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Rare 1946 Lincoln Continental Leaves the Barn With Unexpected Surprise Under the Hood

1946 Lincoln Continental barn find 20 photos
Photo: Justin Bumgardner/Facebook Marketplace
1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find1946 Lincoln Continental barn find
The Lincoln Continental was most recently revived in 2017 and discontinued for the fifth time in 2020. Given the booming SUV market, it sure looks like it won't make a comeback anytime soon. However, the Continental remains Lincoln's most iconic nameplate.

Produced over five different stints, the Continental took many forms over the decades. While the most recent iteration was sold as a four-door sedan, the Continental also spawned two-door coupes and convertibles, limousines, and landau-top rigs. The nameplate was born as a two-door and did not get a four-door version until 1958.

The Continental legacy harkens back to the late 1930s when Lincoln developed a prototype for Edsel Ford. Delivered in 1939, the Continental became a production model for the 1940 model year. The company's range-topping model following the cancellation of the K-series, the Continental, shared underpinnings with the Zephyr but featured a more massive appearance and extra luxury features.

The initial Continental was short-lived due to the US entering World War II in 1942. However, Lincoln reintroduced the full-size with revised styling in 1946. The first-gen Continental remained in showrooms through 1948, when Lincoln decided to replace its personal luxury car with an upgraded version of the Mercury.

The Continental returned in 1956 as an even more luxurious rig, but this blurb is not about the nameplate's illustrious history. I'm here to talk about a barn-kept 1946 Continental looking for a new home. These early iterations are often ignored.

The 1946-1948 Continental is perhaps the quirkiest version of the luxury rig. The stacked grille, the massive front fenders, and the horizontally disposed headlamp trim give it a rather strange appearance, even when compared with the daring designs of the post-WWII era. But that's exactly what makes this classic cool. It will stand out no matter where you park it.

Available in Knoxville, Iowa, this Continental spent some time in storage. Fortunately, it wasn't parked long enough to develop rust issues. The vehicle was probably repainted at some point, so it's not what collectors would call a survivor, but the owner says all the "original parts are there." Needless to say, the two-door sedan appears to be complete and original inside and out.

However, at least one thing prevents this Lincoln from being all-original. The factory V12 is no longer under the hood, and that's a shame because this luxury rig left the assembly line with a historically significant powerplant. I'm talking about the Lincoln-Zephyr V12, a 75-degree unit that powered Lincolns for 12 years. Introduced in 1936, it was discontinued in 1948 as the last US-made V12 for automobile use.

The unit displaced 292 cubic inches (4.8 liters) in the 1946 Continental and delivered 120 horsepower and 235 pound-feet (319 Nm) of torque. Not a lot of oomph by modern standards, but plenty powerful for the mid-1940s. There's no info on what happened with the original V12, but the Continental relies on a slightly newer Lincoln powerplant.

The ad says there's a 1955 Lincoln unit under the hood. This means it's a Y-block V8 because that was the company's only offering at the time. If the model year is correct, then we're most likely looking at a 341-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) engine sourced from a Capri. It should crank out 225 horsepower. But it could also be a 368-cubic-inch (6.0-liter) version that Lincoln introduced in 1955 for the 1956-model-year Premiere. This unit was even more potent at 275 horsepower.

So, while the absence of the original V12 is bad news, at least this Lincoln now comes with extra oomph to roll that heavy 4,091-pound (1,856-kg) body. That's a pleasant surprise if you're not hooked on originality. What's more, the lack of a correct unit makes this Continental rather affordable at only $6,000. For reference, 1946 rigs can fetch as much as $50,000 in Excellent condition.

By the way, the 1946 Continental is also a very rare vehicle. Lincoln sold only 466 units that year and only 265 left the assembly line in this body style. The other 201 were convertibles.
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea profile photo

Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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