Back in 1986, I was finishing off a full restoration of a 1930 Model 'A' Town Sedan and also looking for my next project. Having restored a 1915 'T' Ford Tourer and two 1930 Ford A's, I was looking for something a bit more of a challenge like a big seven passenger sedan.
I had looked at examples of Packard, Chrysler, and La Salle and even an Alvis. None of these cars made a difference to my heart rate.
It was winter 1986 and my two mates, Ken and Owen, and I were on our way to the Canberra Swap Meet. Who could forget this swap meet? We queued outside the exhibition building with 100 or more other swappers for an hour or more freezing our butts off waiting for the doors to open, but at least they had big heaters inside.
While we were in the queue, Ken said he had found the ideal car for me, a 1929 Lincoln. I did not know what a Lincoln looked like, I‘d never seen one. Ken said he would try to arrange an appointment with the owner for us to see the Lincoln. A few weeks later an appointment was made. We were to meet at for 4.30 pm outside a used car yard at Rockdale, a southern Sydney suburb, and only 5 km from my home.
We arrived at the appointed time outside the car yard on the Princes Highway, with peak hour traffic flying by. I sought reassurance from Ken that we were at the right place. A few minutes later a frail, grey haired, elderly gentleman walked down between the used cars for sale in the yard and greeted us, shook our hands and introduced himself as Monty. He asked me if I wanted to see a quality car, and I responded with quiet enthusiasm.
Ken had met Monty at a number of antique auctions where they had often bid against one another. During one of there conversations Ken had mentioned that he had a Studebaker President Straight 8 Tourer, and Monty had indicated that he owned a 1929 Lincoln V8 Limousine.
We followed Monty to the rear of the yard where a very large shed stood with the door partly open. We followed Monty in and both stood there taking everything in. There were car parts, old motorbikes, old furniture, junk and rubbish everywhere. We could see a narrow path leading to the rear of the shed. Monty indicated we should go down and have a look while he was having a cup of coffee.
It was obvious that Monty never threw anything away. We made our way to the rear of the shed, but could not see any sign of the Lincoln. So I went back up to where Monty was having his coffee and told him that we couldn't find the car. Monty suggested that we look half way down on the right, so back I went. We figured it must be behind a row of shelving which was piled high with old tyre tubes, drums, bits and pieces of motors and motorbike parts.
After removing junk off the shelving we peered through and could see what appeared to be the radiator shell of the Lincoln. It was pretty dark in the shed and it was getting late in the afternoon so we asked Monty if we could come back Saturday afternoon.
Monty had been a used car salesman and owned the property where the Lincoln was. When he retired he leased the car yard but kept the big shed at the rear for his own use.
We were back on the Saturday afternoon ready for some heavy work. Ken and I spent a good two hours shifting junk to any part of the shed that we could find a bit of room. It seemed that Monty had parked the Lincoln some 25 years earlier and proceeded to stack junk on, in and around it until it was hidden from view, so it was a good time to take a few photos. This must be how archaeologists feel when they dig up ancient remains.
So there it sat on stands all forlorn and dilapidated. Head lights, front bumper, radiator badge and wheels missing.
This was not like the picture I had in my mind, but I could see a magnificent restored car. My pulse was now much faster (a good sign).
When I asked Ken whether the Lincoln was for sale, he said that he had never asked Monty. It was time to ask him. I walked up to the front of the shed where Monty had a little workbench (Monty lived about 3 km away and would ride his motor bike to the shed most days to tinker with one of his treasures) and asked him to come and see what we’d uncovered.
He told us that the head lights were in the trunk, the bumper was somewhere in the shed and the wheels were also here. The radiator badge was stolen when the Lincoln was stored at his previous property.
He went on to say that he had owned the Lincoln for 30 years and it had only done about 36,000 miles (it looked like it had done 136,000 miles).
