By on September 28, 2016

Sajeev's Mystery Machine, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Every “How To” automotive series pushes the aftermarket hard for free stuff, even under-the-radar journos like Zach Bowman and Regular Car Reviews find themselves with free/discounted goodies. I’ve done product reviews in TTAC’s past, so this isn’t a Baruthian hit piece on journalistic greed. Heck, Bowman generously donated his pre-sponsorship clutch for TTAC’s Ford Sierra (more on that much later) and Mr. Regular seems like a righteous enough dude.

So instead, think of my work as the alternative to PowerBlock TV. What work is this, you may ask?

For the last 16 years, I’ve foolishly idiotically spent a metric ton of cash to resto-mod my Fox Body 1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, because it’s the car that got me hooked on cars and it’s the ideal restomod for my bizarre tastes.

1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Bye-bye rusty, crusty 5.0-liter V8 making a pathetic 130 horsepower. Bye bye to my savings, too.

One reason this project costs so much is I’m not doing the heavy lifting: Classic Cars of Houston accepted the challenge even though it’s far from their usual fare of pre-war icons and ’50-’60s classics.

1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Maybe I should promote Exide for its explodey batteries, circa 1993. Luckily replacement Mustang sheetmetal from Late Model Restoration lowered repair costs … a little.

1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Classic Cars of Houston did a fine job soda blasting, but I doubt Coca-Cola would give me a single red cent. (Kidding!)

1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Fresh chocolate underhood, grey paint on the chassis, and several years sitting on Classic Cars of Houston’s rotisserie (while more valuable projects rolled by) gave me time to refill the coffers for things like this lovely small-block Ford V8.

Sajeev hugging Ford small-block V8, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

LSX-FTW wasn’t a thing when I started, and a free Ford Racing crate motor isn’t hug worthy. No off-the-shelf combo works for an overweight automatic Fox Body: peep the bespoke 331 CID stroker with Dart heads and a custom, torque rich cam. Then again, maybe Dart has a well-funded PR department?

Lower control arms for Sajeev's Fox-body Lincoln, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I hate aftermarket suspensions: they lack compliance in their thin-walled polyurethane bushings. And since Houston roads suck, no way I’d take a vendor freebie. Like gourmet lobster mac-n-cheese, I threw more cash at Classic Cars of Houston for a classy riff on a poor man’s modification: the infamous (?) boxed lower control arms via flat sheetmetal stock trick.

Sajeev's Mystery Machine, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

See that long-since-out-of-production GT-40 tubular intake? They don’t come cheap and nobody’s donating one to my, um, autoblogging charity. Would anyone choose an off-the-shelf cast intake over this tubular beauty, even if it was free?

Air intake on Sajeev's Lincoln, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Will a wicked-bad 5.0 Mustang cold air intake kit sway me over a bespoke creation utilizing the Continental’s Ram Air intake below the headlights? Lincoln’s obscure factory engineering is why I stick to my guns, cost be damned.

Lincoln Continental Front Suspension, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Koni discontinued their Mustang SVO dampers, and I never asked for the famous autojourno discount of its factory rebuild services. Ditto for the Continental-turned-SVO control arms, rebuilt only by Rare Parts in Stockton, CA. The front coil springs came from another Fox project (thanks, Coil Spring Specialties) and the ginormous sway bar was pulled from in a junked Thunderbird Turbo (thanks, forgotten junkyard now owned by LKQ).

Note that factory Continental/SVO K-member (in gray). There’s no fancy tube-intensive aftermarket replacement for this Continental. NVH control above all else, I’d reject a free kit from Griggs Racing.

Lincoln Continental Undertray and Rear Differential, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Even without a kick-back, I’ll thank eBay Motors for allowing one to buy NOS Koni rear dampers (intended for a 1980 Thunderbird) and the 7.5-inch differential girdle. And to Summit Racing for its SVT Cobra-esque 1-inch rear sway bar.

And how could I forget my local to O’Reilly Auto Parts! The rest of the suspension/brakes came from their inventory!

(Necessary aside: I’d never accept a free Ford 8.8-inch axle assembly from an aftermarket vendor. I reckon the factory 7.5-inch has less parasitic drag. My Mustang SVO limited-slip differential was proudly bought as a poor-ish college student. I won’t run racing slicks. The factory rear discs made popular by the Lincoln Versailles seals the Restomod deal.) 

