By on February 9, 2010

While I prepare the next full chapter of Lincoln’s (mostly downhill) roller-coaster ride, here’s a couple of shots of a 1968 Continental sedan. To my eye, the degradation of the original’s purity is now under way, although these ’66-’69 models still carry manage to convey a sense of dignity and exclusivity. That would change, all too soon.

Everything was now smoother and slightly rounded off, like a crisp bar of soap after the first couple of uses. The side windows have curved glass again, and the engine is bigger than ever: A 462 cubic inch version of the old MEL engine, then supplanted by the spanking new 460 V8. It all kind of works, sort of; like a middle aged woman wearing yesterday’s fashionable dress, let out here and there a bit. Looking at her is a mixed bag: you sadly remember her when she was young and fresh, and made a huge splash with her bold daring sense of style, yet you know those moments can’t be frozen in time. So you try to appreciate her before she loses even more of her assets, because you know it’s inevitable.

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31 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: 1968 Lincoln Continental...”

  • avatar

    Goodness…. a mighty-fine vehicle. An extended family of “immigrants” could comfortably dwell within that cavernous trunk with the back seat reserved for mom and dad.

  • avatar

    I still like those vehicles. The original is still the best, but this 1969 model still looks distinctive and exclusive. I’ve read that the 460 V-8 was a good, tough engine.

  • avatar

    I still like these a lot, though I think the 66-67 is a tad better looking than the later ones. Still very clean and elegant designs. In size, these always seemed more of an apples to apples comparison with the Caddy. A 2 door came out in 66, but this is one of the few big cars where the 4 door has the better proportions.

    It occurs to me that we are seeing one styling feature of these Lincolns with great regularity nowadays – smooth slab sides devoid of trim. Even my Honda Fit follows this theme. And I can tell you first hand that modern slab sides are every bit as vulnerable to parking lot rash as those of the 60s. Those fat vinyl side moldings of the 70s may have looked like crap, but they did protect pretty well against door dings.

    The seuicide doors seem to be universally loved on these cars. I have always wondered why nobody ever did it since. Safety regs?

    • 0 avatar

      The current Rolls Royce Phantom has suicide doors. A bit pricey. But it must be legal.

    • 0 avatar

      The main reason suicide doors are rare today: Few cars have wheelbase long enough for a rear door with a straight trailing edge. The typical rear wheel cutout weakens the hinge of a rear suicide door. It’s no accident that the only production car with suicide door today is the huge Rolls Royce (even the short wheelbase version is longer than a BMW 7xxL)

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The upcoming 2011 Opel Meriva with suicide doors does indeed have a long wheelbase.

      I prefer the sliding doors on our minivans – heavier and less elegant, but no extra space needed for ingress/egress.

  • avatar

    Is this series going to end with the Taurus-based FWD Continental?

  • avatar

    When I was a wee lad my grandparents’ neighbors had one of these in baby blue. He was a retired colonel who drove it to and from the golf course…and eventually through the front of a Dairy Queen. I loved every glimpse I could get of it, and have wanted a 60’s Lincoln ever since, though it was the convertible on Green Acres that really got my heart pumping.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Is this the car (in convertible form) used in the opening credits of “Entourage”?

  • avatar

    I had a tan on maroon ’68 Lincoln, and thought it was the worst of the three Lincolns I owned. It needed the flywheel replaced because of some bad teeth, allegedly caused by the fact that the motor would tend to come to rest in just a few places when shut off so that those specific teeth got contacted most often by the starter. It had nylon plastic gears in the power window mechanism. No need to ask me how I know that…. It needed the a/c on most of the time to keep fog off the insides of the windows. It handled worse and got worse gas mileage than the 1962 and 1960 Lincolns I had, and although it was roughly the size of the 1960 it had less rear seat legroom.

  • avatar

    Judging by the stains on the tires, that oxidized green Lincoln has sat right where it is for quite a while.

  • avatar

    If it’s in Eugene, that green stuff (including the paint?) could be moss.

  • avatar

    In my youth I drove a late 1980s tow truck with the 460 V8. That engine was crazy powerful, it made the truck smoke the tires. I can’t imagine how it would perform in a car!

    • 0 avatar

      I was sitting at my desk one day in the mid 80s when my brother in law called and asked me if I would go with him to pick up a car he just bought. A 1970 Lincoln Continental. It was a piece of crap car, but had a rebuilt premium gas 460. All he wanted was the engine to drop into his 78 F-250 that he ran in an occasional mud bog. That was one torquey truck when he finished with it.