I asked Monty if he would consider selling the Lincoln to me. He said he would sell it to me if my intention was to restore it and not resell it for a quick dollar. I thought that the best way to convince Monty that I was the right person for the Lincoln was to invite him over to my shed to show him that I was capable enough to restore the car.
I showed him my 1915 Canadian bodied 'T' Ford Tourer which I had built from a collection of parts, my 1930 Model 'A' Tourer and the 1930 Town Sedan, almost finished. Then I showed him my FJ Holden which I also had for 30 years.
Driving Monty back to his shed, he asked me to have a think about it and come and see him in a couple of weeks.
I said to Ken on the way home that "The Lincoln is exactly what I'm looking for - a big 7 passenger 6 wheel limo and I'm going to buy it." Ken pointed out that Monty didn't mention a price.
Impatience got the better of me so early the following week I rang Monty and asked him if I could come over to discuss the Lincoln. The following night I drove to Monty's house and pulled up outside the address he gave me, got out of the car and thought this can't be right. Across the road the moon was shining on the bay. I walked to the front door of the plain rather neglected house and Monty invited me in.
I can remember walking past a big steering wheel of a sailing ship and it stood at least 6 foot high. Monty showed me part of his very rare antique gun and watch collection and his racing Norton motor bike. His wife told me that she mostly drove the Lincoln.
Monty told me the Lincoln was sold at University Motor Auctions in Broadway Sydney in 1955 for the sum of ₤50 to an acquaintance of his. Monty said that he had arrived at the auction too late. However he bought it from him for ₤55 one week later.
It had a loud knock in the motor which turned out to be a damaged piston. He had a set of Packard pistons fitted which gave the motor slightly more compression.
Sitting on the table was the original greyhound mascot in excellent condition staring at me. Monty indicated what he wanted for the Lincoln – “no more, no less." I agreed on the spot and gave him $1,000 deposit. I arranged to call around during the week to pick up the rims and fit some old tyres and tubes to them. Monty said that meanwhile he would clear a path for the Lincoln.
A week or so later, I took the wheels back and fitted them to the Lincoln. Monty was making great progress clearing a path.
I decided to pick up the Lincoln on a weekday as it would cause the least amount of hassle to the used car yard operator for at least half a dozen cars had to be parked out in the street. I made arrangements with a club member whose business was towing and hiring car trailers.
The tow car was to be a 1956 black Cadillac. Ken had to work the day I decided to pick up the Lincoln, so I asked Bruce to lend a hand. Bruce is an Alvis man and could not understand why I would buy an American car and not an English car. Anyhow, he said he would help.
While watching Allan back the Caddy with a car trailer from Princes Highway into the car yard in one go, then wait for a break in traffic and then out again to straighten up and then reverse it right back to the Lincoln, I thought he must have done that sort of thing many times before.
A few more photos were taken with Monty and the Lincoln then Allan winched her up onto the trailer, tied her down, and tied all doors and bonnet (hood) down. I said to Bruce "You follow in my car and watch for anything that falls off." It must have been quite a sight going down the highway.
With the Lincoln now in my garage it became like a magnet. I wasn't getting any work done on the Model 'A', so I covered the Lincoln up. My plan was to finish the Model A first and do a lot of research on the Lincoln. The only thing I knew about the Lincoln was that it was a Ford product.
We had a Lincoln in our car club, The Vintage Vehicle Club of Australia. It was an Australian Lincoln made in Sydney, (and is now on loan to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in South Australia). That Lincoln had no connection with Lincoln USA except through a court case in the early 1920's.
By 1989 I had finished the Town Sedan and was itching to get started on the Lincoln. By this time I had become a member of the Lincoln Owners Club in the USA and obtained a Workshop Manual and a set of service bulletins and had also made contact with members who could supply parts as needed. I had also made a list of missing parts that I required - horn, one head light lens, 1 hub cap, 1 window handle, 3 interior light lenses, 1 running board bracket plus a few other parts.
