Barn Find: 1948 Lincoln Continental V12

Mentions of the Lincoln Continental often conjure images of long presidential box-like sedans with coach doors. The Continental’s story began prior to World War 2 when the son of Henry, Edsel Ford wanted a personal luxury car. 

What started as a single prototype for Edsel soon expanded to 404 examples in 1940. Production ceased in 1942 upon the United States’ entry into the war and didn’t restart until 1946, but by then tastes changed and Ford ended production of the Continental’s first generation. This 1948 on Barn Finds marks the final year for the first generation Lincoln Continental. The car would not be revived until 1956. Ford ended up building 5,324 first-generation Continentals.

The Continental’s Flathead V12

The ‘48 Continental used a 4.8-liter flathead V12, producing 125 horsepower with a single barrel carburetor, mated to a three-speed manual transmission. The flathead allowed the car to hit 60 mph in 18 seconds, and top out at 90 mph. 

The Continental’s V12 was based on Ford’s famous flathead V8, one of the worst engines of all time. Flathead engines had valves built into the cylinder heads, which required odd-shaped valve ports. This caused oil flow problems and resulted in low power output. It was the last V12 made by a major American auto manufacturer.

Lincoln’s Low Speedy Design

lincoln continental mark i
Lincoln Continental Mark I | Ford

Designer Bob Gregorie followed Edsel’s vision, creating a speedy executive car by keeping the spare tire mounted at the back. Originally based on the Lincoln Zephyr, the Continental’s hood got an extra 12 inches. Meanwhile, the entire car lost four inches of ride height. The result was a long, sleek, and angular luxury coupe. 

The Zephyr was different from the Continental in a few other ways as well, namely the spare tire location being inside the trunk and the various body styles that were available.

The car weighed 4,000 pounds, thanks to its steel unibody construction. The car used leaf-spring suspension in the front and back, and hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. 

Barn Finds’ ‘48 Lincoln Continental

This particular ‘48 Continental lists for $19,000 on the Facebook Marketplace. It features the original motor and reupholstered interior pieces. Its owner parked it in 1986 according to the seller and has minor surface rust on the wheel hubs. The engine bay looks complete and clean. The car deserves some attention, especially in the way of cleaning the dust and cobwebs off. However, all-in-all it seems to be in amazing shape.

It wouldn’t take much to restore this Barn Finds Lincoln Continental to its former glory. Luckily, things like its drum brakes and primitive steering system can be changed for better aftermarket parts, like disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering. There are even Bluetooth radios that keep the original Lincoln style available for the Continental. Some enthusiasts are turning later Continentals into EVs. This ’48 is selling for $19,000, a fair price considering these Continentals go for around $50,000 in showroom condition.

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