Lincoln Continental

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Not to be confused with Continental Motors Company.
Lincoln Continental
1998-2002 Lincoln Continental -- 02-29-2012 1.JPG
1998–2002 Lincoln Continental
Overview
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
Production 1939–1948
1958–1980
1981–2002
2016–present
Model years 1939-1942
1946-1948
1958-1980
1982-2002
2017-
Body and chassis
Class Personal luxury car
luxury car
Related Lincoln Mark series
Chronology
Predecessor Lincoln MKS (2017)

The Lincoln Continental is the nameplate for a series of luxury cars produced by Lincoln, a division of the American automaker Ford Motor Company. Alongside Lincoln-Zephyr from the late 1930s, Continental is a nameplate of Lincoln that became the namesake of its own division of Ford Motor Company. From 1956 to 1957, the Continental Division was the worldwide flagship of Ford before its merger into Lincoln. Beginning life as one of the first personal luxury cars to enter mass production, the Lincoln Continental has been produced as a two-door coupe and convertible alongside two-door and four-door sedan bodystyles. With the exception of the Lincoln Mark VIII, each generation of the Lincoln Mark Series personal luxury cars are based upon the corresponding generation of the Continental.

For much of its original production, the Continental served as the flagship of the Lincoln product line. In the late 1950s, it would serve as the successor to the hand-built Continental Mark II. For 1961, the redesigned Continental became the sole Lincoln product line, a role it would serve until the 1977 introduction of the Lincoln Versailles (the Mark Series was not badged a Lincoln until 1986). In the 1980s, the role of the traditional full-size Lincoln was taken by the Lincoln Town Car (based on a redesigned Continental) as Lincoln sought to both expand its model line and improve its fuel efficiency. Based on the then-upcoming Mark VII, the 1982 Continental was the smallest Lincoln ever built at the time. In 1988, the Continental became based on the Ford Taurus, becoming the first front-wheel drive Lincoln.

After a 50-year production run, the Lincoln Continental was discontinued after the 2002 model year, as Lincoln consolidated its sedan offerings to the Town Car and Lincoln LS. In 2009, the Lincoln MKS was introduced, taking over the role of both sedans.

After a 15-year hiatus, the Continental nameplate was returned to the Lincoln model line for the 2017 model year as the replacement for the MKS. Making its debut as a concept car at the 2015 New York Auto Show,[1] the production Continental is a four-door sedan based on an extended-wheelbase version of the Ford CD4 platform shared with the seventh-generation Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKZ. Alongside the Ford Mustang, the 2017 Continental is assembled in Flat Rock Assembly in Flat Rock, Michigan.

Edsel Ford prototype (1939)[edit]

The Lincoln Continental began life as a personal vehicle for Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford.[2] In 1938, Ford commissioned a one-off design he wanted ready for his March 1939 vacation from company Chief Stylist Eugene T. "Bob" Gregorie. Using the blueprints of the streamlined Lincoln-Zephyr as a starting point, Gregorie sketched a design for a convertible with a redesigned body; allegedly, the initial sketch for the design was completed in an hour.

By design, the Edsel Ford prototype could be considered a channelled and sectioned Lincoln-Zephyr convertible; although the vehicle wore a conventional windshield profile, the prototype sat nearly 7 inches lower than a standard Lincoln. With the massive decrease in height, the running boards were deleted entirely. In contrast to the Zephyr (and in a massive change from the K-Series Lincoln), the hood sat nearly level with the fenders. To focus on the styling of the car, the chrome trim on the car was largely restricted to the grille; instead of door handles, pushbuttons opened the doors. As with the Lincoln-Zephyr, the prototype was fitted with a 267 cubic-inch V12 engine; it was fitted with front and rear transverse leaf springs and hydraulic drum brakes.[3]

The design would introduce two long-running features used in many American automobile designs. The modified body gave the design new proportions over its Zephyr counterpart; with the hoodline sitting lower over the V12 engine and the passenger compartment moved rearward, the prototype became one of the first "long-hood, short deck" designs. As a consequence of the smaller trunk space, the spare tire was mounted behind the trunk; while disappearing on American cars, the externally mounted, covered spare tire remained a feature on European-produced cars.

