The Truth About Cars » lincoln continental http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 02 Aug 2014 03:20:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » lincoln continental http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-lincoln-continental-town-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-lincoln-continental-town-car/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872386 Malaise Era Lincolns are common sightings in high-turnover pull-yer-part wrecking yards these days, since there’s not much interest in preserving these cars. We saw an extremely clean 1976 Town Car in California a few months back (it’s still on the yard, and very few parts have been pulled since I photographed it), and now I’ve […]

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19 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMalaise Era Lincolns are common sightings in high-turnover pull-yer-part wrecking yards these days, since there’s not much interest in preserving these cars. We saw an extremely clean 1976 Town Car in California a few months back (it’s still on the yard, and very few parts have been pulled since I photographed it), and now I’ve found this rougher (but not at all rusty) ’79 at another San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard.
14 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven it its distressed state, the luxury is still evident.
16 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomebody grabbed the 400, for reasons that probably made sense at the time.
24 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights? Opera lights.
05 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Park-To-Reverse fiasco resulted in Ford recalling 23 million vehicles in 1980 and adding these warning stickers.
15 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuper-cushy burgundy leather seats, of course.
09 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin85 mph speedometer.
07 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ornamental trip-counter reset knob is a nice touch.
01 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have never found one of these Cartier “digital” clocks in working order, but my car-clock collection needs one. I decided to risk $5.99 on this one… and it works! People win the lottery, and 1970s Detroit car clocks sometimes work.

01 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Crapwagon Outtake: Foxy Lady, Diesel Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/crapwagon-outtake-foxy-lady-diesel-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/crapwagon-outtake-foxy-lady-diesel-edition/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:43:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812953 Once upon a time, diesel luxury sedans weren’t just the domain of Mercedes-Benz. If you wanted a pokey, smokey oil-burning barge, you had the option of Cadillac, as well. And for 1,500 lucky customers, there was even a Lincoln. For a brief moment in time, Lincoln loyalists could get a diesel powered Continental – but […]

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Once upon a time, diesel luxury sedans weren’t just the domain of Mercedes-Benz. If you wanted a pokey, smokey oil-burning barge, you had the option of Cadillac, as well. And for 1,500 lucky customers, there was even a Lincoln.

For a brief moment in time, Lincoln loyalists could get a diesel powered Continental – but it wasn’t just any diesel mill. This one was a BMW straight-six, and only 1500 examples were ever produced, for just one year only. The 2.4L I6 was shared with the BMW 524td, and made 115 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque – not exactly thrilling numbers for 1984, let alone any era.

The example shown here has just 150,000 miles and about $12,000 sunk into it – likely the cleanest example we’ll see in some time. With new upholstery, a revamped air suspension and no rust, diehard fans of the Fox Contis may even want to consider it, just for the overall state of the car (even if it doesn’t have the usual 302 Windsor).

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Junkyard Find: 1967 Lincoln Continental http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1967-lincoln-continental/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1967-lincoln-continental/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766745 The 1961-1969 Lincoln Continental, with its suicide doors and slab sides, is recognized by most as the styling pinnacle of the Lincoln brand in the postwar era. Very nice early examples are worth pretty decent money, but a ’67 in beyond-basket-case condition is worth whatever scrap cars are fetching per ton. Here’s a thoroughly used-up […]

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40 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 1961-1969 Lincoln Continental, with its suicide doors and slab sides, is recognized by most as the styling pinnacle of the Lincoln brand in the postwar era. Very nice early examples are worth pretty decent money, but a ’67 in beyond-basket-case condition is worth whatever scrap cars are fetching per ton. Here’s a thoroughly used-up ’67 that I found recently in a Denver wrecking yard.
44 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car appears to have spent many years bleaching in the High Plains sun; there’s not much Michigan-style rust, but the interior is completely baked. It’s hard to imagine that Richard Nixon’s plush limousine was also a ’67 Continental.
35 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the upholstery is dry as Moon soil.
15 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLikewise, the vinyl top.
41 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has a great big 462-cubic-inch MEL engine.
32 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHey, some sort of primitive cruise control!
29 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThermostat-controlled HVAC systems were super-high-tech in 1967.

Watching the wind rustle a torn plastic-bag “window” in a once-proud luxury car while The Crusher clanks ominously in the background… well, it tends to remind you of your own mortality.

