Lincoln Continental

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lincoln Continental
98-02 Lincoln Continental.jpg
1998–2002 Lincoln Continental
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
1956–1957: Continental division (Ford)
Production 1939–1948
Body and chassis
Class Luxury car
Related Lincoln Mark series

Lincoln Continental is a model name for a luxury car marketed by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company. Along with the Zephyr, the Continental is a Lincoln nameplate that has seen use in a sub-division, the short-lived Continental division of 1956–1957. As a Lincoln, the Continental nameplate saw use for 49 years, from 1939 to 1948 (skipping World War II) and from 1958 to 2002 (skipping 1981).

Serving as the Lincoln flagship for its first three generations, the Continental name conveyed special cachet in the product line. In the 1961 redesign of the Lincoln line, the three-model line was consolidated down to the Continental, which served as the sole Lincoln sedan for the next sixteen years. With the exception of the Lincoln Mark VIII, all versions of the Lincoln Mark Series of the personal luxury cars are based on a corresponding generation of the Continental.

In the early 1980s, the Continental changed from its traditional role as the full-size Lincoln (taken over by the Town Car) to a mid-size sedan as Lincoln sought to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. In an effort to better compete with imported automakers, the Continental adopted the platform of the Ford Taurus in 1988, which it used until 2002.

After the 2002 model year, in an effort to simplify its model lineup, Lincoln discontinued the Continental and its role was largely taken over by the Lincoln LS and the later Lincoln MKS. In March 2015, after a 15-year hiatus, an all new version of the Continental was unveiled at the New York Auto Show as a replacement when the MKS is cancelled; it is expected to go on sale sometime in 2016 as a 2017 model.[1]

Edsel Ford prototype (1939)[edit]

The first Lincoln Continental was developed as Edsel Ford's one-off personal vehicle,[2] though it is believed he planned all along to put the model into production if successful. In 1938, he commissioned a custom design from the chief stylist, Eugene T. "Bob" Gregorie, ready for Edsel's March 1939 vacation. The design, allegedly sketched out in an hour by Gregorie working from the Lincoln-Zephyr blueprints and making changes, was an elegant convertible with a long hood covering the Lincoln V12 and long front fenders, and a short trunk with what became the Continental series' trademark, the externally mounted, covered spare tire. They had front and rear transverse leaf springs and hydraulic drum brakes.[3]

The result could be considered a channeled and sectioned Zephyr, with all traces of the running-boards removed. The decrease in height meant that the hood was much closer to fender-level, and the trim was minimal. When compared to other American cars of the period, it seemed long and low, with sleek "clean" lines. The first model Continental is often rated as one of the most beautiful automobile designs from the pre-world war II era.

The customized one-off prototype was duly produced, on time, and Edsel had the vehicle delivered to Florida for his spring vacation. Interest from well-off friends was high, and Edsel sent a telegram back that he could sell a thousand of them. Lincoln craftsmen immediately began production on the Continental "Cabriolet" convertible, and even a rare few hardtop models. They were extensively hand-built; the two dozen 1939 models and 400 1940-built examples even had hand-hammered body panels, since dies for machine-pressing were not constructed until 1941. The limited number of 1939 models produced are commonly referred to as '1940 Continentals'.[4]

First generation (1939–48)[edit]

First generation
Bonhams - The Paris Sale 2012 - Lincoln Continental Coupe - 1941 - 003.jpg
1941 Lincoln Continental coupe
Model years 1940–1948
Assembly Lincoln Assembly, Detroit, Michigan
Designer Eugene T. "Bob" Gregorie
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
2-door convertible
Layout FR layout
Related Lincoln-Zephyr (1940)
Lincoln Zephyr (1941–42)
Lincoln H-series (post-war)
Engine 292 cu in (4.8 L) Lincoln-Zephyr V12
Wheelbase 125.0 in (3,175 mm)
Length 1940–41: 209.8 in (5,329 mm)
1942–48: 218.1 in (5,540 mm)
Width 1940–41: 75.0 in (1,905 mm)
1942–48: 77.8 in (1,976 mm)[5]
Height 1940–41: 62.0 in (1,575 mm)
1942–48: 63.1 in (1,603 mm)
Curb weight 4,000–4,300 lb (1,800–2,000 kg)
Rear view of Lincoln Continental cabriolet with top raised, showing trunk-mounted spare tire; the "Continental spare tire" is often associated with this nameplate.

Lincoln Continentals from 1939 to 1941 shared largely the same body design with each other; based on the Lincoln Zephyr, the Continental received few updates from year to year.

For the 1942 model year, all Lincoln models were given squared-up fenders, and a revised grille. The result was a boxier, somewhat heavier look in keeping with then-current design trends, but perhaps less graceful in retrospect. 1942 production was shortened, following the entry of the United States into World War II; the attack on Pearl Harbor led to the suspension of production of automobiles for civilian use.

After World War II, the Lincoln division of Ford returned the Continental to production as a 1946 model; Lincoln dropped the Zephyr nomenclature following the war, so the postwar Continental was derived from the standard Lincoln (internally H-Series). To attract buyers, the design was refreshed with updated trim, distinguished by a new grille. For 1947, walnut wood trim was added to the interior.[6]

Following the death of Edsel Ford in 1943, Ford Motor Company re-organized its corporate management structure, which led to the 1946 departure of the Continental's designer Bob Gregorie. 1948 would become the last year for the Continental, as the division sought to redevelop its new 1949 model line as an upgraded version of the Mercury; the expensive personal-luxury car no longer had a role at Lincoln.

The 1939–1948 Continental is recognized as a "Full Classic" by the Classic Car Club of America, one of the last-built cars to be so recognized. As of 2015, the 1948 Lincoln Continental and 1948 Lincoln are the last cars produced and sold by a major U.S. automaker with a V12 engine.[5]

Media related to Lincoln Continental (first generation) at Wikimedia Commons

1939-1948 Lincoln Continental
1942 Lincoln Continental cabriolet
1942 Lincoln Continental cabriolet interior
1948 Lincoln Continental cabriolet
1948 Lincoln Continental coupe
1948 Lincoln Continental coupe interior

Second generation (1956–57)[edit]

Main article: Continental Mark II
Second generation
Continental Mark II.jpg
Model years 1956–1957
Assembly Wixom Assembly, Dearborn, Michigan, USA
Designer Bill Schmidt
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop
Layout FR layout
Engine 368 cu in (6.0 L) Y-block V8
Wheelbase 126.0 in (3,200 mm)
Length 218.4 in (5,547 mm)
Width 77.5 in (1,968 mm)
Height 56.3 in (1,430 mm)
Curb weight 5,000 lb (2,300 kg)
Continental Mark II rear view, showing the "continental tire hump"

The Continental name was revived in late 1955 as a separate marque, produced by a separate division of Ford Motor Company, with its sole model being the Continental Mark II. Ford made it very clear that this Continental was not a Lincoln. This version was a unique design with the highest quality control ever seen in the automobile industry. High-class luxury abounded in the new Continental, and with very limited availability, it appeared even more exclusive than the original.[7]

Continentals for 1956 were among the most expensive cars in the world — with a cost of $10,000 at a time when a regular Ford could be had for less than $2000,[citation needed] it rivaled Rolls-Royce. Ford believed that its price point would elevate the car's status among those who could afford the very best. Despite its astronomical price tag, Ford Motors lost money on each one sold.[8] On a side note, Cadillac suffered a similar financial loss with its own Continental rival, the four-door Eldorado Brougham.

The newly renamed Imperial from Chrysler offered the Imperial Newport coupe and the Imperial Southampton hardtop sedan which sold better.[9] Vehicles such as these were image builders for the three companies, as well as test beds for new ideas and concepts.