The prototype designed by Gregorie was produced on time, making the deadline to be delivered to Edsel Ford in Florida. Interest from well-off friends was high; Edsel sent a telegram back to Michigan that he could sell a thousand of them. From its externally mounted spare tire, the Lincoln-based prototype received its name: Continental.

Immediately, production commenced on the Lincoln Continental, with the majority of production being "Cabriolet" convertibles and a rare number of coupes. They were extensively hand-built; the two dozen 1939 models and 400 1940-built examples were built with hand-hammered body panels; 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
Overview
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)
Powertrain
Engine 292 cu in (4.8 L) Lincoln-Zephyr V12
Dimensions
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 were 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
1956 Continental Mark II - midnight blue - fvr.jpg
Continental Mark II
Overview
Model years 1956–1959
Assembly Wixom Assembly, Dearborn, Michigan, United States
Designer Bill Schmidt
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop
Layout FR layout
Powertrain
Engine 368 cu in (6.0 L) Y-block V8
Dimensions
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 Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company,[7] 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.[8]

Continentals for 1956 were among the most expensive cars in the world [9] — with a retail price of just under $10,000[10] (equivalent to nearly $90,000 in 2016) at a time when a Ford Customline could be purchased for less than $2000,[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] The 1956 film High Society includes several scenes with a Mark II.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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

Third generation (1958–60)[edit]

Third generation
Lincoln Continental Wasen.jpg
Overview
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
Powertrain
Engine 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8
Transmission 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 131.0 in (3,327 mm)[17]
Length 1958: 229.0 in (5,817 mm)[18]
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 expanded with two- and four-door vehicles that shared an appearance with Lincoln-branded products; 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.

To drop the price from $10,000 ($84,396 in current dollars) to a somewhat more accessible $6,000 ($49,294 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][19] In contrast to the ceiling-mounted A/C vents of the Mark II, the A/C vents were mounted in the dash board.[20] A unique option was "Auto Lube"; as long as the owner kept the lube reservoir full, the car automatically lubed itself.[17]

In a break from Ford, Mercury, and Edsel, Lincoln adopted unibody construction[21] 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 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. 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.[22]

Styling excess[edit]

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

The Mark III's reputation for "excessive styling" reflects the overabundance of design talent involved in its development and modification. George W. Walker, known for his contribution to 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 4-Door Convertible
Overview
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
Production 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)
Powertrain
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
Dimensions
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)
Chronology
Predecessor Lincoln Premiere
1963 Lincoln Continental Four-Door Sedan
1965 Lincoln Continental 4-door sedan
1966 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible
1969 Lincoln Continental 4-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.

The design was anchored in a "form follows function" simplicity and philosophy. Viewed from street-scape, the vehicle presented a series, of symmetrical integrated curves; with the complete absence a decorative, applied ornamentation. Sightlines across the hood; rear deck or fenders all seemed to vanish to infinity. This overall form design was further complemented by the selection of a color palette that was at once, “cool” and non-disruptive. The overall form evoked a sense of dignity, great mass (invoking solidity); and, authority, either when in motion, or parked.

The design compensated in advance for the tendency toward an overly massive visual impression; by car’s design being reduced in overall length and breadth from the prior model year. This altered the scale expectation of the new vehicle from front and rear; through the removal of the prior year’s forward and rear fender “fins” that housed headlights and tail lamps, as was the styling norm in most US luxury cars in the second-half of the 1950s. This change (dropping the fender “tail” fins), further enhanced the sense of the turning away of this “new” decade’s design, from the styling conventions of a now “out-of-fashion”, and discarded past.

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 4-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).[23] As a result, (save for their respective nine-passenger models) the new Lincoln was still heavier than anything from Cadillac[24] or Imperial.[25] 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."[26]

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 ingress-egress access, given the seating position intended for; and provided to the rear seat passengers in the new design. 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 Eight 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 4-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.[26][27] It was also the first postwar four-door convertible from a major U.S. manufacturer.[28] California Walnut veneer was used on the doors and instrument panel.[29] 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[30] had in the development of the '61 Continental. It was a sales success, with 25,160 sold during the first year of production.[31] 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.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34] A concept show car was built, called the Continental Town Brougham,[35] 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.[36] To improve reliability, Lincoln added an oil pressure gauge.[27]

