In November 1938 Edsel Ford asked designer Eugene T ‘Bob’ Gregorie to deliver the first Lincoln Continental prototype to his winter vacation home in Florida. Edsel knew he had something special on his hands as soon he started driving the prototype around and eyewitnesses asked how soon they could drive one of their own. He phoned Gregorie and told him to start work on the second prototype immediately (seen here).
From a production standpoint, Gregorie’s stroke of genius was to start with the 1936 Lincoln-Zephyr chassis; minimal new engineering or retooling would be required. From a design standpoint, Edsel and Gregorie shared a clear vision: a “long, low and rakish” car that would hold its own next to the “continental-type” cars they both admired on their trips to Europe.
The prototype draws from the minimalist lines and shiny surfaces of 1930s modern art, which also inspired Edsel. Within a year, the prototype that began as Edsel’s personal dream car would set a benchmark in American automotive design for decades to come.