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Here’s Your New Lincoln Continental http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/heres-your-new-lincoln-continental/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/heres-your-new-lincoln-continental/#comments Tue, 27 Aug 2013 14:29:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=501451 Car and Driver released renderings of the next Lincoln MKS aka Project GOBI aka the Lincoln flagship supposedly inspired by the 2002 Lincoln Continental concept. We spoke with someone well placed, and they provided us with some further insight. Apparently the rendering is not entirely accurate. For starters, the car will be based on the […]

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Car and Driver released renderings of the next Lincoln MKS aka Project GOBI aka the Lincoln flagship supposedly inspired by the 2002 Lincoln Continental concept. We spoke with someone well placed, and they provided us with some further insight. Apparently the rendering is not entirely accurate.

For starters, the car will be based on the current CD4 platform the underpins the Fusion, not the Volvo-derived platform underpining the current Taurus and MKS.  The belt line and C-pillar will be more subdued and flat, rather than the Impala-like hump you see here. The rear will have two light bars and the front grille will be integrated into the hood. Certain details are apparently still in flux. Also, the Nano V6 mentioned in the article will be 2.7L rather than 2.9L.

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Junkyard Find: 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1970-lincoln-continental-mark-iii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1970-lincoln-continental-mark-iii/#comments Fri, 10 Aug 2012 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456199 We’re going to take a break from the Turbo Era Junkyard Finds and take a look at the kind of car that our resident lover of Ford personal luxury coupes really appreciates: a down-but-not-out (yet) 1970 Mark III in Denver self-service wrecking yard. It’s bit rusty and the paint probably started looking bad while Gerald […]

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We’re going to take a break from the Turbo Era Junkyard Finds and take a look at the kind of car that our resident lover of Ford personal luxury coupes really appreciates: a down-but-not-out (yet) 1970 Mark III in Denver self-service wrecking yard.
It’s bit rusty and the paint probably started looking bad while Gerald Ford was still president, but this car still has presence.
Thanks to optimistic gross power ratings and a who-gives-a-damn-about-oxides-of-nitrogen high compression ratio, the 460-cubic-inch V8 in this car was rated at 365 horsepower. Fuel economy? Gas will always be cheap!
This grille would look good hanging on my garage wall.
The transmission hump made it a bit less roomy than its front-wheel-drive Eldorado competitor, but who puts a passenger in the middle of this kind of bench seat?


“The automobile of celebrities, stars, and world leaders.”

28 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1972-lincoln-continental-mark-iv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1972-lincoln-continental-mark-iv/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=427963 Ah, personal luxury! It’s hard to imagine anything more personally luxurious than a 4,906-pound two-door with 460 cubic inches under its 50-foot-long hood and an interior done up in classy brown-and-cream two-tone. You don’t see many cars with the transmission gear ratios on a plaque in the engine compartment. The Cartier Edition Mark IV came […]

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Ah, personal luxury! It’s hard to imagine anything more personally luxurious than a 4,906-pound two-door with 460 cubic inches under its 50-foot-long hood and an interior done up in classy brown-and-cream two-tone.
You don’t see many cars with the transmission gear ratios on a plaque in the engine compartment.
The Cartier Edition Mark IV came later, but this ’72 still got the Cartier clock. I tried to find a working Lincoln/Cartier clock in the junkyard for years, and finally gave up in despair. Cartier’s low-bidder clock supplier probably got $1.47 apiece for these.
This Mark IV had some rust issues involving the vinyl top. It appears that the car’s final owner removed the vinyl, saw the horror beneath, and sent the car straight to The Crusher.
In fact, The Crusher lives just a few hundred feet from this car’s final parking space. Here we see it in full, car-eating operation.
Let’s hope someone rescues these nice interior components before this car gets eaten.
The Mark IV came with an early type of ABS called “Sure-Track.” I’ve never experienced Sure-Track in operation, so I have no idea how well it worked.
At some point during its 40 years on the planet, this Lincoln got a name from a label-maker-equipped owner: Big Gulp!

