John Torrie Sr. has been a car guy practically his entire life, and his son, John Jr., was fortunate enough to inherit the same interests. The Torries are pretty much self-admitted street rodders, having built many cars from the ground up-chassis, bodywork, wiring, paint, and even upholstery-including their latest project, a '57 Continental Mark II. Each and every one has been built in a single-car garage ... "We pull them out into the driveway to work on them when the weather's nice! How's that for an obstacle?" John Jr. remarks.
That small obstacle never stopped the elder Torrie, nor did being diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in August 2004. Despite Dad having to sell his '32 Ford three-window, his son saw this as an opportunity to build a project with him, and at the same time help him cope with his health problems. The '57 would ultimately turn out to be that bonding therapy. "My father has been in remission from his cancer for four-and-a-half years ... we both truly enjoyed the experience together, and the icing on the cake was when we learned the car was going to be featured in the magazine!" John Jr. admits.
Well, it's safe to say that it's the least we could do. For one, the Torries are right on the mark with their Mark II; not overstated in any way, shape, or form, the rare make has received the most complementing custom touches. And that's the other thing-reportedly, there were less than 450 produced in the final year of production of the Continentals (3,000 total over a three-year period, with half that remaining today). Strangely, while the Marks are considered to be a Lincoln-having been sold under the Lincoln dealership banner and even feature numerous Lincoln components (the four-point stars would later be "adopted" by Lincoln)-they're not. Ford Motor Company developed the Continental line as its own entity, and it wasn't until the line's demise following the final production year of the Mark II that Lincoln would consume the Continental brand name. How's that for a little history?
Above and beyond the Mark's mark in automotive history, as stated, the Torries took that mark as the starting point and simply added their own custom interpretation. The end result is a stunning eye-catcher, to say the least-sleek, elegant, and definitely high-society stylish, just as the Continental design team intended well over a half-century ago. Not only has John Sr. licked cancer, he and his son were able to cement a bond and turn out what may be one of the finest-looking Continental customs ever!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
John Torrie Sr. & Jr.
Turnersville, New Jersey
1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II
The stout platform supporting the massive Continental's structure was, for the most part, left as-is. Exceptions were made for ride height's sake, i.e. Fatman Fabrications 2 1/2-inch dropped spindles with Firestone airbags replacing the factory coil spring up front and assisting de-arched leaves out back. With the spindles the car is now afforded disc brakes, while the stock rear drums were simply rebuilt. Along with the aforementioned 'bags, Monroe gas shocks can be found at all four corners.
Despite "not" being a Lincoln officially, there's sure a lot of Lincoln in a Mark II! That rings true beneath the hood as well, where we find the stock yet potent Lincoln 368 V-8. While the car was designed after its V-12-powered predecessor-which Continental surely could've fit in the '55-57s, especially considering the car's $10,000 price tag-economy seemed to be more of a factor in the mid-'50s, but even so, compared to its competition, you couldn't get much bigger than this. John Torrie Sr. and Jr. rebuilt the engine, freshened up the exterior, and built a custom exhaust with a set of Cherry Bombs, "for that nice tone" as John Jr. puts it. The transmission, a Lincoln Cruise-o-Matic three-speed auto, was also rebuilt.
Wheels & Tires
Foregoing the traditional ribbed-style Continental hubcaps, the Torries opted for 15x6 full-chrome 100-spoke true knockoffs. Wrapped in Diamondback Classics 215/75R15 3-inch wide whitewall radials, and setting nice and low, the rolling stock has a subtly flashy look, if that makes any sense?!
Body & Paint
OK, here's where things start getting more interesting-not to say they weren't to begin with. Within the confines of a one-car garage (and outside, weather-permitting!), the Torries managed to drop the Mark's top a total of 3 inches; John Sr. cut the windshield himself, while the backlight was leaned forward (to match the profile of a spare tire hump) and slid down inside the package tray. All major exterior protrusions were shaved, including the driprails; the grille surround was hand built and fit with a custom grille; headlights frenched, peaked, and leaned; rear quarters also reshaped to mimic spare hump and wheel openings lowered; the taillights now housed in former exhaust ports in the rear bumper-all done by John Sr. and Jr., with the exception of final paint. Ron Raio's local Maaco franchise (Delran, NJ) handled the application of the '08 Corvette Atomic Orange (sprayed by John Metzger and Mike Akar), but the Torries sanded, buffed, and reassembled everything.
The upholstery was undertaken and tastefully completed by, you guessed it, John Sr. and Jr. From the restyling (molded, flowing center consoles and door panels, with help from Norman Haug on the latter), cable-operated third brake lights recessed into the package tray, to the restoring, the interior was all done "a la garage". White vinyl and orange low pile cover what's not been painted, and a Kenwood CD audio system (head unit hidden in the glovebox) feeding a quartet of 6x9s complete the comfy quarters ... albeit one with slightly reduced headspace than before!