The body construction is aluminum with a timber frame. The front door pillar, centre pillar, air vent on cowl and moulding around the tub are cast aluminum. The body panels are nailed and screwed to the timber frame and then covered by mouldings. The front guards needed the bottom 300mm replaced due to rust also the running boards and aprons (valances) were replaced.
I had planned to do all the restoration myself except the upholstery. By this time I had been going to the local TAFE panel-beating section for 10 years. It ended up being 20 years! I also had my good friend Willy to help whenever I had a problem or a machining job. I extended the body trolley that I had made for the Model 'A' by one metre each end. I raised the Lincoln body off its chassis high enough to roll the chassis out then lowered the body onto the trolley. I used a floor jack, planks and drums to raise the body.
Mechanical restoration was my first priority. The neglected engine had a score in one of the bores caused by the damaged piston. The blocks were bored out to 40 thou over size. New pistons, valves and timing chain fitted, mains and big ends checked and all oil passages cleaned. The vibration damper had broken springs, so all were replaced. The big ends on the Lincoln are called the Fork and Blade setup not side by side like most V8s.
The clutch is a multi disc type, and one disc was badly warped and another had teeth missing. Monty had said that the Lincoln was used for tow-starting used cars. The lined discs were relined. The crankcase, bell housing and gear box housing are all aluminum. The diff which is about the size of a 5 tonne truck diff was as new. The motor was started up in June 1990. Ken had passed away in December 1989, aged 47.
At this stage I had run out of room in my garage so I had another built to store my restored cars in. Also by then I was well into a chrome plating course at Ultimo TAFE in Sydney. Around this time I received a phone call from Monty. He said that he was coming over to see how the restoration was going and also to show me what he had just bought.
You could imagine the surprise on my face to see him drive into the driveway in his big black 1974 Lincoln. By this time he was in his seventies
He looked at the progress on the Lincoln and said that the wheels should be painted black and no white walls.
Over the years we had become quite friendly. I was a good listener. He would often tell me of the times when he would be waiting in the early hours of the morning outside the Sydney Morning Herald printing building waiting for a friend to throw a copy out of the window so he could look up the used cars for sale and be the first there in his Lincoln Zephyr.
Recently I had attended a local swap meet when a friend came up to me and said "Did you see the Lincoln badge over there?" I hadn’t so over we went. I picked the badge up. It was oval in shape with two small studs at the rear. When I asked him the price, the vendor side he wanted $5. What a bargain I thought. I asked him whether he had any more Lincoln parts. He said he didn’t have any more parts but that there might be more parts where he got the badge from. He told me the address. It was the address where Monty had first stored the Lincoln!
I had started to remove the body panels from the timber frame. A tedious job with rusty nails and screws everywhere.
It soon became obvious that what was left of the timber would have to be replaced. The timber in the doors, cowl and above the rear window were the only timber reused. I raised the body off the trolley with a plank across the top of the rear doors and a block and tackle, high enough to remove the body bearers. (On removing the bearers I noticed that the body brackets were recessed into the timber.
On one side the brackets were recessed very neatly. The other side looked as if they had been fitted with a tomahawk). I then lowered the body back on the trolley and used the body brackets for support. A lot of measurements had to be taken at this stage.
When the body bearers were finished and assembled it was put back under the body. I did one side at a time, and fortunately what timber was rotted away on one side, on the other side it was good enough for patterns. While I was working on the timber I was also restoring the small parts like side lights, head lights which I had chrome plated at TAFE.
One little problem comes to mind. I had silver plated the reflectors which are fitted to the headlights with 3 anti-rattle flat springs per light. I only had one sample I needed a piece of spring flat stainless steel. A few nights later I was helping with the wiping up in the kitchen when I picked up a spatula made of spring stainless steel which quickly went missing. It was about 12 years before the body panels were back on the timber frame.
Sydney was chosen to host the Olympic Games so being in the building industry I was flat chat for around 5 years.