46 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 01 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 02 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 03 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 04 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 06 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 07 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 08 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 09 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 10 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 11 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 12 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 13 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 14 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 15 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 16 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 17 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 18 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 19 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 21 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 22 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 24 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 25 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 26 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 27 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 28 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 29 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 33 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 35 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 36 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 37 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 38 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 39 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 40 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 43 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 44 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden 45 - 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Back Down On The Alameda Street: 1962 Lincoln Continental http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/back-down-on-the-alameda-street-1962-lincoln-continental/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/back-down-on-the-alameda-street-1962-lincoln-continental/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2011 18:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=388497 Back in my Jalopnik days, I started the whole interesting-street-parked-car-photos thing with the original Down On The Street series. At that time, all the cars I shot were located in my old hometown on Alameda, California, and I got up to 600 or so before moving to Denver last summer. Now I’m back in Alameda, […]

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Back in my Jalopnik days, I started the whole interesting-street-parked-car-photos thing with the original Down On The Street series. At that time, all the cars I shot were located in my old hometown on Alameda, California, and I got up to 600 or so before moving to Denver last summer. Now I’m back in Alameda, in preparation for my role working the 185-car Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons race, and it wasn’t long before I spotted this fine machine parked near downtown.

It’s a very straight, mildly customized ’62 Continental, suicide doors and all, and it clearly gets regular street use.

Though a bit too slab-sided to look very graceful, the lines of this era of Continental have aged well.

The San Francisco Bay Area has been a car-club hotbed since, well, the dawn of the automobile. I’m not familiar with the Antioch Dragoons; the club could be 9 years old, or 90.

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Curbside Classics Lincoln Fest: Doors To All Nine Parts Open Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/curbside-classics-lincoln-fest-doors-to-all-nine-parts-open-here/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/curbside-classics-lincoln-fest-doors-to-all-nine-parts-open-here/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 02:30:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=344859 The suicide doors of perception to Curbside Classic’s Lincoln week-long love/hate fest open here: Part 1: A Brief History of Lincoln up to 1961 Part 2: 1965 Lincoln Continental Part 3: 1968 Lincoln Continental Part 4: 1970 Lincoln Continental Coupe Part 5: 1977 Lincoln Town Car Part 6: 1985 Lincoln Town Car Part 7: 1973 […]

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The suicide doors of perception to Curbside Classic’s Lincoln week-long love/hate fest open here:

Part 1: A Brief History of Lincoln up to 1961

Part 2: 1965 Lincoln Continental

Part 3: 1968 Lincoln Continental

Part 4: 1970 Lincoln Continental Coupe

Part 5: 1977 Lincoln Town Car

Part 6: 1985 Lincoln Town Car

Part 7: 1973 Continental Mark IV

Part 8: 1989 Lincoln Mark VII

Part 9: 1977 Lincoln Versailles

Part 8: 1986 Continental

Part 9: Mark VIII and Finale

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Lincoln: A Brief History Up To 1961 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/curbside-classics-lincoln-week-part-1-a-brief-history-up-to-1961/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/curbside-classics-lincoln-week-part-1-a-brief-history-up-to-1961/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2010 19:43:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=344577 In honor of our greatest president’s birthday this Friday, it’s going to be Lincoln Week at Curbside Classic. We’ll start with a brief history of the brand to set us up for the sixties, when our featured cars begin. Cadillac and Lincoln shared an almost identical early biography. Both were founded by “Master of Precision” […]

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In honor of our greatest president’s birthday this Friday, it’s going to be Lincoln Week at Curbside Classic. We’ll start with a brief history of the brand to set us up for the sixties, when our featured cars begin.

Cadillac and Lincoln shared an almost identical early biography. Both were founded by “Master of Precision” Henry Leland. And both were eventually sold off to their current corporate owners. Caddy was first, having been founded in 1902, and quickly establishing itself as the “Standard of the World”, which actually reflected Leland’s obsession with standardized precision parts that could be interchanged rather than some inflated PR claim. Caddy went to GM in 1909, and after WW I, Leland started Lincoln.

By 1922, Lincoln was in trouble and this time Ford came to the rescue. It particularly gave son Edsel Ford an opportunity to engage himself in something slightly out of Henry’s control-freak influence over the Model T and A. The Lincoln Models KB and KA were highly regarded during the classic era, with superb engineering, large V12 and V8 engines, and the finest custom coachwork. Except for a visual example here, we’re going to skip over the classic era because it was a dead end, and is largely irrelevant to the continuity of the brand, post WWII. That’s not in any way a reflection on these exquisite cars, but we can’t do them justice here.

