StiffSpeed Exotic Cars

Friday, 27 February 2009

Continental Kit

A Continental Kit is an upright, external, mounted spare tire behind an automobile's trunk compartment. The term also describes a non-functional bulge that is stamped into the trunk lid or a cosmetic accessory to the rear of the car giving the impression of a spare tire mount.

The legend of how the “Continental kit” was born was from the complaint by Henry Ford II that the trunk of his personal Ford Thunderbird, did not have room for a set of golf clubs without removing the spare tire. The 1956 Thunderbird had its spare tire mounted outside. However, adding weight behind the rear wheels was said to adversely affect steering and handling.

For 1957 the Thunderbird's trunk was stretched 5 inches (127 mm), allowing the spare tire to migrate back inside, although the Continental mounting was still optional. This external spare wheel mount became a customizing aftermarket appearance accessory during the 1950s.

Contemporary examples of Continental kits are sometimes found on customized automobiles. It has become an accessory that typifies "the spirit" of the 1950s. Continental kits were also made popular by the pimpmobile craze of the 1970s.

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