The Lincoln Continental began life as a personal vehicle for Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford. 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.
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 had more in common with classic era "long-hood, short deck" body configurations versus being a strict adherent of contemporary streamline moderne design trends. 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. In reference to its European-inspired design, 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'.
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.
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.
Media related to Lincoln Continental (first generation) at Wikimedia Commons
The Continental name was revived in late 1955 as a separate marque, produced by a separate Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company, with its sole model being the Continental Mark II. Ford made it very clear that this Continental was not a Lincoln. This version was a unique design with the highest quality control ever seen in the automobile industry. High-class luxury abounded in the new Continental, and with very limited availability, it appeared even more exclusive than the original.
Continentals for 1956 were among the most expensive cars in the world — with a retail price of just under $10,000 (equivalent to nearly $90,000 in 2016) at a time when a Ford Customline could be purchased for less than $2000, 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.
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, 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 for her birthday, which was painted to match her eye color before the release of the film Giant. The 1956 film High Society includes several scenes with a Mark II. 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. 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.
Media related to Lincoln Continental (second generation) at Wikimedia Commons
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 ($85,273 in current dollars) to a somewhat more accessible $6,000 ($49,806 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. In contrast to the ceiling-mounted A/C vents of the Mark II, the A/C vents were mounted in the dash board. A unique option was "Auto Lube"; as long as the owner kept the lube reservoir full, the car automatically lubed itself.
In a break from Ford, Mercury, and Edsel, Lincoln adopted unibody construction for what would be one of the largest cars ever produced by Ford Motor Company and one of the largest unibody-chassis cars ever made in the automotive industry. Using a 131-inch wheelbase, the Continental III was longer than any Cadillac sedan; it is the longest car produced by Ford Motor Company without federally mandated 5 mph bumpers. The 1959–60 Continental Limousine and Town Car remain the heaviest American sedans built since World War II without an extended wheelbase. They had the same wheelbase as other Continentals, but had additional legroom in the rear seat (the same legroom as Lincoln) due to the absence of the "breezeway" window, a reverse-angled rear window that retracted electrically into the trunk. The window increased ventilation through the passenger compartment in an era when most cars did not have air conditioning, and the unusual notchback body design provided a distinctive visual identity for the brand. Also, the 1958 Continental convertible is the second longest convertible ever produced in America, exceeded only by the (extremely rare) 1934–37 Cadillac V-16 convertibles.
For 1959, The Continental Division was merged back into the Lincoln Division, and the Continental Mark IV was introduced as a model of Lincoln rather than a separate brand. 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 "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.
Some commentators have suggested that even for an era such as the late 1950's when most American cars were chrome-covered behemoths sporting massive jet-age fins on each side of the trunk, the third generation Continental was "excessively styled" with too many distinctive design features that muddied the design. Others say this simply 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 won an award for its styling.
Don Delarossa, who succeeded Najjar as Lincoln's Chief Stylist, was responsible for the 1960 Continental 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 third generation Continental headlight arrangement.
L. David Ash was Lincoln's Executive Exterior Stylist when Najjar was in charge of Lincoln styling, and Ash would later play a prominent role as Chief Stylist of Ford in designing the 1969–1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III. The reuse of the Mark III badge, together with an early 1960's marketing decision by Ford's then-Executive Vice President Lee Iacocca to downplay the older models when the Fourth Generation Continentals were released, helped cause the Continentals of the 1958-1960 vintage to be dubbed the "forgotten Marks".
Media related to Lincoln Continental (third generation) at Wikimedia Commons
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 product line (of the Capri, Premiere, and Continental Mark Series) was replaced by a single four-door Lincoln Continental. Making its appearance for the first time since 1948, it was available as a sedan and convertible.
Originally slated to be a version of the 1961 Ford Thunderbird model line, the 1961 Continental was modified by Ford design vice president Elwood Engel. Though still looking expansive, the slab-sided Continental was the smallest Lincoln since before World War II, a full 14.8 in (380 mm) shorter overall than its 1960 predecessor, with an 8 in (200 mm) shorter wheelbase.
The design was anchored in a "form follows function" simplicity, with a complete absence of ornamentation. Sightlines across the hood, rear deck, and fenders all seemed to vanish to infinity. The overall effect evoked a sense of dignity, great mass, and authority, in motion or parked.
Nevertheless, the car was so much smaller advertising executives at Ford photographed a woman parallel parking a sedan for magazine advertisements. Though more agile, 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). As a result, the new Lincoln was still heavier than any equivalent from Cadillac or Imperial. 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."
The most recognized feature of the design of the Continental was the return of rear-hinged doors, last seen in the 1951 Lincolns, to improve access to the rear seat. A "Door Ajar" warning light on the dash was provided as a safety feature. Sedans featured a thin "B" pillar with both body styles utilizing hardtop-style doors sans integral window frames as well as curved side glass. Sedans were called a "pillared hardtop", the design would be added into a number of Ford Motor Company vehicles during the 1960s and 1970s.