The car we’ll start with is the Lincoln Zephyr of 1936. The Depression was killing the classic big cars, which created an opportunity for fresh thinking on a smaller and more affordable scale. The Zephyr was Lincoln’s counterpart to Chrysler’s Airflow; both of them arising out of the new obsession with streamlining everything from trains to toasters. The Zephyr had its origins in a series of radical rear-engine designs by John Tjaarda, using airplane-type stress analysis to prove the advantages of unit construction. The prototype that led to the Zephyr is below.

Tjaarda did his work in conjunction with Briggs, one of the major pressed-steel body builders of the day. Eager to find a client for their efforts, they ended up at Lincoln. But the radical rear-engine construction, which was remarkably similar to the Tatra 77/87 of the same vintage, was highly ambitious. Since the Tatra was a favorite of my childhood, it’s no wonder I transferred that to the Zephyr after our move to the USA, as there were still some around on the streets of Iowa in the early sixties. Interestingly, Briggs built almost the complete Zephyr for Ford at its own plant, leaving Lincoln to install the drive train and mechanicals. It was a foreshadowing of outsourcing to come.

The final production Zephyr was only radical in its semi-unit construction. The streamlined styling was toned down enough to make it palatable to conservative buyers, unlike the doomed Airflow. And under the skin, the Zephyr was anything but radical, using the same transverse leaf spring suspension as the Model T, and its engine was essentially a 12 cylinder version of the Ford flathead V8, but suffered even more severely of that design’s inherent thermal deficiencies. The small V12 developed a bad rep, and many were later swapped out. But it didn’t keep the Zephyr from being a commercial success, at a critical time as the big Lincolns fell out of favor.

Now we get to the real beginning of the Lincoln Continental DNA. Edsel Ford commissioned a special one-off convertible for him to use during his winter vacation in Florida in the winter of ’38-’39. Edsel laid out the basic shape and design, and it was executed by Bob Gregoire. With the idea of capturing a decidedly European flavor, the “Special Lincoln-Zephyr”  became known as the Continental. And everyone who saw it wanted one. So in 1940, the Continental cabriolet was put in production. As is readily apparent, its design cues have been rehashed by Lincoln ever since, most notoriously again right now, with the baleen-mouthed new Lincolns aping the original Continental grille, in a highly exaggerated and garish way.

The handsome (if not exactly brilliant) Continental survived for ten years, right through 1948, but not without losing its delicate face to a heavier and somewhat overpowering mug for the bulk of its ten year run. I had a notorious slumlord in Iowa City in the early seventies, Henry Black, who’s only car was exactly like one of the later ones as shown below. I have vivid memories of riding in it with him to the hardware store (I was briefly an indentured servant of his). It suited his personality perfectly, and he undoubtedly drove it until he couldn’t drive anymore, although I doubt legalities had anything to do with that.

I rather prefer the more delicate original, but isn’t this 1948 Continental Mark I a perfect foreshadowing of Marks to come? Moving right along, we’re going to have to skip the plebian Lincolns of the fifties, which had some interesting moments, but for the most part lived deep in the shadows of Cadillac’s exuberant fins for the whole decade. Even the Imperials from 1955 on were much more interesting. Here’s a quick glimpse of what we’re missing.

Instead, lets give the remarkable Continental of 1956 some time. Technically, Continentals from 1956 through 1958 weren’t actually Lincolns at all, because the Continental division was given brief autonomy in Ford’s ambitious but disastrous attempt to go mano-a-mano with GM, by having five separate divisions: Ford, Mercury, Edsel, Lincoln, and Continental. Well, that sure didn’t work out so well, and not only did Edsel and Continental bite the dust, but even Lincoln was almost killed. More on that later.

The Mark II was a very ambitious attempt to recreate the Continental mystique and compete with the most expensive European luxury brands. Priced at $10k ($80k adjusted), its then very lofty price was more than twice what a Coupe DeVille went for. Extreme quality measures and small-scale production meant that each Mark II was built at a hefty loss.

Stylistically, it’s a mixed bag. If it didn’t have the fake grafted-on “continental” rear spare tire cover stamped into its trunk lid, it’s just remotely possible that we might have been spared decades of that over-worn cliche. That alone spoils it for me. But it certainly manages to convey an air of exclusivity, in an authentic way that its legions of Mark successors never could.