The Continental Mark II was sold for just two model years. Between the tales of dealers turning potential buyers away because they were not deemed to be the right kind of people to own a Continental,[citation needed] and its sticker price found affordable by only the world's wealthiest, the Continental became almost mythical. Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Shah of Iran, Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger were part of the Continental owners circle. Warner Brothers Studios gave Elizabeth Taylor a custom-built 1956 Mark II, which was painted to match her eye color.[10] The 1956 film High Society includes several scenes with a Mark II.[11] The 1957 film drama Sweet Smell of Success includes a brief glimpse of the Mark II; the car belongs to Burt Lancaster's Broadway-columnist character J.J. Hunsecker.

Total production equaled 2,996 including two prototype convertibles.[12] While on later models it was purely for decoration the Mark II did in fact carry the spare under the trunk lid's stamped-in tire cover.[13]

Media related to Lincoln Continental (second generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Third generation (1958–60)[edit]

Third generation
Lincoln Continental Wasen.jpg
Model years 1958–1960
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Designer John Najjar
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop
2-door convertible
4-door sedan
4-door Landau hardtop
4-door Town Car sedan
4-door Limousine
Layout FR layout
Related Lincoln Mark series
Lincoln Premiere
Lincoln Capri
Engine 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8
Transmission 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic
Wheelbase 131.0 in (3,327 mm)[14]
Length 1958: 229.0 in (5,817 mm)
1959: 227.1 in (5,768 mm)
1960: 227.2 in (5,771 mm)
Width 1958–59: 80.1 in (2,035 mm)
1960: 80.3 in (2,040 mm)
Height 1958: 56.5 in (1,435 mm)
1959–60: 56.7 in (1,440 mm)
Curb weight 5,000–5,700 lb (2,300–2,600 kg)
1958 Continental Mark III - this sedan was once owned by the Lao royal family
1959 Continental Mark IV Town Car

Although the Continental Mark II was the second-most expensive American car in the United States, Ford lost nearly $1,000 on every vehicle built over the two years of its production run. For 1958, the Continental Division was discontinued and integrated into Lincoln; the Continental gained new life as a flagship for the Lincoln line. To bring it in line with its predecessor, the 1958 edition was branded as the "Mark III", with "Continental III" fender trim; the approach was similar to that followed by Chrysler with the Imperial line, with which the Continental competed.

To drop the price from $10,000 ($84,254 in current dollars) to a somewhat more accessible $6,000 ($49,211 in current dollars), Lincoln switched the Continental from a hand-built body to a version of the body shared with the Lincoln Capri and Premiere. The Continental received its own body and interior trim, and its own roofline. For both sedans and hardtops (and even convertibles), the Continental was designed with a retractable "breezeway" reverse-angle rear window (similar to the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser except for its reverse-angle design). AM radio was standard, with FM radio as a rarely ordered option.[5][15] In contrast to the ceiling-mounted A/C vents of the Mark II, the A/C vents were mounted in the dash board.[16] A unique option was "Auto Lube"; as long as the owner kept the lube reservoir full, the car automatically lubed itself.[14]

In a break from Ford, Mercury, and Edsel, Lincoln adopted unibody construction for what would be one of the largest cars ever produced by Ford Motor Company and one of the largest unibody-chassis cars ever made in the automotive industry. Using a 131-inch wheelbase, the Continental III was longer than any Cadillac or Imperial sedan (aside from limousines); it is the longest car produced by Ford Motor Company without federally mandated 5 mph bumpers. The 1959–60 Continental Limousine and Town Car (which had the same wheelbase as other Continentals but the same rear seat legroom as Lincoln due to the absence of the "breezeway" window) are the heaviest American sedans without an extended wheelbase built since WW II, and the 1958 Continental convertible is the longest American convertible ever produced with the exception of the (extremely rare) 1934–37 Cadillac V-16 convertibles.

For 1959, Lincoln renamed the Continental the Mark IV, and minor updates gave the exterior a slightly more conservative look, in sharp contrast to the massive fins of Cadillac and Imperial. Two body styles were added to expand the model line. Both sharing the wheelbase of the standard Continental, the Town Car and Limousine had a more formal roofline, doing away with the reverse-angle "breezeway" window to increase rear-seat room; both the Town Car and Limousine have a padded rear roofline and are painted only in black. For additional rear-seat privacy, the Limousine added a partition between front and rear seats. The Town Car, costing $9,200, sold only 214 over 1959 and 1960, and the Limousine, costing $10,200, sold only 83 over both years.

For 1960, Lincoln renamed the Continental the Mark V, with minor styling and exterior updates. This marked the last year that the Continental would not share underpinnings with a Ford or Mercury model.

Although less expensive and better-selling than the Continental Mark II, the Lincoln Division lost over $60 million over 1958-1960, partly reflecting the enormous expense of developing what is perhaps the largest unibody car ever made.[17]

Design Epilogue[edit]

1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V convertible
1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV convertible

The reputation for "excessive styling" is perhaps ironic given the enormous amount of styling talent that was connected with the development and modification of Continentals of this vintage (as well as given the elaborate marketing efforts at eliminating all memory of these Marks). 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. Elwood Engel, famous for being lead designer of generation four of the Lincoln Continental and for his work as chief designer at Chrysler in the 1960s, was Staff Stylist (and consequently roamed all 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. 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 fourth generation Lincoln Continental, which of course won an award for its superlative styling. 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 update, and went on to become chief designer at Chrysler in the 1980s. 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 Continental front end. And, perhaps most ironic of all, L. David Ash was Lincoln's Executive Exterior Stylist when Najjar was in charge of Lincoln styling, the same L. David Ash who would later play such a prominent role as Chief Stylist of Ford in designing the 1969–1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III, which helped cause Continentals of this vintage (together with a marketing decision by then Ford Executive Vice-President Lee Iacocca) to be called the "forgotten Marks".

Media related to Lincoln Continental (third generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Fourth generation (1961–69)[edit]

Fourth generation
Lincoln Continental Convertible (Les chauds vendredis '10).jpg
1961 Lincoln Continental Four-Door Convertible
Model years 1961–1969
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Designer Elwood Engel
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car
Body style 2-door hardtop
4-door sedan
4-door convertible
Layout FR layout
Related Ford Thunderbird (fifth generation) (1967 - 1971)
Lincoln Continental Mark III (1968 - 1971)
Engine 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8
460 cu in (7.5 L) 385-series V8
462 cu in (7.6 L) MEL V8
Transmission 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic
3-speed C6 automatic
Wheelbase 1961–63: 123.0 in (3,124 mm)
1964–1969: 126.0 in (3,200 mm)
Length 1961: 212.4 in (5,395 mm)
1962–63: 213.3 in (5,418 mm)
1964–65: 216.3 in (5,494 mm)
1966–68: 220.9 in (5,611 mm)
1969: 224.2 in (5,695 mm)
Width 1961–65: 78.6 in (1,996 mm)
1966–69: 79.7 in (2,024 mm)
Height 1961–1963: 53.6 in (1,361 mm)
1964–1965: 54.2 in (1,377 mm)
1966–1968: 55.0 in (1,397 mm)
1969: 54.2 in (1,377 mm)
Curb weight 5,000–5,700 lb (2,300–2,600 kg)
Predecessor Lincoln Premiere
1963 Lincoln Continental Four-door Sedan
1965 Lincoln Continental four-door sedan
1966 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible
1969 Lincoln Continental four-door sedan

For the 1961 model year, the Lincoln Division was extensively redesigned. Following the $60 million in losses to develop the 1958-1960 Lincolns and Continentals, the Lincoln Division was consolidated into a single product line; the Capri, Premiere, and Continental Mark Series were replaced by a single Lincoln Continental four-door sedan and convertible. For the first time since 1948, the Continental was part of the Lincoln model lineup.

