By Vern Parker
When Jack Sweet was a teen he saw his neighbor drive up in a banana yellow 1953 Lincoln Capri convertible, and his life was changed forever. Forty years later, Sweet began seriously looking for a car like that one.
The search took him to disappointments in places in Idaho, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Finally, he went to inspect the 12th car in his search in New York. The spectacular Lincoln was the one Sweet wanted, and the 4,310-pound 1953 Lincoln Capri convertible became his. A total of 2,372 1953 Lincoln Capri convertibles had been manufactured, each one with a base price of $3,699.
After the Lincoln was trucked home, Sweet began to check out his purchase. The car was equipped with power steering, power windows with hand-crank wing vent windows, power four-way seats and antenna, but no power brakes. Optional fog lamps were incorporated in the front bumper/grille assembly. Stainless steel door guards wrapped around the door handles to protect the paint.
Sweet decided at first to only replace the fabric top and four 8.20×15-inch white sidewall tires, but soon decided to redo the entire vehicle. He located red and black leather to reupholster the interior, and replaced the black carpeting.
The black steering wheel with a full horn ring stands in contrast to the red-and-silver-painted dashboard beneath the one-piece curved windshield. Lincoln stylists in 1953, fond of gold trim, used it on the Capri emblem on each quarter panel, the big “V” in the grille, the front part of the hood ornament, and on the knight emblem on the trunk lid.
The 317-cubic-inch, 205-horsepower overhead-valve V-8 engine has a crankshaft with eight counterweights (compared with six counterweights in the engines of the competitors). But this worn-out engine eventually was replaced with a healthy version of the original engine. Since then the 1953 Lincoln has been trouble-free.
Its powerful engine now drinks gasoline from the 20-gallon fuel tank at the rate of about 14 mpg in town and 18-plus mpg on the highway. An oil bath air cleaner sits on a four-barrel carburetor atop the big V-8 engine.
The ball-joint front suspension, in conjunction with the 123-inch wheelbase, provides a comfortable ride for passengers in the 6 1/2-foot-wide convertible.
There’s nothing about his Lincoln that Sweet doesn’t like, even the plastic window in the black convertible top. From end-to-end, he believes this car is perfection right down to the L-I-N-C-O-L-N stamped in the rear bumper.
For your car to become the subject of the Classic Classics column, e-mail us your .jpeg image, plus brief details and phone number. Type “Classic Classics” in subject box and send to [email protected] Or, send a photo (frontal 3/4 view) plus brief details and phone number to Vern Parker, 2221 Abbotsford Drive, Vienna, VA 22181.