With the facelift, sales improved about 10%, to 40,180 units.[37]

For 1966, a number of changes came to the Continental model line. As Lincoln had left the 2-door luxury sedan segment to Cadillac and Imperial in 1961 by making the Continental exclusively a 4-door, Lincoln chose to develop its answer to the Cadillac Coupe de Ville and the Imperial Crown Coupe by introducing a 2-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.[38] 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.[39] It succeeded, helping boost sales to 54,755 that year,[40] an increase of 36%,[40] all of it due to the new two-door;[40] sales of both four-door models slipped slightly.[40] 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.[41] 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.[42][43] 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[44] than the corresponding Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Limousine and 300 pounds heavier than the Imperial LeBaron of that year. The 5,712 lbs 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.[45] In April, the new Mark III made its debut, as a 1969 model.[46] Total sales would be down to just 39,134.[47] 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.[48] 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.

Sales[edit]

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 4-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
Overview
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
Powertrain
Engine 400 cu in (6.6 L) Cleveland V8
460 cu in (7.5 L) 385-series V8
Transmission 3-speed C6 automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 1970–73: 127.0 in (3,226 mm)[49]
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)[50]
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)[51]
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. 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),[52] an indicator light for the headlight doors, and adjustable head restraints were all standard features.[53]

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.,[54] replacing the 429 V8 (which it was based upon). A year later than General Motors and Chrysler, the 460 became 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,[55] 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.[56]

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 ($53,888 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 ($58,787 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

Brief overview of Lincoln Continental developments[edit]

  • 1970 - model range includes Continental, Continental Coupe, and, as per 1969, the Town Car option (4-door only). As per 1968–1969, no stand-up hood ornament was used. In a departure from 1961 to 1969, bright metal trim on the peaked fender top line was deleted.
  • 1971 - Lincoln continues with high compression engines, one model year longer than GM. Again, no stand-up hood ornament, no fender-line bright trim, and only the 4-door was available in the 'Town Car' option.
  • 1972 - Lincoln drops the compression ratio to allow the use of regular gasoline and to lower pollution emissions. The stand-up hood ornament returns for the first time since 1967. Full-length bright metal trim returns to the fender peaks. The 'Town Car' option remains available only on the 4-door sedan.
  • 1973 - As per 1972 but with a Town Coupe introduced. The 1972 bumper style is modified for 5-mph protection at the front (by spacing the bumper well-forward of the front clip), and a 2.5 mph impact rating at the rear by beefing up the 1972 design.
  • 1974 - An intermediate styling year, segueing between the 1970–1973 and the 1975–1979, with a one-year only rear taillight design. Final year for leaded fuel engines.
  • 1975 - A substantial styling makeover, particularly to the roof line but also the rear. This design but for the front clip and grille will last through 1979. This year, most comfort and convenience items are made standard.
  • 1976 - Essentially identical to 1975 but for a number of previously standard comfort and convenience items made optional. A series of "designer edition" Mark IV coupes, featuring Cartier, Bill Blass, Givenchy, and Emilio Pucci names on the opera windows and interior dashboards, is made available for the first time featuring unique color and trim packages.
  • 1977 - The body remains almost identical to 1975–1976 but for the grille and related front clip/hood changes. The 'Continental' script on the rear fenders is deleted. The 460 is no longer available in California, so a 400-2V is the only available engine in that state. Initially and for about half of the model year, the 460 is the standard and only-available engine, then the 400 becomes standard with the 460 optional (49 states). The Product Facts Book shows this change occurring in or for March 1977, although it may have happened a little earlier. The "Williamsburg Edition", featuring exclusive two-tone paint combinations, is available for the first time on the Continental sedan.
  • 1978 - The dashboard is changed completely, dispensing with the steel-framed 1970–1977 design and adopting the 1973–1978 Mercury design, which has a plastic substructure. The body and all-other general design elements remain unchanged but for the base wheelcover design. The rear fender skirts though are modified to become remnant-only—much more of the rear wheels is exposed. A limited edition
  • 1979 - As for 1978 but with revised dash panels and the discontinuance of the 460 engine. To mark the end of the full-size luxury car segment through them, Lincoln introduces the "Collector's Series" for the Mark V coupe and Continental sedan, with many options made standard.

