If famed auto designer Elwood Engel had worked into the 21st century his mid-‘60s classic slab sided Lincolns might well have looked like Tony Leal’s custom built beauty in the April 15 Fabulous Fords Forever show at Knott’s Berry Farm. Although it is worthy of a well-equipped custom shop, Leal, of Orange, California, said he built the car just for fun.
Leal’s creation began life as a stock 1964 4-door convertible. But you wouldn’t know that today. The car has extensive, but tasteful custom features throughout. They include custom chrome 22-inch Asanti wheels, Falken tires, lowered suspension, a subtle rear trim strip on the trunk lid and simple chromed rear bumpers minus the checkered flares used on the original vehicle. And that’s only on the outside. Oh yes, the top is a custom canvas creation in lieu of the pinpoint vinyl delivered with the car in 1964.
The interior looks like something out of an advanced alien space ship, or maybe just a 2018 luxury vehicle. The first thing to notice is the wide spoked Billet Specialties custom chromed steering wheel. Finest quality gray and black leathers are installed throughout—even on the dashboard, where they replace the horizontal chromed original conceived by LCOC member and former Ford designer Jim Powers. Nothing remains from the original dash except the Continental nameplate in script. Dakota digital VHX gauges replace the iconic chrome-bezeled clusters that came with the car new. The old transistor radio and speakers from 1964 are gone, replaced with a powerful sound system with multiple speakers in the kick panels and doors.
Black seat bolsters with gray double stitched diamond inserts dominate the interior look. The diamonds are used on the door panels as well, replacing the vertical pleats or rectangular biscuit design of the original cars. The seats and side panels keep their classic shape and there are enough of the original fittings on the doors so the car is still recognizable as a Lincoln. Of course, the 4- doors and bright metal peak moldings of the 1964 design also remain.
The power train is modified but retains many original parts although a new aluminum radiator is used. Overall Leal’s Lincoln creates a very contemporary but elegant and luxurious impression. Somewhere Elwood Engel is probably both marveling at the look and admiring the designer.