.

Lincoln Continental

Wikicars, a place to share your automotive knowledge

Jump to: navigation, search
Lincoln Continental is a model name that has been used several times by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company for a line of luxury cars. For most of its lifetime, the Continental nameplate referred to the four-door Lincoln flagship. In 1981 the Continental's reign as the Lincoln flagship ended when the Town Car, a trim-level up to then, took over as the new flagship. The Continental continued as a midsize model, competing mainly with the Cadillac Seville until production ceased.
1964 Lincoln Continental: One of Detroit's undisputed automotive classics.
Enlarge
1964 Lincoln Continental: One of Detroit's undisputed automotive classics.


Contents

1939

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka
Production 1939–1948
Class
Body Style
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Weight
Transmission
Engine
Power
Similar
Designer Bob Gregorie

The first Lincoln Continental was developed initially as Edsel Ford's one-off personal vehicle, though it is believed he planned all along to put the model into production if it was successful. In 1938, he commissioned a custom design from the chief stylist, 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.

The car could be considered a channeled and sectioned Zephyr that did not even have the bulge that in the Zephyr (and in some other cars) replaced the running-board at the bottom of the doors. This decrease in height meant that the height of the hood was much closer to that of the fenders. There was hardly any trim on it at all, making its lines superb. This car is often rated as one of the most beautiful in the world.

The custom car for the boss was duly produced on time, and Edsel had it 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 making production examples, both convertible and sedan. 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.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Continental production was suspended, to be re-started in 1946 to 1948. Like the other post-war Lincolns, however, the Continental had similar bits of trim added to make it look improved. 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 recognised.


1956

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Continental Mark II
Production 1956–1957
Class
Body Style
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Weight
Transmission
Engine
Power
Similar
Designer

The Continental name was revived in 1955 as a separate Ford brand, with its sole model being the Continental Mark II, a high-class luxury vehicle that if anything was even more exclusive than the original Continental, being one of the most expensive cars available at the time. The Continental Mark II was sold for two model years, and about 3,000 were built. They sold to a selection of the world's richest men, but the Ford Motor Company lost money on each one sold. some of the original owners were Elvis, the Shah of Iran, Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger among others.

The Continental Mark II was design of its own with the highest quality control ever seen in automobile industry.


1958–1960 Mark III, IV, and V

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Continental Mark III
Production 1958–1960
Class
Body Style
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Weight
Transmission
Engine
Power
Similar
Designer


The Continental division was dissolved after 1957, but in an attempt to retain some of the cachet of the Mark II, Lincoln named its top-of-the-line 1958 model the Continental Mark III. This differed from the lower-model full-size Lincolns only in trim level and in its roof treatment, featuring a reverse-angle power rear "breezeway" window that retracted down behind the back seat. That year's full-size Lincoln sold poorly in all models; 1958 was a recession year in the United States. The new Lincoln was one of the largest cars ever made, larger than that year's Cadillac, and had styling considered by many to be excessive even in that decade of styling excess. 1959's range contained a Continental Mark IV model, and the 1960 range had a Continental Mark V, with more restrained styling than the 1958.


1961

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Mk. III
Production 1961–1969
Class
Body Style 4-door convertible
4-door sedan
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Weight
Transmission
Engine 430 in³ Super Marauder V8
460 in³ 385-series V8
462 in³ MEL V8
Power
Similar
Designer Elwood Engle

In 1961, the Continental was completely redesigned by Elwood Engle. For the first time, the names Lincoln and Continental would be paired on a car other than one in the Mark series. The design was originally intended to be the new 1961 Ford Thunderbird, but the concept was enlarged and slightly altered before being switched to the Lincoln line by Robert McNamara. One of the most striking features of the new Continental was its size. It was two feet shorter than its predecessor. So much smaller was this car, that advertising executives at Ford photographed a woman parallel parking a sedan for a magazine spread. The new Continental's most recognized trademark, front opening rear doors, was a purely practical decision. The new Continental was a unibody design, and there simply was not the structural strength to front-hang the heavy rear doors in the convertible model. To simplify production, all cars were to be four-door models, and only two body styles were offered, sedan or convertible. Therefore, the rear doors were hung from the rear and opened from the front. This "suicide door" style was to become the best-known feature of 1960s Lincolns. The 1961 model was the first car manufactured in America to be sold with a 24,000 mile or 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. Harold W. Johnson was head of Lincoln Continental division at the time. Efforts to find a new longer-life tire were conducted by Jacques Bajer at his asking.

