By on July 2, 2020

For the third and perhaps last time, Lincoln will cease production of the Continental.

The discontinuation of the slow-selling sedan at the end of 2020 was confirmed late Wednesday by Automotive News and quickly backed up by a statement from Lincoln, though the news was something we’ve expected for quite some time. It was foretold by unconfirmed past reports and a growing mountain of evidence.

Alas, this year’s destruction of things from the past did not spare a nameplate that first appeared in 1939.

It escaped few onlookers that Ford has little apparent use for traditional passenger cars, and the model’s platform mates, the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, were already tapped to enter the automotive graveyard by the end of the year. The initial flurry of sales that greeted the returning Continental in late 2016 fell away in short order, leaving Lincoln with a product that boasted more street cred on the other side of the Pacific.

Not surprisingly, Lincoln told AN that a 2021 Conti will appear in the Chinese market, though the brand confirmed to The Detroit News that it will be a single-year offering. Lincoln wants to focus on growth markets, and a large luxury sedan doesn’t garner enough demand in either market.

Nor will the name return on some sort of SUV.

“The Continental has had a really rich past, but we’ll return the name to the vault after that,” Lincoln spokesperson Angie Kozleski said.

1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV in Denver junkyard, decklid - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

A rich past, indeed. The Continental, which offered buyers a V-12 engine in its first iteration, was spun off as its own brand during the orgy of excess that was the late 1950s, spawning the beautiful and exclusive Mark II and unibody Christmas tree land barges that followed (Mk. III, IV, V). It was when Ford Motor Company scrapped the Continental division and returned the name as a model that icon status was reached.

From 1961 through 1969, the suicide-door Continental defined American luxury, helped along by the Thunderbird-based Continental Mark III coupe that appeared at the end of the decade to hoover up even more consumer dollars. It wasn’t until the lackluster Versailles appeared near the end of the 1970s that the Continental name couldn’t be found on all production Lincolns. Continental was Lincoln, and the resurrected version that appeared for the 2017 model year aimed to recapture some of that earlier glitz and panache.

The American car buyer wasn’t moved by this new creation, but they did take kindly to Lincoln’s growing stable of utility vehicles. From the Navigator to the new Aviator and Corsair and even the refreshed-for-your-viewing-pleasure Nautilus, Lincoln’s lineup is a hit. It doesn’t need Flat Rock Assembly to crank out a dwindling supply of Continentals (volume last year totaled 6,586 in the U.S.). The last of the line got a brief bit of limelight when Lincoln sent the sedan to the coachbuilders for a vanishingly small run of 2019 and 2020 “coach door” variants. Stickering for well above six figures, these stretched, suicide-doored rides went like hotcakes.

You might never lay eyes on one.

Image: Lincoln

While Lincoln didn’t describe what comes next for the brand, we know that there’ll be a Lincoln-badged EV based on the Mustang Mach-E, as well a possible midsize electric SUV arriving in a few years (at which time the Nautilus is expected to depart the lineup). Ford’s pair-up with EV startup Rivian was supposed to have spawned a Lincoln product, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that effort.

What’s clear is that, as of the end of this year, Lincoln will be a non-car brand for the foreseeable future.

[Images: Ford Motor Company, Murilee Martin]

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62 Comments on “End of the Line, Again, for the Lincoln Continental...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    Even though Lincoln’s are still all based off Fords, and sales have improved but still aren’t stellar, Lincoln has achieved something over the last few years that Cadillac hasn’t: positive press and word of mouth. The general perception of Lincoln now is “Names are back!” and “Wow these are nice!” Over at Cadillac it’s more like, “What car is this again?” and “This is all there is?”

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      True about Lincoln v Cadillac. Although one thing Cadillac has over Lincoln is the fact that Cadillacs don’t need to be sent to another factory to be repaired immediately after coming off the assembly line.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Where Lincoln and Cadillac are similar is what killed the Continental. Your flagship sedan should be RWD and have a V8 engine, at least in America. Can you imagine a FWD, V6 powered S-class?

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        It’s also a problem that Camrys are by now virtually perfect for what sedans actually do.

        To such a degree, that any deviation at all, results in less, not more, practical utility from it.

        Hence, all the accoutrements of “luxury” that the luxo brands have to stuff into their higher prices wares, are useful only for the I’m Wealthy signalling they provide. Silly “separate seats with airplane like retracting footrests in the rear” most definitely included.

        And wealth signalling, only has value if your badge is genuinely associated with wealth. Which the Lincoln one, last was in the 60s….

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I doubt this will be the last we hear the “Continental” name. Expect it to show up on yet another Lincoln crossover or a high trim level Navigator

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    There is a political angle here somewhere. Ah, the Continental Congress that declared the independence from Britain and founded the horrible country that later became known as the USA.
    They might just fold the Lincoln brand altogether since Lincoln was a “racist”.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Lincoln was a racist? Man, did you go to the wrong school

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        By today’s standards, practically everyone in Lincoln’s day was racist.

