- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

In 1941, the last full automotive model year preceding World War II, Lincoln produced 1,250 Continental models, 850 coupes and 400 cabriolets.
Each one of those gorgeous cars rolled out of the factory on a 125-inch wheelbase with a 292-cubic-inch, 120-horsepower, V-12 engine beneath the long, pointed hood.
Records indicate that the 218th cabriolet, with a base price of $2,865, was black, the most popular color, with a tan fabric top. The interior was upholstered primarily in red leather with gray whipcord inserts. The car featured three extra-cost accessories, AM radio, heater and Borg-Warner overdrive.
Where the elegantly styled car spent the next half century is not known.
In the latter part of 1997 Rick Parker was negotiating with a Denver man who was selling a 1941 Cadillac. After several telephone calls he was informed the car had been sold to another buyer. "However," the seller said, "I've got a 1941 Lincoln Continental you might like."
On a February 1998 business trip to Oregon, Mr. Parker arranged for a lengthy layover in Denver in order to inspect the Lincoln, which happened to be cabriolet No. 218. Within hours the deal was done. He left a deposit and then continued on his trip to Portland.
"It took about six weeks to push papers back and forth," Mr. Parker said, before the transaction was complete.
The next problem was how to move the 3,860-pound Lincoln 1,700 miles east. Several friends of Mr. Parker offered to accompany him if he opted to drive the Lincoln home to Maryland.
He knew the car had been driven only 500 miles since an overhaul six years before and was uncertain of its reliability. Consequently, he decided to have the Lincoln make the trip home on the back of a truck.
After the car arrived at the end of April he installed a new set of 7.00x16-inch-wide white sidewall tires including the metal-shrouded Continental spare. "I've done it once and never want to do it again," Mr. Parker said after wrestling the metal cover.
Soon thereafter, he decided to flush the cooling system and change the hoses and thermostat. He was driving to a nearby garage when the engine died. Fortunately, he was able to coast into the driveway.
"The culprit was a fuel pump full of gunk," Mr. Parker said. He had driven the car about 300 miles at the time.
"As it turned out," he recalls, "I made the correct choice in having the car trucked home. Three hundred miles from Denver would have me broken down in Nebraska."
Two months later he was about to travel 500 miles to an antique Lincoln show in Burlington, Ontario. On the morning of departure he saw one of the water pumps was leaking so he took along an extra few gallons of coolant in case the 26.5 quarts in the radiator went south.
Within an hour Mr. Parker was battling a rainstorm with a pair of anemic vacuum-power windshield wipers.
He momentarily thought about returning home but instead pushed on to the north.
While the engine performed beautifully, the convertible top leaked like a sieve. "It particularly leaked along the header above the windshield," he said.
Mr. Parker reports burning a quart of oil every 500 miles and leaking 1 gallons of coolant on the 1,000-mile round trip.
In mid-August, with the water pumps still leaking, he set out on an 850-mile jaunt to Milwaukee for another Lincoln event. "I got to Toledo the first day," he remembers, "when it got chilly and I put up the top."
Driving with the top down has an added benefit. "You can actually see what's behind," Mr. Parker explains. "You can't see squat out the back with the top up."
After the Milwaukee show, he drove to Chicago where he left the car with a mechanic while he returned home.
When he returned two weeks later to take his Lincoln to an Itasca, Ill., car show, both water pumps had been replaced.
On the trip home, with the rings finally seated, the V-12 engine traveled 1,500 miles while consuming one quart of oil and delivering fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon with the overdrive engaged.
"The car performed flawlessly on that trip," he reports.
In the autumn of 1998 Mr. Parker ordered a new wiring harness and in January 1999 he began taking the Lincoln apart. He said his plan was to go through the car and clean and lubricate where necessary.
Unexpectedly, life got in the way and the unassembled car stayed that way for 3 years.
Mr. Parker resumed working on the Lincoln in June 2002 and four months later the task was complete. After three years and 10 months he started the V-12 and declared victory.
The interior abound with 1941 convenience features.
Beside the lighter at the driver's command, the right rear passenger also is provided with a lighter.
On the floor by the driver's left foot are two buttons, one to raise or lower the headlight beams and the other to change the radio program to the next selected station.
The radio has no buttons but the face plate pops off, exposing an apparatus to set the desired stations.
The horn button, window cranks, radio speaker and gauge surrounds are all of a gold-colored material called gold macoid.
"This car was never intended to be a pavement ripper," Mr. Parker explains, "It's simply a boulevard cruiser."
He drove the handsome cabriolet 4,200 miles the first few months after he acquired the car.
Now that it has been made more reliable he has every intention of adding more miles to the total on the odometer.
"Highway therapy is good for the car," Mr. Parker said, "and better for me."

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