Lincoln Capri

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Lincoln Capri
Lincoln Capri Sedan 1953.jpg
1953 Lincoln Capri sedan
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
Production 1952–1959
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car
Layout FR layout
Predecessor Lincoln Cosmopolitan
Successor Lincoln Premiere

The Lincoln Capri is a full-size automobile that was sold by Lincoln for the 1952 through 1959 model years.[1] It is this car that earned the “Hot Rod Lincoln” term, with cars being used in racing, having won the top four spots in the Stock Car category of the Pan American Road Race in both 1952 and 1953.[1] In 1954, the race's final year, Lincolns took first and second place.[1]


Generation I
Lincoln Capri.jpg
1955 Lincoln Capri Coupe
Model years 1952–1955
Assembly Maywood Assembly, Maywood, California, United States[1]
Mahwah Assembly, Mahwah, New Jersey, United States
Wayne, Michigan United States[1]
St.Louis, Missouri, United States[1]
Designer Bill Schmidt
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe[1]
2-door convertible[1]
4-door sedan[1]
Related Lincoln Cosmopolitan
Lincoln Custom
Mercury Monterey
Ford Crestline

337 cu in (5.5 L) 2-bbl. Flathead V8 (1952 only)

317 cu in (5.2 L) Lincoln Y-block V8[1]
341 cu in (5.6 L) Lincoln Y-block V8[1]
Transmission 4-speed Hydra-Matic automatic[1]
3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic[1]
Wheelbase 123.0 in (3,124 mm)[1]
Length 1952: 214.0 in (5,436 mm)[1]
1953: 214.1 in (5,438 mm)[1]
1954: 215.0 in (5,461 mm)[1]
1955: 215.6 in (5,476 mm)[1]
Width 1952–54: 77.5 in (1,968 mm)
1955: 77.6 in (1,971 mm)
Height 1952–54: 62.6 in (1,590 mm)
1955: 62.7 in (1,593 mm)
Curb weight 4,300–4,600 lb (2,000–2,100 kg)

Competing against the Cadillac Series 62, Chrysler New Yorker, and Packard 200,[2] 14,342 Capris were sold in its debut year,[2] and nearly double that, 26,640, in 1953.[2] It readily outsold its stablemate, the Cosmopolitan, each year[2] until the Cosmopolitan's demise. The Capri had a new Lincoln 90 degree V8 engine.[3]

In the October, 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics, a Lincoln Capri was tested. 0-60 mph time was 14.8 seconds, while the quarter-mile was 21.3 seconds. It should be noted that the '52 models were still powered by the 154 hp '51 flathead and these times are not representative of the OHV cars that debuted in the '53 models. Also the '55's with 341 dual exhausts were considerably faster than the '53 and '54 models. Flathead fuel economy was recorded at 21mpg.[4]

In 1955, the Capri featured a new 225 hp (168 kW) 341 cu in (5.6 L) Lincoln Y-Block V8 (with greater displacement and, at 8.5:1, higher compression than before),[2] featuring a four-barrel carburetor,[2] mated to a standard (Ford-built)[2] 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic transmission.[2] Air conditioning became an option for the first time.[1][2][5]

Riding on a 123.0 in (3,120 mm) wheelbase and measuring 215.6 in (5,480 mm) overall,[2] the 1955 Capri was offered as a two-door hardtop coupé (4,305 lb (1,953 kg) shipping weight),[2] two-door convertible (4,415 lb (2,003 kg) shipping weight),[2] or a four-door sedan (4,275 lb (1,939 kg) shipping weight).[2]

The Capri was also one of the first vehicles to offer an automatic headlight dimmer as optional equipment.[6] It sold 23,673 copies,[2] amounting to 87% of Lincoln's total output that year,[2] actually down from 29,552 in 1954.[2]

Powered by the 317 cu in (5.2 L) Lincoln Y-block V8, Lincolns won the top four spots in the Stock Car category of the Pan American Road Race in both 1952 and 1953.[1] In 1954, the race's final year, Lincolns took first and second place.[1]