Sixth generation (1980)[edit]

Sixth generation
1984 Lincoln Towncar 1.jpg
1984 Lincoln Town Car; 1980 Lincoln Continental is similar except for badging
Overview
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
Powertrain
Engine Ford 5.0L Windsor V8
Transmission 4-speed AOD overdrive automatic
Dimensions
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)
Curb weight 4,061–4,147 lb (1,842–1,881 kg)
Chronology
Successor Lincoln Town Car

With the impending adoption of federal fuel-economy standards (CAFE) making the large cars of the 1970s a potential financial threat to Ford Motor Company, the full-size cars of all of its divisions underwent extensive downsizing for the 1979 model year. For various reasons, delays pushed the release of the downsized Lincoln model lineup into 1980, three years after the downsizing of its Cadillac counterparts.

The downsizing undergone by the 1980 Lincoln and Mark provided Lincoln with the best year-to-year fuel economy improvement (38%) in Ford history.[57] The introduction of a standard overdrive transmission enabled the division to leap its competitors, going from the company with the worst CAFE rating to the most fuel-efficient full-size car sold.

One of the most touted options the 1980 Continental offered was the new digital instrument cluster, which used vacuum florescent displays for the vehicle speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge. However, the biggest feature was the included "trip computer" that showed the driver "miles to empty" and (based on driver input) an "estimated time of arrival", as well as real-time average fuel economy figures. The digital instrument cluster with the trip computer, along with the engine's new standard electronic fuel injection, 4-speed AOD transmission, power steering and suspension advances, and the new EEC III engine management system allowed the 1980 Lincoln Continental to gain a major technological advantage over its competition; instead of being just a mere redesign and downsize of the 1979 models, the 1980 Continentals would be some of the most advanced vehicles ever sold by Ford up to that point.

This version of the Continental would last only for a single model year. To eliminate saturation of the Lincoln model line, the car was re-released as the Lincoln Town Car for 1981, while the Continental name would move to the midsize segment as an early 1982 model. While not officially announced as the replacement for the Versailles, the 1982 Continental would become the Lincoln competitor for the Cadillac Seville. After the end of its model cycle, the Continental Mark VI was replaced by the Mark VII, a far different vehicle.

Chassis[edit]

Central to the redesign was the adoption of the all-new the Ford Panther platform, shared with the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis. While retaining the body-on-frame layout of its predecessor and using a rear-wheel drive powertrain, the Panther platform made major engineering changes to lower curb weight. In addition, the chassis itself was smaller in several key dimensions. While only approximately 2 inches narrower, the 1980 Continental shed 10 inches of its wheelbase and 14 inches in length. In losing nearly 1000 pounds of curb weight, the 1980 Continental came within 200 pounds of the curb weight of the "compact" Lincoln Versailles.

In its focus on fuel economy, the Panther platform was developed without the use of the 400 or 460 V8s powering full-size Lincoln-Mercurys throughout the 1970s. In their place was the first fuel-injected V8 engine produced by Ford Motor Company. Based on the 302 cubic-inch Windsor V8, the newly christened 129 hp 5.0L V8 (rounded up from its true 4.9L displacement) was the first "metric-displacement" American Ford engine. As an option, a 140 hp carbureted 351 cubic-inch Windsor V8 was available. In place of the C6 3-speed automatic transmission was an all-new 4-speed Automatic Overdrive Transmission (AOD). Developed under the name Ford Integral Overdrive (FIOD), this industry-first transmission featured both a mechanically-engaged overdrive (0.67/1 ratio) fourth gear and third and fourth-gear torque converter lock-up.

The new Panther platform allowed for changes in the new Continental's suspension geometry and many improvements were made to the power steering. With this, and the reduced overall size, the 1980 Lincoln Continental was able to retain the traditional big car ride and feel, while offering a major enhancement to its handling. Compared to the 1980 Continental's GM and Chrysler counterparts and the 1979 Lincoln models, the new car offered more agile maneuvering, as well as a reduced turn diameter by over 8 feet (compared to the 1979 Lincoln Continental).

Body[edit]

Although sharing a common platform and powertrain with the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis, the Lincoln Continental was well differentiated from its counterparts; no visible body panels were common between the three vehicles.

