Continental Kit

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John Bozio's 1953 Buick Roadmaster of East Hartford, Connecticut was restyled between 1956 and 1957. It was dressed up with a homemade Continental Kit.
Edward Meritai's 1950 Ford of East Paterson, New Jersey. Restyled by Monego's Body Shop, the build was completed in 1958 featuring a Continental Kit.
Robert Ansetta's 1951 Ford Crestliner custom of Morris Plains, New Jersey received 1958 Chevrolet quarter panels and a continental kit in 1958.
Ron Fagundes' 1952 Ford Victoria of Napa, California. Ron's Ford, known as The Ronbardue Kart, was restyled by Barris Kustoms, A-1 Body Work, Hall's Top Shop and Andy Southard. The build was completed in 1958 featuring a Continental Kit.
Jim Logue's 1954 Ford convertible of Long Beach, California. Completed in 1958, Jim's Ford might have been the first car ever to use hydraulic lifts from aircraft surplus parts to raise and lower the suspension. A dummy continental kit was molded into the deck lid of the car.
John Rae's 1951 Ford of Kenilworth, New Jersey. John bought the car from Hanover, New Jersey in 1962. It had already been customized when he got it, featuring a Continental Kit.
John Knox's 1953 Buick Skylark custom of Portsmouth, Virginia. Restyled in the late 1950s or the early 1960s, the car was featured on the cover of Speed and Custom April 1962 featuring a continental kit.
Nick Phillips' 1955 Chevrolet convertible was restyled by Bo Huff at Bo Huff Customs. Completed in 2004, the car is a clone of Sam Barris' 1955 Chevrolet convertible as it appeared while Stan Robles owned it.
Chris Rusbach's 1956 Ford Crown Victoria of Stanhope, New Jersey. Rusbach, who is a member of the Certs Jersey car club bought the car already customized in the summer of 2019. He was told that it came to the East Coast from West Nevada around 2016 - 2017. It ran a Continental Kit when it came to the East Coast.

A Continental Kit is a distinctive automotive accessory that originated in the mid-20th century, primarily in the United States. It is a rear-mounted spare tire carrier, often encased in a decorative cover, which extends the vehicle's overall length and adds a touch of elegance to the rear end. The Continental Kit became a popular stylistic element on automobiles during the 1950s and 1960s, contributing to the unique aesthetics of that era's automobiles.

Origin and Evolution

The origin of the Continental Kit can be traced back to the post-World War II era in the United States. During this time, car manufacturers and customizers were looking for ways to make their vehicles stand out in a rapidly growing automotive market. In an effort to enhance the appearance of cars and differentiate them from their competitors, designers began to experiment with various design elements, one of which was the addition of a spare tire carrier on the rear.

The concept of mounting a spare tire externally at the rear wasn't entirely new, as earlier automobiles had featured exposed spare tires. However, the Continental Kit introduced a new level of sophistication by incorporating the spare tire within a decorative cover. This cover often resembled a metal or fiberglass shell that blended seamlessly with the vehicle's overall design, creating a harmonious visual effect.

Popularity and Cultural Impact

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Continental Kit gained widespread popularity and became synonymous with luxury and prestige. It was often associated with high-end automobiles and custom-built cars, accentuating their length and elegance. This accessory became an emblem of automotive opulence and was embraced by both car enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike.

The Continental Kit also found its way into popular culture, making appearances in movies, television shows, and advertisements. Its distinctive appearance on classic cars helped solidify its status as a symbol of the mid-20th century's automotive design aesthetic.

Decline and Legacy

As automotive design trends evolved and safety regulations tightened, the popularity of the Continental Kit began to wane. By the 1970s, many car manufacturers were moving away from the extravagant designs of the previous decades, opting for more streamlined and efficient vehicles. Additionally, safety concerns and improved tire technology led to the integration of spare tires within the car's interior or trunk, further reducing the need for external spare tire carriers.

Although the heyday of the Continental Kit had passed, it left an indelible mark on the history of automotive design. Classic cars featuring this accessory continue to capture the imagination of collectors, restorers, and enthusiasts, evoking a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era of elegance and sophistication.

In conclusion, the Continental Kit's history and origin are rooted in the pursuit of automotive distinction and elegance during the mid-20th century. Its unique design and cultural impact have made it a lasting symbol of a golden age of car customization and luxury, preserving its legacy in the annals of automotive history.

Cars Featuring Continental Kits

Edward Meritai's 1950 Ford
John Rae's 1951 Ford
Robert Ansetta's 1951 Ford Crestliner
Ron Fagundes' 1952 Ford Victoria - The Ronbardue Kart
John Bozio's 1953 Buick Roadmaster
John Knox's 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible
Jim Logue's 1954 Ford Convertible
Nick Phillips' 1955 Chevrolet Convertible
Chris Rusbach's 1956 Ford Crown Victoria


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