Originally slated to be a version of the 1961 Ford Thunderbird model line, the design of the 1961 Continental was modified slightly as it was added to the Lincoln line. Styled by Ford design vice president Elwood Engel, the design of the Continental was distinguished by two features, one of them being its smaller size. The smallest Lincoln since before World War II, the 1961 Continental was 14.8 in (380 mm) shorter than its 1960 predecessor, dropping 8 in (200 mm) in wheelbase. So much smaller was this car, that advertising executives at Ford photographed a woman parallel parking a sedan for a magazine spread. While smaller on the outside, at 4,927 lb (2,235 kg), the new sedan was only 85 lb (39 kg) lighter than the lightest 1960 Lincoln four-door sedan (2 lb less than a two-door); at 5,215 lb (2,365 kg), the convertible outweighed its 1960 predecessor by 39 lb (18 kg).[18] As a result, (save for their respective nine-passenger models) the new Lincoln was still heavier than anything from Cadillac.[19] or Imperial.[20] This solid construction led to a rather enviable reputation as "Corporate management was determined to make it the finest mass-produced domestic automobile of its time and did so."[21]

The most recognized feature of the design of the Continental was the return of rear-hinged "suicide doors", last seen in the 1951 Lincolns. The decision to reintroduce rear-hinged doors was a decision based in the interest of preserving rear-seat access. In styling mock-ups, Ford engineers had trouble exiting the rear seat without hitting the rear doors with their feet; the decision was made to hinge the doors from the rear to solve the issue. The "suicide doors", was a purely practical decision, reusing a feature offered on the 1950 Lincoln Lido, the Lincoln-Zephyr sedan of the 1940s, and all Mercury sedans starting in 1939. The doors were to become the best-known feature of 1960s Lincolns. In the interest of safety, these Continentals featured a "Door Ajar" warning light on the dash. To streamline production, all Lincoln Continentals would be four-doors, either sedans or convertibles; while sedans featured a thin "B" pillar, the design allowed for the use of frameless door glass. Named a "pillared hardtop", the design would be added into a number of Ford Motor Company vehicles during the 1960s and 1970s.

The 1961 model was the first car manufactured in the United States to be sold with a 24,000 mi (39,000 km) or 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.[21][22] It was also the first postwar four-door convertible from a major U.S. manufacturer.[23] California Walnut veneer was used on the doors and instrument panel.[24] Pneumatics were used to power the door locks.

Some call the 1961 Continental the Magnum Opus of Elwood Engel and attribute the complete design of the car to him, but designer Howard Payne has documented the role that a full size clay model that he and John Orfe designed in 1958[25] had in the development of the '61 Continental. It was a sales success, with 25,160 sold during the first year of production.[26] Ford produced several concept cars which recalled this design. In 2007, Lincoln's Navigator and MKX SUV lines adopted chrome grilles in the style of these Continentals. This so-called "slab-side" design ran from 1961 to 1969 with few changes from year to year. Lincoln dealers began to find that many people who bought 1961 and post-1961 models were keeping their cars longer.

In 1962, a simpler front grille design with floating rectangles and a thin center bar was adopted. Sales climbed over 20% in 1962, to 31,061.[27]

For 1963, in response to customer requests, Lincoln made several changes to the Continental. To improve rear-seat legroom, the design of the front seat was updated. In addition, the design of the rear decklid was modified to increase luggage space. To improve the electrical charging system of the car, Lincoln replaced the generator with an alternator, as would many manufacturers during this time. 31,233 Continentals were sold.[28]

For 1964, Lincoln gave the Continental a minor redesign, featuring several updates to further improve interior room. The wheelbase was extended three inches, both to improve rear-seat room and to improve the ride. The roofline of sedan versions saw several changes, becoming squared off and adding flat window glass. The rear-mounted gas tank filler door was moved to the driver's side of the car. The front grille was modified slightly from the 1963 model, it now featured a series of five vertical chrome accents that interrupted the square "eggcrate" pattern and were distributed evenly between the dual headlights. The exterior "Continental" script was changed and the rear grille replaced by a simple horizontally elongated Continental star on the rear deck lid. 36,297 were sold that year.[29] A concept show car was built, called the Continental Town Brougham,[30] which had a 131 in. wheelbase, overall length at 221.3, and had a retractable glass partition between the front and rear compartments, with an exposed area over the front compartment, in typical 1930s style town car/brougham appearance.

For 1965, the Continental was given several more updates. The pointed, convex grilles seen since the introduction were replaced by a flat, blunt grille. To match the brake lights/turn signals, the front parking lamps/turn signals were moved out of the front bumper, wrapping into the fender; both lenses had ribbed chrome trim. Front disc brakes became standard in order to improve the braking of the 5,000 lb Continental; in addition, front seat belts with retractors became standard.[31] To improve reliability, Lincoln added an oil pressure gauge.[22]

With the facelift, sales improved about 10%, to 40,180 units.[32]

For 1966, a number of changes came to the Continental model line. As Lincoln had left the two-door luxury sedan segment to Cadillac and Imperial in 1961 by making the Continental exclusively a four-door, Lincoln chose to develop its answer to the Cadillac Coupe de Ville by introducing a two-door version of the Continental, the first since 1960. Without any rear doors, the coupe was designed as a pillarless hardtop, although no convertible version was introduced.

Although bearing a strong resemblance to its predecessor, the 1966 Continental was given exterior sheet metal and the interior was again redesigned, featuring the new options of a tape player and a tilt steering wheel.[33] The Continental grew in size, becoming nearly 5 inches longer, an inch wider and nearly an inch taller. While curved side glass replaced flat glass, its tumblehome was less severe than in earlier models. To preserve the performance of the larger Continental, the V8 engine was expanded from 430 cu in (7.0 L) to 462 cu in (7.6 L).

To improve the sales of the convertible, Lincoln added a glass rear window to the convertible top and improved the hydraulic system for opening the top and trunklid by adding a second pump, separating the two systems; the hydraulic solenoids were also removed from the car as well. To lure potential Cadillac buyers, 1966 Continental prices were reduced almost US$600 without reducing equipment levels.[34] It succeeded, helping boost sales to 54,755 that year,[35] an increase of 36%,[35] all of it due to the new two-door;[35] sales of both four-door models slipped slightly.[35] Product breakdown for the year consisted of 65% sedans, 29% coupes, and just under 6% for the four-door convertible.

For 1967, few changes were made to the Continental, except for minor trim updates. The Lincoln emblem on the front fender was deleted on 1967 models. The dashboard gained several indicator lights, cruise control on, trunk open, and an oil pressure light.[36] In the interest of safety, lap safety belts became standard alongside an energy-absorbing steering column.

After only 2,276 were sold, 1967 was the final year for the convertible.[37][38] The only factory four-door convertible produced after World War II, the 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible is one of the heaviest automobiles ever produced by Ford Motor Company. At a curb weight of 5,712 (before options), it is the heaviest Lincoln since the Model K, and is 55 pounds heavier[39] than the corresponding Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Limousine and 300 pounds heavier than the Chrysler Imperial LeBaron of that year. The 5,712lbs curb weight is specified in the Lincoln catalog.

For 1968, Lincoln made several styling changes to the Continental. To meet federal safety standards, the parking lights, taillights, and front turn signals were returned to a wraparound design on the fenders to satisfy Federal standards for side marker lights. For the outboard front seats, shoulder seatbelts were added. The new 460 cu in (7.5 l) Ford 385 engine was to be available at the beginning of the model year, but there were so many 462 cu in (7.57 l) Ford MEL engine engines still available, the 460 was phased in later that year.[40] In April, the new Mark III made its debut, as a 1969 model.[41] Total sales would be down to just 39,134.[42] For the 1968 through 1971 Model Years, no stand-up hood ornament was used, some say based on a presumed forthcoming regulatory ban that never eventuated.

For 1969, the fourth-generation Continental entered its last year of production. Lincoln added relatively few changes aside from the addition of federally mandated head restraints.[43] At the beginning of the model year, the 460 V8 entered full production, becoming the sole engine in the Lincoln model line until 1977.

This generation of Continental is favored by collectors and has appeared in many motion pictures, such as Goldfinger, The Matrix, Last Action Hero, Kalifornia, Spider-Man 2, Hit and run, Animal House, and the Inspector Gadget films. It has also appeared in the television series Pushing Daisies, in the opening sequence of the television series Entourage, and as the vehicle of choice for Michael Chiklis's character Vincent Savino in the series Vegas. In the CBS television situation comedy Green Acres (1965–1971), in which the cars were furnished by Ford Motor Company, lead character Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) is shown driving a 1965 Continental convertible and then in later episodes owns a 1967 model.


