Monday, April 19, 2010

the l-word

Growing up, they were the enemy. Stylish forbidden fruit. Glamorous and elegant but frowned upon in my hometown. Not that they were declasse', anything but. They were chic to the nines, and that left me at sixes and sevens because they were a product of the wrong one of the big three. So for years, we resisted. After all, in my hometown, Cadillacs were respectable. A smart Sedan de Ville expressed success without crossing the corporate line. A man we knew bought a Mark III, then he got an Italian haircut and a French mistress. We blamed the Lincoln.

Dad finally acquiesced in a historic way, figuring that his 1947 Lincoln Continental Coupe and 1956 Continental Mark II were not a threat to the Cadillac dealer down the road. So all through the seventies we admired Town Cars and Continentals but Cadillacs were kept in our garage. In high school, when I thought that a Mark III would make an excellent commuter car, it somehow appeared as a Chevrolet Chevette instead. Oh, the horror.

So in my early adulthood, I suffered an explosion of pent up demand and filled my garage with Lincolns- long, low and lovely. A 1956 Mark II, a brace of 1959 Continentals, a low mileage 1964 sedan and a pair of 1965's. A Mark III in a shimmering Auburn color called Ginger Moondust, with pearlescent white leather. Many of the fairest of the Ford Family of Fine Cars passed through my hands.

Certainly they were not without their little flaws, it was I who observed that they always run better with a dashboard statue of Electron, the Roman God of properly functioning electrical systems, for inspiration. This was not their strong suit. I also noticed that Lincolns don't learn- they will require the exact same repair four times in a row whereas a Cadillac will thoughtkly break a different component each time so that you might mistake them for a higher quality car. In reality, both had their flaws, but the Lincolns were forgiven their shortcomings because of their sheer beauty.

And now in my advanced age, when I mostly spend my time caring for other people's cars, the L-word has returned with a vengeance. A triple-yellow Town Coupe, as delicious as vanilla ice cream. A Mark V in the same color, with a two-tone yellow and gold interior. Another Mark V, this one in Rose Crystal Poly with Rose and Cranberry Leather. The task of awakening a long cherished low mileage 1964 Continental, and and outrageous (and rare) 1974 Continental Coupe in Lime Gold Moondust Poly- Lincoln's answer to Persian Lime. There are exploding fuel pumps and vacuum leaks in the headlamp doors and chewed up power window gears and lots of battery cable issues, but hey- they're Lincolns. What else would you expect?

But we look GREAT driving them around.