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Lincoln Continental, Convertible
#37 of 66 Lincoln & Silver Shadows.
Jul 21, 2006 (7:59 am)
Rolls-Royce did what every other manufacturer had to do in the 1950's if they wanted an automatic: they bought them from GM. Packard's Ultramatic did give the Shadow its influence for the "electric shift" mechanism used on the later generation transmissions. No other transmission but the Hydramatic had had such extreme testing and design evolution by the 1950's---having been used by Cadillac and Grant Tanks during WWII.* Rolls-Royce was never plagued by the 'not-invented-here' syndrome, and its engineers always looked at ALL possibilities before chosing, thus GM's hydramatic.
There is the very famous story that RR engineers tore down the Hdyramatic, remachined it to Rolls-Royce standards, put it back together and found that it would not work! The 'rough' Cadillac standards were necessary for smooth operation. So Rolls-Royce built them under license to the same specification with an appropriate bell-housing to match their engines, and slightly different valve body to match the shift points and torque curve of the R-R V8. The other issue is that Packard spent $7Mn to develop their own Ultramatic, (also sued by GM for patent infringement, though they lost that battle), spreading their costs over 75,000 units per year (so they planned, meaning its cost $100 per car in the first year and $33 per car in the third year!). For Rolls-Royce to develop their own unit would have cost at least as much, but over volumes of 2,500 cars per year, meant that the transmission would have added at least $2,800 to price of every car in the first year, the costs not amortised over fifteen years to bring it into aligment with either Cadillac or Packard!! Even Lincoln used Hydramatics in the begining, not introducing their own transmission until 1956.
Rolls-Royce did not overdo it on brakes; their testing on concurrent conventional 1950's power systems found fading and failure after repeated hard stopping---which the old system did not do. Thus they went with an adapted Citroen system---prototypes called "Burma" and "Tibet" were driven 1Mn miles before production began. Quite simply, they never wanted their customers to 'restyle' the front ends of their cars because of premature brake failure---major brake service required every 48,000 miles!
Lincoln by contrast, had tried disc brakes in the 1950's on prototypes, but the control mechanism/fluid technology was not up to the pressure/temperature ranges required of disc brakes: the result was boiling brake fluid and loss of brake pressure. 'Treadl-vac' systems used in the 1950's were OK at best and disasterous at worst, they were not up to the task of repeatedly stopping a 5,000 plus pound vehicle. If you have ever driven a 50's Lincoln across the Blue Ridge Parkway you know what I mean. Lincoln did not arrive at a near perfect brake system until 1967-9 with the advent of the combination of Kelsey-Hayes calipers and rotors plus the dual master cylinder made by Bendix. The Hydro-boost system was an improvement over the vacuum booster, but it was coupled with the cheaper single piston Ford derived calipers, which are not as effective as the Kelsey-Hayes units, the rotors were also not as thick and warped sooner.
Test a 1967-9 Lincoln against a Silver Shadow, and throw in a 300Sel for good measure and you can gauge were braking technology really was in the 1960's. It was extraordinarily good, and not outdone until the advent of electronic controls on brakes.
*Use of automatic transmissions in Grant and Sherman tanks used by Montgomery at El Alemain in 1942 allowed the British Army to defeat Rommel's Panzers because they could turn faster into the firing zone, and likewise escape out of firing range before Germans could strike---offsetting the difference in armor plating and gun capacity. Rolls-Royce could not ignore such 'testing'.
#38 of 66 Re: Just out of curiosity... [andre1969]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jul 21, 2006 (8:07 am)
The parallels to Lincoln are quite apt in some ways. Lincoln was once a very prestigious automobile, especially in the 1930s, but the parent company never put the investment in it to keep up the car's reputation. It challenged Cadillac a few times but could never sustain itself. Now the company seems to have lost all identity. Really a shame. The KB Lincolns of the 30s were magnificent cars.
I'm not impressed by the mythology of Rolls Royce. It's a great example of a product "resting on its laurels". After WWII, the car simply did not deliver what it promised in the 1930s. The British auto industry was going down the drain and Rolls went with it.
The Rolls is a prime example of useless complication and a waste of talent and resources IMO. Everything was "good on paper" and sounded terribly impressive as churned out by Rolls PR department, but in the real world people are not Spitfire mechanics, they pay $100K for a car and they want to turn the key and drive it (or have their chauffeur drive it). For all that complication in the 70s and 80s, you got a fussy old-fashioned and rather clumsy car better suited to 1935 than 1985. Nice wood and leather though, and the Brits made the very best chrome for a long time. So my two cents about Rolls is: "All show and no go".