Model Year Total Sales
1961 25,160
1962 31,061
1963 31,233
1964 36,297
1965 40,180
1966 54,755
1967 45,667
1968 39,134
1969 30,858

Media related to Lincoln Continental (fourth generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Kennedy Limousine SS-100-X[edit]

Main article: SS-100-X
1961 Lincoln Presidential State car (SS-100-X) parked in front of the White House in June 1963.

For the Kennedy White House, the Secret Service purchased a convertible parade limousine custom built by Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio, from a 1961 Lincoln four-door convertible. Code named the SS-100-X, it was in this car that JFK was assassinated in 1963. By that time, the front of the car had been updated with the grille/headlight/bumper assembly from the 1962 model. After the assassination, the limousine was returned to Hess & Eisenhardt, where it was repaired and retrofitted with full armor and a fixed roof. It subsequently continued in service for the White House for many years. This world-famous car is now on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Media related to SS-100-X (presidential limousine) at Wikimedia Commons

Fifth generation (1970–79)[edit]

Fifth Generation
Lincoln Continental Town Coupe.jpg
1978-1979 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe
1978 Lincoln Continental TC instrument panel.jpg
Interior, 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Car
Model years 1970–1979
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Designer Buzz Grisinger[citation needed]
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop
2-door coupe
4-door pillared hardtop
Layout FR layout
Platform Full-size Ford
Related Ford Galaxie/LTD
Mercury Marquis/Grand Marquis
Engine 400 cu in (6.6 L) Cleveland V8
460 cu in (7.5 L) 385-series V8
Transmission 3-speed C6 automatic
Wheelbase 1970–73: 127.0 in (3,226 mm)[44]
1974–79: 127.2 in (3,231 mm)
Length 1970–72: 225.0 in (5,715 mm)
1973: 229.9 in (5,839 mm)
1974: 232.6 in (5,908 mm)
1975–76: 232.9 in (5,916 mm)[45]
1977–79: 233.0 in (5,918 mm)
Width 1970–73: 79.6 in (2,022 mm)
1974–75: 80.0 in (2,032 mm)<
1976: 80.3 in (2,040 mm)
1977: 80.0 in (2,032 mm)
1978–79: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)[46]
Height 1970: 55.7 in (1,415 mm)
1971–72: 55.6 in (1,412 mm)
1973: 55.5 in (1,410 mm)
1974: 55.4 in (1,407 mm)
1975: 55.6 in (1,412 mm)
1976: 55.5 in (1,410 mm)
1977: 55.2 in (1,402 mm)
1978–79: 55.4 in (1,407 mm)
Curb weight 4,900–5,400 lb (2,200–2,400 kg)
1970 Lincoln Continental four-door sedan (headlight doors open)
1972 Lincoln Continental four-door sedan
1973 Lincoln Continental hardtop (next to Mark IV)
1973 Lincoln Continental Town Car

For the 1970 model year, the Lincoln Continental was redesigned for the first time since 1961. Cost considerations at Ford meant that the new Continental would have to share its chassis underpinnings with the Ford LTD/Mercury Marquis sedans; the wheelbase was stretched to 127 inches. Consequently, the unibody chassis design was abandoned in favor of body-on-frame (the first since the 1957 Lincolns); however, the new chassis was fitted with four-wheel coil spring suspension (unlike Cadillacs and Imperials at the time). The biggest engineering change was noted by the relocation of the exterior door handles; due to their cost and complexity, the rear-hinged "suicide doors" were replaced by conventional front-hinged rear doors.

Along with being an evolutionary update from the 1969 model, the 1970 Continental borrowed a number of styling themes from the popular Continental Mark III, except for the spare-tire trunklid. The large blade-like fenders made their return, although the Continental had no chrome trim topping them. To simplify the front fascia, the Lincoln added vacuum-operated hidden headlamps aside the grille; as a fail-safe, the headlight doors retracted upwards in any event of air pressure loss. An automatic parking brake release, two-way power seats, power front disc brakes (rear drum),[47] an indicator light for the headlight doors, and adjustable head restraints were all standard features.[48]

As with the 1969 Continental and Mark III, the 1970 Continental was powered by the newly introduced 365 hp 460 cubic-inch V8; all versions received a 3-speed automatic transmission.

For 1970, Lincoln offered the Continental in a two-door hardtop coupe, and a four-door "pillared hardtop" sedan. The Town Car interior option package introduced for 1969 made its return as the highest-trim Lincoln sedan. For 1971, relatively few major changes were made; they are distinguished from 1970 models by body-color headlight doors.

In 1972, the long-standing tradition of Lincoln-division engines came to an end as the 460 V8 became available to Mercury in versions of the Mercury Marquis and Colony Park.,[49] replacing the 429 V8 (which it was based upon). A year later than General Motors and Chrysler, the 460 becamees a low-compression net-horsepower engine, better adapted to unleaded gasoline; however, in the change, the output dropped to 224 hp. On the outside, minor styling changes were done to the rear doors (of sedans) and fenders. The Thunderbird-style slotted grille was replaced by an egg-crate style grille. Other trim changes include the return of a hood ornament and chrome-trimmed fender peaks.

For 1973, federal crash regulations mandated the fitment of 5-mph bumpers to the front of all vehicles for sale in the United States. While a number of vehicles saw a major redesign to meet the regulation, the Continental met the mandate by moving its front bumper several inches forward and fitting it with rubber-tipped impact overriders. In the rear, the rear bumper is reinforced, moving it rearward; it was given a 2 1/2 mph rating. As a counterpart to the Continental Town Car, a two-door Continental Town Coupe is introduced; both models are sold exclusively with a padded vinyl top.

For 1974, in a move that would begin to break away from the styling of the 1960s slab-sided Continentals, both front and rear bumpers were replaced by wraparound 5-mph bumpers. The vertical waterfall grille and blank headlight doors were styling themes carried over from the Continental Mark IV; in the rear, the wraparound taillight design of the Mark IV would influence the Continental.

1975 facelift[edit]

1978 Lincoln Continental Town Car
A view of the fixed-glass moonroof of a 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe

For its sixth year on the market, the Lincoln Continental was given an extensive upgrade for the 1975 model year. The 1973 redesign of the Mercury Marquis had largely borrowed many Lincoln styling features; the 1974 Mercury and Lincoln had become near-clones. In addition, the Mercury Grand Marquis planned for 1975 was priced and equipped even closer to a base-trim Continental. To preserve sales for both divisions, Ford chose to take the styling of the Continental in a new direction.

Although Ford was unable to commit to a complete redesign, the 1975 Lincoln Continental saw a major restyling. Although the flat-sided fenders remained, the rear roofline was replaced with an upright design. Coupes were no longer hardtops, but pillared coupes with a square opera window in the C-pillar. In place of the Mercury-style pillared hardtop, four-door Continentals were given a roofline reminiscent of the Cadillac Sixty Special Brougham; Town Cars were given the oval opera window introduced on the Mark IV. Along with the styling upgrades, Lincoln made substantial upgrades to the braking system. Designed by Bendix,[50] the Lincoln Continental became one of the first American cars equipped with a 4-wheel disc brake system (as an option). As catalytic converters are added, the 460 V8 no longer has leaded-fuel capability.

For 1976, the exterior remained the same. To lower the price of the car, many options made standard features the year before returned as optional items.

Rear view of 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car

For 1977, following the downsizing of the Cadillac full-size line, the Continental became the largest mass-market automobile produced worldwide at the time, surpassed only by purpose-built limousines such as the Mercedes-Benz 600, Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, and ZIL-4104. To further update the styling of the car, Lincoln changes the Mercury-style grille for the simulated Rolls-Royce radiator grille seen on the newly introduced Mark V; variations of the style remained with the Continental and Town Car until 1997. After the 1976 Model year, the 460 engine was banned in California due to emissions regulations and all 1977 Lincolns used the 400-2V engine. After initially offering only the 460-4V in 49-State Lincolns, around mid-Model Year, to increase the fuel economy of the Continental, the small-block 400 cubic-inch V8 became the standard engine. Outside of California, the 460 V8 became a $133 option.

