President Carter's inaugural parade vehicle on display at Detroit Concours d'Elegance

1977 Lincoln Continental factory customized by Ford
Posted at 2:15 PM, Sep 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-23 16:59:52-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — At this year's Detroit Concours d'Elegance folks can see about 150 cars brought in from across the country at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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2023 Detroit Concours d’Elegance

One vehicle in particular that's getting a lot of attention is a 1977 Lincoln Continental.

"The car is a Ford factory custom Lincoln Continental convertible, and it was used for Jimmy Carter's inaugural parade," said Marisa Gustafson, vehicle owner.

An automotive enthusiast from southern California, Marisa says even though President Carter never sat in this car, it was, however, assigned to the then Director of the Secret Service.

"Originally, this car was a hard top. They had to chop the whole top off, they used a convertible top from a 1957 to 59 LTD convertible top, and the undercarriage there is some reinforcement to give it some integrity," said Marisa.

Marisa believes only eight of these cars were made by Ford and knows of three that are still in existence.

"You know they were always making a handful of cars for celebrities and for specialty uses. The idea was whenever the car was photographed, because you know the president is the most photographed in the world, whenever the car would be photographed, that car would be a Lincoln," said Marisa.

At the age of 12, Marisa inherited this car from her dad, John Gustafson, who was a car dealer. In fact, by the 1970s, John owned the second largest Lincoln-Mercury dealership in America.

"You couldn't just buy this car from Ford, the option to buy was only given to top dealers. So he exercised that right and every time he saw this car, it reminded him of what he had achieved," said Marisa.

As for how hard it's been to maintain the car? Marisa says, "Sometimes I feel I walk on eggshells because I don't want to make an expensive mistake. It's a love-hate relationship. I've definitely learned to do a lot on my own. But definitely a lot of hours of blood, sweat, and tears,"