Meanwhile, the big Lincoln introduced in 1958 was another ambitious and expensive bust. The ’58-’60 Lincolns were far bigger than anything Americans had ever laid their eyes on, since the Depression, in any case. A vast and rather bizarre land-yacht, it also had by far the biggest engine (430 cubic inches) of the times. It did feature unibody construction, although that didn’t keep them from weighing less than some 5,000 lbs. Arriving right in time for the nasty recession of 1958 doomed them, and they only widened the gap to the far distant best selling Cadillac. As a child, I found these Lincolns to be awe inspiring on some primeval level that included fear of such an utterly incomprehensible and alien device, which was reinforced by their scarcity on the streets.

So that takes us to the dawn of the sixties, with Lincoln in danger of being axed altogether. As is so often the case in actual life as with our automotive expressions of it, near-death has the remarkable ability to draw out new levels of risk-taking and creativity. That was certainly the case with Lincoln, as we’ll see in our next Curbside Classic.

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Curbside Classic CA Vacation Edition: 1965 Chrysler New Yorker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/curbside-classic-ca-vacation-edition-1965-chrysler-new-yorker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/curbside-classic-ca-vacation-edition-1965-chrysler-new-yorker/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2009 01:07:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=340399 Why exactly does this car create such a powerful response (in me, anyway)? It projects such solidity, dignity, and self-assurance. It flew in the face of GM’s 1965 coke-bottle styling, and showed that hard-edged angularity still had some serious life in it. Most of all though, this Chrysler New Yorker represents a pinnacle: never again […]

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a stellar curbside classic

Why exactly does this car create such a powerful response (in me, anyway)? It projects such solidity, dignity, and self-assurance. It flew in the face of GM’s 1965 coke-bottle styling, and showed that hard-edged angularity still had some serious life in it. Most of all though, this Chrysler New Yorker represents a pinnacle: never again would the New Yorker attain this degree of success, prestige and quality.

CC SM74 118 800

The Virgil Exner years at Chrysler were a styling roller-coaster ride. He resurrected Chrysler from the stodgy, boxy K.T. Keller years and set it on the path toward styling leadership with the radical ’57 models. But he took the hit for the strange 1962 models, and his Exneruberance was a bit too wild or overdone at times, like his persistence in grafting fake-spare tire covers on the trunks of everything from Valiants to Imperials. By 1961, too much of Chrysler’s  sales woes were blamed on Ex, and it was time to exit.

CC SM74 120 800Elwood Engel was recruited from Ford, where he was credited with the mile stone 1961 Lincoln. It’s angularity and compact elegance laughed in the face of the over-wrought finned Caddys. Engel brought a radical change in styling direction to Chrysler, and in its first few years, like so many new starts, it worked like a charm.

The first sign of the new direction was manifest in the very T-Birdish Turbine Car of 1963. It took a few more years for Engle’s angularity to come to full fruition at Chrysler, and it arrived just as GM was heading the opposite direction. And Ford was chasing the Pontiac look. Eventually, it led Chrysler into a dead end, and the radically different fuselage Chryslers of 1969 were seen to be the way out. It wasn’t, despite their strangely appealing qualities. By 1974, Chrysler was back to a boxier, edgier look, hoping to recapture the success of the ’65 – ’66 models, without avail.

CC SM74 121 800

One of the first Curbside Classics was a ratty, rusty 1965 Chrysler Newport coupe. This stately New Yorker that I found on a walk in Millbrae is every bit its opposite: a remarkably superb car to be sitting out front. I could practically feel its presence over a block away, standing out among the curvaceous little cars around it like the Chrysler Building in a trailer park.

CC SM74 119 800These Chryslers were some of the best built cars carrying that name since its WWII tanks, and the passenger tanks it built just after the war. The unibody was tight, the torsion-bar suspension lacked the floaty feel of its competitors, and interior and trim quality would never again be this solid. But don’t be fooled into thinking this barge was overly heavy: at 4,295 lbs, it weighed exactly the same as a “compact” 2009 Saturn Vue. With 340 horses (gross) on tap from its 413 CI V8, these Chryslers hustled down the road effortlessly. Brakes were better than average for the times, and the Torqueflite tranny was best in class. Chrysler’s numb power steering was the only fly in the ointment, but for its intended purpose, who cared?

Chryslers appealed to buyers who still felt that a finer engineered car was the one to buy. There were several relatives and University acquaintances for whom these vintage Chryslers were the last American cars they ever bought; they all drove Mercedes by the mid seventies. Now that I think of it, that’s the reason why I hold these Chryslers in such high esteem: they really were the end of the road in more ways than one for Chrysler.

CC SM74 117 800

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