        Lincoln himself thought the best way to deal with slaves was to send them all back to Africa. Seriously. And in the Lincoln/Douglas debates, Douglas “charged” him with being in favor of racial equality, which Lincoln vehemently denied.

        Different times.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Yes, FreedMike, I realize that, but a truly intelligent person grows and changes his position on many topics throughout his life once he gains more knowledge

          Trying to exploit a radical talking point shared by few people to “stir the pot” is the opposite of intellectual growth

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          “By today’s standards, practically everyone in Lincoln’s day was racist.”

          Last I checked by those days standards practically everyone was a racist.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            To people back then, the idea of emancipating slaves and then giving them fewer rights than White folks was enlightened, cutting-edge stuff. Even abolitionists (which I’d argue Lincoln actually was LONG before he made it official) bought into this kind of thinking, which would be condemned rightly as horrifyingly bigoted today. I believe their thinking was to “ease” into racial equality, which probably made them feel better about things, but set racial progress back by a century and led to things like Jim Crow.

            And, yet, even “easing into” equality was progress.

            Historical context is complex, to say the least. We’re still coming to grips with it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I know all of this is true, but for anyone to say, “Lincoln was a racist” without any context or back knowledge is ludicrous

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        “Lincoln was a racist? Man, did you go to the wrong school”

        A statue of Grant was toppled by adult children throwing a tantrum in the liberal utopia of San Francisco. Human waste on the sidewalk is perfectly fine but a statue of a guy who led the union army against the confederacy is racist and needs to come down.

        And it seems you’re the one that needs to brush up on history. Lincoln supported ending slavery but also consider encouraging or requiring former slaves to go back to Africa. How do think that mindset plays today?

        “Foner traces how Lincoln first supported this kind of colonization — the idea that slaves should be freed and then encouraged or required to leave the United States — for well over a decade. Like Henry Clay, Lincoln also supported repealing slavery gradually — and possibly compensating slave owners for their losses after slaves were freed.”

        https://www.npr.org/2011/02/21/133372512/tracing-president-lincolns-thoughts-on-slavery

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      I dunno, Lincoln freed the slaves and you didn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “ There is a political angle here somewhere. Ah, the Continental Congress that declared the independence from Britain and founded the horrible country that later became known as the USA. They might just fold the Lincoln brand altogether since Lincoln was a “racist”.”

      I know some people are having issues picking up on your sarcasm poking fun at the “work” crowd but that’s appreciate it. And sadly you’re not far off from what could very well happen. Nobody ever thought Mount Rushmore would be in danger but the calls are growing to defund and demolish it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “Nobody ever thought Mount Rushmore would be in danger but the calls are growing to defund and demolish it.”

        Doesn’t mean the call has to be answered

        Why don’t you quit latching on to every radical talking point like they’re the ultimate end all to everyone’s point of view

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Yeah the Grant thing pissed me off.

          Yes there was corruption in his administration (all of which he was very embarrassed by) but that man enforced Reconstruction and rained down heck on the KKK with no remorse.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Lie2Me,

          The hate keeps him engaged. He’s being manipulated and the people pulling the strings are having a good laugh.

          It’s that way for a lot of us. A LOT.

          Thinking has fallen out of fashion.

          • 0 avatar
            Sceptic

            Never say never. Just a few years ago who would have thought that the memory of brave Southern soldiers would be dragged through the mud? Good people need to stand up and defend America. If we keep silent the empowered thugs will demand the destruction of the Union based on the same reasoning.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Sceptic, the Civil War ended 155 years ago the “brave Southern soldiers” lost. It’s way past time to move along

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            “the memory of brave Southern soldiers would be dragged through the mud? Good people need to stand up and defend America.”

            LMAO defending America is exactly what the Union did. F*** the confederacy, no honor to traitors. Rip every statue down.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Some wiseguy suggested that we keep the monuments to Braxton Bragg because he was such a terrible general that he helped the Union to victory in spite of himself.

            Ulysses S. Grant recalled in his memoirs a story about Bragg that seemed to suggest an essential need for proper procedure that bordered on mental instability. Once Bragg had been both a company commander as well as company quartermaster (the officer in charge of approving the disbursement of provisions). As company commander he made a request upon the company quartermaster–himself–for something he wanted. As quartermaster he denied the request and gave an official reason for doing so in writing. As company commander he argued back that he was justly entitled to what he requested. As quartermaster he stubbornly continued to persist in denying himself what he needed. Bragg requested the intervention of the post commander (perhaps to diffuse the impasse before it came to blows). His commander was incredulous and he declared, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself.”

