The Scarlet Lady Continental – Ryans Rod and Kustom Builds a Killer Lincoln
Chris Ryan and his wife Lori own and operate Ryans Rod and Kustom from their home in rural Ninety Six, South Carolina. It’s quite the homestead – a sprawling property with a vintage filling station just around the bend. But it’s inside their shop that the magic (and lots of sanding) happens.
Quite simply, nobody builds better “Big Cars” than the Ryan’s so it’s a good thing Chris is one of PPG’s signature painters. He uses a lot of their award-winning materials to cover the massive sheets of metal he sculpts into his vision of what a contemporary custom car should look like.
You may remember the “Golden Empress” – a PPG custom-mixed candy gold ’49 Cadillac convertible which racked up so many awards they could have filled the interior of the traditionally styled “20-footer.”
Chris and Lori followed that car up with their latest creation “The Scarlet Lady Continental.” Chris is from the old school and names his rides accordingly. The 1956 Continental Mark II showcases the Ryan’s ability to take a Detroit offering and make it so appealing it literally stops fellow motorists in their tracks.
Like most car projects, the customization process takes more than two people. The entire Ryans Rod and Kustom team had a hand in the making of the ‘Lady. By looking at the ‘Lady’s profile the factory bodylines are easily recognizable yet different – the hallmark of a good car builder.
Yes, the lid is lowered but only 2-inches offering a subtle slimming of the car’s flowing lines. They also took ¾” out of the roof top itself, and eliminated the drip rails further sharpening the lines. Down below is where the real metal magic happens. The wheel wells are reshaped centering the one-off 20-inch Curtis Speed wheels dead center. The rocker panels were also reshaped and lowered 1-inch sucking the car down to the weeds. With that, they refined the bottom portion of the fenders, removed the iconic Continental Kit hump and reshaped and tucked the bumpers. When you get right down to it, Gordon Buehrig’s design and proportions were on the money. In fact, many Mark II owners just lower them, slap on some 20’s, air it out and roll. Ryan’s accents and subtle touches work to improve Buehrig’s design. After prep, Ryan dawned his space suit and shot gallons of PPG Scarlet flake.
With the exterior mods fitted and formed, getting it low was essential in showing off the new contour. Isn’t it crazy what a substantial drop will do to body lines? Getting cars down on the deck is another Ryans Rod and Kustom specialty. Chris kept the factory outer frame rails, but went with a Fatman Fabrications front stub, a Thunderbird rack and pinion then made his own X-member and Z’d the structure. RideTech four-bar and shockwaves on all four corners set the desired stance. There are other closely kept secrets in terms of stance but we can’t divulge all of Chris’ magic!
More custom work can be found both under the hood and inside the massive cabin. Underneath a custom engine cover, one off valve covers and a sculpted-to-perfection engine bay snarls a 5.0 liter Ford Coyote V8. Edsel Ford approves!
The ‘Lady’s interior is perfect – a vintage blend of white tuck & roll with red piping and red buttons cover 1964 Thunderbird seats. While that is what draws you in, upon a sustained gaze you will notice intricate details including the handmade dash but perhaps the highlight of the entire vehicle is the radical 1960 Chrysler Astrodome instrument cluster. Its Jetson’s meets Lincoln presented in ornate jukebox styling. Throw in the radical, flaked ’61 Plymouth steering wheel and you have an interior that matches the spectacular exterior – not easy to pull off.
The Scarlet Lady Continental is such a rock star, she even comes equipped with her own guitar – a Fender Squier painted Scarlet of course. And yes – that vintage Fender amplifier works!
We really can’t think of another custom build that rivals the ‘Lady. At least not in recent memory. The size and scope of this build along with so many refined details is what sets it apart.
Custom car legend Gene Winfield obviously agrees with our take on the ‘Lady. Gene made it his “Winfield Pick” at the recent Syracuse Nationals – an honor bestowed upon the best custom of the year. Can you imagine how good it must feel to have one of America’s most iconic stylists pick your creation for this high honor?
For contemporary custom builder’s like the Ryan’s it just can’t get any better.