Kennedy Limousine SS-100-X

For the Kennedy White House, the Secret Service purchased a convertible parade limousine custom built by Hess & Eisenhart 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 assasination, the limousine was returned to Hess & Eisenhart, 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.

1962

This slab-sided distinctive design ran from 1961 through 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.

1963

Due to customer requests, for 1963 the front seat was redesigned to provide a little more leg room to back seat passengers. The rear deck lid was also raised to provide more trunk space. The floating rectangles in the previous year's grille became a simple matrix of squares.

1964

The car was stretched 3 inches (76 mm) in 1964 to give more rear-seat legroom, and the roofline was squared off at the same time. The dash was also redesigned, doing away with the pod concept. Side glass was now flat to provide more interior room. The gas tank access door, which had been concealed at the rear of the car in the rear grille, was now placed on the driver's side rear quarter panel and the exterior "Continental" script was changed.

1965

The convex 1961–64 grille was replaced by a flatter, squared-off one for 1965–69. The car was given front disc brakes for the 1965 model year to improve stopping time, but little else changed. This car was also used in the film The Matrix from 1999-2001

1966

A two-door version was launched in 1966, the first two-door Lincoln since 1960, and the MEL engine was expanded from 430 to 462 in³ (7.0 to 7.6 L). The car was given all-new exterior sheet metal and a new interior including the dashboard. The length was increased by five inches to 220.9, the width by an inch to 79.7, and the height by almost an inch to 55.0 (on the sedan).

The convertible saw a few technical changes related to how the lowering and raising the top was implemented. Lincoln engineers separated the hydraulics for the top and the rear decklid (trunk) by adding a second pump and eliminating the hydraulic solenoids. A glass rear window replaced the previous years' plastic windows.

Sales increased to 54,755 units for the model year, considered a success by Ford. This was a 36% increase over 1965. Product breakdown for the year consisted of 65% sedans, 29% coupes, and just under 6% for the four-door convertible.

1967

1967 was the last year customers could choose a four-door convertible Continental. 1967 sales were 45,667 cars built.

1968

1968 brought some minor exterior changes. The new Ford 385 engine in a 460 in³ (7.5 L) model was to be available initially, but because there were so many of the old 462 engines in process during production, the 462 was used until the 460 was phased in later that year.

Suicide-door Lincolns were used as the US Presidential limousines during the 1960s and into the 1970s. John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a 1961 convertible, which was later armored and converted into a sedan for greater security. This famous automobile is currently housed at the Henry Ford Museum. Another famous event involving this model of Continental was when a brand new 1964 model was mercilessly crushed into a cube in a junkyard compactor in the James Bond film Goldfinger, to the horror of many moviegoers. (The filmmakers were not so wasteful: the moving car is a new 1964, but after a cutaway, the car picked up by the crane to be destroyed is a 1963 without an engine).

Mark III

Lincoln Continental Mark III was introduced in early 1968 as a 1969 model. The reason for the "III" designation was that this car was seen as the true successor to the Mark II of 1956-57. Although it shared the Continental name with other Lincoln models, it was a completely different car. Based on the Ford Thunderbird sedan platform, the Mark III was the first body-on-frame Lincoln since 1957. This model was made famous in the 1971 movie The French Connection, when this model was used as a means for smuggling vast quantities of heroin concealed in its rocker panels. Built from 1968 to 1971, only few changes were made to the original model (1968). The Mark III had a 460 in³ engine with 365 bhp and a compression ratio of 10.5:1. The 1970 model was the first car to feature an ABS (Sure-Track) system for the rear tires and was originally equipped with Michelin radials. Some of the original equipment included automatic headlight dimmers, cruise control, rear window defroster (electric and forced air), electric everything and remote control trunk release.