For 1978, in move intended to cut weight and cost and also to refresh the interior, the steel-frame dashboard used since 1970 is replaced with the plastic one sourced from the Mercury Marquis. The rear fender skirts were redesigned, showing more of the wheel opening. Alongside the optional sliding glass sunroof, Lincoln introduced a fixed glass moonroof with an interior sunshade, a feature not offered since the 1955 Skyliner.[51]

For 1979, the Lincoln Continental remained in production as the final "large" American car as the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis underwent downsizing. The 460 V8, the largest-displacement engine fitted in a production car worldwide from 1977 to 1978, was discontinued after 1978 and all 1979 full-size Lincolns came only with the 400. The Mercury-sourced dash introduced in 1978 is updated with additional simulated wood trim.

Special editions[edit]

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lincoln in 1971, a Golden Anniversary Town Car was offered as a limited-edition option for Continental buyers. Golden Anniversary Town Cars featured a full vinyl roof, unique leather interior, glovebox vanity mirror, 22 carat gold-plated keys, and a commemorative plaque on the dashboard. In addition to the Continental's other exterior color choices, a Golden Anniversary-exclusive gold moondust metallic paint was also available. Approximately 1,600 were produced.

From 1977 to 1979, a Williamsburg Edition was available for the Continental Town Car. It was primarily a cosmetic option, with its own two-tone paint, pinstriping, full vinyl roof, power vent windows, lighted vanity mirrors, and 6-way twin "Comfort Lounge Seats". For 1977, Williamsburg Editions were among the more subtle versions of the Continental, marketed to buyers seeking a conservative design; no opera windows or coach lights were fitted. In 1978, this changed, as both features were added in, but the Williamsburg became the only Continental Town Car sold with two-tone paint.

To commemorate the final year of the fifth-generation Lincolns, which were the last "large" American sedans, Lincoln offered a Collector's Series as an option package for the Continental. Similar to its namesake option on the Continental Mark V, the Collector's Series offered virtually every available feature as standard equipment, raising the price to $16,500 ($53,797 in current dollars). Only four options were available: a power moonroof, 40-channel CB radio, "Sure-Track" anti-lock brakes, and a plush Kashmir velour interior; the price of a fully equipped Continental Collector's Series could exceed $18,000 ($58,688 in current dollars). There were only four colors available: dark blue, white and limited-issue medium blue (197 built) and light silver (125 built) with a dark-blue vinyl top.

Media related to Lincoln Continental (fifth generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Sixth generation (1980)[edit]

Sixth generation
1984 Lincoln Towncar 1.jpg
1984 Lincoln Town Car; 1980 Lincoln Continental is similar except for badging
Manufacturer Lincoln-Mercury (Ford)
Also called Lincoln Continental Town Car/Town Coupe
Model years 1980
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Body and chassis
Class full-size Luxury sedan
Body style 2-door sedan
4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Platform Ford Panther
Chassis body-on-frame
Related Ford LTD Landau
Mercury Grand Marquis
Engine Ford 5.0L Windsor V8
Transmission 4-speed AOD overdrive automatic
Wheelbase 117.4 in (2,982 mm)
Length 219.2 in (5,568 mm)
Width 78.1 in (1,984 mm)
Height 56.1 in (1,425 mm)
Successor Lincoln Town Car

In order to meet federal fuel economy standards, the Continental underwent downsizing in 1979 for the 1980 model year (three years after Cadillac). For the first time, Lincoln shared a common platform (the Ford Panther platform) with full-size Ford and Mercury sedans. Starting with this generation, the Continental was no longer the top model, the Town Car was now the Lincoln flagship model.

In the redesign, the Continental shed 14 inches (360 mm) in length, 2 inches (51 mm) in width, 10 inches (250 mm) in wheelbase, and nearly half a ton (500 kg) in weight; downsizing had brought some models of the Continental to within 200 pounds (91 kg) of the curb weight of the Versailles (marketed as a compact car). The Panther platform also served as the basis for the all-new Mark VI, a coupe sharing the wheelbase of the Ford LTD as well as the first 4-door Mark-series sedan.

Gone forever was the 400 Ford 335 engine, replaced with the 302 cid 5.0 Windsor, the smallest engine in a Lincoln since the 292 cubic inches (4,790 cm3) Lincoln-Zephyr V12, last seen in 1948. The 351 cubic inches (5,750 cm3) Windsor was a relatively rare one year only option available in 1980. More important by far in the total Continental powertrain picture was the new 4-speed Automatic Overdrive Transmission (AOD). Developed under the name Ford Integral Overdrive (FIOD), this industry-first featured both a mechanically engaged overdrive (0.67/1 ratio) fourth gear and third and fourth gear torque converter lock-up. When combined with weight reduction this more-efficient powertrain provided the 1980 Lincoln and Mark with the best year-to-year fuel economy improvement (38%) in Ford history.[52] The introduction of a standard overdive transmission enabled Lincoln to leap its competitors, going from the company with the worst CAFE rating to the most fuel-efficient full-size car sold.

1981 nameplate hiatus[edit]

As it downsized its model line for 1980, the Lincoln model began to reach a point of saturation. After several years of failing to meet sales expectations, the slow-selling Versailles compact was discontinued early in the 1980 model year. At that point, Lincoln was left to sell three full-size sedans; all three vehicles were essentially the same car. As the Mark VI and Town Car were the most popular (and most profitable), Lincoln chose to take the division in a new direction starting in 1981. The largest full-size sedans all became Town Cars, while the Mark VI remained in production as Ford readied its radical new successor (the Mark VII). For 1981, the Continental exist only as the Mark VI; as a Lincoln, the nameplate went on hiatus as the division sought to properly expand beyond full-size cars. As an early 1982 model, the Lincoln Continental was relaunched. Instead of competing against the Cadillac Sedan de Ville, the 1982 Continental was designed as a Cadillac Seville competitor.

Seventh generation (1982–87)[edit]

Seventh generation
1982 Lincoln Continental (Givenchy Edition)
Model years 1982–1987
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Platform Ford Fox platform
Related Ford Granada
Ford Thunderbird
Mercury Cougar
Transmission 4-speed AOD automatic
4-speed ZF 4HP22 automatic (turbodiesel)
Wheelbase 108.5 in (2,756 mm)
Length 200.7 in (5,098 mm) (1985)
Width 73.6 in (1,869 mm) (1985)
Predecessor Lincoln Versailles
1984-1987 Lincoln Continental, rear view

With downsizing forcing Lincoln to use the Panther platform for the Continental and Mark VI, the Lincoln model line was beginning to suffer from a lack of model differentiation. Although the Mark coupe was built on a unique wheelbase, all other Lincolns shared the same body, except for minor details. For the 1981 model year, Lincoln began to address the issue as the Continental name went on hiatus. In its place, full-size Lincolns took on the Town Car name while the Mark VI remained in production.

After slow sales led to the cancellation of the Versailles midway through the 1980 model year, Lincoln chose not to merely downsize the Continental, but to shift it into an entirely different market segment. Reintroduced as an early 1982 model, the Continental was now a mid-size car based on the Ford Fox platform with the Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar XR7, and the Ford Granada. As with the Versailles, the Continental was marketed against the Cadillac Seville. While the Seville had switched to front-wheel drive during its 1980 restyling, the 1982 Continental retained the use of rear-wheel drive.

Using the lessons learned of badge engineering, Lincoln stylists were careful to differentiate the expensive Continental from the Ford Granada; no visible body panels were shared. For the first time since 1965, all Continentals were four-doors; for the first time ever, the doors were fully framed.

