When I was twelve, my family and I visited my wealthy uncle in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Off we went in his new Lincoln to his club for lunch. I thought it was pretty neat; little did I know how neat! Years later, I would find out that it was the fabulous Continental Mark II.
I had rather forgotten about the Mark II until I joined a car club in the fall of 1990. I was searching for a more active lifestyle and joining several clubs of common interest seemed to fit the bill.
But it was not until the first meeting of the club that the Continental really came back to my awareness. At the banquet, after much lively discussion, Joe Crenon, another new member, joined our conversation. In a few minutes, he turned to me and asked, "What car would you have if you could have any car in the world?" I was really thrown. I had not really thought about that so directly. I never thought I would have the chance to have a classic, nor did I ever think I would want to put up with the trouble an old car presents. I knew of many beautiful and desirable cars, but had never focused on a particular one. Remembering my youth, I declared, “Oh, a Lincoln Continental Mark II!”
The more I thought about owning a Mark II, the more enthralled I became. But I didn't even much like the idea of owning any car. I've always enjoyed classic cars as pieces of design such as Studebaker's, Packards, most 1950s American cars and a few foreign ones, such as Hispano-Suizas, Isotta-Fraschinis, Bugatti Royales and Jaguars, but not as an everyday object that needed to be taken care of. Although there was in the back of my mind a certain desire to actually own one.
Over the next few days, I began to wrestle with the idea—not taking it too seriously: Would I still keep my everyday car if I got a Mark II? Where would I put it? I couldn't keep it on the street. What if it breaks down a lot? What a hassle that would be. And, I'll bet they're very hard to find and expensive.
There was one advertised in Rockville, Maryland. Bill, a friend also in the club, and I drove up on a beautiful Sunday. When the garage door was thrown open I couldn’t believe my eyes. There sat the most beautiful piece of sculpture. I did not remember it being quite so big or voluptuous. Pictures do not do it justice.
This brings to mind my pet theory about architecture:
Unlike painting, literature or music, architecture is not
an easily learned art form because it is not transportable
nor reproducible and must be experienced in person.
Architecture loses its special qualities in the two-dimen-
sional photograph or drawing.
The Mark II is much the same. You cannot grasp its true size, actual shape or sculptural elegance without seeing it in person.