WIt’s always exciting to see finished products make their SEMA show debuts, it’s especially great to get a behind-the-scenes look when they’re as mind-blowing as Mike Ledbetter’s ’63 Lincoln Continental. .
The one-man show behind the car is from California. The fabric of exile, AKA Mike Jones. “When we first started the project, he wanted to make the wildest Lincoln ever,” says Mike. “So that’s where I set out to use my background in off-road and street race car building to create a beautiful, race-inspired, street machine, the Continental.”
Starting in 2018, Mike gutted the Luxo Barge to a point where only the body and part of the front chassis section remained. “I wanted to keep it unibody, so I kept the front rails in. I made a full plate frame rail out of the back of the firewall, and a full roll cage,” he explains.
Rather than the more common static arrangement is hydraulic cantilever suspension, allowing the car to hit the deck while maintaining full adjustability via QA1 coilovers and hydroshock pumps and valves.
“I built custom plate upper and lower control arms with one-off spindles with Wilwood Pro hubs, 16-inch rotors and six-piston calipers,” says Mike. The four-link rear has a Spider-Tracs diff housing and a more forged bracket.
As for the driveline, there’s a GM Performance LSX376 crate motor with a new cam from Redline Performance, mated to a pair of NRE mirror image 66mm turbos. At the top end, the Schance wears a custom alloy manifold and a 103mm throttle body.
Again, the intake plenum, intercoolers and piping are custom bits, manufactured by Mike using components from Vibrant Performance, and packing aero pumps is a built-top fuel cell.
Power comes through a maximum transmissions Bullet 4L80E, with a Red Bullet case and internals and a manual valve body.
Body mods are extensive, with the rear cowl panel pushed back five inches to allow the tubs to touch the bottom of the rear glass while retaining the factory sail boot. “I also deleted the flush glass and a drip rail,” says Mike. “It’s a lot of work on a Lincoln, because the trim seals the housings and everything, so there’s a lot of sheet metal work to surround the new glass.” The rear glass was rebuilt by AM Hot Rod Glass.
Continentals were built with front leg bonnets, which Mike is finishing up. “I hate reverse-opening hoods. They’re impossible to work on and hard to show off, because people have to bend over the fenders to see inside,” he says. “So I put on Eddie Motorsport hinges from AMC. I still have to put the hood on them, and the plan is to have two hood scoops and filters for fresh air.
Tucked bars on both ends are also on the agenda, and Mike will dip the car in the finest brandy wine red. “The rest of the fab is planned to be wrapped up pretty much by the Grand National Roadster Show. [3-5 February 2023]and then tear it up for paint.”
The interior is filled with acres of handcrafted sheet metal, from the floor to the dash, console and door cards, while Restomod Air a/c and a Holi digital dash also feature. “We went with Switch Pro for all the panel switches to keep a clean look, and yes, it has a hone handle for some fun times,” laughs Mike.
“The plan is to match the painted interior with the upholstery, so it has that vintage hot rod feel. On that note, we have Schott wheels in 20×15 in the back with 19-inch wide tires, so We have some meat!”
Mike says he plans to enter Battle of the Builders at next SEMA to pull off a huge solo effort. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but when people find out I’m a one-man shop with a helper, they freak out.”