The final word on old Rolls Royces from the 70s and 80s is, I think in the resale value. You can't give them away. Buyers run away in droves....they are virtually worthless. You could get more for a nice Camaro than a 70s Rolls.
Cars are like everything else in that it is in the "execution" that it all works out or doesn't. Promises, statistics, specifications, testimony from engineers...all well and good...gee, the Corvair sounded so good, too, and so did the Vega. You'd buy one in a minute if you just read the brochures and never drove the car.
HYDRAMATIC: The Rolls Hydramatic was is a Rolls case and it was valved differently and changed a bit internally, so no, it's not really like your Catalina in the sense that you couldn't switch them. I think Rolls was desperate for an automatic that worked well since they couldn't design one themselves apparently--and didnt' have the money anyway, even if they could.
One has to remember that Rolls was a very undercapitalized company and bled money for decades. The car company was completely unprofitable, and no wonder. Without subsidization from its aircraft division, and its subsequent purchase by the Germans, it would have been long dead, an outdated, uncompetitive and eccentric piece of English history way too long in the tooth for the modern age.
Finally the Rolls is a decent car again, thanks to German technology (and money).
#39 of 66 Holy Cow!
Oct 18, 2006 (6:13 pm)
OMG! I thought classic car discussions in the Edmunds Forum were put out to pasture years ago - which I always thought was a misguided decision by the powers that be.
As I'll explain, I've not even bothered to check in here for a few years. For someone who was within a whisker (if not closer) of buying a collector car 4-5 years ago, I've had absolutely no interest over the last two years. But, that's what a divorce will do to you. My passion for collector/classic cars was absolutely and completely sucked out of me. But, I'm much better now. I'm actually allowed to handle sharp objects these days. LOL!
Anyway, more shocked I could not be to see a Lincoln discussion thread I started back in '02 was still alive and kicking - well, alive anyway. Hello Shifty (Joe). Glad to see you're still riding heard here. I'm even more glad you have this outlet again to share your impressive knowledge on this subject. And, I see Andre1969 is still here too. Wonder if any more of the "old guard" are around anymore.
Hope to make return visits here.
Oct 19, 2006 (6:17 am)
Yep we're all here with some new folks, too--but we don't hang out in this discussion much.
We're in Project Cars quite a bit, as you might imagine! Drop over there!
Oct 20, 2006 (6:19 am)
Welcome back! Sorry to hear about your divorce; I can relate to what you're going through. I went through a divorce about 10 years ago, and it wasn't fun.
#42 of 66 relays/switches on 64 convertible
Nov 08, 2006 (11:40 pm)
My lincoln top is giving me all kinds of trouble, I believe stemming from the upper back panel limit switch (and possibly some stubborn relays). Where should I go for help? Are there any rebuild shops that know these lincolns very well? Also my fuel sending unit appears to have failed. Is this common/easy to replace?
#43 of 66 Re: relays/switches on 64 convertible [dowdstyle]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Nov 09, 2006 (7:44 am)
You know I was talking to a Conti owner a few months ago and he told me there are a couple of convertible top "gurus" around the country that can help with this...I think you'd need to buzz around the Lincoln Club boards and find out who these guys are. Apparently precise alignment is one of the problems with top operation. Maybe one of the clubs has published a manual on this problem, that would be great...to follow those who have gone before you.
Also I went through Hemmings Motor News and picked out two promising websites that sell Lincoln parts for your car, and they might lead you to something else:
one's in FLA and the other in Calif.
Nov 16, 2006 (7:45 am)
The Lincoln dealers HATED working on those things!
Everything has to be working just right or else it won't work. The 1957-1959 Ford retractables were even worse!
Dozens of relays, limit switches and miles of wiring!
#45 of 66 Re: I remember [isellhondas]
Nov 16, 2006 (9:42 am)
OK looks like I found the guy who is the guru for these tops. He travels around with all parts and knows not only all the relays/switches/motors with the tops, but all electrical issues with the continentals--- web site www.convertiblelincolns.com
#46 of 66 Re: I remember [isellhondas]
Nov 17, 2006 (1:01 pm)
I have heard stories of those Ford Skyliners' tops failing halfway through the raise/lower cycle. Fortunately, there was a manual override so you wouldn't have to drive around with the top at "half-mast." I believe this happened to my Uncle Johnny with his red and white 1957 Ford Skyliner sometime in the early 1960s. Was this a frequent peril with the 1960s Continental convertibles?