The first Lincoln Continental was developed as Edsel Ford's one-off personal vehicle, though it is believed he planned all along to put the model into production if successful. In 1938, he commissioned a custom design from the chief stylist, Bob Gregorie, ready for Edsel's March 1939 vacation. The design, allegedly sketched out in an hour by Gregorie working from the Lincoln Zephyr blueprints and making changes, was an elegant Convertible with a long hood covering the Lincoln V12 and long front fenders, and a short trunk with what became the Continental series' trademark, the externally-mounted covered spare tire.
The car could be considered a channeled and sectioned Zephyr that did not even have the bulge that in the Zephyr (and in some other cars) replaced the running-board at the bottom of the doors. This decrease in height meant that the height of the hood was much closer to that of the fenders. There was hardly any trim on it at all, making its lines superb. This car is often rated as one of the most beautiful in the world.
The custom car for the boss was duly produced on time, and Edsel had it delivered to Florida for his spring vacation. Interest from well-off friends was high, and Edsel sent a telegram back that he could sell a thousand of them. Lincoln craftsmen immediately began production on the Continental convertible, and even a rare few hardtop models. They were extensively hand-built; the two dozen 1939 models and 400 1940-built examples even had hand-hammered body panels, since dies for machine-pressing were not constructed until 1941. The 1939 Continental is commonly called a '1940 Continental.'
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Continental production was suspended, to be re-started in 1946 to 1948. Like the other Post War Lincolns, however, the Continental had similar bits of trim added to make it look improved. The 1939–1948 Continental is recognized as a "Full Classic" by the Classic Car Club of America, one of the last-built cars to be so recognized.
The history and provenance of this Continental make it one of the most important early Continentals. The car was purchased out of the Estate of Nelson Rockefeller in 1983. The car was delivered delivered to the Norman Young Agency in Dallas after assembly in April 1940. We are uncertain how long Mr. Rockefeller owned the car but assume he acquired the car later in its life. In any event after it was purchased out of the estate it was resold in the early 90's still unrestored, to the current owner who embarked on a top flite restoration totalling over $100,000. The car is nearly completed with only a few little details remaining to be ready for the most demanding concours.
Finished in its original Stanhope Green with a matching full leather interior and Tan Top, this is one of the most striking early Continentals we have seen.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire a freshly restored car with the History, Documentation, and Provenance to make it the centerpiece of any collection of important American Classics.