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1968 Continental Executive Limousine by Lehmann-Peterson

At the summit of the automaker’s craft…

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The Continental Life is most rewarding driving America’s most distinguished motorcar. The 1968 Lincoln Continental was refined to further enhance the luxury experience. Its tasteful understatement makes it a classic among American automobiles. The Lincoln Continental is engineered to be one of the finest automobiles in America.

In this world…there will always be room for something beyond conventional standards of prestige and luxury – this is why there is the Continental Executive Limousine hand-crafted by Lehmann-Peterson. Ford Motor Company commissioned this eminent coachbuilder to craft these elegant limousines of distinction. What better way to savor the Continental Life than being chauffeured in a custom-crafted Continental Executive Limousine –

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From the tires up, each Continental Executive Limousine is a carefully integrated machine in which every conceivable driving circumstance has been anticipated and planned for. Lincoln Continentals converted by Lehmann-Peterson have been fully tested by Ford Motor Company and carried the same warranty as all Lincoln Continentals.

Lehmann-Peterson is recognized as the ultimate in prestige and luxury motoring world-wide. They earned “The Park Avenue Seal of Approval.” The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Continental Executive Limousine was $15,000 USD. A typically more exclusive limo sold for $17,000, and for $20,000 it could be highly bespoke to reflect the requisites of its owner. Come live the Continental Life – it’s a room at the top on wheels…

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This beauty was sold by Left Coast Classics

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Lehmann-Peterson was established in 1963 by George “Skip” Lehmann and Robert “Pete” Peterson. They started out modestly in a garage on Harlem Street in Chicago, Illinois. They dissected a 1963 Lincoln Continental and added a 34” stretch. It was named the “Continental Executive Limousine” by Lehmann-Peterson Coachbuilders. Ford Motor Company became intrigued. They were concerned about safety and kept the vehicle for further testing.

They were concerned with structural integrity and the overall strength of the frame with all of the added weight. On Friday February 25, 1964, after 40,000 miles of testing, Ford Motor Company and Lehmann-Peterson Coachbuilders went into partnership, signing  an exclusive contract with the Lincoln-Mercury Division to create all coachwork for Lincoln Continental conversions. This turned into a $2 Million USD a year business re-working expensive automobiles. Lehmann-Peterson also converted other makes upon request.

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Lehmann-Peterson was new to the business with no track record. Ford Motor Company reviewed the 1963 prototype from end to end. Sixty inspectors at Ford studied its construction. The inspectors crammed as many people as possible into the car then proceeded to drive it through torturous road situations. They even raced the limo into an airborne launch where all four wheels were off the ground. The car stood up to the grueling tests unscathed…the inspectors studied every nut, bolt, and weld…they were pleased!

What really shocked Ford executives was the fact that warranty costs were lower for the Lehmann-Peterson stretch limo than they were for the standard factory Continental sedan. The artisans at Lehmann-Peterson scrutinized each car in detail before delivery to the customer. They had a distinctive reputation for quality…and they maintained it. The limousines were more reliable and stringently tested than the factory sedans. Even though the car had been dissected and lengthened, it was stronger than the sedan it was built from…

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Lehmann-Peterson built two limousines the first year. One was built for the White House for official Presidential use and the other was given away on the TV game show “The Price Is Right.” The woman, who won it unfortunately, sold it to a used car dealer! Lehmann-Peterson was appalled! A car of this stature sitting on a used car lot! She had no idea what prestige this is.

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The conversion begins when a standard Unibody production Lincoln Continental was drop shipped to the coachbuilder along with a limousine conversion kit which included heavy-duty tires, springs, shock absorbers, an extra air conditioning system, and an over-sized cooling system. The conversion took around 27 days to complete. The interior is stripped, the roof removed and the Continental is cut in half at the door posts.

Once the car is dissected, it is fitted with important modifications. The limousine is actually stronger than the base Continental sedan from which it was constructed due to its structural reinforcement. An additional “Lipper” roof pillar is fitted to both sides of the car. Four additional “cross-roof supports” are built across the roof of the car. These extend horizontally across the inner roof surface. A 0.125” steel plate is added along each side of the car from the driver’s compartment to the front of the rear seat cushion. Two 0.125” structural supports are built into the driver’s compartment. The box-like structure gives the limousine the necessary rigidity.

Another 0.125” plate is installed cross-one side of the new center of the limousine to the other. Finally, a new 34” section is welded into place on both sides of the car. The new roof is riveted in place with the rivets covered with body lead. New floor panels are welded into place to compensate for the additional length. Here’s an interesting fact: the Continental Executive Limousine weighs 5,939 lbs. which is only 227 lbs. heavier than the four-door Continental convertible that weighs 5,712 lbs.