Finally in 2003 I retired and concentrated on finishing the Lincoln. I painted the body in acrylic burgundy with black guards and red pin striping, the same as the car was originally. Sadly Monty passed away that year, aged 82.
I had repaired the seat springs and completely remade the rear seat cushion using an old mattress for parts. I cut out new bases for the seats and cut out door panels using 3mm ply
The Lincoln was now ready for upholstery. I had bought the material in the US back in 1992. I wanted to find a trimmer that liked trimming vintage cars, had plenty of patience, and would take his time and not rush.
The trimmer I chose was Cliff Hall from Thirlmere who did not mind me looking over his shoulder, or telling him the stitching was too far apart and did not mind doing work over again if I did not like the way it was done.
With the Lincoln back home I proceeded to install all the fittings. All the metal interior fittings are made of German Silver. I had planned on finishing the Lincoln to take to the All Ford Day on 6 August 2006. I finished the day before.
Sunday morning with my friend Owen as co-pilot, off we went to Warwick Farm. Owen had kept a keen eye on my progress over the past 20 years. I often asked for his opinion on the restoration.
At the All Ford Day it created quite a bit of attention and was awarded a trophy for the Best Pre-War Car also a large trophy for the Most Outstanding Vehicle.
I felt an enormous amount of satisfaction and pride in my restoration of the Lincoln. Never once did the restoration become a chore.
To my knowledge there are only three vintage Lincolns in Australia - two left-hand-drive cars, a 1923 model and a 1925 model, and my right hand drive 1929 car.
t is a 1929 Model "L" 168A with 136 inch wheel base with a 385 cubic inch capacity. It has a Lincoln body. It left the factory on the 15th of April 1929 as a right-hand-drive and was shipped to Branch 36 for export. New price $5,300 FOB Detroit USA. The next 18 years are unknown. I would very much appreciate from anyone who may possibly know something of the early Australian history of this car or of any other vintage Lincolns in Australia.
In 1948 it was owned by a bus company in Wollongong NSW who also had a hire car service. In the early fifties it was sold to one of the bus drivers who took it to Mangrove Mountain on the Central Coast of NSW. It was sold again to a person at Yarramalong (a small suburb nearby) and then auctioned at University Motor Auctions in 1955, I presume with the damaged piston.
Wheel base is 136 inches. It has 20 inch welded spoke wheels. Tyre size is 700-20. Left and right wheel nuts are used. It has a full floating rear axle with a ratio of 4.7. Weight of car 2½ tonne. Brakes are mechanical 3 shoe bendix 16 inch diameter finned drums with ¼ inch by 2½ inch lining.
The radiator has thermostatically operated shutters with a large thermostat in the top tank. It also has a condenser tank. The fan has 6 blades and is 20½ inches in diameter.
The motor is a V8 with cylinders set at 60 degrees. Firing order is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. The engine will run on one block. Piston displacement is 385 cubic inch. It has a bore and stroke of 3½ x 5 inches. Connecting rods are 12½ inches long centre to centre and are the fork and blade type. The crank has 5 main bearings and has counterweights fitted. The crank case is made of aluminum and is mounted to the chassis on rubber engine mounts
Fuel is supplied by vacuum tank which has a 1 gallon reservoir which supplies an updraft Stromberg carburetor fitted with centrifugal type air cleaner. The fuel tank holds 20 gallons with a 2 gallon reserve.
The gear box is 3 speed with an air compressor fitted. It has a 6 volt system.
The starter and generator are a combined unit, twin coils and twin ignition points plus a circuit breaker.
The rear compartment has courtesy lights that come on when rear doors are opened. There is also a smoking and vanity set plus glove compartments either side of the rear seat. A footrest is also fitted. A Waltham 8 day clock is fitted and a Waltham Speedo. All key locks are Yale brand. An 18 inch tilting steering wheel (commonly called a fat man wheel) is fitted. It also has twin interior rear view mirrors and a padded dash.
This story is dedicated to the memory of Ken Robinson and Monty Moore.
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