Last of the LEVIATHANS
Classic American|November 2020
Last of the LEVIATHANS
Stuart Wilkinson's land yacht was an immaculate, low mileage classic but, nevertheless, turned out to need a lot of time and money spending on it. Luckily, he wasn't entirely surprised...
Jon Cass

Incredibly, the Lincoln Continental has been around since 1939 with a production run of 59years and counting, admittedly with a couple of interruptions. It’s one of the longest-lived nameplates in the automotive industry. That iconic badge disappeared from the showrooms for a brief time during the early Fifties and again in the early 2000s, but it seems Lincoln’s flagship Continental is always ready and waiting to make its comeback.

Lincoln’s current offering is the 10th-generation Continental, but it was this fifth-generation 1979 model that caught Stuart Wilkinson’s eye when he was on the lookout for an American classic a few years back. Its sheer size and presence, along with those cool hidden headlamps, ensured that this car was bound to turn heads. Make no mistake, the fifth-gen Continental is a vast car and the addition of those oversized 5mph bumpers fitted from the early Seventies make this model the longest automobile Ford Motor Company has ever produced.

Stuart has been a huge fan of cars in general since leaving school at 16: “I joined the motor trade as an apprentice mechanic and electrician,” he recalls. “I worked for various main dealers and independent garages for the next 40 years, until I found modern electronics too complicated and gearboxes too heavy to lift… or maybe I was just getting old!” he laughs. He then went on to train as a driving instructor, so there’s always been a connection with cars throughout his working life. While a significant number of mechanics would rather do anything than be involved with cars in their spare time, Stuart was quite the opposite and quickly became a regular visitor to car shows alongside his dad. “We migrated from general shows to American car-based shows,” Stuart remembers. “It got to the point where I was keen to take a car along and be part of it all.”

Being an experienced mechanic by trade, Stuart was happy enough to buy a project to keep his initial purchase costs down and bypassed the ever-popular and more expensive Mopars, Chevys and Fords everyone else seemed to want. “I started by looking at Buicks and Oldsmobiles,” he remembers, “then a friend of mine rang me to say he’d just spotted this Lincoln for sale at a show in Tatton Park.” As it was within budget and only a few hours away, Stuart was able to jump in his car and drive over to Tatton Park before the show ended. “It was love at first sight for my wife of 39 years, Adele, when she clapped eyes on the Lincoln, but not so much for me,” Stuart continues. “I was a little concerned about the car’s condition, though it was well within my budget and the Seventies styling was admittedly cool.”

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November 2020