1966 coupe project
Compliments of jaydee @ thelincolnforum.net
It was September 2006 when a group of my friends caravaned to the Auburn, Indiana area for lunch and to visit a couple museums. Having some free time, I tagged along.
Behind the luxurious Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg museum is another one called NATMUS which features everyday cars I enjoy. Atop a counter in the gift shop was a well-worn piece of paper listing some cars for sale. One item caught my attention. It simply said, "1966 Lincoln, brown". Lincoln didn't offer brown that year, so that made me curious.
The curator was summoned and, with flashlight in hand, descended the stairway to the very damp, very mildewy lower level; essentially an underground garage badly in need of major dehumidifiers. There were no ceiling lights in the area and it was truly pitch black.
As we approached the car, the color started to become apparent. Holy cow, it was russet (aka emberglow). We got closer and I was very excited to see it was a coupe'. Finally, the interior was illuminated and, for Pete's sake, it had emberglow leather!
The car had sat in the wet storage area at least 11 years and the staff had not been able to start the car, although the engine was free. Evidently, a ceiling leak had dripped onto the car, leaving many mineral deposits. The roof was an incorrect heavily padded material with a '67 or later star on the C pillar. Otherwise, rather rust-free, except for a couple spots on the lower quarters. An oil change sticker showed a northern Kentucky business and the DSO was Cincinnati, Ohio.
I shot some pics and returned home -- not wanting to make any rash decisions.
I'd like to think Scott & Steph were inspired by pics of the russet coupe' and by Jim Ayres, a man of discerning taste.
Anyway, being the patron saint of all orphaned Lincolns, I knew this car had to be saved! A return trip to Auburn was made a few days after discovering the car languishing in that wet basement garage and a deal was struck.
It was to be a simple 'clean and resell' vehicle, ya know... Just get it running and find someone to give it a good home.
According to the build sheet, it was ordered with a black dash.
It took heavy scrubbing with CLR and such to clean that roof.
To cut through the mildew, I used mild bleach solution on all surfaces, Lexol leather cleaner, then conditioner, and 3 treatments of rinse n' vac on the carpets. Looked and smelled better, but the wet musty odor persisted.
It wasn't long before the car and I bonded (ha, ha) and work proceeded on a restoration.
The engine wouldn't start due to the distributor being installed backwards. Once the wires were rearranged, it ran, albeit rather roughly.
Due to its long term damp storage, the interior was removed and all insulation materials pulled.
Same with the trunk -- carpet, boards, and damping material stripped out.
All the metal was washed with strong bleach solution, then detergent, then lacquer thinner to cut oils.
This surprise was tucked beneath the leading edge of the carpet where it meets the dashboard.
It brings to mind the 1955 Lincoln ad that said, "Look at the car and you know the man likes action!"
Once the interior bits were laid out, fresh insulation, padding, and sound deadener were cut. The original materials were quite thick, so the replacements were laminated. The carpet was thoroughly scrubbed with detergent a few times, hosed off, then draped over sawhorses to dry in the sun. Then everything was installed, as original.
The odor has been reduced about 90%. I suspect the headliner insulation retains some of it, but that isn't going to be removed as the material is too fragile. There isn't much else to wash. Even the seat belt webbing was immersed, scrubbed and dried.
Febreze was sprayed on the carpet and beneath the seats.
When the trunk is opened, there's still the mildew aroma, so I'm going to coat everything inside to seal it, but haven't figured out what to use. All new sound dampening material and a Jim Wallace trunk kit are awaiting installation.
A little engine bay work came next. The usual -- hoses, belts, timing chain & gears... It was all done with the engine in place.
After getting into it, there were signs the engine had been pulled previously. Many brackets were discarded and where there should be threaded studs, there were bolts, the fan was non-factory, the fan clutch was missing, many vacuum lines were cut and the ends plugged with either bent rusty nails or screws. All told, I replaced over 100 items to bring it back to stock.
Thanks for the compliment, Jeff.
I spent something like 150-200 hrs beneath the hood. You know it takes lots of time to thoroughly degrease everything, then I sandblast every nut and bolt, paint them, and clean the threads. The engine is painted Old Ford Blue (looks lighter in the photos) and the bay is sprayed with acrylic enamel mixed by an area paint supplier.
Contemporary clamps are used as I've had trouble with the authentic ones leaking.
It was time to peek underneath the vinyl roof. A trim man told me aftermarket folks often pad the vinyl to cover up rust, so there was some trepidation in peeling it back.
The vinyl came off easily, but the padding had been glued to the car and that took a putty knife, commercial solvent (from Painter's Supply), and 8 hours of rubbing to remove the cement.
It did look good once it was cleaned up and there was no rust!
The small areas of rust on the quarter panels were repaired.
For months I wrestled with whether or not to replace the top with vinyl or make it a slick top.
I was leaning towards a black vinyl top to tie in with the black dash pad.
Once I decided to return the car to factory-ordered specs, the roof belt moulding was about to be shipped to the chrome plater when I noticed a gob of black dum-dum on the back of the moulding surrounding one of the studs that go through the sail panel. Upon pulling off this crud, a little strip of original vinyl top material came up. Lo and behold, it was (gasp!) -- WHITE.
No supplier had an NOS vinyl top in white, so a sample was ordered from SMS.
Their "Ford White" matched perfectly and a replacement top was received 8 weeks later.
And here it is.
Because the material is narrower than original, the seams are inboard, but it's the best we can do.
Thanks, guys, for the compliments. The color is pretty cool.
It went to the local body shop where the C pillar was repaired (large holes and bent metal from the roof stars) and the usual.
The windshield and rear window were removed as well as the trunk and hood.
Trunk and hood had to be completely stripped due to literally thousands of fisheyes from a previous paint job.
And here's a pic from this morning. Coming together.
It's wearing new bias ply tires with 1 inch WSW, as factory.
I found a few progress photos to post prior to taking final pics this weekend.
The spare wheel rim hadn't yet been addressed.
I sand blasted it, metal etched it, then sprayed with urethane.
The shade and paint were previously matched to another '66 project.
From Painter's Supply, it required reducer and hardener.
A new B.F. Goodrich bias ply from Coker was installed.
This is an OEM spec tire.
Once the spare tire was ready, the Jim Wallace trunk kit could be installed.
Not shown in the photos is that tarry sound deadening material beneath the carpet. Due to moisture and smell, the original had been removed and new cut and installed. I use Ice Guard from the local lumber yard. It seems to have some rubber in it. I laminate it 2 thicknesses so it matches the original guage. It has never given me any trouble and has been used in 3 vehicles in the trunk and on the floor pan.
The bias ply really fills out the spare tire cover nicely.
I sprayed the spare tire cover 'flap' with custom mixed paint to match the kit.
After waiting nearly 6 months for the trim man to install the vinyl top, I decided to give it a try myself.
The top was trial fitted to the car, measured, the car roof marked for center and vinyl seam placement.
Someone on the web recommended ironing the material (face side down) to reduce the wrinkles.
Everything was masked off, special 3M adhesive purchased, nitrile gloves donned, then the vinyl top man phoned...
Could I bring the car to him in a couple days?
I told him where things were at the moment.
Could I bring the car to him immediately?!
The trim man is such a nice guy, I took the car to him and he did the work that afternoon. And a beautiful job it was.
A few more days' work and the coupe' was essentially done; or at least show worthy. Its debut was made Sunday, September 28, 2008 at an area community college event -- almost exactly 2 yrs from its purchase. Work did not begin on the car, however, until one year ago.
While I'm glad to have rescued the car and very proud of the restoration, it's likely the last closed vehicle I'll restore.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the restoration.