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Ready to ride
Local man shows off '48 Lincoln Cabriolet
By Kathleen Ostrander

Cliff Greenwalt has some sweet ride. Think canary yellow, nearly 18 and a half feet long, V12, 130 horsepower, only about 450 made, only about 100 left.

Give up?

Need more hints?

Big trunk - really big trunk, convertible - OK, a 1948 Lincoln Cabriolet. It's a stunning car, and a little more than two years after he started restoring it Greenwalt won the Mayor's First Choice Trophy at the Route 66 car show.

Greenwalt did much of the restoration himself, with a bit of help from Crow's Body Shop in Waverly.

That means after it was brought home to Springfield from Virginia, it was stripped down to frame.

"I disassembled it. The smaller parts I put in baggies," Greenwalt explained. "I had about 250 baggies."

Two and a half years for a restoration is not that long.

Greenwalt knows that; it took him nearly eight years to restore his 1949 Bermuda Cream Mercury.

As with most restorations, he couldn't reuse the rubber molding, but he did reuse much of the original leather upholstery. "It's about 95 percent original. It has new tires and new rubber molding.

It won first place in the luxury class and best engine at the Route 66 show in addition to the Mayor's First Choice trophy.

 A V12 engine is a sight to behold, and the double horns are an added bonus. Greenwalt, being a typical car buff, has the engine compartment as well as the underside of the car so clean you could eat off of it.

Greenwalt had always wanted a Cabriolet.

One of the largest production cars, this style of Lincoln was almost entirely hand-made.

Edsel Ford wanted a car that was bigger then the boxier cars that were being made in the 1930s.

He wanted a car that looked more European, a car with a big trunk to carry huge picnic baskets to the countryside for the renowned family picnics.

The spare tire wasn't in the trunk - it was on the back of the trunk - continental style or as it is more commonly called, with a continental kit.

Production of the cars started in 1939 - one was made.

More were made in '40, '41 and '42 - then because of the war, production stopped and then restarted in '46. They were produced until 1948.

The owner of the Cabriolet before Greenwalt did a lot of research on the car. It is believed to be the first one that rolled off the line for sale in 1948 and it was destined to be a ride for a Ford.

But it was diverted in mid-trip to Washington, D.C., where a wealthy man wanted the car for his mistress, Greenwalt recounted.

"She didn't drive, and he would drive her around. She didn't like the color; he had it painted. She didn't like that color, so he filled it with gas and it sat in the garage for 12 years," he said.

The color of the restored car is technically Pace Car Yellow - it was offered back when the Cabriolet was in production, Greenwalt said.

There were a number of things going for him when he started the restoration. The car had never been driven in the winter, so it had very little rust and it had 89,000 original miles.

"I drive it to shows," Greenwalt said. "I drive it around town and it certainly turns heads."

From the front grille and the remarkable engine to the trunk that could hold all seven dwarves and Snow White, the Cabriolet screams luxury

But to Greenwalt, the car represents a quest fulfilled.

He searched high and low for the car he always wanted. He restored it down to the last detail - doing the upholstery himself. And now he can lean back - and just enjoy the ride.

 And there's more ...

 Cliff Greenwalt's 1965 Mustang was yellow when he got it in 1990. He had it restored and then painted back to the vintage burgundy. It's a four-speed, four-barrel, 289 CU V-8. It's just been shown in Mustang shows - 25 of them, and it's taken either a first or a gold.

Greenwalt had bought a '65 Mustang for his son and wanted another one - so he bought the yellow one and had it professionally restored.

The 1949 Mercury was a sentimental purchase. "The first car I ever owned was a '49 Mercury. I was stationed in Hawaii, and the government shipped it over for me. It's always been my favorite car. I looked for it again for 25 years. I finally found one advertised in Old Car Weekly."

Greenwalt bought it immediately, subject to him seeing it. He restored it back to its original color - Bermuda Cream with a tan top. He reused the original dash, and he did the upholstery back to the original color, maroon.

Story published Friday, September 5, 2008 ( Volume 3, Number 5 )

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