By on March 26, 2018

The future of the slow-selling Lincoln Continental couldn’t be more hazy, but a new report claims the brand is preparing a last-ditch effort to revive interest in the flagship sedan. How does Lincoln plan to reverse a sales slide amid an industry addicted to crossovers?

Suicide doors.

Yes, the novel layout once favored by luxury American automakers — and returned to prominence with the iconic 1961-1969 Continentals — could make a comeback.

That’s what Lincoln dealers who attended the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas last weekend told Automotive News. According to multiple dealers, Lincoln brass showed off a photo of a Continental with rear-hinged rear doors. And it wasn’t just catnip, either.

The same dealers say Lincoln is committed to building the model, part of an effort to show it isn’t completely opposed to the idea of cars.

After Ford Motor Company’s recent truck- and SUV-heavy product announcements, anyone would be forgiven for thinking both Ford and Lincoln had no time for cars. Multiple reports suggest Ford plans to get rid of the Fusion, and with it, the Lincoln MKZ and Continental. The flagship sedan, which bowed in 2016, rides on a modified Fusion platform and was intended to resurrect some of the brand’s past glamor. It also provided, via its grille, a new design template for the brand.

Still, as tempting as all of this door action sounds, the existing model really isn’t performing well with the buying public. A Hail Mary product pass isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but this latest report carries a big grain of salt even in the minds of classic Lincoln aficionados.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, wouldn’t talk about the Continental’s future, or about cars in general.

“I’m not going to comment on that right now,” he said. “We have two new utilities coming in the next couple years and we’re going to learn a lot through those launches. You know, we’re always adjusting our product lineup.”

It isn’t known whether dealers attending the NADA conference were shown a modified version of the existing CD4-based Continental (which seems unlikely) or a wholly new model, possibly underpinned by the modular CD6 platform bound for the next-generation Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator. Last we heard, that platform was SUV-only.

If Lincoln were to try again to rekindle interest in the model through suicide doors, it wouldn’t just have fond memories of Kennedy-era Continentals to bank on. Rolls Royce’s Phantom and Ghost models brought the doors back from oblivion, with consumers now associating the layout with truly high-end motor cars. (Strange — few people mention the 1967-’71 Thunderbird sedan when discussing suicide doors.)

Lincoln Continental sales fell 29.7 percent in the U.S. last month, with sales over the first two months of 2018 down 30 percent.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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53 Comments on “Please Be True: Lincoln Planning a Return to Suicide Doors on Continental, Report Claims...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Reports of the Continental’s death were greatly exaggerated? Suicide doors rock. This is a good idea, even though I can’t afford one.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      COACH doors alone won’t be enough. It’s got to have a V8 engine and RWD, be 79-80 inches wide, and a minimum of the original’s 126 inch wheelbase. I suggest a lowered slab-sided body on a shortened F150 super crew cab chassis. If GM can turn a truck chassis into the “beast” for the Prez, Ford can do it without the bomb proofing for Everyman (with $70K to spend). Ford can use the UNshortened wheelbase for a limo version.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      This is a strange aside but I remember the Lincoln suicide doors being a plot device in an old spy movie. I think it was a James Bond movie. The Lincoln in question with the unsuspecting passengers enters a car-wash. When the car gets all sudsy, the baddies put handcuffs on the Lincoln’s door handles, thereby preventing escape. The poor occupants are quickly gunned down after the rinse is applied.

      THIS is why suicide doors are a bad idea.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I hate to say it, but any changes they make to the Continental are inconsequential. Put the suicide doors on the Navigator, where it matters.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Yes please.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The chances of this happening are approximately 0.0%. The required engineering to shoehorn a crash-test-worthy rear-hinged door into a unibody never designed for it, for a car selling poorly in a dying segment, is well above the brief and paltry sales boost that might result.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Kinda what I was thinking. With today’s roof strength standards, no way you can remove B pillar, and with B Pillar in place, whats to point really, I think it actually becomes less functional. The pillarless concepts are fantastic, but probably a pipe dream in a highly regulated market.

      Would be a neat gimmick, but I don’t think any one really expects that this would result in sales blasting off. If it could be incorporated into future vehicles, would be a nice feature.