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interior 1

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The drive shaft had to be altered. With the added length, a longer exhaust system was fitted; longer fuel lines and parking brake cables as well. There were requests as the car moved through its production. Some wanted a 2” higher roof which ran around $900 more. All amenities the customer required were installed or built into the Continental Executive Limousine. Lehmann-Peterson was the only independent shop in the country that made limousines on a production basis.

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Lehmann-Peterson and Lincoln-Mercury dissolved the partnership in 1970 for unknown reasons. There is an undetermined number of Lehmann-Peterson limousines built in 1969 and only one 1970 prototype. After the partnership ended, Lehmann-Peterson assets were taken over by Maloney Coachbuilders.

A Lincoln Continental has a graceful culmination of classic and contemporary styling cues. The 1968 Continental sedan has one of the widest tracks in the world. With its design and sheer weight, it gives exceptional stability and ‘flatness’ to the ride. The Lincoln Continental was an excellent choice for limousine conversions. Lehmann-Peterson retained the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Lincoln Continental.

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1968 Lincoln Continental sedan

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The 1968 Continental Executive Limousine is powered by the Ford MEL-Series 7.6 litre 16-valve 462 CID OHV V8 engine. It is equipped with a Carter C8 VF-9510E 4-bbl carburetor. The engine is mated to Ford’s C-6 Select-Shift Turbo-Drive automatic transmission, the torque converter has a 3-speed planetary gear set and 6-position selector dial.

The engine produces a potent 340 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 658 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11 seconds, 0-100 mph in 32.7 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 47.9 seconds. Its top speed is 123 mph ungoverned. It can do the ¼ mile @ 80 mph in 18 seconds. These times are awesome for an automobile of this magnitude. The Continental Executive Limousine is 255” in length, rides upon a long 160” wheelbase and is 79.7” in width.

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In the hierarchy of the automotive world no other motorcar has the esteem, distinction, and prestige as a chauffeur-driven limousine. The Continental Executive Limousine is the pinnacle of the art of automobile conversion. This luxury behemoth is 34” longer than the standard Lincoln Continental sedan. Lehmann-Peterson added an eloquence and stature which immediately set these fabulous limousines apart from other fine automobiles. The Continental Executive Limousine is the ultimate expression of Continental elegance.

Only 286 were built from 1964 until 1968. The Continental Executive Limousine was the choice for oil sheikhs and maharajas, as well as movie stars, TV personalities, and state dignitaries. Many of these luxurious land yachts are still in service. These are some of the largest Unibody constructed automobiles ever built. Pete & Skip started the stretch limo business turning it into a $2 Million USD a year business. Today’s techniques are spin-offs of the Lehmann-Peterson style…however; the limousines of today do not have the distinguished aura of the classic Lincoln Continentals. The Continental Life includes “A room at the top on wheels.”

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1968 Lehmann-Peterson Continental Executive Limousine

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1967 Lehmann-Peterson Continental short wheelbase limousine

1967 Formal Limousine 1

1967 Lehmann-Peterson Continental Executive Limousine

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1965 Lehmann-Peterson Continental Executive Limousine

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1965 Lehmann Peterson 1

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1968 Lehmann-Peterson Continental Executive Limousine

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7 thoughts on “1968 Continental Executive Limousine by Lehmann-Peterson Leave a comment

  1. The page shows ’55 and ’56 Crown Imperial formal sedan and limousine but does not state that they were in fact built in house by Chrysler in the hundreds. The exception being a handful built by Derham, three in ’55 for the Eisenhower years and two in ’56 for private parties. I own one of the ’56s

    • OMG! I bet that’s a beauty! This is why I like to write about the cars enthusiasts world-wide are still in love with! Those limousines are collector’s, especially the ones sent to Italy for finishing. Chrysler had those things built all over the place. Ghia of Turin, Pininfarina collaborated a few behind the scenes projects. Wasn’t Hess & Eisenhardt one of the coachbuilders that built masterpieces too? That’s a grey area I want to explore with this subject. Thanks for giving me the head’s up! I LOVE my audience and want to give them ALL of the information they so richly deserve. LeBaron was bought by Chrysler, they built limousines also upon request. Am I correct here? Those big beautiful boats will always hold a special place in my heart! Glad you love ’em too! What else would you like to see that no other writers have given the spotlight?
      Greg

