Wild twin-turbo 1963 Lincoln Continental project

With a twin-turbo LS up front and fab to the eyeballs, this will be one killer land yacht

Photographers: Mark Boxer

While it’s always exciting to see finished products getting a SEMA Show unveiling, it’s especially cool to get a peek behind the curtain at in-progress builds, especially when they’re as mind-blowing as Mike Ledbetter’s ‘63 Lincoln Continental.

The one-man-show behind the car is California’s Exile Fabrications, AKA Mike Jones. “When we first started the project, he wanted to build the wildest Lincoln ever built,” Mike says. “So that’s where I came up with the plan of using my background in off-road and street race car building to build an elegant, race-inspired, street machine Continental.”

Starting in 2018, Mike gutted the luxo-barge to a point where just the body and part of the front chassis section remained. “I wanted to keep it unibody,” he explains, “so I kept the front rails in. I built a full plate frame rail from the firewall back, and a full rollcage.”

There’s hydraulic cantilever suspension, allowing the car to hit the deck while retaining full adjustability via QA1 coil-overs and a HydroShox pump and valves.

“I built custom plate upper and lower control arms with one-off spindles that house Wilwood Pro hubs, 16-inch rotors and six-piston calipers,” Mike says. The four-link rear holds a Spidertrax diff housing and more fabricated bracketry.

As for the driveline, there’s a GM Performance LSX376 crate motor with a new cam from Redline Performance, hooked to a pair of NRE mirror-image 66mm turbos. The top end wears a Shaun’s Custom Alloy manifold and 103mm throttlebody.

Yet again, the intake plenum, intercoolers and piping are custom bits, fabbed by Mike using Vibrant Performance components, and there’s a billet-topped fuel cell packing Aeromotive pumps.

Power comes through a Maximum Transmissions-built 4L80E, consisting of a Reid billet case and internals and a manual valvebody.

Body mods are extensive, with the rear cowl panel pushed back five inches to allow the tubs to almost touch the bottom of the rear glass, while retaining the factory seal boot. “I also did flush glass and a drip-rail delete,” Mike says. “That’s a lot of work on a Lincoln, because the trim houses and seals everything, so there’s lots of sheet-metal work to make the new glass surrounds.” The rear glass was remade by AM Hot Rod Glass.

Continentals were built with a front-hinged bonnet, which Mike is doing away with. “I hate reverse-opening hoods; they’re impossible to work on and hard to show off, as people are forced to lean over the fenders to see inside,” he says. “So I mounted Eddie Motorsports hinges from an AMC. I still have to mount the hood to them, and the plan there is to have two hood scoops and filters for fresh air.”

Tucked bars on both ends are also on the agenda, and Mike will to dip the car in a classy Brandywine red. “Plans are to have the rest of the fab pretty much wrapped up by the Grand National Roadster Show [3-5 February 2023], and then tear it down for paint.”

The interior is packed with acres of hand-formed sheet metal, from the floors to the dash, console and door cards, while Restomod Air a/c and a Holley digital dash also feature. “We went with Switch Pros for all the panel switches to keep a clean look, and yes, it has a hoon handle for some fun time,” Mike laughs.

“The plan is to have lots of painted interior parts mixed with upholstery, so it has that old hot rod feel. On that note, we have rear Schott wheels in 20×15, with 19-inch wide tyres, so we have some meats!”

Mike says he intends to enter Battle of the Builders at the next SEMA to finish off a gargantuan solo effort. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but people kind of trip out when they find out I’m a one-man shop with a helper.”