1970

1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car
Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Mk.IV
Production 1970–1979
Class
Body Style 4-door Full-size sedan
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Weight
Transmission 3-speed C6 automatic
Engine 400 in³ Cleveland V8
460 in³ 385-series V8
Power
Similar
Designer

The 1970 Continental continued the slab-sided design with blade-like fenders of the previous model, but the suicide doors were gone as was unibody construction. Changes included headlamps which were hidden behind retractable flaps (a characteristic introduced on the Lincoln Continental Mark III), federally-mandated bumpers in 1973, grille changes in 1971 and 1977, and progressive introduction of pollution controls. Nevertheless, from 1972 to 1975 the Lincoln Continental Mark IV successfully fought over the title "King of the Hill" with the Cadillac Eldorado in the personal luxury car category. Standard luxury features gradually became optional over the decade, and the 460 in³ (7.5 L) engine became an option in 1977, the 400 in³ (6.6 L) small-block replacing it as the standard engine. From 1975 to 1980 a Continental Town Coupé was also sold alongside the four-door Continental Town Car and the Continental Mark V. Town Coupé and Town Car were option packages for the Continental.

The car measures 233.4 inches, about 19.4 feet (5.7 m), and weighed between 4500-5300lbs depending on the year. After General Motors downsized its big cars for 1977, these Lincolns were some of the largest cars on the market, surpassed only by Cadillac's Fleetwood 75 limousine. They were powered by Ford's 460 cid V8, which was the largest engine in any production car, worldwide, from 1977 to 1979. The EPA rated the Lincolns at 10-12 MPG.


1980

1980 Lincoln Continental
Enlarge
1980 Lincoln Continental

By 1980, Ford could not continue the old models; they could not meet the fuel economy and emissions regulations any longer. Much smaller and more economical vehicles were required, so Ford chose to downsize the Continental onto the Ford Panther platform designed for the 1979 Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis. The 1980 Continental Mark VI, as compared to its 1979 predecessor Mark V, was erdrive800 lb lighter and 20 inches (508 mm) shorter in overall length, and was fitted with a 302 in³ (5.0 L) V8. A 351 in³ (5.8 L) engine was briefly optional. Fuel efficiency was about a third better than the 1979 model.

The new Continental carried over as many styling cues as possible from the previous, larger cars, modified somewhat to match the new, more sensible package. Lincoln management knew that keeping the family resemblance going was critical; sales depended on the car being instantly recognizable as a Lincoln.

In 1981, the Continental name was replaced by the Town Car (a former option package name) on this and subsequent models. Nevertheless, the Mark VI model continued through the 1983 model year without the "Continental" designation which in 1982 had been conferred upon the vehicle which was to become the Mark VII for the 1984 model year.


1982

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Mk. VI
Production 1982–1987
Class
Body Style 4-door sedan
Ford Fox platform
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase
Weight
Transmission 4-speed AOD automatic overdrive
Engine 2.4 L M21 turbodiesel I6
3.8 L Essex V6
5.0 L Windsor V8
Power 150 hp
275 lb-ft
Similar
Designer

1982 saw the Continental name applied to a new, smaller Lincoln. Intended to compete with the Cadillac Seville, the new Continental was given a Daimler-esque, bustle-backed body, but remained a rear wheel drive vehicle, built on a modified Ford Fox platform. Engine choices were the 5.0 L V8 and for the first time, a 3.8 L V6. This model was produced through the 1987 model year.

A coupe version, called the Lincoln Mark VII, was introduced in 1984 as a competitor to the Cadillac Eldorado. The Mark VII remained in production a little longer, ending its run in 1992.

