May 2012 Cover Story

The 1947 Lincoln Continental

The beautiful car that graces this month’s cover is a 1947 Lincoln Continental coupe restored and owned by Mr. Dick Covey of Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania.

The Ford Motor Company’s ‘Lincoln Marquee’ had weathered the Great Depression, and the Lincoln Continental signaled to the world that they were serious about their desires to compete in the luxury car market.  The Lincoln Continental was the brainchild of Edsel Ford and was executed by Ford’s chief stylist, Bob Gregorie, as an exclusive, luxurious, handcrafted automobile for the status conscious consumer.  The car was introduced in 1940, available in two body styles, a coupe or convertible, just prior to the onset of World War II.  Production of the first Continental took six months.  Most of the design and testing had been completed prior, on the Lincoln Zephyr prototype of 1939.

The design was modern, elegant, and slightly European with a long front hood that gracefully concealed a potent V12 engine. The interiors were lavishly appointed and offered what at the time were considered elegant amenities as standard equipment.  The exteriors possessed little trim or chrome, which was done to keep the car simple, relying on the beauty of its design rather than trying to attract based on eye catching bright pieces.  The rear fenders were covered with skirts over the wheels.  This was stretched to match the rear trunk.  Located in the rear of the vehicle was a covered spare tire.  This was sort of an afterthought; as production came to a close, the designers noticed there was little room for a spare, so they covered it and incorporated it into the vehicle’s trunk. It would become a signature design for the Continental series  After World War II, production of the Lincoln Continental continued, with no changes occurring until 1948.

The early Continental was recognized by the Museum of Modern Art as one of eight automotive ‘works of art’ and by Time magazine as one of the top ten best-designed commercial products.  Only 5421 Lincoln Continentals were built between 1940 thru 1948, all by hand.

Specifications 1947 Lincoln Continental

This 1947 Lincoln Continental is powered by a 292 cubic-inch side valve twelve-cylinder engine capable of producing 125 bph.  There is a three-speed manual transmission equipped with overdrive and four-wheel hydraulic actuated drum brakes.  The elegant body rests comfortably on the 125 inch wheelbase.  The car weights 4,125 lbs and cost $4,662 in 1947 when the average Ford car sold for $1,400.

Engine Location: Front
Drive type: Rear wheel
Production years of service: 1940-1948
Body: Coupe & Convertible
Price: $4,662-$4,745
Engine: V12 cylinders
Horsepower: 125bhp@ 4000 rpm
Torque: 220 ft.lb @200 rpm
0-60: 21.60sec
Wheelbase: 125in
Length: 213.5in
Width: 74in
Length: Wheelbase Ratio 1.71
Ground Clearance: 6.7in
Kerb weight: 4,525lbs
Fuel tank capacity: 19.5 Gal

Our Cover car

Our cover car was built on May 20, 1947, one of only 831 coupes produced that year.  It was totally restored over an eighteen year period by its current owner, Dick Covey.  Dick had doing mechanical work on friends’ and customers’ antique cars for years and knew if he was going to restore an antique car for himself as a “retirement project,” it would have to be rare and valuable.  Dick found the Lincoln Continental Coupe in the corner of a welding shop in Kearney, New Jersey in 1987.  The car had been driven until it would not run any more and parked in the shop for twelve2 years.  After negotiating the purchase of the car, it was towed to Dick’s shop.  Now able to assess the mechanics and body up close (the floors were rotted out, the engine knocked, all the glass was pitted from years of welding shop sparks), Dick knew this was going to take a while!  The engine and transmission were removed, the body was stored in a neighbor’s garage (the doors could close after the front and rear bumpers were removed), and the restoration was started.

Over the next eighteen years, Dick spent hundreds of hours on this meticulous complete restoration: painstakingly disassembling every nut & bolt, searching for parts, fabricating those not available, and restoring all the mechanical, electrical, and body components.  Dick started showing his gorgeous Lincoln in 2000, winning numerous local awards and trophies.  In 2001, the first year the car was shown at the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Hershey National Car show, the Lincoln was awarded a “1st Junior “Award for Restoration.”  Since then, Dick’s Lincoln has been recognized as one the best.  The car has been awarded top honors throughout the country at various competitions.  One of the most prestigious, that Dick is most proud of, is the AACA’s ”Grand National  Award” won in 2010.

The Owner & Restorer

Dick Covey retired as the Director of the Hoboken, New Jersey Railroad terminal for New Jersey Transit in 1997 after working forty-three years for the railroad.  Throughout his tenure with the railroad, Dick, during his off hours, worked as a mechanic in various auto repair shops and owned his own gas station and repair shop for a number of years.  He relocated from Belleville, New Jersey to his present home in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania.

Dick is a skilled mechanic, a fountain of knowledge about old cars, and always willing to share his expertise to help those who share his love of cars.  For those fortunate enough to know Dick, all agree he is one of the car hobby’s true gentlemen.

Arnie Milidantri