In a major departure from Lincoln styling tradition, the Continental wore its namesake imitation spare tire bulge on the decklid, a feature normally exclusive to the Mark-series Continentals. Along with the "Continental tire" on the trunk, the Continental would be one of several American cars in the early 1980s that revived the bustle-back styling seen on 1930s-1940s luxury sedans. Its appearance is a revival used on the 1930s Lincoln-Zephyr, as this generation became a new marketing direction for all subsequent Continental sedans as the smaller Lincoln to the larger Town Car, borrowed from the original Lincoln-Zephyr approach.

While less extreme than that of the Cadillac Seville and the Chrysler Imperial, Continental's focus groups discovered — too far along the development process — that the bustle-back trunk was a design perhaps past its prime; the look only had modest sales success due in part to difficult economic conditions at the time. For Lincoln, an 11th-hour change was the addition of a horizontal brushed-chrome strip that ran along each side of Continental. This added trim (along with plentiful two-tone color combinations) gave it a more conventional appearance in comparison to the Seville. Sales of the Seville — one of Cadillac's success stories of the late 1970s — dropped by 26% a year after its redesign, selling at half the rate of the Eldorado, despite their sharing a common platform. The Imperial would prove to be a sales failure for Chrysler; only 10,981 were sold in the U.S. over three model years.

The standard powertrain for 1982 was shared with the Town Car; a carbureted version of the Ford 302 cu in (4,950 cm3) V8 backed by the new 4-speed AOD automatic transmission. Fuel injection replaced the carburetor in 1983, upgraded to sequential injection in 1986; the 1982 Continental was the last Lincoln equipped with a carbureted engine. The 1982 configuration put out 131 hp (98 kW) and 229 pound force-feet (310 N·m) torque. As a no-cost option (for 1982 only) was the first six-cylinder engine in a Lincoln: a 3.8 L V6 shared with the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar.[53] To counter the optional diesel engines available from Cadillac and European automakers, Lincoln introduced a BMW-sourced 2.4 L turbodiesel six-cylinder engine for 1984. The diesel-powered Continental was rarely ordered (approximately 1,500 were produced) and was discontinued in 1985. This car introduced two industry firsts: gas-charged shock absorbers and self-sealing tires. All models were also installed with Ford's door-mounted Keyless Entry System, not to be confused with a Remote Keyless Entry System.[54]

Special Editions[edit]

For 1982, the Continental was offered in base, Signature Series, and Givenchy Designer Series trim. Starting in 1983, the Signature Series trim was dropped but base and Designer (Givenchy and Valentino) trims continued (Givenchy through 1987, Valentino through 1985). The 1982 Signature Series and Givenchy Designer Series Continentals included many additional standard features and added $3,100 to $3,500 to the price of the base model. Fully optioned Signature and Givenchy models would top out at over $26,500 ($64,980 in current dollars).

1984 facelift[edit]

1984–1987 Lincoln Continental

For the 1984 model year, the USD$21,769 Continental got freshened styling with flush-fitting front and rear bumpers, revised tail lamps, a new header panel featuring an angled grille flanked by recessed quad headlamps and larger wrap-around marker lights incorporating cornering lamps, and satin-black trim on the doors and dashboard. Wood veneer appeared on the door panels and dashboard, although by 1986, the simulated wood was back. Continental continued through the 1987 model year with few changes, save for paint schemes and upholstery patterns.

In what became Lincoln fashion since the early 70's, brand-name designer labels appeared on the upper-rung models. Cartier was the top Town Car model, American designer Bill Blass and Italian sportswear mogul Versace both chose schemes for Mark VII, while French designer Hubert de Givenchy and Italian-born Valentino gave their personal touches to the Continental.

Media related to Lincoln Continental (seventh generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Eighth generation (1988–94)[edit]

Eighth Generation
A 1991 Lincoln Continental.jpg
1991 Lincoln Continental
Model years 1988–1994
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford D186 platform
Related Ford Taurus
Mercury Sable
Ford Windstar
Engine 3.8 L Essex V6
Transmission 4-speed AXOD-E automatic
Wheelbase 109.0 in (2,769 mm)
Length 1988–1993: 205.1 in (5,210 mm)
1994: 205.6 in (5,222 mm)
Width 1988–1993: 72.7 in (1,847 mm)
1992–94: 72.3 in (1,836 mm)
Height 1988–1991: 55.6 in (1,412 mm)
1992–94: 55.4 in (1,407 mm)

By the late 1980s, the luxury segment in which the Continental competed had changed drastically from a decade before. In addition to traditional competitors Cadillac and Chrysler, the downsized Continental now competed in the same price and size segments as Asian luxury brands Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, as well as European luxury brands Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Volvo. In 1987 for the 1988 model year, the Continental was given a clean-sheet, aerodynamic redesign.

1989 Continental Signature Series

In a shift to front-wheel drive, the new Continental was based on a long-wheelbase variant of the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable; no exterior sheetmetal was shared between them. While gaining four inches in length, it shed 170 pounds in weight over its 1987 predecessor. No longer intended as a successor to the Versailles, the new generation sought a new role of making Lincoln competitive against import brands. Although much of its non-domestic competition still retained rear-wheel drive, the switch to front-wheel drive brought Lincoln in line with the downsized Cadillac lineup and allowed platform sharing with the newly introduced Taurus; by interior volume, the Continental was the largest front-wheel drive car sold in 1988.

The 1988 Continental featured many technological advancements including the first Lincoln equipped with an adaptive air-ride suspension. This type of self-levelling air suspension leveled the vehicle depending on factors such as load and speed. The Continental was also equipped with speed-sensitive power steering which varied the amount of power assist depending on speed in order to facilitate easier low-speed maneuvers, such as parking, while providing for a tighter steering feel at highway speeds. For the first time since the discontinuation of the V12 engine, no V8 was available on the Continental. The sole engine choice from 1988 to 1994 was a 3.8 L Essex V6. Horsepower grew from 140 in 1988, to 155 in 1991, and then to 160 in 1993.

The switch to front-wheel drive allowed for the return of 6-passenger seating back to the Continental, last available in 1980. The redesign of the sloping trunk associated with its predecessor significantly boosted trunk space from 15 cubic feet to 19 cubic feet. A leather interior was standard equipment (velour available as a no-cost option). Throughout its production run, the option list remained small. Major options included a compact disc player, InstaClear heated windshield (1988–1992), JBL sound system, power glass moonroof, keyless entry, anti-theft alarm system, cellular phone (starting 1990), three-position memory seat, and choice of wheels.

As part of the redesign, Lincoln simplified the trim lineup; only standard (later named "Executive") and Signature Series remained. The Continental was part of Car and Driver magazine's 1989 Ten Best list.

Lincoln made several minor updates to the eighth-generation Continental during its production. In autumn 1988, the dashboard was redesigned to accommodate dual air bags. This unprecedented move made the Ford Motor Company the first US automaker to offer airbags as standard equipment for both the driver and front passenger, as well as the second automaker worldwide after Porsche's 1987 944 Turbo.[55] In 1989 for the 1990 model year, the design of the grille, hood ornament, and taillights were modified. In 1992 (1993 model year), an "individual seats" group was available which ditched the usual chrome column shifter and 50/50 "comfort lounge" split bench seating (and 6-passenger capacity) for a center console with floor shifter (a Continental first), storage armrest, and cup holder.

1994 facelift[edit]

1994 Lincoln Continental

In 1993, the 1994 Continental received a cosmetic facelift including new taillights, revised decklid lock cover and trim, a rounded argent grille, restyled smaller bumpers and bodyside moldings, and sculptured rocker moldings. A revised "Lincoln" nameplate appeared on the front grille and rear taillights (moved off the decklid from last year). Inside, a new steering wheel was included with the bucket seat option.

1994 was the last year that the Continental was offered in Executive and Signature Series trims. An Executive Touring package was also available.

50th Anniversary Edition (1990)[edit]

A 50th Anniversary Edition Continental Signature Series was offered in 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the model. It featured "50th Anniversary" badging, geometric spoked aluminum wheels with unique center hub ornaments, titanium exterior paint with unique red/blue accent striping, and two-toned interior.

