1963 Lincoln Continental Convertible Barn Find Detail

December 12, 2021 6 min read

This week join AMMO on a very special project to detail a 1963 Lincoln Continental that’s been sitting in a chicken coop for almost 30 years. Mike, Greg, and Peter Zlotnick are planning to surprise their Dad with the Continental to hopefully inspire a full restoration. The brothers and I pulled the 5,500 pound land yacht out of the coop into the sunshine for the first time since they were kids. In the daylight, the paint was completely swirled out and covered in mouse droppings. The interior didn’t look promising either and I was sure I’d find some unwanted boarders. But after hearing how much this detail represents to brothers, I knew I had to give it the works for the big reveal to Mr. Z. So with some ingenuity and good old fashioned pushing, the Lincoln was on the trailer headed for the AMMO Studio.

Lincoln Continental Barn Find

With the Lincoln back at the Studio (along with some mice), I knew I had to get moving on this beast fast. I started with a thorough power wash to blow off all the mouse droppings and then cleaned the aluminum wheels with Plum + The Wheel Brush. Next I foamed the paint with Brute Soap and agitated the suds with a MF towel to lift the years of accumulated grime.

Lincoln Continental first wash in 27 years

After the 1st wash, I performed a test on the single stage red paint which had oxidized significantly over the years. The “mow down” paint correction technique pulled off the years of “dead paint” to reveal the fresh coat underneath. The clarity improved significantly after compounding but due to the heavier cut, it required a final polish to remove the swirls. We used the 1 inch rotary for the elegant door line which worked perfectly in the tight space. 

polishing single stage paint on barn find continental

The interior was the biggest challenge on the Continental as the mouse droppings, nests, and bacteria had collected for sometime. The first step was to vacuum the all of the debris before steam cleaning (remind me to change the vacuum bag). There was so much junk in the footwells and seats that I suspected other surprises were hidden in the interior. When I went to work on the passenger door panel I found the first nest filled with acorns and mouse droppings. Gross!….

mouse nest in barn find continental at AMMO NYC

Once the mega vacuum was over, I started up the brand new AMMO US Steam Machine to do some intensive cleaning. The Steam Machine will safely kill bacteria, mold, allergens, and viruses in addition to cleaning up interior surfaces. The trick was to use the Steam Cleaner in tandem with AMMO Lather to effectively cleanse the deteriorating leather hide. I was careful with the leather as being too aggressive would’ve stripped the red dye further. On the delicate areas, I used a microfiber towel wrapped around the steamer head to minimize the risk of damage on such a brittle surface.

AMMO US Steam cleaning machine for car interior detailing

With the seats looking much better, I focused on flushing out the seams of the steering wheel and drivers side dash. I used the single-hole “sniper” Steamer attachment to get into the little nooks and crannies then followed up on the worn drivers pedals. The center console needed more attention so I used Lather with a short bristle Interior Brush to clean the classic buttons and dials. The old supple leather, gleaming metal trim, and tactile buttons are from a completely different era and one the reasons why I love detailing these automotive classics. 

Larry using Steam to clean barn find interior

As I was finishing up on the passenger side, the glovebox reacted strangely to the steam and started oozing yellow liquid. I opened the glovebox door with apprehension and encountered one of the largest mouse nests I’ve seen in my years of detailing. I picked up the nest piece by piece and recoiled when I touched the sopping wet owners manual. These nests are essentially biohazards which is why detailing is a critical part of any restoration. If these areas aren’t cleaned out throughly for an upholsterer or mechanic to work, they run the risk of getting sick.

Glove box mouse nest in barn find continental at AMMO NYC

After the glovebox disaster, I cleaned up the famed suicide doors with Lather, the Interior Brush, and the AMMO US Steam. The matching red carpets also got a thorough clean with the shampoo and carpet extractor. The before and after was pretty significant as the fluffy pile carpets cleaned up nice. Although looks are part of the equation, safely removing the bacteria, feces, and urine was the main priority. The goal is to make it clean enough for Mr. Z to get in and see the allure of a full restoration. Thankfully, the AMMO Studio has a shower as I needed my own cleanse after that interior detail.

Steamer and shampoo machine disinfect car interior

Next up was the engine bay, which had served as a mice highway towards the interior cabin. The valve covers and airbox of the 7L MEL V8 were covered in droppings and my intuition led me to pull open the airbox itself. A good shake and surprise!…. Another mouse nest and its occupant fell on the Studio floor. Once I had disposed of the dead vermin, I cleaned up the mouse highway by blowing out the engine bay with compressed air. Then I filled the foam gun with Brute and Titan 12 Degreaser to zap the engine bay. While Brute and Titan foam settled, I gave the engine components a scrub followed by a power wash to cleanse the years of debris. The airbox received the same treatment and another mouse carcass hit the floor.

Lincoln Continental barn find engine bay cleaning

I came back fresh the next morning hoping for a mouse-free day. I revisited the interior with AMMO Mousse Conditioner to test the product in a “worst case scenario” and give the leather some much needed hydration. The red leather just soaked up the Mousse and I gave it a 2nd coat which had a visible improvement. The finishing touch was to polish the metal brightwork by hand with Flitz and a microfiber towel. Although time consuming, the end result was worth it as the tactile dials, buttons, and switches are part of the Lincoln’s charm.

First wash in 27 year at AMMO NYC Studio

The interior was finally done after a final blowout and quick vacuum. Because of the acreage of paint, chrome, and aluminum trim, I decided to perform another wash prior to the coating step. This time I used Boost Anti-Salt which is a low pH acidic wash helpful in removing mineral deposits (especially salt). Boost and Foam worked wonders in brightening up the metal bumpers and I added Titan 12 Degreaser to revive the white convertible top. After drying with compressed air and microfiber towels, I coated the Spanish Red Paint with Reflex Pro and the metal wheels with Gelee Pro for added protection. After the Reflex Pro application, the single stage paint was a deep glossy red perfectly contrasted by the white top and thick tires. 

With Reflex and Gelee curing, I cleaned up the windshield with Obey Glass Cleaner, Scrub Pad, Squeegee, and Microfiber Towels. The rear convertible window was extremely faded, so I hand polished it with Rupes Blue and Yellow polish to remove the oxidation. The final step was to clean the whitewalls with Titan 12 Degreaser and to dress the tires themselves with Mud. After the detail, the Lincoln looked amazing as the timeless design had undergone a thorough rejuvenation. The only thing left was to surprise Mr. Z. 

AMMO detail of Lincoln Continental barn find

The next day, Greg and Peter arrived early with their amazing dog. Mike and the unsuspecting Mr. Z were traveling separately so we could pull off the surprise. The brothers threw a clean car cover on the Continental in preparation for the big reveal. Mike and Mr. Z arrived at the AMMO Studio and Mr. Z couldn’t believe his eyes when he walked in the door. The brothers all rushed downstairs to greet their dad and pull off the cover. It was all hugs and smiles as Mr. Z circled around the Lincoln he hadn’t seen in almost 30 years. He recounted some great stories of the vehicle and told some hilarious jokes (the kind only pops can get away with). All in all it was a resounding success and Mr. Z was already making phone calls to continue the restoration. So grateful to be part of this Lincoln Continental restoration and make friends with a great family. Thanks for supporting AMMO NYC and stay tuned for many more detailing stories! 

Larry Kosilla and customer of barn find at AMMO NYC Studio

 


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