In contrast, the 1980 Continental was positioned as the base model of the Lincoln model line; the Continental Town Car/Town Coupe made its return as the top-trim model. As all Continentals wore padded roofs, Continental Town Cars were largely differentiated by two-tone paint. Lincolns were differentiated from Continental Mark VIs by their exposed headlights and full-width taillamps (instead of a "Continental spare tire trunk"). Two-door Lincolns can be distinguished from Mark VI two-doors with their "notchback" roofline; they share a common wheelbase with four-door Lincolns.

Seventh generation (1982–87)[edit]

Seventh generation
82LincolnContinental.jpg
1982 Lincoln Continental (Givenchy Edition)
Overview
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 Lincoln Mark VII
Ford Thunderbird (1980-1982)
Mercury Cougar XR7 (1980-1982)
Powertrain
Engine 3.8 L (232 cu in) Essex V6
2.4 L (149 cu in) BMW M21 turbodiesel I6
4.9 L (302 cu in) 5.0L Windsor V8
Transmission 4-speed AOD automatic
4-speed ZF 4HP22 automatic (turbodiesel)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108.5–108.7 in (2,756–2,761 mm)
Length 200.7–201.2 in (5,098–5,110 mm)
Width 73.6 in (1,869 mm)
Height 55.0 in (1,397 mm)
Curb weight 3,384–3,706 lb (1,535–1,681 kg)
Chronology
Predecessor Lincoln Versailles

Following the downsizing and adoption of the Panther platform for the 1980 model year, the Lincoln division was faced with a critical issue. After the discontinuation of the compact Lincoln Versailles early in 1980, Lincoln was left with three full-size sedans. Although each brand-new for the model year, the Lincoln Continental, the Lincoln Continental Town Car, and the Continental Mark VI were functionally identical vehicles. Aside from the "Continental tire" trunklid of the Mark VI, the three vehicles offered virtually no differentiation.

To address its model line saturation, for 1981, Lincoln put the Continental on a one-year hiatus, with the Continental Town Car becoming the Lincoln Town Car; the Mark VI was continued to live out its model cycle through the 1983 model year, with the two-door Mark VI taking the place of the rarely sold two-door Town Car.

The Lincoln Continental made its return in early 1981 (as a 1982 model). To physically separate the Continental from the Town Car instead of price, Lincoln designers shifted the car into the mid-size segment. Though again marketed against the Cadillac Seville, the 1982 Lincoln Continental was never officially considered by Lincoln as the replacement for the Versailles. Marketed solely as a four-door sedan, the Continental was the first (and currently, only) Lincoln ever to wear the "Continental trunklid" of the Mark series; it shared its wheelbase and powertrain with the Mark VII introduced for the 1984 model year.

Using the lessons learned from Lincoln Versailles and badge engineering, Lincoln stylists took great care to differentiate the expensive Continental from the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar XR7 sharing a common chassis with it; unlike the Versailles, no visible body panels were shared. In sharp contrast, 1982 also marked the introduction of the Cadillac Cimarron, considered one of the most disastrous uses of badge engineering in automotive history.

Chassis[edit]

Shifting from the Ford Panther platform to the Ford Fox platform, the Lincoln Continental became a mid-size car for the first time. In its redesign, the Continental would lose nearly 9 inches in wheelbase and 18 inches in length, along with over 400 pounds of weight.

Although it would be the shortest-wheelbase Lincoln ever (at the time), the Continental would use a stretched 108.5" wheelbase version of the Fox platform used by the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar. In marked contrast to its Cadillac Seville competitor, which switched to a front-wheel drive GM platform, the Continental retained the use of rear-wheel drive.

The 1982 Lincoln Continental was fitted with two different engines. The standard engine was a 131 hp carbureted version of the 5.0L V8. At no cost, a 3.8L V6 (shared with the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar[58]) was an option; it was the first non-V8 Lincoln since 1948. Both engines were discontinued for the 1983 model year, replaced by the fuel-injected 5.0L V8 from the Town Car. All three engines were fitted with the 4-speed Ford AOD overdrive transmission. As a response to the diesel engine options available in Cadillacs and a number of European luxury brands, Lincoln introduced an optional 114-hp 2.4L turbodiesel inline-6 sourced from BMW (with a ZF 4-speed automatic transmission) for 1984. WIth only 1,500 sold, the diesel-powered Continental was rarely ordered and discontinued after the 1985 model year.