            Now you can call the story apocryphal – but it does seem to indicate the spirit of Bragg.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I’m surprised Bragg wasn’t elected President

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I wouldn’t sweat it, the venn diagram of “Hates Confederate Soldiers” and “Spit on dudes coming back from Vietnam” has all sort of overlap so it probably doesn’t matter who they fought for in their minds.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If there is a future for Lincoln sedans, it is electrification. An electric Tesla-fighter Continental would be interesting.

    In the meantime, though, pour one out. I liked this car quite a bit. The good news, I suppose, is that a lightly used one would probably be quite a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      They are, around where I am 2018/2019 Continentals are going for high $20s, low $30s

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        How much for the stretched wheelbase, coach door models? They were limited production, but should have been the main event.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          If my memory serves me, isn’t the current 4DR Rolls Royce Phantom built with ‘coach doors’. And, I know editors like to be flip and hip and don’t always like to adopt terminology from car makers, but I wish we could cease referring to doors that open from the center as ‘suicide doors’. This setup is no more responsible for suicides than conventionally-hung doors and seems fairly disrespectful to the designers. Also, the wrongheaded term ‘suicide doors’ was applied to 2DR cars with doors hinged at the rear, like older M-B models, Morgans, and MG ‘T’Series like the TC, TD, and TF. I wonder when the term came into use for 4DR cars? Naturally, I’m a big proponent of referring to the door setup of the Phantom and new Continental as ‘coach doors’ as Lincoln describes them.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “If there is a future for Lincoln sedans, it is electrification”

      Perhaps. But not in the Tesla sense.

      Rather, once all competitors have flung themselves off that cliff, Lincoln may finally get some takers for big, floaty V8 sedans again. Perhaps slightly hybridized for city use, and to bump the road hugging weight to where it can pull some of the smaller Airstreams and launches without forcing upon the driver the indignity of driving a “truck.”

  • avatar

    The King is dead, long live the King.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    This makes sense. Once it’s twin (the Fusion) was out out to pasture the writing was in the wall. Not a huge loss though, the Continental wasn’t all that good and was vastly overpriced. Good riddance (again)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed.

      Since Lincoln accounts for less than 5% of FMC’s sales volume, I wonder if they’ll consider closing the whole division.

      The engineering and tooling expense for such low volume has to be enormous. Sure, they copy-paste drivetrains, but suspensions are tweaked, and tooling unique body/interior bits for several different low-volume cars isn’t cheap. Plus, they have to maintain the special ‘dealer experience’.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “Plus, they have to maintain the special ‘dealer experience’.”

        Lol, where I’m at Lincoln gets a small corner of the Ford showroom with an elegant sheer curtain around a single guy at a desk with a chandelier hanging above his head. He always looks lonelier then the Maytag repair man :)

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I want to like the Continental, and maybe would if I drove one, but can’t quite get it. I can’t shake the lack of presence from its Fusion origins, and there’s just a few too many cheap, wobbly pieces in the interior. Then again, I liked the CT6 more even before it got the Blackwing. Although, if they did something based on the Aviator chassis, it might be more desirable.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The Aviator chassis was the 5th generation Explorer until this year. The 2020 Aviator is based on the 2020 CD6 RWD Explorer chassis. It would make sense to add a new Continental sedan to spread the cost, but there’s still a need for a V8 for a top of the line vehicle.

      The 3.0 turbo Ecoboost available on lesser models is the largest engine available. The 2-door F150 has a 3.3 at least, and the 5.0 V8 would fit. They probably don’t want to return to a BOF one of a kind sedan, but that’s what a flagship model is supposed to be, like the 1955-57 Mark II.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Yes, I meant CD6-based. I assume the 5.0 would fit based on the extremely imprecise science that the platform can accommodate the length of a straight four, and the width of a V6 (although the 5.0 is supposed to be rather big). I don’t think BOF would be a big sticking point though, considering all the prospective competition is unibody (weren’t the 60’s Continentals as well?).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I would have been happy with either of the Continental’s twin turbo options and AWD. The death of the American sedan is saddening, they got really good just as the world was deciding that they didn’t care.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Dan I was hoping that it would have gotten an 8 or 10 speed auto. This would have helped tremendously I love the look of the car and the interior. Hell even some of the cheap bits didnt bother me. I wish they would have made this and the Flex for a couple more years. I am 1 year into a 5 year loan and would like to have on of the two after I pay my current car off.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    This Continental was a half-assed effort from the start, being based on the FWD Fusion. Almost as bad as the FN9 cars.

    Lincoln teased us with concepts like the Continental concept of 2002, but eventually gave us this thing.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I have a tender spot for the Lincoln Continental, I married my wife of 40 years and rode in one. A beautiful white sample.
    I remember sitting with my wife in the back in awe at the beyond-amazing leg room. It also felt we were riding in clouds.

