By on January 6, 2021

Today we take a look at the early 2000s Lincoln Continental. A generation of Continental that didn’t know what it wanted to be, we can take comfort in the knowledge it was at least a nice Taurus.

The Continental name had a long and storied history at Lincoln. It debuted as a luxurious coupe and convertible in 1939 and spent the next few decades as a staple in the rear-drive Lincoln lineup. By the late Fifties, the name branched out from its coupe roots as Lincoln offered Continentals with four doors.

Eventually, Continental spent a short stint on the Panther platform before it moved on to its final rear-drive Fox-body iteration in 1982. After six years of bustle-back goodness, Lincoln was ready with the eighth-generation Continental. For 1988 Continental joined the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable on the front-drive FN9 platform. This new modern Conti was the first front-drive car Lincoln ever produced, and also the first time the brand offered a vehicle without a V8 engine – a harbinger of things to come. The FN9 Continental was a bit larger than the outgoing Fox generation, and much more 1990s friendly in appearance. It showed up in other front-drive competition like the Cadillac Deville and was the largest front-wheel-drive car available in 1988. Underneath all eighth-generation Continentals was the same 3.8-liter Essex V6 engine found in the Taurus.

For 1995, Continental was updated to its ninth and final (for a while) front-drive form, still on the FN9 platform. The body and interior were new for ’95, though dimensionally the Continental remained much the same as before. This time Lincoln was ready with further sedan differentiation: A new 4.6-liter InTech V8 powered the Continental and was not shared with Ford or Mercury sedans. The engine was the same as in the Mark VIII but detuned for less potency in the front-drive sedan. Two-hundred and sixty horses and 265 lb-ft of torque were on offer.

Lincoln intended to make the ninth Continental much more competitive in the increasingly cluttered luxury sedan marketplace. A focus on interior appointments and equipment this time around meant the Continental was more expensive than before – a bit too expensive. Lincoln corrected this for 1997 when it stripped some content from Conti in advance of its facelift the following year. Prices dropped 10 percent in ’97, which held sales nearly steady with the year before, at 31,220. 1998’s facelift boosted sales back to over 35,000.

After 1998, the Continental’s power increased to 275 horses, and Lincoln added additional power equipment as standard. A Luxury Appearance Package offered extra interior wood on the steering wheel and shift lever, as well as two-tone leather. An electronic active suspension with ride control select was also available. By 1999, the Continental asked the same on showroom floors as the Town Car and represented the brand’s sportier side of flagship luxury. But it wasn’t as large and luxurious as the Town Car, or as fun to drive as the smaller LS.

The Conti’s pricing and sport/luxury placement in Lincoln’s lineup were problematic. Lincoln had three sedans on offer, and all of them competed for essentially the same customer. But given the Continental’s declining sales (just over 20,000 in 2001), it saw its last year in 2002. The Town Car and LS remained in Lincoln’s lineup to satisfy luxury sedan customers, while the Continental name was put to bed. It was resurrected once more in 2017 and the 10th-generation car completed a four-year run in October 2020.

Today’s Rare Ride is a very clean high-mileage example from 2002. Its original condition is marred by an aftermarket interior wood kit, but it asks $3,997 at a BMW dealer in Nashville.

[Images: seller]

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44 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Lincoln Continental From 2002, Nicest-ever Taurus...”

  • avatar

    Ford should have realized that selling a front-drive V-6 as its flagship would only damage Lincoln’s credibility as a premium brand. Even Matthew McConnaughey couldn’t sell that.

    The Continental that resurfaced in 2017 had a definite odor of Taurus about it too. I think I’ve seen a total of about six on the road. No wonder Lincoln has given up on sedans, if that was its best effort.

  • avatar

    Corey says a G20 isn’t a Sentra– but this is a Taurus?

    Make up your mind, you girl.

  • avatar

    Yep, this Continental was a big ol’ luxurious Taurus, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I do remember them being heavily discounted which probably accounted for the many sales they did have. Nothing wrong with them, but certainly nothing memorable or compelling

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is in really good condition. Even with high mileage this is not a bad price. Sedans have been declining in popularity for a few years and there is probably not much Lincoln could have done even if Lincoln came up with a rear wheel drive V8 Continental. True there are those who would have bought a rear wheel drive Lincoln but probably not enough to justify the costs to design, tool, and manufacture unless Ford developed a rear wheel drive V8 sedan and then Ford could cover the costs from law enforcement and fleet sales. SUVs and Crossovers are where the large sales and the larger profit margins are at.

  • avatar

    I think you all are missing the point – a BMW dealer has an 18 year old <$4000 car on their lot???????????

  • avatar

    Nicest Taurus: SHO with a Yamaha V6.

  • avatar

    The engine is similar to the Mark VIII, but not the same. The blocks are different for example, as are the manifolds.

    Nice cars, but I believe the weakness was the transmissions, which was the reason the transverse 4.6 application was derated compared to the RWD Mark VIII. I can see them reasonably frequently in the junkyard with very nice interiors, I suspect the trans failed, as there was no obvious reasons for it to be in the junkyard.

  • avatar

    Funny timing, WatchJRgo just did a buy and flip on a 2001!

  • avatar

    If I ever saw one of these, I never noticed. Noice big tail-lights, guv, uh huh. Lincoln exclusive cachet? You must be joking. That gen Taurus had Honda levels of tire roar and drove cheap. The LS, now, that looked half-decent at the time, and several business acquaintances I knew had them. This one was refried poop.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “and an Acura alongside the Cadillac Lyriq in Tennessee.”

    That’s what I’m waiting for is a lease return Caddy EV to buy when my Chevy Volt wears out. But there is at least one 2013 Volt with 500,000 miles on it so that may be awhile!……LOL

  • avatar

    Dashboard on the photo reminds me one I had in y 1994 Taurus which was my first car in US which I had the misfortune to buy upon arrival in 2000. Minus fake wood of course. It is pathetic. Even Taurus had newer platform back then.

  • avatar

    2002. Almost 20 years ago. Shudder.

  • avatar

    A coworker had one of these in colour that can best be described as a cross between Mary Kay and salmon. I only remember trying to figure out how this was luxury in any way. At the time I younger and recall that American luxury at the time was just that a vehicle was big. I recall the Town Car was, in my uninformed opinion, the coup de grace of the Lincoln lineup. I can’t recall if this was when the Navigator and Aviator (not to mention the LT or Blackwood) were bursting forth.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Apparently Ford had plans to build the Continental on the Mark VIII MN-12 platform but instead stuck with the revised Taurus platform and added the 4.6-liter InTech V8.

  • avatar

    $3,997 looked like a steal for this car…until I saw it had over 150,000 miles on it.

  • avatar

    I can see the salesman talking about the mismatching wood applique now: “Hey, it’s variety. Why have one tone when you can have two?”

    Lincoln really was kind of lost back then. Decent enough car, but too much obvious Taurus stuff going on.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Oh, now, you’re reviewing the history of the Lincoln Continental and completely skipping over the 1956-1957 super-luxury hand-rubbed super-deluxe series?

  • avatar

    My best friend had this exact car in dark blue that he purchased used from an elderly woman about 10 years ago. Had about 60K on it and was in great condition. After about a year it developed an odd rear end clunk that nobody could figure out, the trans crapped out around 80K and it sadly turned into a money pit with numerous electronic and suspension glitches so he ended up trading it on a 2016 Taurus. That 4.6 gave it quite a kick but my 2013 3.6 V6 W-body Impala would beat it in a race. Still I do miss cars like this

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