Lincoln's hottest 'Hot Rod'

In 1955 Gian Carlo Boano was in his early twenties, but he had already been designing cars alongside his father, Felice Mario Boano, for several years, first at Ghia and then later at their own Carrozzeria Boano Turino. A friend of the young Boano, Cuccio, had worked with Ford Motor Company and suggested that Carrozzeria Boano Torino produce a car on a Lincoln chassis for Turin. The pedestal on which the sculpture would be built was a stock 1955 Lincoln. Dubbed the Indianapolis, it would become the hottest of ‘hot rod Lincolns.’

Gian Carlo Boano’s futurist design was based upon the idea of an aircraft, with a rounded centre section that tapered at each end between pontoon-like outer wings; decorative side exhaust and cooling intakes; and a glassy canopy that recalled streamlined Le Mans racing cars of the 1930s. A traditional grille was removed and replaced by an air opening under the front bumper, which was the largest piece of chrome on the car. Four headlamps stood upright in chromed oval surrounds, while the taillights settled in nearly identical nacelles above jutting chromed exhaust tips.

The interior was designed for two, wrapped in fine leather, with a ‘stepped’ console that divided the bucket seats with their black-and-white two-tone pattern. Driver and passenger faced a fascia that seemed to sweep around the entire interior of the car, with a black insert framed by panels of orange, bearing, in proud block letters, ‘INDIANAPOLIS., Only when necessary was the centre panel opened, revealing a complete bank of instruments.


When shown at Turin, the Indianapolis achieved the recognition that Boano had sought, including a cover feature in the November 1955 issue of Auto Age magazine, asking, “Is this the next Lincoln?” Following the close of the Turin show, the Indianapolis was purchased by Ford, reportedly at the behest of Henry Ford II, and it was shipped to the United States.

The Indianapolis was reportedly later shown in Boston, where it sustained damage to the interior and was later acquired by Felix Duclos of Manchester. Its history thereafter is well-known and continues most prominently with Thomas Kerr, the renowned Packard collector and active Classic Car Club of America member.

Kerr remains the Indianapolis’s longest-term owner, and he was the man responsible for its rebirth. He owned it for three decades, and during his ownership, he recognised its importance as a one-off piece of design history. Jim Cox Sr. and his son, Jim Jr., of Pennsylvania, took on the challenge of restoration. The Coxes spent two years restoring the car to an extraordinary, show-quality finish. The instruments and power steering, which were originally nonfunctional, were built to working order. A powerful overhead-valve V8 engine, displacing 341 cubic inches and producing over 200 horsepower, sits under the bonnet and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drum brakes.


With the restoration finally completed, the Indianapolis began a return to the show circuit after nearly 50 years. Forgotten by many, it astonished in its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2001, where it completed the Tour d’Elegance and won top honours in the Postwar Custom Coachwork Class. It continued to garner awards at the Amelia Island Concours, the Burn Prevention Foundation Concours, and the Bethlehem Concours, as well as receiving the Most Outstanding Lincoln Award at Greenwich in 2003.

After Kerr sold the Indianapolis, it continued to tour East Coast concours and eventually found its way into the esteemed Andrews Collection. Under their ownership, it made a grand reappearance at the Pebble Beach Concours, again completing the tour and this time winning the Lincoln Trophy.

The consignor purchased the car in 2015 from the Andrews Collection. In 2016 the Indianapolis was chosen by guest curator Ken Gross to be displayed at the Frist Art Museum for their Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975 display. Under current ownership the car was serviced and maintained by a Pebble Beach–level restoration facility.

The Indianapolis is accompanied by a collection of documentation that includes copies of photos of it at Turin, programs and photographs from its modern show appearances, and copies of the Auto Age and Automobile Quarterly issues in which it was prominently featured. A breathtaking one-off design, this Exclusive Study by Boano remains the hottest of ‘hot rod Lincolns.’

RM Sotheby's will be offering this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Exclusive Study by Boano at their upcoming Monterey auction held between the 15-17th August. For more information on this and other vehicles at the sale, click on the link below. Photos: ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's.