Another popular feature was the all-new convertible, where the trunklid would open electrically in a single piece, hinged at the back of the vehicle, then the fabric top would fold down and disappear beneath the trunklid. The mechanism was originally used on the Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner hardtop convertible of the late 1950s. Opening the trunk on convertibles for storage required that the lid be opened electrically, without deploying or retracting the folding convertible top. Another feature was the popular "Tilt-Away" steering column, borrowed from the Thunderbird, that was modified to both adjust for vertical and length adjustment.
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. It was also the first postwar four-door convertible from a major U.S. manufacturer. California Walnut veneer was used on the doors and instrument panel. Central locking system was vacuum operated.
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 this car that Kennedy was riding in at the time he was assassinated in 1963.
Regarded as Elwood Engel's magnum opus, the 1961 Continental received some design support from a full size clay model done by staffers Howard Payne and John Orfe in 1958. It was a sales success, with 25,160 sold during its first year. This so-called "slab-side" design ran from 1961 to 1969 with few changes from year to year. As a result, Lincoln dealers began to find that many people who bought 1961 and post-1961 models were keeping their cars longer, forcing a new design. 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.
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.
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.
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 with the formerly curved side glass now being flat. 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. A concept show car was built, called the Continental Town Brougham, 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 Kelsey-Hayes 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. To improve reliability, Lincoln added an oil pressure gauge.
With the facelift, sales improved about 10%, to 40,180 units.
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. 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. It succeeded, helping boost sales to 54,755 that year, an increase of 36%, all of it due to the new two-door; sales of both four-door models slipped slightly. 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. 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. 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 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. In April, the new Mark III made its debut, as a 1969 model. Total sales would be down to just 39,134. 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. 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.
Media related to Lincoln Continental (fourth generation) at Wikimedia Commons
For the 1970 model year, the Lincoln Continental was redesigned for the first time since 1961. The unibody chassis design was abandoned in favor of body-on-frame (the first since the 1957 Lincolns), and cost considerations meant that the new 127 inch wheelbase chassis would be shared with the Ford LTD/Mercury Marquis sedans. The suspension included coil springs on all four wheels, and the cost and complexity of rear-hinged rear doors was sacrificed in favor of conventional front-hinged entry.
Vacuum-operated hidden headlamps were added, which retracted upwards in event of failure. An automatic parking brake release, two-way power seats, power front disc brakes (rear drum), an indicator light for the headlight doors, and adjustable head restraints were all standard features.
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., 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. On the inside, more rear seat leg room was added.
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 was introduced; both models were 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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 ($54,448 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 ($59,398 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 Commons1970 - 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. There is information that suggests that the first 500 "Collector's Series" Mark V coupés were built with the 460 engine. There are certainly a few surviving examples of early cars fitted with factory 460's.
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. 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 fluorescent 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.
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).
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.
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.
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) 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.
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.
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 ($65,766 in current dollars).
Media related to Lincoln Continental (seventh generation) at Wikimedia Commons
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 not only against Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi but with the top of the line vehicles of Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti. Lincoln chose to completely reinvent the Continental.
Sharing its unibody chassis with the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, the 1988 Continental became the first front-wheel drive Lincoln; it was also the first Lincoln since 1948 sold without an available V8 engine. As part of a more conservative exterior, the sloping "Continental trunklid" was deleted. Four inches longer, it was also 170 pounds lighter than its predecessor. For the first time since 1980, the Continental closely matched its Cadillac Sedan de Ville counterpart in size. By interior volume the Continental was the largest front-wheel drive car sold in 1988, and was recognized by Car and Driver on its 1989 Ten Best list.
Power was provided by a 140 hp 3.8L Essex V6 newly introduced to the Taurus/Sable for 1988. Exclusive to the Continental was adaptive air-ride suspension. Variable assist power steering was standard. In 1991, engine output was revised to 155 hp, and to 160 hp in 1993. All Continentals were equipped with a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Following the debut of the Lincoln Continental concept car at the New York Auto Show in the spring 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. 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 turbocharging and all-wheel drive. 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 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.
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) and torque vectoring for the optional all-wheel drive system when the 3.0 L engine is installed. 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. 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. In continuing with Lincoln tradition, Bridge of Weir "Deepsoft" leather is used for the Select and Reserve trim packages. 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.
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. The car's design and suicide doors are a nod to the earlier 4th generation cars. The car never went beyond the concept stage.
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 and March 2015 indicated that Lincoln intended on showing the preview of the replacement for the current-generation Lincoln MKS. The concept ended up being the basis for the production 2017 Continental which went on sale in the fall of 2016.