The seventh-generation introduced two features as industry firsts: gas-charged shock absorbers and self-sealing tires.

Body[edit]

1984-1987 Lincoln Continental
Rear view of 1986-1987 Lincoln Continental, showing "Continental spare tire" decklid

For the first time on a Lincoln-badged Continental, its namesake "Continental spare tire trunk" seen on the Mark Series was used as a decklid design feature. In addition, the decklid was lettered "CONTINENTAL" instead of "LINCOLN" (as was the Versaillles, the first Lincoln to do so). As Ford Motor Company intended for the Lincoln Continental to compete against the Cadillac Seville, the rear half of the car was designed with a sloping "bustle-back" decklid, drawing inspiration from the Lincoln-Zephyr of the late 1930s. The decklid design of the Continental proved less extreme than that of the Seville. The addition of a horizontal brushed-chrome strip that ran along each side of Continental, along with plentiful two-tone color combinations, gave it a more conventional appearance in comparison to the Cadillac.

Coinciding with the introduction of the two-door Continental Mark VII, the Lincoln Continental was given a styling update for the 1984 model year. The body was fitted with flush-fitting front and rear bumpers and revised taillamps. While not fitted with the composite headlights of the Mark VII, the front fascia of the Continental was revised with an angled grille flanked by recessed quad headlamps and larger wrap-around marker lights incorporating cornering lamps. On the inside, the doors and dashboard were fitted with satin-black trim (accented with low-gloss genuine walnut veneer for the 1986 model year only). Other changes through the rest of production run were primarily limited to paint colors and upholstery pattern details. All models were also fitted with Ford's door-mounted Keyless Entry System, not to be confused with a Remote Keyless Entry System.[59]

Trim[edit]

For 1982, the Continental was offered in base trim, Signature Series, and Givenchy Designer Series trim. For 1983, the Signature Series trim was discontinued and given to the Town Car and Mark VI; the Valentino Designer Series was added. After the 1985 model year, the Valentino Designer Series was discontiuned in favor of the Givenchy Series. Including many additional standard features, the Signature Series, Valentino, and Givenchy Designer Series Continentals added $3,100 to $3,500 to the price of a standard model. Fully optioned Signature and Givenchy models would top out at over $26,500 ($65,089 in current dollars).

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
Overview
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
Powertrain
Engine 3.8 L Essex V6
Transmission 4-speed AXOD-E automatic
Dimensions
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)
1989 Lincoln Continental Signature Series
1990-1993 Lincoln Continental
1994 Lincoln Continental

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 Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Volvo. To better compete with European luxury sedans and the launch vehicles of Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti, Lincoln chose to completely reinvent the Continental.

Becoming the first front-wheel drive Lincoln, the 1988 Continental adopted the underpinnings of the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable; the 1988 version would be the first Lincoln since 1948 sold without an available V8 engine. While packaged with a more conservative exterior, the Continental would still use many of styling features that had made its counterparts a quick success in the midsize segment. Most notably, the sloping "Continental trunklid" of its predecessor was deleted; no longer was the Continental a four-door Mark Series. While gaining four inches in length, 170 pounds in weight had been lost over its 1987 predecessor. For the first time since 1976 (and 1980), the Continental again closely matched its Cadillac Sedan de Ville counterpart in size; by interior volume, though, the Continental was the largest front-wheel drive car sold in 1988.

The Lincoln Continental was part of Car and Driver magazine's 1989 Ten Best list.

Chassis[edit]

In a similar fashion to its predecessor, Ford based the Lincoln Continental on a mid-size sedan platform, using the D186 platform underpinning the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable) as a basis. As Ford had done with the Ford and Mercury product lines, the sedan versions of the Fox platform were phased out in favor of front-wheel drive vehicles (the Mark VII and Ford Mustang would remain), with the 1988 Continental becoming the first vehicle in the division produced with the configuration, returning to a unibody platform, not used since 1960.

Sharing a 140 hp 3.8L Essex V6 (newly introduced to the Taurus/Sable for 1988), the Lincoln Continental featured several model-specific chassis features, including 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.