A rare footnote to the "Fox" Continental was the availability in 1984 to 1985 of a BMW-Steyr 2.4 L turbodiesel six-cylinder engine. Considered sluggish and smoky, it was never popular. Few are believed to still exist.

This little Continental was the spiritual successor to the Lincoln Versailles intermediate of the 1970s. Like Versailles it was based on lesser Ford models, and shared components with the LTD and Fairmont. Unlike Versailles, it wasn't a cheap car dressed with luxury add-ons, but instead had a unique body and interior, both giving a feeling of luxury that didn't betray the car's origins. And, to a great degree, the little Continental succeeded where Versailles had failed - in the sales race. The little Continental's "Bustleback" styling was meant to compete with the razor-edged Cadillac Seville and Chrysler's "Bustleback" Imperial, but the Continental was more conventional and less trouble-prone than either of its rivals. Unfortunately, it was about two years too late, as Seville and Imperial were already established forces in the market, and Lincoln's foray into "bustleback" styling seemed a little contrived in 1982. The standard engine for '82 was a carbureted version of Ford's 302 cid V8, with a fuel-injected version arriving the next year. A 2.4 liter BMW M21 turbodiesel was offered in '84 and '85, but wasn't frequently ordered. The little continental got freshened styling for '84, making it more aerodynamic looking. The car continued thereafter with few changes.


1988


Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Mk. VII
Production 1988–1994
Class
Body Style 4-door sedan
Length 205.1 in. (5.2 m)
Width 72.7 in. (1.8 m)
Height 55.4 in. (1.4 m)
Wheelbase 109.0 in. (2.8 m)
Weight
Transmission 4-speed AXOD-E automatic
Engine 3.8 L Essex V6
Power 140 hp (1988–90), 151 hp (1991), 160 hp (1992–94)
Similar Ford Taurus
Mercury Sable
Designer

The 1988 Continental was all-new, front wheel drive, and based on the same platform as the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable. This basic configuration would continue until the Continental was discontinued after the 2002 model year. This incarnation was intended to compete against the similar Cadillac DeVille, which had been downsized in 1985. The Continental was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1989. In the 1990s, however, the Continental's downsized body and strong resemblance to non-luxury Mercury and Ford models was heavily criticized. Sales also dipped as the relatively small car proved unpopular with Lincoln buyers who were seeking larger American-made luxury cars featuring rear wheel drive.

For the first time ever, no V8 was available on the Continental. The sole engine choice was a 3.8 L Essex V6, the same engine that was optional on Tauruses and Sables. Thanks to its redesigned appearance and front-wheel drive like the rival Cadillac Seville. the Continental was now a good deal better than Seville in the eyes of the public, and handily outsold the Cadillac. The roots of Continental's design were in the Taurus, but Continental had its own V6, its own body, and its own interior. While performance wasn't anything to write home about, the Continental was vastly improved over the old one, with its antiquated "Fox" chassis and running gear. One thing owners didn't like was the new price tag, which was now hovering around $30,000, which was a great deal more in 1988 than it is now. Many owners felt that they'd paid too high a price for a car with some quality problems, and which was based on the much less expensive Taurus. However, with the exception of early build quality, new model bugs, and persistent transmission bugs, the new Continental was pretty much trouble-free. Today, these cars haven't held their value the way they should have, which leaves the door open for good deals on well-equipped used examples. This Continental isn't as cheap to own as the previous one, however. As with nearly all luxury cars, the air suspension is very expensive to replace (some substitute cheaper Taurus or Sable suspensions sourced from wrecked cars), and electronic items like the digital dash and climate control can fail.