Media related to Lincoln Continental (eighth generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Ninth generation (1995–2002)[edit]

Ninth generation
1995-1997 Lincoln Continental -- 11-26-2011.jpg
1995–1997 Lincoln Continental
Model years 1995–2002
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford D186 platform
Related Ford Taurus
Mercury Sable
Ford Windstar
Engine 4.6 L InTech V8
Transmission 4-speed AX4N automatic
Wheelbase 109.0 in (2,769 mm)
Length 1995–1997: 206.3 in (5,240 mm)
1998–2002: 208.5 in (5,296 mm)
Width 73.6 in (1,869 mm)
Height 56.0 in (1,422 mm)
Curb weight 3,868 lb (1,754 kg)
Successor Lincoln MKS

For the 1995 model year, the Continental was substantially updated with more rounded lines similar to the Mark VIII; the interior also saw a major overhaul. After design work for this generation was completed in 1991, production commenced at Wixom Assembly in November 1994. While the body was all-new, the new Continental shared underpinnings with the previous generation. In a departure from the previous generation and its Ford/Mercury counterparts, the Continental was given back its V8 engine for the first time since 1987.

The sole engine for the Continental was the Modular/InTech 32v DOHC 4.6L V8 shared with the Lincoln Mark VIII, but slightly de-tuned for front wheel drive use. It produced 260 hp (190 kW) and 260 lb·ft (350 N·m) torque; 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) was reached in 8 seconds. Inside, the Continental featured a plush leather interior with many amenities and advanced electronics for the time. Lincoln offered most features as standard equipment with the only options consisting of a 6-CD changer, power moonroof, heated seats, and onboard cellular phone. As before, buyers could choose between five and six-passenger seating. A March 1992 customer clinic video features a final design prototype of the 1995 Continental.[56]

1995–1996 Continentals had air ride suspension on all four wheels while the 1997 model had rear air suspension and traditional steel coil springs up front. An increasingly competitive luxury market and de-contenting of the 1997 Continental saw its base price decreased by 10% that year.

1998 facelift[edit]

2000 Lincoln Continental

The Continental was updated again in late 1997 for 1998 with redesigned front and rear end styling. The front-end also held a strong family resemblance to the newly redesigned 1998 Town Car. Also new for 1998 was a dashboard redesign, though still keeping the reflective dash cluster. Despite these notable changes, pricing on the Continental was up only slightly over the 1997 model which itself had seen a price reduction from the year before.

For 1999, the Continental once again only saw a modest price increase to MSRP $38,525 — the same price as the Town Car. The Continental offered buyers front wheel drive, while the Town Car remained rear wheel drive, and was joined by the slightly smaller Lincoln LS. This generation Continental gained seat-mounted side airbags and even more power (now up to 275 hp (205 kW). Six-passenger capability was still available via the no-charge option of a split-bench front seat and column shifter. Also available on the 1999 Continental was the "RESCU package" (Remote Emergency Satellite Cellular Unit) which included Global satellite positioning (similar to GM's "OnStar"), 3-channel HomeLink compatible garage door opener mounted in the driver's sun visor, voice-activated cellular telephone, and the Alpine Audio System (which included a digital sound processor, subwoofer amplifier, and additional speakers). One could also opt for the 6-disc CD changer, heated front seats, and a tinted glass power sunroof with sliding shade. New for 1999 was an extra-cost "Luxury Appearance Package" that included a wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob with unique two-tone seat trim and floor mats inside, and chrome alloy wheels and a special grille up front. Other available packages were the "Driver Select System" which included a semi-active suspension, selectable ride control, steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio and climate systems, automatic day/night outside mirrors, the "Memory Profile System" that recalled power steering assist and ride control settings for two drivers, and the "Personal Security Package" which included special run-flat tires mounted on polished alloy wheels, low tire pressure alert system, and universal garage door opener.

Between 1999 (2000 model year) and 2002, changes to the Continental remained relatively minor as production of the model eventually came to an end. In 2000, various safety features became standard including child seat-anchor brackets, emergency trunk release, and "Belt Minder" system. In 2001, the universal garage door opener was now standard. A new Vehicle Communication System (VCS) featuring hands-free voice activated phone, Safety and Security Services (SOS), information services, and route guidance assistance was optional for 2002.

Special Editions[edit]

For 1996, Lincoln offered two special editions of the Continental. To commemorate its 75th anniversary, a Diamond Anniversary Edition of the Continental was offered as an option package. The package included "Diamond Anniversary" badging, leather seats, voice-activated cellular phone, JBL audio system, auto electrochromatic dimming mirror with compass, and traction control. As a follow-up to the version offered for the 1995 Town Car, for 1996, a Spinnaker Edition of the Continental became an option package. It featured "Spinnaker Edition" badging, tri-coat paint, two-toned leather seats, and 16" spoked aluminum wheels.

For 2001, a Limited Edition was offered, featuring unique leather interior with "Limited" embroidery, two-toned interior trim, wood steering wheel, 6-disc CD changer, and 16" spoked aluminum wheels. It was sold as a Greenbrier Limited Edition Continental in select markets. To commemorate the end of the model run for 2002, a Collector's Edition was offered featuring a genuine walnut burl steering wheel, instrument panel, and side door trim, "CE" logos, platinum painted grille, 10-spoke chrome wheels, and more. In addition to the Continental's other exterior color choices, a CE-exclusive charcoal gray was also available. Approximately 2,000 were produced.


Calendar Year American sales
1998[57] 35,210
1999[58] 26,246
2000 22,648
2001[59] 20,392
2002[60] 15,435
2003 280

Cancellation and replacement[edit]

After several years of decreasing sales, Lincoln announced that 2002 would be the 50th and last year for the Continental. Alongside declining sales, the cancellation of the Continental was caused by several factors. For 2000, Lincoln introduced the mid-size rear-wheel drive Lincoln LS V6 & V8 sedans. While somewhat smaller than the Continental, the V8 version of the LS gave Lincoln a third V8-engined luxury sedan. In addition, all three vehicles competed fairly close in price. Although the Town Car did not compete with the buyers for the LS, the Continental competed with both the LS and the Town Car for buyers. In addition, its front-wheel drive layout had disappeared among imported competitors. With advancements during the 1990s in traction control, anti-lock braking systems, and skid control devices, front-wheel drive was no longer deemed a necessity nor a selling point in inclement weather areas.

All Continentals built since 1958 were assembled at Ford's Wixom Assembly Plant. The last Lincoln Continental rolled off the assembly line there on July 26, 2002. The plant continued to manufacture the Town Car and the LS, as well as the limited production Ford Thunderbird 2-seat convertible and Ford's niche sports car, the Ford GT. Lincoln's Town Car was the last model still produced there when the Wixom facility was shut down in 2007.

Lincoln upgraded the LS in 2005–2006 to attract more of the mid-size luxury market left unserved after the discontinuation of the Continental. Due to slowing sales, the LS was cancelled in April 2006, following the release of the mid-size 2006 Lincoln Zephyr. A year later, the Zephyr was upgraded and re-released as the Lincoln MKZ, based on the Ford Fusion. In mid-2008, Lincoln launched the new flagship Lincoln MKS as a 2009 model. A predecessor of the 2010 Ford Taurus, the MKS is closest in size and market position to the 1995-2002 Continental; instead of a V8, upper-level models are powered by a twin-turbocharged V6.

Media related to Lincoln Continental (ninth generation) at Wikimedia Commons

Tenth generation (2017)[edit]

Tenth generation
Production 2016 (to commence)
Model years 2017 (to commence)
Assembly Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Flat Rock, Michigan, USA
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout F4 layout
Engine 3.0 L Lincoln twin-turbo V6
Predecessor Lincoln MKS

Following the debut of the Lincoln Continental concept car at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the vehicle was identified on the Lincoln website in the summer of 2015 as an upcoming production vehicle. As the larger Lincoln MKS will end production in the spring of 2016 after a shortened model year, the new Lincoln Continental is anticipated to be launched as a 2017 model, after a 15-year absence.[61]

Although its platform architecture has yet to be officially confirmed, the Continental will be produced exclusively with all-wheel drive.[61][62] Making its debut in the concept car, the 3.0 L twin-turbo V6 will be exclusive to Lincoln, though its output is currently unknown.[61] Lincoln is dedicating production of the Continental to Flat Rock, Michigan (home to the Ford Fusion and Ford Mustang).[61] of which it shares a common platform.