  2. George “Skip” Lehmann and Robert “Pete” Peterson, Skip was the idea man and money man while Pete was the mechanical genius.
    You, somehow” reversed their names: Skip Peterson/Pete Lehmann…not correct.
    I was a good friend of Skips in college (Florida Southern) and for a few years after, until I got married. Skip remained single until his passing when he was 32 years old, from a brain tumor. I recall many good times that I spent with Skip as he would tell me about his rapid success during the startup…a limo purchased by Jerry Lewis, and another one sold to Playboy. Skip often visited my dad at his office in the Furniture Mart, while I was serving in the Army. They had lunch together at Butch McGuire’s and one day while at lunch he told my dad about how Percy (his hired chauffeur) caught him as he was falling off a stool at the bar several days before. That’s when Skip realized he had a serious health issue.

    • Hello and THANKS Gary! This article was written back when I had ‘too much help’ with editing. I do everything myself now to avoid issues. I am still going back thru everything to see if the stories are the way I wrote them. So far I have had an interesting time fixing the screw ups. I gave the site a facelift last year and a lot of the ugly stuff is filtering to the top or presenting itself in a way I can find the errors! I am also fixing spaces left by the former version that didn’t quite fit into the new scheme. Should you see anything else strange please let me know.
      Greg

      • Greg, These small errors are not a major issue. I enjoyed reading your article as it brought back many memories. It was a shame to see Skip Lehmann pass away at such a young age. Who knows what he could have accomplished had he lived longer. If you would like additional information or accounts of what I know of Skip and his business I would be happy to respond. Often times Skip would share some of his experiences with me. I enjoyed hearing about when he and Pete drove to Dearborn Michigan with their lawyer in what was one of the first conversions. When they drove up in front of the Ford Rotunda Skip said he thought the building was going to tip over when office employees rushed to the windows to get their first glimpse of a “Stretch Limo”. There’s also the story of when they made a conversion for the President and two G-Men stayed in the shop both night and day until the car was completed and shipped to Washington.

      • Wow Gary! You sound like me, a walking compendium of detail! Do you want to share anything with the entire world? The classic experience is what the site is dedicated to. With personal experience such as your own, I think the readers would love it!

        I had to do all of the editing myself, people were interjecting their own personal views and the public would go OFF! That’s what drew my attention to going back and reading the stories people were citing issues. I try to be 100% precise in my efforts. I always proof but then there’s the logic to my computers and the logic at the platform that I continually monitor. Auto Correct is a NO-NO! It was going thru and changing things to expletives! I love to write about the old limousines, they have such character unlike the double-cuts they make today which are totally boring! Like the Cadillac XTS as a hearse and a limo, they resemble caricatures of something that shouldn’t be! If you would like to submit a special interest story I will post it. I also write for other publications, this is why I hadn’t touched this site since June. I have been all over the place. Winter is coming, this is when I have the most time to work on my sites. Let me know when you want to submit. I can also find the vehicles to coordinate with your efforts. Thanks again for bringing the errors to my attention, and you did it in such a professional manner! I have had some to see errors and they ATTACK ME as though I were making things up, chiding me as though I were a recalcitrant child. I keep saying I am going to take a month to go back over this site to make sure everything was carried over properly from the old site. The background was black/grey and some of the photos I inserted into the old look don’t fit the new look and there are nasty spaces and some photos have black borders. I am glad you like the site. I have tons of things to upload but not enough time in the day to do them! I hate to see the old cars fade away, especially the limousines. That’s why I had to do the Lehmann-Peterson stretch. I was in grade school when they did the first ones. I never will forget how I was mesmerized when I saw one for the first time. My mind had trouble trying to conceive of the idea someone cut a beautiful car in half to add more car! Those cars are still sought because of their history. Do you have any photos you’d like to share? I am waiting with bated breath! This sounds like something I would like to end the year and bring in the new one with! Let me know!
        Greg

  3. Greg, are the notes we have exchanged so far, appearing somewhere where your followers can read them? Or, do you monitor what people write to you and then publish those comments that you think your readers will enjoy? I don’t know that I can write about experiences without skipping around a bit. For instance, one minute I’ll recall when I first met Skip and in the next, I’ll think about how he loaned his Austin Healey to a classmate only to have him total it and almost lose his life. I’m not good at “timelines”, in a nutshell, Greg. If you would like me to try to write a “story” with experiences that happened in a sequence, it will take me quite a bit of time. I’m willing to spend the time, don’t misunderstand, but it could take me a couple of months. By the way, this is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. I welcome the opportunity!
    Gary

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