Todd Hare's 1957 Lincoln Convertible (from November 2003)

Photos by Sam Trent, story by Michael B. Kelly

Though he has been doing custom car work for about 25 years now, we first came across the fine work Todd Hare was capable of when he was part of Kidd Darrin’s Restoration & Custom Built Cars located in Melbourne, Florida. That partnership lasted for 7 years, and for the last 5 years he has been working at Mike’s Auto Body in Melbourne, all the while completing his custom 1957 Lincoln Premier pictured here. Plus the owner of Mike’s Auto Body had Todd busy building his also recently completed and equally spectacular 1939 Ford Sedan, which among many other slick modifications included converting it into a hardtop, and reworking nearly every aspect of the car which put it into contention for the prestigious Riddler Award.

Todd’s 1957 Lincoln Premier started life as a 2-Door hardtop, and when he found the car in Georgia it had 61,000 miles, and the original paint & interior. Todd bought the car in 1995, and drove it for about a year until the water pump went bad. That’s when he decided to customize it, and the first thing Todd chose to do was turn it into a convertible by finding a 1972 Skylark donor car for the top frame and windshield, plus the door glass and quarter windows.

Next on the agenda were the body mods, which is a long list. First Todd reworked the fenders from dual headlights to single headlights, and removed the vents and the chrome from the hood and reformed it to match the fenders. New headlight doors were made from steel and chrome plated. A hood ornament was fashioned from a stainless steel sugar scoop that he cut flames into so it looks like a fireball coming out of the front of the hood. The grill was replaced with a Desoto style unit, which is actually 19 individual VW Beetle bumperettes. The bumper was moved back and formed to match the fenders, and custom parking lights were formed out of stainless steel. The lower half of the front fenders were remade to create a new wheel opening contour. Custom rocker panels were fabricated to give the car a lower stance, and to match the front fender and quarter panel lines. The doors were radiused at the corners and given flush-fit door handles painted to match the body color, which is Lincoln Ivory Pearl. The quarter panel vents were dechromed and new inserts were fabricated from stainless. The rear bumper was narrowed and molded into the quarter panels, and the original backup light openings were turned into exhaust outlets with a polished stainless bezel to finish it off. The rear grill work was remade using kitchen drawer handles (approximately 70 of them), and stainless steel surround moldings were fabricated. While the taillights remained original, virtually all the other chrome on the car was hand made from stainless with the exception of the Premier emblems on the fenders, and a set of Boyd Coddington wheels made the cut.

Looking under the convertible top, which was stitched from beige Hartz stayfast canvas, you’ll find an interior that continues the completely custom theme, and is really unique and attractive. It includes a custom fabricated dash and door panels, which feature a flowing strip of brightwork crafted by Todd, that incorporates the air-conditioning vents that Todd’s brother machined. The stylish one-off console includes more contrasting brightwork done by Todd, with a custom shift knob from his brother, and flows through the middle of a heavily modified ‘98 Ford F-150 bench seat. A Classic Instruments speedo and quad gauge cluster were installed in a custom insert, which can be seen while peering through the Billet Specialties steering wheel. Ivory leather was used throughout, with a beige carpet bringing it all together, and Charley’s Customs in Melbourne was responsible for wiring it all up. Inside the trunk you’ll find matching upholstery work, with polished aluminum ribs on the underside of the deck lid, and a set of antique luggage that not only looks neat, but keeps the various supplies out of sight yet still in easy reach.

Under the hood smooth inner fender and radiator covers were formed. A 460 motor, C6 transmission, 9-inch rear end and disk brakes at all four corners form the drivetrain, all of which were from a ‘77 Lincoln Mark V. The engine cover / air cleaner was hand formed from aluminum and topped off with custom molding using sections from the original 1957 valve covers to incorporate the “Lincoln V-Eight” script, and it was all painted contrasting champagne pearl. The underside of the hood is covered in ivory upholstery, with polished aluminum ribs. The brake booster / master cylinder cover was created using a stainless steel wine bucket and canister.

As with many custom crafted cars, you really have to see this one in person to fully appreciate all the flawless intricacies that combine to please the eye. Todd completed the car about four months ago, and it has been a hit everywhere it has appeared. CN