This is the original “Hot Rod Lincoln” the car was being restored by Charlie Ryan as he wrote the song. He purchased the 1941 Lincoln Zephyr four door sedan in the late 1940’s. Sometime after that – in the early ‘50’s he decided that he wanted to make a hot rod out of it. Charlie removed the original Zephyr body, shortened the frame by about two feet for a shorter wheel base, then he installed a 1948 Lincoln V12 engine and attached a three speed transmission with overdrive.
The man meticulously preserved as many of the original Lincoln parts as he could including cut down Zephyr bumpers, the Lincoln radiator emblem, the gray hound hood ornament, and the hub caps. Inside the cabin the original dash has been cut down and installed and also retains the original steering wheel. The project as finished at about the same time as the car, in 1955, and Charlie drove the Lincoln back and forth across the U.S. with his band and performed his hit song “Hot Rod Lincoln” for decades. The restoration and lyrics to his song “Son your gonna drive me to drinkin if you don’t stop driven that HOT….ROD…LINCOLN” are both destined to outlive Charlie. The song has become the national hot rod anthem and the car is not far behind having been recently restored by a new owner. The last I heard it was up for sale and would go to the highest bidder – but don’t bother unless you have $100,000.00 plus to spend on this big boys toy.
Another Hot Rod Lincoln that deserves honorable mention is the masterpiece built by Bob “Stretch” Stredwick with help from his friends, and family; this restoration took six years and his inspiration was Charlie’s rockabilly song. Bob started with a model “A” Ford 1930 five window coupe and then he chopped the frame; reinforced it with 8’ channel in a double “Z” pattern. A friend takes the body, now remounted on the new frame, to get it back in proper condition.While he was doing that Stretch scraped the old engine and replaced it with a 71 year old 1941 Lincoln 292 cu in V12.
The engine needed some work before he could install it. He first stepped down the crankshaft snout then modified a 327 harmonic balancer, also adapted the original pulley to eliminate space between the block and the radiator. The stock cylinders have a bore of 2.875 inches – Bob increased that to a smooth stroke of 3.750 inches and then he ground the crankshaft 0.010-0.010. To increase the oil flow he seat blended the ports on every chamber and then installed a custom built Schneider racing cam. The engine was then balanced and blue printed. Stretch also added two more fuel intake platforms to increase the delivery.
To complete the engine project he personally made headers from scratch both to improve breath ability and to add to the nostalgic flavor. A wiring genius friend of Bobs did the complicated wiring – the ignition system uses six coils. Stretches’ son, using a computer, got the three Stromberg 97 – style faux carburetors’ to function together and to finish the engine assembly the fuel lines are routed to perfectly align with the custom made valve covers. The engine is completed and put back into the compartment it belongs in and now the polished power plant receives the final touch; the fuel injection and distributerless ignition are installed. Is the job finished? Nope! They are gonna need a few more beers because the piece of art still needs to be painted.
Stretch wanted the car to look just right – a labor of love knows no bounds. He wanted it finished but still retain a nostalgic ‘50’s unpainted look – the way a hot rodder would have driven it in the ’50′s but with a now look. The look he strives for is achieved by an unusual and nontraditional process of many clear coats over the multitude of sealer and primer layers. The finished paint job looks like it is primer only but it is shiny and seamless – perfect surface to lay down the flames and pin striping. All the details such as the dash, the block and door jams are painted to match the flames with the firewall painted white. The finished product looks a little bit rough around the edges; a bit like an outlaw and this is the way he likes it..