Canadian spruces up famous Lincoln for the Queen

Robert Coyle has been sprucing up a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan that will be sent to Britain as part of Jubilee celebrations for the Queen this summer.

Car in which the monarch rode 3 times to be shipped to Britain for Jubilee Celebrations

The Queen rode in this 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan three times during trips to North America. (CBC News)

A man from Windsor, Ont., has been working under the hood of a very special presidential car for the last three months.

Robert Coyle has been sprucing up a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan that will be sent to Britain as part of Jubilee Celebrations for the Queen this summer.

"You have to have a high tolerance for tedium," Coyle said as he meticulously colours an emblem on a hub cap.

The car has a connection to the Queen and to Canada. It was also used by U.S. presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

The Queen first rode in it as a princess in 1951. She was in the car again during her first visit to North America as monarch in 1957. She used the car two years later during a visit to open the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The car is known as the bubble top because of a section of clear Plexiglas roof Eisenhower had installed so he could be seen, even in bad weather.

Coyle is the conservation specialist for the transportation collection at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. He has dual Canadian and American citizenship. 
Robert Coyle paints hub caps used on the 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan that carried the Queen on three occasions. (CBC News)

The car is travelling next month to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England where it will be one of several in a display of cars the Queen once rode in or owned.

The Henry Ford Museum jumped at the chance to send it.

"For us, it's also an opportuntiy to actually do some work on the car and get it running again," said Bob Casey, the museum's curator of transportation.

That's all Coyle and Casey are doing  — getting it running.

The two make it clear this is not a restoration project. It's what they call "a preservation project."

Car drove more than royalty

"President Kennedy sat in that seat; Eisenhower; Queen Elizabeth herself. We would never dream of sitting in them or changing out that upholstery," Coyle said. "That's part of its story and part of the allure of the vehicle."

The car hasn't run in more than 40 years. But the museum didn't want to take a chance it would get damaged getting towed around so they decided to make it driveable.

Coyle said they are taking great pains to preserve its historical integrity, so he bypassed a lot of systems he couldn't fix.

"All the gauges and all the systems in the car; I rebuilt and put them in so they could be removed," Coyle said. "So, we start it like a race car and we bypassed all the dash components."

Coyle is also bypassing the fuel lines and putting in an auxilliary marine gas tank in the trunk instead. Some of the engine parts had to be replaced but the old ones are being kept in storage while the car is overseas.

"We will remove that [new] radiator system when it comes back and put the original brass radiator back in the vehicle," Coyle said.

Even the new paint on the hubcabs will be washed away.

The Queen will not likely ride in the car when it returns to England but if she did, Coyle and Casey believe she would appreciate all the work that went into it.