    • 0 avatar
      Ridgerunner

      I think they have rear hinged doors on the back doors of supercab trucks – it is being done today, just not a full size door. The super crew has “normal” rear doors.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        Having owned a truck with suicide doors, they suck.

        Hard.

        The minute someone parks next to you, you can’t load people into the back, because the front door needed to be open for the rear door to open.

        Suicide doors are fine if you only parallel park.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Except not all rear-hinged doors require the front doors to be opened.

          Pretty sure that in the history of sedans with full-size rear doors (so, not a Saturn SC or Mazda RX-8) that are rear hinged, none required the front door to be opened before the rear one could be.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          “The minute someone parks next to you, you can’t load people into the back…”

          Are you sure about that? Snuggley surrounded by cars, and once the front door swings open, using the rear suicide is just like using any other door, only it’s a smaller door not needing nearly as much clearance.

          So what’s the problem? Worst case, the little extra effort is totally worth it, for the added pleasure of the pillarless opening for ease of loading stock, tools, groceries, dogs and even small kids into the super cab, rear seat area, especially large boxes, and you can tilt the front seatback forward for even more ease.

          That plus the added benefit of a healthy dose of privacy with a large vehicle parked next to you (or seeking one out to park next to) for a quick change of clothes, on location, or simply taking a quick (right side) “10-100” on the side of the interstate/fwy/etc, thanks to the clamshell design.

          So have you really owned one? Sure, if you’re constantly ferrying rear passengers, nonstop and in tight parking situations, I can somewhat understand. But no.

          But you can also pull the truck half way out of the “tight” space, pause to let in the passenger, then take off.

          I’ve even seen fully custom, show trucks with suicide “modded” crew cabs, not just for fun I suppose, but for their utility/convenience.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        The pickups with rear hinged doors do fine in side crash, but I suspect their height means the impact object is hitting the frame straight on, whereas in a sedan with the same test object the doors will be taking the majority of the impact, so there better be an insanely strong vertical member engineered into the rear edge of the front door and/or the front edge of the rear door.

        see this link for where the impact is on the F150 and see how the frame lies in the center of the path of the simulated vehicle’s front profile.

        http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/ford/f-150-extended-cab-pickup

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Except only Ford and Nissan can meet current side impact standards with such doors. The rest have gone to very narrow front-hinged doors with a B pillar. The opening is a lot more confined and makes the rear seat more difficult to access on, say, a Silverado compared to an F-150 ex-cabs.

          I should know. I’m riding to work daily in the back seat of my cousins 2014 Silverado extended cab. Getting in and out through the very narrow opening is a real PITA.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Except only Ford and Nissan can meet current side impact standards with such doors.”

            The mid-size trucks use rear hinged doors as well.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I don’t really see what the problem is. On a large car you can have suicide doors and still have a B-pillar. It’s only on smaller cars where you have to have the doors overlap and put a vertical beam in the “inner” door to act as a B-pillar (E.g. RX-8).

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Good idea. Dad had a 1963 Continental like the pictured car, except his was black with a parchment leather interior. We kids called it his “mafia car”. Sadly, I was a couple years too young to ever drive the Lincoln, though I did ride along once when Dad took it out on a recently-completed but officially-unopened stretch of I-95 and pegged the speedometer.

  • avatar
    RSF

    I like the idea, but I think part of the reason the Continental is so slow selling is that it looks too much like an MKZ. That, and price. MKZ Black Label starts at 47,990 and Continental Black Label starts 20k higher! Looking at Lincoln’s website it seems Ford is just out of touch with reality on the Continental. $1750 for two of the color options, $4300 for rear seat amenities, and $1500 for 30 way front seats. Whatever. No way is this an $82,000 car. Where is the value? If you want one wait a year and buy it after the original owner is crushed on resale value.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I see a ’63 like that (same color) being daily driven by a young guy, on my way to work in the morning, every once in a while. It looks damn good.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Sad to say, but that ship has already sailed. They blew it when they didn’t build something like the 2002 Continental concept.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    Abraham Lincoln is dead and so is the Lincoln Brand

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Why does the “flagship” have to be a sedan? Make it an over the top huge SUV. I really don’t care for SUV’s myself, but you go where the sales are. I own a four door Accord with the six speed manual, and don’t understand why Honda still sells one. I’m glad they do. It’s this mentality for a flagship for a sedan. It isn’t 1963. Also, in what world do you expect the flagship to succeed when it’s based on a Fusion?