1956 Lincoln Capri coupe rear
Generation II
1956 Lincoln Capri.jpg
1956 Lincoln Capri Coupe
Model years 1956–1957
Assembly Maywood Assembly, Maywood, California, United States[1]
Mahwah Assembly, Mahwah, New Jersey, United States
Wayne, Michigan United States[1]
St.Louis, Missouri, United States[1]
Designer Bill Schmidt
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop[1]
4-door sedan[1]
4-door hardtop[1]
Related Lincoln Premiere
Mercury Montclair
Engine 368 cu in (6.0 L) Lincoln Y-block V8[1]
Transmission 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic[1]
Wheelbase 126.0 in (3,200 mm)[1]
Length 1956: 223.0 in (5,664 mm)[1]
1957: 224.6 in (5,705 mm)[1][7]
Width 1956: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)
1957: 80.3 in (2,040 mm)[7]
Height 1956: 60.0 in (1,524 mm)
1957: 60.2 in (1,529 mm)[7]
Curb weight 4,500–4,700 lb (2,000–2,100 kg)

For 1956, the Capri shared a division-wide restyling[2] and gained the new 285 hp (213 kW) 368 cu in (6.0 L) Lincoln Y-Block V8[2] (with a four-barrel carburetor and 9:1 compression),[2] as well as all-new 12-volt electrical system to cope with the proliferation of power accessories.[2] The Capri moved down-market, becoming Lincoln's entry-level model and the newly introduced Premiere based on it became the upper level Lincoln-branded model.[1][2][8] In addition, the convertible disappeared from the model range, which already lacked for a four-door hardtop.[2] Sales dropped dramatically, to only 8,791 in 1956.[2] This is not to imply that over all sales did not increase for 1956. The total production for both Capri and Premiere models was 50,322. Four-way power seats were optional.[9] The Capri's appearance borrowed from the radically different concept cars, the Mercury XM-800 and the Lincoln Futura.

A new camshaft and higher 10:1 compression boosted output to 300 hp (224 kW),.[2] The new cam did not, however, increase compression, contrary to Flory's misapprehension.[2] Even so, sales declined again, to 5,900 units (despite the addition of a 4-door landau hardtop).[2] A facelifted design for 1957 featured more pronounced fins.[1] Total production for 1957 for the Capri and Premiere lines was 41,123.

1957–1958 Comparison[7][10] 1957 Capri 1958 Capri
Wheelbase 126.0 in (3,200 mm) 131.0 in (3,327 mm)
Overall Length 224.6 in (5,705 mm) 229.0 in (5,817 mm)
Width 80.3 in (2,040 mm) 80.1 in (2,035 mm)[11]
Height 60.2 in (1,529 mm) 56.5 in (1,435 mm)[11]
Front Headroom 35.4 in (899 mm) 35.0 in (889 mm)
Front Legroom 44.8 in (1,138 mm) 44.4 in (1,128 mm)
Front Hip Room 61.7 in (1,567 mm) 61.0 in (1,549 mm)
Front Shoulder Room 59.4 in (1,509 mm) 63.1 in (1,603 mm)
Rear Headroom 34.1 in (866 mm) 33.8 in (859 mm)
Rear Legroom–ins. 42.5 in (1,080 mm) 46.6 in (1,184 mm)
Rear Hip Room 63.8 in (1,621 mm) 65.5 in (1,664 mm)
Rear Shoulder Room 58.4 in (1,483 mm) 63.0 in (1,600 mm)


Generation III
Western Bays Street Rodder Hot Rod Show - Flickr - 111 Emergency (27).jpg
Model years 1958–1959
Assembly Wixom, Michigan, United States[1]
Designer John Najjar
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop[1][11][12]
4-door sedan[1][11][12]
4-door hardtop[1][11][12]
Related Continental Mark series
Lincoln Premiere
Engine 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8[1][11][12]
Transmission 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic[1][11][12]
Wheelbase 131.0 in (3,327 mm)[1][11][12]
Length 1958: 229.0 in (5,817 mm)[1][11]
1959: 227.1 in (5,768 mm)[1][12]
Width 80.1 in (2,035 mm)[11][12]
Height 1958: 56.5 in (1,435 mm)[11]
1959: 56.7 in (1,440 mm)[12]
Curb weight 4,900–5,200 lb (2,200–2,400 kg)

These were the first Lincolns produced at the new Wixom, Michigan, plant, and were made on a unibody platform much like the Lincoln-Zephyr and the original Lincoln Continental.[1] While advertising brochures made the case that Continental Division was still a separate make, the car shared its body with that year's Lincoln.[1] The Lincoln Capri was the base model in the Lincoln product line, with the Lincoln Premiere positioned as higher level of standard equipment.[1] Lincoln lost over $60 million during 1958-1960, partly reflecting the expense of developing perhaps the largest unibody car[13] ever made. The 1958 full-size Lincoln sold poorly in all models because of the economic recession in the U.S.