    • 0 avatar

      jpcavanaugh – I have a similar story: a buddy of mine bought a loaded (power sunroof even!) ’74-ish Torino Elite with a strong 460 in it for $325 and after driving it for about 6-8 months, sold it for $600 to some guy who only wanted it for the engine. Too bad – even though it was fugly, the body was in great shape, everything worked and it was pretty fast in spite of all the emissions crap.

  • avatar

    I agree with your description completely, but not the analogy. I think women who are beautiful both inside and out are usually more beautiful in their 40s than in their 20s.

    Regarding the decline of that gen of Lincoln, I think it’s a shame that car mfgs just don’t know when to leave a design alone (xB, gen 1 Saturn, for ex). The original could have gone nicely for a couple of decades.

  • avatar

    I’d say the mid ’60s were the high water mark for Lincoln and Caddy sedans. After that, they went way over the top, but even this example, which is a tarted-up restyle of the classic ’61, has an elegant, simple design. I’d drive it, particularly in black.

  • avatar

    I grew up in a reasonably prosperous town in southern New Jersey, and during the mid-late 60’s I’d guess Lincoln easily outsold Caddy among the folks with money. The ’61 put Lincoln on the map with these people (my much older brother’s father-in-law had a ’61 convertible in pale yellow, and the 7 year old me thought that was just the coolest car), and they pretty much stuck with it. This was the time when, at least in our town, Caddy was the car for retired Italian and Jewish guys to buy as “my last car – it’ll last until I die”. Great business model, GM, for your premium brand.

    Unfortunately, Lincoln in the 70’s decided Caddy’s blue-collar-chic look (and the accompanying Inner City Decor Group) was the way to go, and that, along with Ford’s inability to build an engine that ran right, chased these people to Mercedes, and eventually also to BMW, Audi, and Lexus. I haven’t been back to the old town since ’04, but I’d be willing to bet Lincolns (and Caddies) are pretty rare now.

  • avatar

    I love that car.

  • avatar

    I think that the ’66 and ’67 were probably the best looking of the Continentals. Not quite as pure as the original ’61 to ’64 models, but with better overall proportions and not as overdone as the ’68 and ’69s.

    When I was a kid in ’60s growing up in an out-of-the-way rural town I never saw any Lincolns or Imperials that I can remember, or even any imported luxury cars for that matter. Only Cadillacs.

    I never did see any Imperials, but Lincolns became moderately popular after the Mark III and after the 1970 Continental, and there were also a handful of Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs, and even Jaguar XJs.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    She spends a lot of time at the gym keeping her figure in shape, but says nothing as you really let yourself go. In Car World that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (And why women tend to not read auto blogs.)

    I like the 1966-67 a bit better than the 1968 because its Cord-like grille and low-mounted taillights are cleaner and more distinctive. The 1969 looks old in the tooth with its bug-catcher grille, gratuitous high-mounted backup lights, and a nine-year-old body that is too square compared to the “fuselage” Imperial.

  • avatar

    Nice! In the 70s gas crisis, when OPEC shenanigans caused huge price spikes and de facto shortages of gasoline, you could pick up a used full-size V-8 luxury sedan for peanuts, sometimes even for free — what good was it if you couldn’t put in juice to make it run? My parents had short commutes, so they seized the opportunity — mom grabbed a ’68 Continental, suicide doors and all, and dad snagged a ’73 Mercedes 450SEL. Both got about 10 mpg, but both were magnificent to behold and to ride in.

    The Lincoln was a very pale green, with leather to match, and was trouble-free other than endless tappet adjustments. In ’89 it was supplanted by a Mark VII LSC (drool) and so was given away to my sister’s boyfriend, who spent every penny he earned and every moment of free time fixing it up. Like all Sixties sedans, the Conti’s packaging was ridiculous — the tiny cabin, huge trunk syndrome — but scaled up to such gargantuan proportions, there was more than enough room for six people and all their stuff on a long road trip, plus enough power to flatten every mountain and enough suspension travel to smother every pothole. Good to see these grand dames preserved.

  • avatar

    Jeez.. what a trunk.

    How many dead bodies could ya store in there?

  • avatar

    My first car was a 68 Lincoln Continental, and I owned it until it was stolen two years ago. Over the years I’ve owned 5; 3 – 68s, a 69, and a 65. Out of the 66 – 69 body style the 68 is still my favorite.

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