In 1991, engine output was revised to 155 hp, and to 160 hp in 1993. All Continentals are equipped with a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission.

Body[edit]

As with the previous generation, the Lincoln Continental would derive its underpinnings from a Ford midsize platform. To maintain proper differentiation between model lines, no visible body panels would be common with the Continental or the Taurus/Sable; after the addition of dual airbags, the steering wheel is the most visible shared interior part.

While the exterior of the Continental adopts many of the flowing lines, including the flush-mounted glass, flush-mounted headlights, and wraparound doors of its counterparts alongside the Taurus, it also adopts several more conservative styling features, including a more upright C-pillar, chrome grille, and long deck; the redesign of the sloping trunklid increased trunk space from 15 to 19 cubic feet (nearly matching the Town Car).

For 1989, 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 (the second automaker worldwide after Porsche's 1987 944 Turbo).[60]

In 1990, a minor exterior update featured a new grille, hood ornament, and taillights. For 1994, a larger facelift was given, including new bumpers, rocker moldings, and bodyside moldings. Exterior trim was redesigned including a restyled argent-colored grille, redesigned taillamps, revised decklid trim, and the Lincoln nameplate is moved onto the grille and taillamps. The bucket seat option was given a redesigned steering wheel.

Trim[edit]

As part of the redesign, Lincoln simplified the trim lineup; only standard (later named "Executive") and Signature Series remained. For the first time since 1981, 6-passenger seating made its return. Leather seats were standard (with velour available as a no-cost option). Major options included a compact disc player, InstaClear electrically 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.

For 1993, 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 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
Overview
Model years 1995–2002
Assembly United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)
Designer Fritz Mayhew
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford D186 platform
Related Ford Taurus
Mercury Sable
Ford Windstar
Powertrain
Engine 4.6 L InTech V8
Transmission 4-speed AX4N automatic
Dimensions
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)
Chronology
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 265 lb·ft (359 N·m) torque; 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) was reached in 7.2 seconds. Inside, the Continental featured a plush leather interior with many amenities and advanced electronics for the time. Some of the options included JBL sound system, 6-CD changer, power moonroof, heated seats, onboard cellular phone, anti-theft alarm system, traction control, and chrome wheels. As before, buyers could choose between five and six-passenger seating, offering Bridge of Weir leather on upper trim packages. A March 1992 customer clinic video features a final design prototype of the 1995 Continental.[61]

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 saw only 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.

Sales[edit]

Calendar Year American sales
1998[62] 35,210
1999[63] 26,246
2000 22,648
2001[64] 20,392
2002[65] 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 Ford Fusion-based Zephyr was updated and re-released as the Lincoln MKZ. 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–present)[edit]

Tenth generation
2017 Lincoln Continental.JPG
Overview
Production 2016–present
Model years 2017–present
Assembly Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Flat Rock, Michigan, United States
Designer David Woodhouse
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout / all-wheel-drive
Platform Ford CD4 platform
Powertrain
Engine 3.7 L Cyclone V6
2.7 L EcoBoost V6 twin-turbo
3.0 L EcoBoost V6 twin-turbo
Transmission 6F55 6-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 117.9 in (2,995 mm)
Length 201.4 in (5,116 mm)
Width 78.1 in (1,984 mm)
Height 58.5 in (1,486 mm)[66]
Curb weight 4,224 lb (1,916 kg)
Chronology
Predecessor Lincoln MKS

Following the debut of the Lincoln Continental concept car at the New York Auto Show in the summer of 2015, the Continental was identified as the successor of the Lincoln MKS which eventually ended production in the summer of 2016. After a fifteen-year absence, the new Continental officially went on sale in the fall of 2016 as a 2017 model.[67] Alongside the Ford Mustang, the Continental is produced in Flat Rock, Michigan. It is a rival to the BMW 7 Series (G11), Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W222), Lexus LS and the Cadillac CT6. The wheelbase almost matches exactly to the sixth generation Continental introduced in 1980, and the 1998–2011 Town Car.