Concept cars[edit]

Since its discontinuation, the Lincoln Continental name has appeared on two different concept cars, at the 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show and the 2015 New York Auto Show.

2002 (Los Angeles Auto Show)[edit]

2002 Lincoln Continental concept car at 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

The Lincoln Continental concept vehicle was created in 2002 by Lincoln for the 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show, complete with coach doors and a 362 cu in (5.9 L) V12 engine producing 414 bhp (309 kW) at 6000 rpm and 413 lb·ft (560 N·m) at 5270 rpm.[63] The car's design and suicide doors are a nod to the earlier 4th generation cars.

2015 (New York Auto Show)[edit]

2015 Lincoln Continental concept car at 2015 Shanghai Auto Show

Introduced at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, the Lincoln Continental concept car was designed as the next flagship sedan of Lincoln. Reports from December 2014[64] and March 2015[65][66] indicated that Lincoln intended on showing the preview of the replacement for the current-generation Lincoln MKS.[67]

Lincoln has indicated that the vehicle will have a unique 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and new grill. It was developed under design chief David Woodhouse.[68] Although other details remain unannounced, it is speculated that the Continental will be the launch model of an all-new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive platform.[67]

In popular culture[edit]

1963 and 1964 Lincoln Continentals were used in the 1964 film Goldfinger. Mr. Solo, played by Martin Benson, was shot and killed by Oddjob, played by Harold Sakata, while riding a 1964 Lincoln Continental. Shortly after, the car (a 1963 model was used) was crushed at a salvage yard with Mr. Solo in the backseat.

A 1965 Lincoln Continental was featured on the HBO series Entourage as well as in a 2015 film based on the series.

A 1965 Lincoln Continental, later replaced by a 1966 model, was driven by Oliver Wendell Douglas, played by Eddie Albert, on the TV series Green Acres.

A 1966 Lincoln Continental was used in the final of the four 1997-1998 specials of TV series Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed. It was used in the opening illusion, entitled the "Car Crush" or "Car Crusher Escape". It was modified to have a trigger built into the back doors. When the doors close, the trigger causes the back seat to fall off, allowing the Masked Magician (tied up and zipped in a coroner's body bag) to roll into the backless boot of the car, and then allowing the back of the seat to close after him (with a foam rubber dummy equipped with a motor to make its head rock back and forth inside an identical body bag on it). The car, along with the dummy, was then destroyed by a 12,000 lb (5.4 t) weight dropped on it by a crane.

A 1972 Lincoln Continental was driven by Harry Stoner, played by Jack Lemmon, in the 1973 film Save the Tiger.

A 1998 Lincoln Continental was featured in the 2000 film Meet the Parents being driven by character Jack Byrnes, played by Robert De Niro.


  1. ^ Valdes-Dapena, Peter (March 30, 2015). "Ford's big Lincoln Continental is coming back". CNN Money. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  2. ^ Dammann, George The Cars of Lincoln Mercury (Sarasota, FLA: Crestline, 1987), p. 192.
  3. ^ "1955 Lincoln - The Continentals Brochure". Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  4. ^ Ritch, Ocee (1963). The Lincoln Continental. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Motorbooks International Publishers & Wholesalers, Inc. p. 47. 
  5. ^ a b c Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946–1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5. 
  6. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1947_Lincoln/1947_Lincoln_Folder". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  7. ^ Gunnell, John (2002). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975 (4th ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 498. 
  8. ^ McCall, Walter (1982). 80 Years of Cadillac La Salle. Sarasota FL: Crestline Publishing. p. 26. 
  9. ^ Weber, Lewis (1998). Automobiles of the 50s. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Ltd. p. 324. 
  10. ^ Sinha, Samaya. "Happy Birthday to Liz Taylor and Her '56 Lincoln Continental Mark II". Complex. 
  11. ^ " 1956 Continental Mark II [60A] in "High Society, 1956"". 
  12. ^ Gunnel, p. 499.
  13. ^ Wilson, Quentin (1997). Classic American Cars. New York, NY: DK Publishing, Inc. p. 64. 
  14. ^ a b "Directory Index: Lincoln/1959_Lincoln/1959_Lincoln_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  15. ^ "1958 Lincoln Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  16. ^ "1957 Lincoln Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  17. ^ Popular Mechanics (Hearst Magazines). January 1959 Retrieved 2011-12-30.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Gunnell, p. 501.
  19. ^ Gunnell, p. 127.
  20. ^ Gunnell, p. 300.
  21. ^ a b Dammann, p. 340.
  22. ^ a b "1964 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  23. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. (2004). American Cars 1960–1972. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy. p. 112. 
  24. ^ "1962 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  25. ^ "1961 Lincoln Continental". HowStuffWorks. 
  26. ^ Flory, p. 113.
  27. ^ Flory, p. 174.
  28. ^ Flory, p. 240.
  29. ^ Flory, p. 307.
  30. ^ Town Brougham
  31. ^ "1965 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  32. ^ Flory, p. 378.
  33. ^ "1966 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  34. ^ Flory, p. 454.
  35. ^ a b c d Flory, p. 456.
  36. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1967_Lincoln/1967_Lincoln_Continental_Brochure". 
  37. ^ Flory, p. 529.
  38. ^ Flory, p. 530.
  39. ^ Gunnell, p. 132.
  40. ^ Cars of the Sizzling '60s, p. 348.
  41. ^ Flory, pp. 603 & 679.
  42. ^ Flory, p. 605.
  43. ^ Ibid., p.393.
  44. ^ "1970 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  45. ^ "1976 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  46. ^ World Cars 1978. Herald Books. ISBN 0-910714-10-X. 
  47. ^ "1970 Lincoln Continental Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  48. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1970_Lincoln/1970 Lincoln Continental Brochure". 
  49. ^ Dammann, p. 464.
  50. ^ Dammann, p. 492.
  51. ^
  52. ^ Dammann, p. 528.
  53. ^ Flammang, p. 603.
  54. ^ "1982 Lincoln Continental-16-17". Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  55. ^ "Ford Offers Airbags For Passengers As Standard Equipment". 
  56. ^ FN74 Team Visioning Overview (Voice over early 1990s). YouTube. 11 March 2013. 
  57. ^ "Ford F-Series Remains America's Best-Selling Vehicle". January 5, 2000. [dead link]
  58. ^ "Ford Motor Company Sets New Full Year U.S. Sales Record". Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  59. ^ "Ford Motor Company's December U.S. Sales Climb 8.2 Percent" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. December 2002. 
  60. ^ "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". November 17, 2004. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  61. ^ a b c d Panait, Mircea. "2017 Lincoln Continental to Replace 2016 Lincoln MKS in Late Spring 2016 - Video, Photo Gallery". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  62. ^ Stoklosa, Alexander (April 2015). "2017 Lincoln Continental Spied! It Really Is Happening - Future Cars". Car and Driver. Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  63. ^ "Lincoln Continental Concept". Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  64. ^ Joseph, Noah. "Did Neil Young just spill the beans on a 2016 Lincoln Continental? [w/video]". Autoblog. 
  65. ^ Ramsey, Jonathon. "Is Lincoln working on a Continental concept?". Autoblog. 
  66. ^ George, Patrick. "Mystery Website Reveals A Lincoln Continental Concept Is Coming". Jalopnik. 
  67. ^ a b Panait, Mircea. "UPDATE: Exclusive: 2016 Lincoln MKS Confirmed for New York Auto Show Debut". autoevolution. 
  68. ^ Bunkley, Nick (March 30, 2015). "Lincoln to bring back Continental name". Automotive News. Retrieved 2015-03-29. 

External links[edit]