    Having said that, when the economy is booming, most if not all marques and models will thrive. Or at least survive.

    Come an economic downturn as severe as the current one, and many of those barely scraping the surface will sink.
    Darwin’s theory at work.

  • avatar

    Lincoln is a dying division. Last year they were even outsold by Mitsubishi by a significant margin. Let them go out of business with their excreble SUVs.

    Both Cadillac and Acura easily outsold lincoln last year.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      121,000ish to 112,000ish hardly seems a massive number especially when the margins on those sales are taken into account.

      To quote Chernobyl, “Not bad…not good, but not bad.”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Since Lincoln is an offensive name to many then maybe it is time to end the Lincoln name. So we don’t offend some lets go back to the alpha numeric nomenclature. I don’t have a problem with the name Lincoln but if every name is going to offend some and cause them to tear something down and destroy it then lets do away with any statues and putting names on anything. Start with renaming major cities in Ohio with OH-3 instead of Columbus. I was perfectly fine with my midsize compact pickup being named S-10 so lets rename the Ranger as an F-100 and the new compact Ford pickup should be named F-50 instead of Maverick so that those who are offended by gambling will not associate the truck with the old TV western about a riverboat gambler.

    I do believe that military bases named after Confederate Generals should be renamed but how far are we going to carry this as a society?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I lived in Georgia for 25 years, some southerners always had a problem with the name “Lincoln”. Didn’t seem to bother Ford then

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I think those Army posts should have to be renamed in accordance with Truth in Advertising laws. Ford Hood should be renamed to Fort “Dear Lord, is their anything not Army in Killeen and how did every good idea fairy in the entire Army end up here” and Fort Bragg should be Fort “How the heck is every person in this town not on active duty a retired Sergeant Major and why does he need to tell me all about it while delivering my freaking Pizza”.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I could see the CD4.X platform as a whole going away. I also heard that there was talk of Ford cancelling the Edge and Nautilus (nee MKX) when the current generations reach their end-of-life.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Those actually sell rather well, so well in fact Honda, VW and Chevy copied the 5 passenger mid size idea. I dont know if they plan one replacements but I hope Ford doesnt give up on the idea.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I guess I’m old because I think this car looks really good. It was crazy expensive when loaded up, but as others have mentioned, this is a depreciation monster just like every other overpriced luxury sedan.

    These are selling for Accord money as is the Volvo S90 – another visually striking car that’s gotten pummeled in value.

  • avatar
    mcs

    ” a Lincoln-badged EV based on the Mustang Mach-E”

    The Mach-E-Mark? Does Wahlberg have a Lincoln dealership yet?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Makes way too much sense to actually happen. You’ll probably get a Lincoln version, but it will be the same crossover form factor I’d imagine because more people buy them.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    Ford needs to relaunch the Continental using their new RWD platform. Make it electric, make it a hybrid, use a V8, I don’t care. Just do it. And, include the suicide doors because that appears to be a luxury thing. The Coach special edition proved that. It will be a niche car but Lincoln needs a prestige car model to survive. Giving up on cars is a bad long term move because the market eventually will do what they always do—change almost overnight. Be prepared, Ford.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    I’d like to see Ford sell Lincoln and JLR buy them. I could imagine all the Lincoln SUVs being based of JLR components and the Continental running off all the running gear and floorpan of the forthcoming electric Jaguar XJ and Range Rover crossover.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree I like the current Continental but they are crazy expensive along with having the water pump enclosed with a timing belt which guarantees that if the water pump fails the engine is toast.

    • 0 avatar
      StudeDude

      The water pump design is even worse because it’s a timing chain, not a timing belt. Ford decided to duplicate the Chrysler 2.7 V6 water pump fiasco for reasons not clear to anyone.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ok I meant timing chain but either is bad. I believe the design was to save space under the hood. I love the looks of this Continental and can even live with the FWD but having a timing chain and water pump enclosed together is a nonstarter. The new Maverick compact truck will have the water pump and a timing belt enclosed in the 1.5 I-3 and 2.0 I-4 which is not something I want.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    As much as I wanted to like this car it just reminded me of what got Cadillac into so much trouble in the 80’s and 90’s. Take a cheaper FWD based mid size, stretch it out a little, stick a leather encrusted fancy interior in there and price it big. They didn’t even offer a V8 not that one was really needed but BMW, Mercedes and even Cadillac had them.

    I was also very disheartened after looking over several used examples of this car and the interior quality was appalling! Plastic bits falling off the rearview mirror. The driver’s seats in both were actually peeling away from the plastic mold probably from the person entering and exiting the car and the leather was quite worn and cracked considering these cars had under 30K miles and were “certified”. I also remember checking out a few cars where the electric closing feature wasn’t working on either the driver’s or passenger side. Not good!

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