Francis Kalvoda, of Willmar, shot this photo of his 1957 Lincoln. Contributed photo
With the 2014 models now in dealer showrooms, my pride and joy ‘57 Lincoln Premiere Coupe is now 57 years old. The 80,000-mile car is still wearing most of the Desert Buff and Sand factory paint. The previous owner refinished the bottom portion of the car with a pleasing effect which matches the top. That was done in the 1990s before the car was driven to Texas and then back to Glencoe by Milton Millerbernd and his wife. In 1967 Milt purchased the 10-year-old Lincoln for $500 from Plowman’s, the Hutchinson Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealer. But let me take you a little further back in time for the rest of the story.
In 1959 I was 12 years old, and I had saved up enough money ($38) to buy a new bicycle. I wanted a bicycle with a tank, a rear carrier, and a headlight. Before parting with that much money, I shopped around and decided that Sears-Roebuck had the best deal on their J. C. Higgins bike. The red and white bike had all the features I wanted but had no chrome trim (kind of like many of today’s cars).
While I was riding my new bike in front of the Ben Franklin store in Hutchinson I saw a tan and white 1957 Lincoln two-door hardtop with a continental kit drive quietly by, and I thought, “WOW, I hope I can get a car like that someday.’ “The 1959 sighting of that Lincoln remains indelible in my memory to this day!
As years went by I would occasionally see the car and the same thought always ran through my head. In the early ‘70s I saw the car again. I talked to the owner, but I was told that he intended to keep the car. At least I knew who had it and where it was. A few years later I stopped at his farm. I visited with him and saw that the Lincoln was now in the barn under some cardboard and had not been used for some time, but it still was not for sale. I called Mr. Millerbernd again in the next few years just to stay in contact, but my hopes were dimming of owning that lovely, long Lincoln. Then in the fall of 1999, I picked up a Tradin’ Times at a newsstand. There was a small no-picture ad for a 1957 Lincoln two door with a continental kit. Could it be? The ad had a Glencoe phone number. I looked up Milton Millerbernd’s name in the phone book. Same number! YES!! I called, and he remembered talking to me over the decades but had lost my number. I asked him if the Lincoln was still being stored in the barn. He told me the barn had burned down, but luckily, the Lincoln was not in it then. He had taken it out in preparation for a road trip to Texas, which he successfully completed. That quickly answered my question about how road worthy the car might be. Within a few days of our conversation, the car I had etched into my memory some 40 years earlier was mine! I believe this Premiere Hardtop Coupe has nearly every option available on a 1957 Lincoln. After a good cleanup and replacing a cracked windshield and door glass, the car has been stored and seldom driven. A severe transmission leak prevented me from driving the car until last summer.
Since 1999, several other restoration projects have taken the time away from the neglected Lincoln. After Micki and I were married a couple of years ago she asked why I never drive the ’57? I told her about the transmission problem. Her solution was simple, “just get it fixed.” So after the transmission leak was fixed, so were the brakes, all four shocks, the new whitewalls, the alignment, the carburetor, etc.
Whenever we take the car out for a drive we get admiring glances, comments, and thumbs up. I know how they feel; that’s just the way I felt in 1959 when I saw this lovely, long Lincoln quietly driven by its proud owner.
Kalvoda’s Lincoln and other will appear at the annual Willmar Car Show and Swap Meet on May 18. It runs from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and is located at the Kennedy School, 824 7th Street West in Willmar