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Lot 749: 1948 Lincoln Continental Convertible

An Important Sale Of Collectors MotorCars, Bonhams & Butterfields (21 April 2007)

The first series Lincoln Continentals positively exude that mysterious quality we now call ‘star power.’ Based on a special 1939 cabriolet developed by Ford Motor Co. design chief E. T. ‘Bob’ Gregorie for Edsel Ford, the original Continental brought the spirit of European design elegance to an American marque.

Edsel drove his sporty, low-slung custom convertible to Florida for his 1939 winter vacation and returned with orders for 200 copies in hand; assuring production would commence as soon as possible. Debuting as 1940 models, production Continental Cabriolet and Coupe models would be offered during 1940-1942 and, after WW II, from 1946 to 1948.

One of the Continental’s most envied attributes was its rear-mounted, exposed spare tire.
It was a ‘continental’ touch in the European design sense and was widely copied in the aftermarket. ‘Continental Kits’-- that allowed virtually any car owner to attach a spare tire to the rear of his vehicle -- would remain a popular accessory through the 1950s.

In 1951, just three years after the last of the originals were built, the Museum of Modern Art in New York included a first series Continental in its ‘Eight Automobiles’ exhibit of vehicles honored for excellence in design. Collectors adjudged the first Continentals to be Classics early on; a first series Continental would never be just another ‘used car.’

Although widely known and admired, the Continental was in reality an ultra-exclusive car when new. With a list price of around $4,500 for the Cabriolet, only those of truly significant means could hope to acquire one. In fact, total production of first series Cabriolets, including 1940-1942 and 1946-1948 models, would be just 2,277. The subject car is one of only 452 Continental Cabriolets produced for 1948.

The 1946-48 Lincoln was the only post-WWII American car to be produced with a V-12 engine. The 292 cid L-head twelve, essentially the same as the pre-war engine, was rated at 120hp.

When the new 1949 Lincolns appeared early in April 1948 there was no new Continental model. Of course, Ford would eventually respond to lingering demand with the Continental Mark II of 1956-57, which was a wonderful car in its own right.

The 1940-41 Continentals shared the pointed prow and curvaceous fenders of the streamlined Lincoln-Zephyr on which they were based. The 1942 Continentals shared new, more squared fenders and a redesigned frontal appearance with Lincolns of that year. The1946 models that followed after WWII had new, bolder grillwork, providing more presence on the road, Interestingly, designers of the 2007 Lincoln Navigator obviously drew inspiration from the postwar Lincoln Continental; the wide lower portion of the new Navigator grille, with its inset round parking lamps, is especially evocative of the 1946-48 Continental design.

One of the most recognized American cars of any era, any first generation Lincoln
Continental will always stir the pulse of those who appreciate elegance of form in automotive design and the 1948 Cabriolet offered is an especially alluring example.

Lot Details
Auction An Important Sale Of Collectors MotorCars
Bonhams & Butterfields, Massachusetts
Lot Number749
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number8H181017
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors