By on July 2, 2020

As you read in the previous post, Lincoln has finally admitted what everyone by now knew — that the Continental’s days are numbered. The marque plans to shelve the model after pulling the plug on production at the end of the year.

Big sedans have all the appeal of an uncontrolled cough in a crowded elevator right now, so there’s dim hope that the Continental name will ever grace a stately, rear-drive sedan or coupe in anyone’s near future. At least we have our memories, though… not all of which are good ones.

Perhaps this writer is speaking for himself. Maybe you’ve never seen a Continental you didn’t love. Others will disagree and choose to play favorites.

There’s certainly a long list of vehicles from which to choose. The first-generation, Tinseltown Contis never did it for me, style-wise, but one can appreciate their presence and panache, as well as their V-12 powerplants. The exceptionally expensive, crafted-with-care Mark II of ’56-’57 was a jewel, but maybe too much of one. The unibody behemoths of the late Fifties, so hated by Robert McNamara, were Exhibit A at the Dangers of Capitalism trial.

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Ah, but the slab-sided Sixties… Mmmmm, that was where it’s at. The best Continental, in this writer’s entirely subjective opinion? The ’64. Stretched three inches for that year, it best combined the minimalist elegance that defined the Kennedy-era Continentals with the hulking size that emerged later in the model’s run.

A close runner-up is the Continental Mark III (1969-1971), which deserved top billing in The French Connection. A money maker by design, the quintessential personal luxury coupe came into being after Lee Iacocca looked at the floundering four-door Thunderbird and figured its underpinnings could be put to better use. The idea certainly panned out. With margins as wide as its split front bench, the Mark III was a license to print money, as well as a gorgeous thing to look at.

Maybe your tastes lie elsewhere, though. Maybe a two-tone Mark V with the faux cabriolet roof is your bag. Maybe the bustleback of the Fox-body Continental of 1982 gets you hot under the collar — especially when you think of the oh-so-rare BMW diesel engine option. Then there’s the Mark VII and VIII coupes that aimed to inject a much-needed dose of sport into Lincoln’s calcified veins.

Is it possible your favorite Continental emerged after that date? Maybe a late-’80s example — the kind often seen with a blown rear suspension, its bumper bouncing off of speed bumps in a mall parking lot? We won’t judge you if that’s the case. Not publicly, anyway.

There’s lots to choose from here, folks. A lifetime of Continentals, but for each  of you, there can be only one best and one worst. What are they?

 

[Images: Lincoln Motor Company, Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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31 Comments on “QOTD: The Best and the Worst?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    My personal favorite would be the ’61-’65 suicide door Continental convertible. My least favorite would be any of the Fox body Continentals with their massive overhangs

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I wouldn’t kick any out of my garage, not even those hilarious 80 monstrosities.

    I would really enjoy a 2020 coach door Continental. Those are undeniable future collectibles of the highest order.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      They said the same thing about the ’76 Eldorado convertible, “Last of the big converts”, they said. If you check the classic car markets they’re a relative bargain

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I suspect the thing that destroyed the last Eldo convertible’s collector value was that it was NOT the last American convertible.

        Still, if those mid-’70s Eldo droptops are good values, I’d love one.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Generally, any Continental from 1961 through 1971. Although I seem to be one of the few who actually likes the outgoing model. It’s one of the few current Lincolns that looks like a Lincoln when you see it in real-life as opposed to in a photo – at least to my eye.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Favorite : Mark VIII. Loved the “MMA fighter in a tuxedo” styling and all the engines had fuel injection.

    Least : ’58-’60. I do not like the looks of many things from the late 50s and this version of the Continental is an overwrought parade float.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I liked the Mark VIII too. But it suffered from the same problem as every other Lincoln after the ’69 Connie – underneath it all, you had a Ford. I would say the Mark VIII was the best executed of them, though – technologically speaking, it was right up there with any of its’ non-American competitors. Can’t say that about the early-’70s Marks.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Either give me a 7th Gen (1981-1987) and make it the last few model years so I can enjoy a FI 5.0 V8. Maybe the styling was a little silly but it was quiet and rode serenely and it would be easy to “improve” with parts from elsewhere in the Fox family.

    Or give me one of the 10th gen (2017-2020) models with the 3.0 Ecoboost, torque vectoring AWD and every conceivable option. I’m sure I could surprise a few other drivers with the speed and tenacity that this luxury barge could fling it’s way down a canyon road.

    The others (with the exception of the 8th and 9th gen) are pretty to look at but I wouldn’t want to live with them everyday.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The Mark II is basically the only legitimate post-war attempt to sell an American branded Rolls Royce competitor.

    Even if the car was not a success, I admire the audacity of the model.

    As for my least favorite, anything branded Continental after the late 70s downsizing just doesn’t sit right with me.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, jack – most people don’t realize how *crafted* the Mark II was. It really was a great luxury vehicle, and Ford kept quite a bit of that “special” quality in the ’61-69 Continental sedan, which was far more of a mass-produced model, but damn, those cars were their own beasts, and they were BUILT. Watching the power roof on one of those go up and down is a mechanical ballet.

      After ’69, the Connie was a fancied-up LTD…and it ended as a fancied-up Fusion.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Mark II is my all time favorite followed by the 1961 thru 1969 suicide door Lincolns. Love the simplified understated elegance of those models.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    My favorite is the ’61-’63 cars (shorter wheelbase), followed by the ’64-’69 cars, with the exception of the ’65 model. Its grille looks too much like a ’65 Mercury, cheapening it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Ford really pushed the similarity between the Lincoln and Mercury in the mid-60s even had an ad campaign about getting the look of a Lincoln for the price of a Mercury. Not sure how Lincoln buyers felt about that

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Sedan- The 1961-1969 suicide door Continental is tops with me particularly the leaner less boxy 61-63.
    Coupe- The 1984-1992 Mark VII in LSC guise. The hot rod Lincoln that competed with the likes of the Mercedes Benz 560 SEC.
    The 66-70 Continental coupes tend to be forgotten about but are underrated classics.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I prefer the Mk VIII, but if I have to keep it on the road I’d go with the Mk VII. It’s a close second in LSC trim and it being a fox chassis car should aid in parts availability and cost. Additionally one can get a manual in without much issue.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The ‘61-‘69s or perhaps the ‘74-‘79 barges are the best Lincolns in my mind. And I do really like the current one. Anything from the early ‘70s and entire ‘80s and 90s Are the low point.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    My favorites are the 59-60 for its audacious Art Deco style,
    the 1974 Continental full size 2 door coupe before they squared off the back window.
    the 1976 Mark iv Pucci Edition
    and the 80-83 Mark vi 4 door.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I owned a ’63, ’64 and ’65 Lincoln and all were stellar cars if not suited for anything I wanted them to do .

    My voluptuous 4’11” Russian girlfriend loved the ’65 and looked oh so cute racing it around town in her fringed leather jacket =8-) .

    Shortly thereafter I breifly had a ’67 two door, it was a Hot Rod with free flowing twice pipes and alloy wheels, it scooted right along (?460 CID?) but was a gas hog and tended to loose traction when flying hard up Mulholland Drive or the Angeles Crest Highway so off it went .

    Big land yachts are nice, very nice *if* they fit your purse and purpose .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Nate, I had a ’66 Continental Coupe I agree about the strong engine, but oh that handling, a quarter turn of the wheel before the front end moved at all

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Yeah well ;

        Lincolns in the 1960’s were _not_ Sports Cars….

        It wasn’t all that difficult to bring the handling up to better standards but you were never going to run with the fast guys on Mulholland Drive with one =8-) .

        If you liked big tourers you could do a lot worse .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I honestly think my favorite is the 64 Conti with the suicide doors, but then followed closely by this most recent iteration. No other Conti’s have made me say “wow” like this most recent one. None really have the presence of this new one. The 64 is just awesome with those doors. I know you can get the new one with the rear hinged doors, but it’s just not the same and it seems like it’s trying too hard to be a Rolls Royce.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Of the ones pictured, my favorite would have to be to blue number right under that 20s toadish looking job. I’d probably take it in the green immediately below it.

    The only Continental I’ve seen in the wild was the late 90s/early 2000s model that reminded me of a really fat Taurus. The Town Car was decidedly more attractive. I’m ambivalent toward the most recent iteration.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ain’t no contest here, fellas…’61-65 convertible sedan. One of the best-looking American cars ever. And unlike later models, it wasn’t a fancied-up LTD – like the late-’50s – early ’60s Imperials, it was beautifully made. These were special cars. The Continentals after that? Not so much.

    Drops mic.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I like the ’65 for its grille and also like the 67 with the more pronounced coke-bottle sides, both have tremendous presence.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    There can be only one best and @GS455 named it. The Mark IV Pucci edition.

    The ultimate in brougham. Yes it was the height of the ‘malaise era’ but every other manufacturer was toiling under the same restrictions.A wonderful highway cruiser. A true ‘boulevardier’

    Whether when it was new or now, if you show up in one, you will attract a crowd.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A Mark V for me for sentimental reasons. On warm summer nights I’d get selected to pilot a Mark V back from Cincinnati Reds games. Maybe because dad had a few too many Hudepohls and grandpa would say something about having to get up early the next morning and slipping into the back seat. Of course the AC would be off and the windows would be rolled down. 700 WLW on the AM radio and dad’s 8 track tape needing pushed in. Rolling west on U.S. 50 I’d catch glimpses of small Indiana towns early in the morning. For those who raised crops and animals or knew up such things, the cool night air would bring in usually subtle scents of their activities. Freshly mowed grass, hay that had been cut that day and humus that had just been disked. Sadly, my grandpa has passed on and the small towns I passed through on U.S. 50 are slowly dying. Lincoln is going out with a fight, offering superb customer service. However, showing my mom how to play music from her phone does not nearly equal opening up a 460 Ford engine on a long straightaway.

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