14th Mar 2023
Star Cars: Rita Hayworth’s 1941 Lincoln Continental
by Collecting Cars
Despite the early 1940s being dominated by WWII, the film industry continued to blossom as a morale boost for society – and once the war ended it was ready to ride the wave of hope following the economic depression.
With the Golden Age of Hollywood came its shining stars, and one heart-throb that shone brighter than most was Rita Hayworth. The glamorous American actress appeared in 61 films over 37 years and became one of the most beloved silver screen icons.
One particular admirer was the Academy Award-winning screen legend Orson Welles, who was believed to have begun courting the actress in late 1941. As an extravagant gift to his sweetheart on her 24th birthday, Welles had a 1941 Lincoln Continental delivered to Hayworth while she was on set in Georgia.
The 1941 Lincoln Continental was the height of luxury for the period. It was finished in a beautiful shade of Paradise Green, and is understood to have originally featured a green leather and whipcord-trimmed interior, though in later appearance it sports cream cloth and vinyl upholstery. The elegant Continental was conceived by Edsel Ford and featured the iconic twin front grilles that would come to define all Lincoln models of the era.
The model included wide whitewall tyres with chrome hubcaps, full rear wheel spats, and a covered rear-mounted spare wheel, which would later become known as a ‘Continental’ spare. Under the bonnet sat a Zephyr-derived 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V12.
Rita Hayworth adored the car, and was famously pictured sitting on the front wing of a Lincoln Continental in 1942 above the slogan, ‘My bumpers are on the scrap heap. Are yours?’, following the actress donating bumpers to the wartime scrap metal drive. Hayworth’s ownership of the Lincoln would continue for around 30 years.
Later, Hayworth would gift the car to her long-time secretary, Frita Wolfe, who in turn sold it to Aspen Pittman in 1972 for a reported price of $2,000, by which time it was understood to have a 1955 Cadillac engine fitted. While there is some dispute about the provenance linking this period to later years, the car now recognised as the Hayworth Continental was comprehensively restored during the 1980s, before the car was sold to Mr Art Astor in 1990.
Following his acquisition, Astor had an original 292-cubic inch Zephyr V12 re-fitted to the car, and in 2000 commissioned a complete restoration by Bob Baldwin of Sunset Ford. Since then, the car has appeared at auction multiple times, and is a well-known classic on the US collector car circuit.
Photo credits: Worldwide Auctioneers, AM Classic Cars