Lincoln Continental Engine Swap, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Perhaps I should’ve asked Maximum Motorsports for a discount on its brilliantly engineered Fox Mustang strut tower brace. They did work with Zach Bowman on the Ecoboost Fox Body. Perhaps they have a full refund policy in exchange for MAD SEO BENEFITZ??? 

Lincoln Continental Lights and Trim, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

But this terrible pimpatorial restoration update merely scratched the surface and overlooks the blizzard of NOS parts bought on eBay Motors for cheap. Seriously eBay, it’s time for a Gift Card!

So riddle me this, Best and Brightest: how can I get free stuff to complete the restoration?

I’m thinking:

[Images: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

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34 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: No Free Stuff For You!...”

  • avatar

    Boy you gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that HOT… ROD… LINCOLN.

    A big thumbs up on keeping your Fancy Fox as Ford as possible.

  • avatar

    How to get them? Video content and the use of the car for display at local marketing events, although published articles about the build under the ttac masthead might do it too. They need something that they can promote on their Facebook pages and sponsored forum threads. Videos are best because functional illiteracy is a thing. A friend of mine is frequently in the position of being approached for free parts and something I’ve seen is he will, at best, provide cost pricing as his company has expensive vendors. That’s sponsorship in his book.

    Awesome car, awesome build. Needless to say that Lincoln isn’t my normal cup of tea, but I’d absolutely watch and read content about a build that thorough.

    • 0 avatar

      That sounds like a lot of work since I’m no video guru, which doesn’t make it free for me. (sad face)

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah. That’s true. Think about it this way though, even a cost sale is you getting paid hundreds of dollars. They’re gonna want to see multiple mentions and a positive evaluation, and at least a chance to privately address any fitment issues if the part doesn’t work. Even a race team sponsorship on a privater level, which pays out in prominent stickering over the long term, can be just a cost sale agreement on parts.

        If you do get someone to be generous there’s a decency obligation to provide press. The gearhead in question always has a humorless accountant evaluating their decisions at some point. Don’t get them fired.

        Perhaps aim for a parts sponsor with their own media budget. They give parts, you provide an on camera appearance of the car and maybe yourself for filming of their own video content. Minimum ethical quandary as well.

        For tires you should get a hook up as a gearhead favor. Many tuning shops with volume are distributors for the rack, they can favor order at wholesale without hurting their own bottom line.

      • 0 avatar
        David "Piston Slap Yo Mama" Sanborn

        A friend of mine grenaded the engine in his recently purchased Ferrari 308, choked on the astronomical price of rebuilding it then stuffed a Honda H22A4 engine into it. Now it handles better (lighter), is reliable and gets good mpg’s. As monumentally interesting as this transformation was, I’m not sure any photos were taken, much less videos. Had this been videoed it would’ve garnered a million views.

        Maybe you should find a budding videographer who’s looking for something interesting to do a piece on and invite them over?

        In regards to Zach Bowman’s Ugly Horse, I’d nearly forgotten about it. That project is on the slow-boat to nowhere, and I’m really wanting to see it finished. For anyone curious, here’s the all-inclusive history:

  • avatar

    Oh man. A lost cause 80s car restoration.

    I’m not into Fords of the era too much, but I would be quite interested in doing this on a Olds Touring Sedan, Lesabre T-type, or Trofeo. I just don’t think I’m ready to make a bonfire out of that much money yet.

    • 0 avatar

      Touring Sedan wins my recommendation out of those three. Partially because it’s like a Trofeo + 40% more car.

    • 0 avatar

      “I just don’t think I’m ready to make a bonfire out of that much money yet.”

      That’s because you aren’t trying hard enough.

    • 0 avatar

      I spent about $6k (in 1999 dollars) on a 305 powered 1986 Monte Carlo SS that I spent $4400 on. 355 engine with lots of speed goodies, rebuilt TH200-4R, and new interior bits including seats. I stuck with the 7.5″ rear because the 8.5″ was rare and expensive, anything else aftermarket was even more money.

      I got a lot of sh*t from the old car guys, wondering why I would throw money at an 80s car instead of a “classic”. My answer? The Monte weighed less than a Chevelle and I loved the classic Nascar looks.

      • 0 avatar

        I would love to do one of those, but I have neither the money to spare nor the talent/tools to do it myself. I think I would need to spend as much or more on the interior to make it livable though.