  • avatar
    Ridgerunner

    I think they have rear hinged doors on the back doors of supercab trucks – it is being done today, just not a full size door. The super crew has “normal” rear doors.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think this could actually challenge The Death of the Sedan if it is done whole hog — i.e., pillarless, frameless, and with a concept-car silhouette. The resulting car would be the coolest non-SUV thing on the market and would be in every music video for the next three years.

    But I just can’t imagine Ford spending the money to do it whole hog. And if there is a B-pillar and window frames, it will just be another sedan, and it will fail like every sedan right now.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “Suicide” doors are going to require a vertical trailing edge on each rear door, instead of one that cuts around the wheelwell—see the 60s Continental above and any modern Rolls-Royce sedan. It’ll either be that, or a really complex set of hinges.

    I’ll be interested in seeing how this goes down, if FoMoCo commits to it.

  • avatar

    This is just trolling. They said after the concept debuted with suicide doors that their lawyers wouldn’t let them do it. And that was under a CEO who liked cars.

    The current Ford CEO does not like cars, and this investment makes no sense from a cost and engineering perspective.

    And that’s before we consider that the basis for this car (Fusion) is going away soonish, as its replacement was already cancelled.

    Just some hot vapour.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My bet’s on Fusion just getting refreshed/mildly restyled, versus going away altogether.

      • 0 avatar

        Right – I agree on the refresh for next year or what have you. And then along with the simplification of trims at that time, a winding down.

        2021 comes: “The Fusion is no longer available, but you can find the space, versatility, and comfort you need in the new Edge.”

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “And that’s before we consider that the basis for this car (Fusion) is going away soonish, as its replacement was already cancelled.”

      That doesn’t mean the CD4.x platform itself, which also underpins the Edge and MKX, is necessarily going away.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I have no problem with the idea. Sure, why not?

    However…take a look at that old Continental on this page, and take a look at the only other car I can think of with suicide doors, the Rolls Royce Phantom.

    http://st.automobilemag.com/uploads/sites/11/2017/08/2018-Rolls-Royce-Phantom-VIII-side-profile-03.jpg

    The common element is that the back end of the rear door is basically vertical. Now, I’m no engineer, but I have a feeling that’s out of structural necessity. Otherwise, my guess is that you’d have to have a TON of clearance between you and the car next to you in order to just open the back doors.

    This sounds like BS to me.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      That’s probably to keep the rear edge of the door from trying to occupy the same point in spacetime as the body. An overengineered hinge could probably accomplish that task with a curved door profile.

      I just want to see a Konigsegg door. How cool would that be?

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    rule #1 of poker: don’t throw good money after bad.

    even if true, suicide doors on the contintental will be the talk of internet auto writers for exactly one news cycle but result in zero additional sales.

    Put the additional resources into the Navigator. Navigator is Lincoln’s Alamo. oh wait. the alamo didn’t work out for the home team.

    The Navigator is Lincoln’s Battle of Thermopylae

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Cool, Ford read that Continental Deathwatch article from 2 weeks ago where I suggested suicide doors!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Shame the company can’t promote the concept properly (since most of what they sell is what they would have to attack).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Retro is so retro, and Ford is not good at it:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Thunderbird_(eleventh_generation)

    Note to Lincoln: “It’s *not* the doors”

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Is there a 7.6 liter V8 coming too? Or any V8?

  • avatar
    texasjimbrock

    I dunno. I might be interested. Or, even better, bring out an updated Town Car.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    As the kids say: “LOL”

    I don’t really see the point if it’s a 1-and-done in its current form. The proportions are wrong, anyway.

    Leave it as is and put the money into the pot towards turning the next “Continental” into an American style Land Rover RR Velar conquerer. Something that’s fashionable and loaded with unmistakable style and presence the way Continentals always were before the 80s and 90s.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    Return of the OCP 6000-SUX!

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