The tenth generation Continental is based on a front-wheel drive platform, with optional all-wheel drive.[68][69] In the United States the base engine is a 3.7 L V6 making 305 bhp (227 kW; 309 PS) and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m). A 2.7 L direct-injection twin-turbo V6 with 335 bhp (250 kW; 340 PS) and 380 lb·ft (515 N·m) is available as an option. A new 3.0 L direct-injection twin-turbocharged V6 will be exclusive to Lincoln. Shared with the updated, shorter, 2017 Lincoln MKZ, the 3.0 L engine is rated at 400 bhp (298 kW; 406 PS) and 400 lb·ft (542 N·m) of torque on 93 octane ((R+M)/2) fuel. In Canada the car is only available with either the 2.7 or 3.0 L twin-turbo engines, and only with all-wheel-drive. The transmission is no longer activated with a center console installed transmission selector; the computer controlled transmission uses buttons installed to the left of the MyLincoln Touch infotainment touch screen labeled "P, R, N, D, S", a revival of an approach used in the 1950s by the Chrysler push button PowerFlite and the Packard Touchbutton Ultramatic. The "S" transmission selection represents "Sport" mode, where the Continuously Controlled Damping suspension, electric power steering and transmission shift points take on a different posture.

2017 Lincoln Continental in black

It features a number of items never previously offered on a Ford Motor Company vehicle, including electronically-latched doors Lincoln calls "E-Latch" that pull shut if the door isn't completely closed (the external door pulls are integrated into the beltline window trim, and the interior has a electrically activated button aligned with the door pull handle)[67] and torque vectoring for the optional all-wheel drive system when the 3.0 L engine is installed.[70] As with the Lincoln MKS, the Continental offers adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology, but introduces an optional 360-degree camera system to produce a "virtual overhead view" of the vehicle.[70] An upgraded speaker package is offered by Harman's "Revel" division, optional in both a 13 speaker and 19 speaker version, identified by aluminum speaker grilles installed in the front and rear door panels. Available on vehicles equipped with the "Select" or "Reserve" trim packages is a voice-activated touchscreen navigation system with integrated SiriusXM Traffic and TravelLink with a 6-year prepaid trial subscription.

Lincoln offers three trim packages, called Premiere, Select and the top level Reserve. In addition, there are five "package" groups that offer additional equipment based on the package chosen. In the "Rear Seat Package", the rear seats are heated, cooled, and "Active Motion" massaging seats, including a reclining feature with a 40/20/40 center armrest with integrated climate control settings. The front seats have three adjustment packages, which Lincoln calls "Perfect Position"; standard 10-way and driver's side memory feature, mid-level 24-way with thigh extenders, and the top level 30-way adjustable and "Active Motion" front massaging seats.[67] In continuing with Lincoln tradition, Bridge of Weir "Deepsoft" leather is used for the Select and Reserve trim packages.[71] Lincoln has returned to providing special appearance packages, called "Lincoln Black Label", a tradition started with the Designer Editions in 1976. The Continental offers the "Rhapsody" (unique to Continental), "Chalet", and "Thoroughbred" theme appearance packages.

Concept cars[edit]

2002 (Los Angeles Auto Show)[edit]

Lincoln Continental Concept
2002 Lincoln Continental concept car.jpg
2002 Lincoln Continental concept car at 2002 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
Overview
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
Production 2002 (Concept car)
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Powertrain
Engine V12
Transmission 6-speed automatic

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) specially modified Ford Modular V12 engine producing 414 bhp (309 kW) at 6000 rpm and 413 lb·ft (560 N·m) at 5270 rpm.[72] The car's design and suicide doors are a nod to the earlier 4th generation cars. The car never went beyond the concept stage.

2015 (New York Auto Show)[edit]

Lincoln Continental Concept
Lincoln continental 2015 (18967283782).jpg
2015 Lincoln Continental concept car at 2015 Shanghai Auto Show
Overview
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
Production 2015 (Concept car)
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FF layout
Powertrain
Engine Twin-turbo V6
Transmission 6-speed automatic

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[73] and March 2015[74][75] indicated that Lincoln intended on showing the preview of the replacement for the current-generation Lincoln MKS.[76] The concept ended up being the basis for the production 2017 Continental which went on sale in the fall of 2016.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Dammann, George The Cars of Lincoln Mercury (Sarasota, FLA: Crestline, 1987), p. 192.
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  45. ^ Cars of the Sizzling '60s, p. 348.
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  47. ^ Flory, p. 605.
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External links[edit]