  • avatar

    You hooked me at “GT-40 tubular intake”…

    Seriously, that thing looks like art.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t this Continental weigh over 400 lbs more than the next heaviest of its parts donors? Have you put wheels and tires on it to see what the ride height will be like? You’re taking parts off of Turbo Coupes and Mustangs to upgrade your Continental while canny Mustang and T-bird racers are taking parts off of Continentals to upgrade the suspensions of their much lighter cars. Spring rates, sway bars, and dampers that work on 3,100 lb cars will have to work much harder on a 3,800 lb car. I’m sure you can address any issues when the time comes.

  • avatar

    At least you can rest easy, knowing when this project is finished it’ll be worth like $150,000!

  • avatar


    Does the 1983 Lincoln Continental have a lot of those exterior PVC bits that turn brittle with age? If so, where are you sourcing those from?

    Restoring the Blue Goose would be a similar silly money project; but sourcing the plastic bits both on the outside and inside si what would stump me. A junkyard is not a good source because they are also often brittle and/or broken as well. It sounds like you have restored other Fords from this era; so you already have a source?

    • 0 avatar

      No brittleness, this isn’t a Caddy. :)

      I get parts for less because I search on ebay for part numbers. Use the first four digits of the part number as a saved search on eBay and you’ll be shocked at what you can get for cheap!

  • avatar

    Beautiful, keep at it! Just don’t let that Sanjeev try and talk you into time behind the wheel, I’m sure he would wreck it rather quickly.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    This is why an engineer should never try to restore a car. Everything will be absolutely perfect at every step of the project to the detriment of actually ever being able to drive the car.

    Sanjeev would already be planning the second restoration since it was “good enough” for him with a power sprayed engine and Monroe buy-3-get-one shocks.

    Seriously Sajeev, this thing already looks amazing. I can feel your frustration with having to wait to build up funds to get the next batch of parts. The main thing to remember is to drive it when it’s done and not to be afraid of what might happen to it.

    • 0 avatar

      “This is why an engineer should never try to restore a car. Everything will be absolutely perfect at every step of the project to the detriment of actually ever being able to drive the car.”

      I’m currently in year 5 of what I figured would be a 3 year restoration. At present rate of progress, I expect 1 more year. :(

  • avatar
    Hogie roll

    Looks awesome. Gives me inspiration for the vette. Alas my attention to detail and willingness to spend appear to be short of yours.

    I’d love to check it out. When is then estimated completion?

  • avatar

    Sajeev you have a sickness. I like it.

  • avatar


    Congrats on a resto-mod of one of the more of obscure members of the Fox family. Since you refer to the boxed lower control arms as “infamous”, I assume you’re well versed in the bind-o-matic tendencies of the four-link fox rear end (upper and lower arms of different lengths moving through somewhat incompatible arcs). That being the case, why did you decide to box the arms? From back in the day I recall track rats doing that mod and finding that reducing the arms’ ability to twist was a mixed blessing – rear axle movements became more predictable, at the cost of being more likely to bind up (especially when combined with stiff aftermarket bushings).

    The true solution was the torque-arm and Panhard bar setup, even if it was inspired by a car wearing a bowtie (Chevy Monza). Of course the aftermarket solutions to this had done drawbacks on a street-driven car…

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah things would be different if there was a torque arm/panhard setup with OEM sized bushings. And you read perfectly into the “infamous” wording, as I was being brief since this is a blog. I have all big-fat-rubber bushings, I’m *hoping* that what I’ve experienced with the boxed control arms on my Cougar will happen here. And the Cougar has quad shocks…which would bind more than an axle without them?

      So yeah, I’m optimistic that I’ll get the benefit of a more predictable rear end with no downsides. (famous last words)

  • avatar

    This is just all kinds of crazy, which is why it’s so cool. Hats off to Sajeev for thinking outside the box, or maybe in this case inside the Fox Box, or whatever.

    I was wondering about the control arms too, but it’ll either work (which I suspect it will) or it won’t and he just buys another set from forgotten junkyard.

    Too bad we can’t borrow the Roadkill crew to shoot an episode on this, not only is it interesting but the vehicle will actually be useful at the end of the show.

  • avatar
    Hoon Goon

    I enjoy your dedication to your favorite brand. I also enjoy knowing that I am not the only one pushing the limits of my wallet to make it happen.

    There are much wiser ways to spend or invest money, but blowing your wad on the next parts is as good as life gets for an obsessed car guy. Old people can’t do this stuff, so do it while you can.

    Keep following that dream.

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