1995

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Mk. VIII
Production 1995–1997
Class
Body Style 4-door sedan
Length 206.3 in. (5.2 m)
Width 73.6 in. (1.9 m)
Height 56.0 in. (1.4 m)
Wheelbase 109.0 in. (2.8 m)
Weight
Transmission 4-speed AX4N automatic
Engine 4.6 L Modular
Power 260 hp
265 lb-ft.
Similar Ford Taurus
Mercury Sable
Designer

Like the Taurus and Sable the Continental was substantially updated in the mid-1990s, but with more rounded lines, creating a more aerodynamic exterior. The 1995 Continental was ridded of the many design features that had previously reminded onlookers of the lesser Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable. The 1995 Continental was once again perceived as a unique Lincoln and was by many critics to be easier recognizable as luxury car. A very substantial change from the previous V6 car, though, was the addition of the a DOHC Modular V8 similar to that powered the rear wheel drive Lincoln Mark VIII. The most noticeable differences being its FWD all aluminum block (different bolt pattern for the transmission bell housing) and it being rated at 20 hp and 20 ft·lbf tq. less than the Mark VIII.


1998

Lincoln Continental
Lincoln
aka Mk. IX
Production 1998–2002
Class
Body Style 4-door sedan
Length 208.5 in. (5.3 m)
Width 73.6 in. (1.9 m)
Height 56.0 in. (1.4 m)
Wheelbase 109.0 in. (2.8 m)
Weight
Transmission 4-speed AX4N automatic
Engine 4.6 L Modular DOHC V8
Power 275 hp
275 lb-ft.
Similar Ford Taurus
Mercury Sable
Designer

The Continental was updated again in 1998 with a new exterior (the exterior was similar to that of the Town Car), and the 1999 model gained side airbags and more power. After the 2002 model year, the Continental was cancelled, because of slow sales due to the continued shift in the consumer marketplace away from large front-wheel drive luxury cars. The Continental, and to an extent the Lincoln Mark VIII coupe, were essentially replaced in the Lincoln lineup by the midsize Lincoln LS V8 & V6 sedans, which were introduced in the 2000 model year. Even though the Continental was a large front wheel drive sedan, and the Mark VIII was a rear wheel drive coupe, the rear wheel drive LS acted as a replacement for each, by acting both as a personal luxury vehicle, and as a family sedan. Nevertheless, buyers looking for a full-sized luxury sedan in the Continental class tended to "move up" and purchase the larger rear wheel drive Town Car, while those looking for a personal luxury-sporty sedan in the Mark VIII class purchased the LS.

All Continentals built after 1958 were assembled at Ford's Wixom Assembly Plant. The last Lincoln Continental rolled off the assembly line on July 26, 2002. The Wixom plant continued to manufacture the Town Car and LS, Ford Thunderbird, as well as the niche sports car Ford GT.


Replacements

Lincoln upgraded the LS in 2005-2006 to attract more of the mid-size luxury market in the Continental class. The LS was cancelled in April 2006 due to slowing sales, following the release of the mid-size 2006 Lincoln Zephyr, and its upgraded replacement, the 2007 Lincoln-MKZ. A larger, more luxurious Lincoln flagship sedan, the Lincoln MKS, is reportedly under development for the 2009 model year as a proper replacement for the Lincoln Continental class vehicle.

A concept vehicle was created in 2002, complete with suicide doors and a 5.9L (5935cc/362.2in3) V12 engine producing 414bhp (309kW) at 6000rpm and 413 lbs-ft (560Nm) of torque at 5270rpm.

See Also

LINCOLN

Ford Motor Company


Ford | Mercury | Lincoln | Mazda | Edsel | Continental | Merkur


Current Models: Town Car · Navigator · MKZ · MKX · MKS · MKT

Historic Models: Zephyr · Blackwood · LS · Versailles · Continental · Premiere · Cosmopolitan · Mark series · Mark LT · Lido

Concept Cars: MKR · MKS · Futura · Mk9/Mark X · Navicross · L2K · Fifty-X · Continental Concept · Mark 9 · MKT Concept · C Concept · Machete Concept

One-Offs:


Lincoln-Mercury · Continental · Continental Mark II · SYNC · MyLincoln Touch


Henry M. Leland Corporate website A brand of the Ford PAG




External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Personal tools
Toolbox