The 1958-59 Lincoln Capri was one of the largest cars ever made, larger than contemporaneous Cadillacs and Imperials, and with their canted headlights and scalloped fenders had styling considered by many to be excessive even in that decade of styling excess.[1] On a 131.0 in (3,327 mm)[1] wheelbase, and 229.0 in (5,817 mm)[1] long overall, 80.1 in (2,035 mm)[12] wide and up to 4,810 lb (2,180 kg)[1] shipping weight in the landau sedan in 1958, they are the longest Lincolns ever produced without federally mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers.[1] [14] The all-new[2] 375 hp (280 kW) 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8 was a welcome addition. The 63.1 inches (1,603 mm)[10][12] front and 63.0 inches (1,600 mm)[10][12] rear shoulder room they possessed set a record for Lincoln that still stands to this day. Sales were up, to 6,859, the landau sedan making up almost half, at 3,014 copies.[2] Heater and defroster (at US$110), AM radio (US$144), and seat belts (US$25) were all optional.[2] One rare option was an FM radio[11] for $129(had to have the AM also[2]). Brakes were 11" drums.[11]

The reputation for "excessive styling" is perhaps ironic given the enormous amount of styling talent that was connected with the development and modification of Lincolns of this vintage.[15] George W. Walker, known for his contribution to the development of the original Ford Thunderbird, was Vice-President in charge of Styling at Ford during this time.[15] Elwood Engel, famous for being lead designer of the 1961 Lincoln Continental and for his work as chief designer at Chrysler in the 1960s, was Staff Stylist (and consequently roamed all of the design studios) at Ford during this period and worked very closely with John Najjar in developing not only the 1958, but also the 1959 update.[15] After John Najjar was relieved of his responsibilities as Chief Stylist of Lincoln in 1957 he became Engel's executive assistant, and the two worked closely together in the "stilleto studio" in developing the 1961 Lincoln Continental, which of course won an award for its superlative styling.[15] After Engel left Ford in 1961, Najjar became the lead designer of the Ford Mustang I concept car, which later gave birth to the Ford Mustang. Don Delarossa, who succeeded Najjar as Chief Stylist of Lincoln, was responsible for the 1960 Continental and Premiere update, and went on to become chief designer at Chrysler in the 1980s.[15] Alex Tremulis, who was Chief Stylist at Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg in the mid to late 1930s and famous for his work on the 1948 Tucker Sedan, was head of Ford's Advanced Styling Studio during this period, and it was his Ford La Tosca concept car, with its oval overlaid with an "X" theme, that gave birth to the "slant eyed monster" nickname to the 1958 Lincoln front end.[15]

Despite an increase in sales in 1959, to 7,929 units,[1][2] the Capri was not renewed for 1960.

The Capri name was later used for the British Ford Consul Capri (1962-64) and as a trim level on the Mercury Comet Capri (1966-67). The Capri name was also used for the Ford Capri compact sport coupe by Ford of Europe from 1968 to 1986. That Capri was also sold in North America as a captive import for the Lincoln-Mercury Division, which was later replaced with a domestically produced Mercury Capri, a twin of the Fox-platform Ford Mustang (1979-86). The final generation Mercury Capri (1991-94) was a two-seat convertible roadster imported from Ford of Australia.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az Kowalke, Ron (1997). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Krause publications. ISBN 0-87341-521-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5. 
  3. ^[permanent dead link]
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1955_Lincoln/1955_Lincoln_Brochure". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  6. ^ "1956 Lincoln Capri Coupe performance data, specs & photo". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  7. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1956_Lincoln/1956_Lincoln_Brochure". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Directory Index: Lincoln/1958_Lincoln/1958_Lincoln_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "1959 Lincoln Brochure". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  11. ^ Popular Mechanics - Google Boeken. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  12. ^ Flammang, James (1999). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999. Krause publications. ISBN 0-87341-755-0. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Howell, James (1997). Lincoln 1958-1969. Motorbooks Intl. ISBN 0-7603-0059-3. 


  • Flammang, James, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999. Krause publications, 1999.
  • Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1946-1959. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2008.
  • Howell, James, Lincoln 1958-1969. Motorbooks Intl., 1997.
  • Kowalke, Ron, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Krause publications, 1997.