatly extended bumper. It all started way back when in automotive history when the spare tire(s) were mounted to the outside of a vehicle that had no trunk space. It reemerged in 1956 when Henry Ford II complained that he couldn't fit his golf clubs in the trunk of the Thunderbird. The designers used a continental kit as a 1 year answer until they could stretch the trunk itself for '57. However, it remained an option in '57 as well as a popular aftermarket customization. This one looks to be factory to me but it doesn't mean I like it!
This little glass sphere with the stylized L is a nice detail.
Inside we have more glitz and a pack of Newports. That chrome circle on the door panel looks like a crank to roll down the window but it's actually the handle you pull back to open the door. The power (obviously!) windows are controlled by the switches you can just barely see through the steering wheel under the corner of the wrap-around windshield. The radio is AM only which isn't too surprising for '57, but it does have buttons to program 6 stations.
This sleek cruiser is a true hardtop; when the front and back windows are rolled down it's just one large opening. Check out the absurd length of the fender skirts!
Of course these are the original hubcaps, and it's a good thing too as they run around $75 a pop if you can find one. The aged paint on the rim makes it seem as if this has the original wheels as well.
One last bit of ornamentation can be found in the hood ornament. With the combination of chrome and glass this is now a very rare item; there was one recently for sale for $275!
The chrome on this car has pitting but it is so original-looking and honest for a 58 year old car that I happily declare it Show Car Sunday worthy. There were about 35,000 Premieres in every body style built in '57 which means they're pretty scarce today. If you find one for sale it's usually been restored already from a nice original and priced accordingly. Buying a beat-up '57 Lincoln means an extremely difficult and expensive restoration or the coolest rat rod out there.

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