Story and Photos by Joe Greeves

What happened to Mike Case is a familiar tale of woe — but with a happy ending. Many years ago, he tried to have his 1968 Camaro Z/28 restored, a car that he’s owned since he was 17. After the first and then the second shop failed to get the job done, Mike decided he could do it better himself. He hired two talented mechanics and oversaw the restoration in his own family garage. That experience started the ball rolling on his company, Classic Auto Restoration Specialist (CARS) in North Fort Myers, Florida, and is now in a 20,000-square-foot facility with more than 800 completed cars to his credit.

Ironically, the client who owns the beautiful 1947 Lincoln Continental in the photos ran into a similar problem trying to get his car restored, finding several shops which failed to get the job done. When it arrived at CARS, the old classic was in poor shape, having suffered indignities in the past from less-than-competent technicians. It was obvious that a complete overhaul was the only answer.

Since reliability and modern handling were items at the top of the list, one of the first steps required removal of the retrofitted 1982 Buick station wagon chassis added years before. The CARS team came up with a unique recommendation for the owner, suggesting a Lincoln Town Car as the donor, since it would provide all the modern conveniences and then some. The idea was a hit, so CARS followed up with a rendering for the exterior styling that the owner also quickly approved.

Once a clear plan was established, techs at the shop began the rebuild, using a low-mileage (14,000 miles) Town Car as their starting point, adding Ride Tech air suspension for altitude control. The standard 4.6-liter V8 and automatic transmission have more than enough power to move the vehicle smartly, and are serviceable at any Lincoln dealer. A cold-air kit and a custom stainless steel exhaust system were the only mods.

Once the power train was complete, the next step was adjusting the 70-year-old Continental sheet metal to fit. It was important to retain the iconic elements of the car, such as the distinctive grille, with the CARS craftsmen adding just a bit to the front fenders to match the Town Car wheelbase.

In the rear, they blended a one-of-a-kind boattail with the original quarter panel and taillights, then added a subtle suggestion of the original Continental kit. Traditional fender skirts enclose the rear wheels and matching skirts up front now add an eye-catching design element. Stops were incorporated to limit steering travel slightly, but they can be quickly removed, along with the front skirts to completely change the car’s profile. LED headlights and taillights illuminate the way at night while the interior, trunk and chassis light packages create a soft glow when parked.  

The car’s interior was modeled after the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn, with orange leather creating the ideal contrast for the platinum gray exterior on this open-air roadster. At the touch of a button, the driver can open the electric hood to display the motor. A second button raises the deck lid to show off the upholstered trunk. The suicide doors are shaved on the outside with the iconic Lincoln push buttons now activating the doors from inside. Sill plates with the Lincoln logo illuminate when the doors open. A modern wireless hotspot, the car is equipped with three iPods, one up front and two in the seat backs, along with drop-down, Burl Walnut tray tables. The Pioneer stereo/NAV system is voice-activated and provides surround sound with component sets in the kick panels and subs in a custom enclosure hidden behind the back seat.

The completed car is a joy to drive and attracts a crowd everywhere it goes. Although the owner has received hundreds of photos during the multi-year build, he will get behind the wheel of the car for the first time in April 2017.