Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: At Speed With Bentley's 2021 Lineup

For those of typical means, ultra-luxury automakers like Bentley exist in a vacuum. We see an M3’s worth of options on a Flying Spur and scoff at something so preposterous, so alien to our understanding of a dollar’s value.

It’s true enough that the law of diminishing returns tends to really kick in when MSRPs soar into six-figure territory and beyond: Is a Bugatti Chiron 50 times better than a C8 Corvette? Probably not. But years ago, when I was handed the keys to my first Bentley press car, I approached the prospect with a similar mindset and came away a changed man.

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Rare Rides: The Lincoln Continental From 2002, Nicest-ever Taurus

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.

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Continental Offices Raided in VW Diesel Probe

It hasn’t been what we would call a tranquil year for Continental. The German parts supplier spent the summer preparing for one of the worst financial periods in its 149-year history and apologizing for its involvement with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) by hiring an independent researcher to chronicle their forced-labor practices in detail. The dark trip down memory lane served as a strange interlude from the company’s financial concerns, which re-manifested in September when Continental announced it would have to eliminate around 13 percent of its existing staff — or about 30,000 employees.

News has broken that the supplier’s 2020 troubles didn’t end there. German prosecutors also made their rounds on September 22nd, stopping at Continental facilities in Hanover and Regensburg as part of an ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s Dieselgate fiasco from 2015.

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Lincoln Mark VII LSC

Ford began selling Lincoln Mark Series cars starting in 1956, with the hand-built Continental Mark II, then mass-produced the first go-round of the Mark III, Mark IV, and Mark V for the 1958-60 model years. Fast-forward to the 1968 model year, for which Lee Iacocca decreed that a luxury-for-the-well-off-masses Thunderbird-based Mark III would be built, and we get to the period of Lincoln Marks that I’ve covered in this series; we’ve seen discarded examples of the III through the final VIII, but no Mark VII… until today.

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Supplier Layoffs Planned at Schaeffler, Continental as Economy Dies

Germany’s Schaeffler AG will reportedly be eliminating 4,400 jobs and abandoning several facilities in its home country as the supplier confronts what it dubbed complications relating to the global pandemic. Like Continental, which is actually controlled by the same people, Schaeffler has been coping with lessened demand after automakers around the globe shut down earlier this year as a precautionary measure. While the coronavirus lockdowns can’t be faulted for every issue the companies are facing, they have been a thorn in the side of parts suppliers everywhere.

Continental announced it would need to eliminate roughly 13 percent of its workforce last week. That’s roughly 30,000 fewer jobs. Schaeffler’s restructuring plan only calls for eliminating 4,000 positions. However, it is the smaller of the two and has decided to spread its cuts out as much as possible.

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Continental Commissions Curious Study About Its Own Nazi History

Continental commissioned an independent researcher to see what it was up to in the 1940s, with the auto parts supplier issuing a press release detailing the results.

“The study shows that Continental was an important part of Hitler’s war machine,” said CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart, before adding, “We commissioned the study in order to gain more clarity about the darkest chapter in our company’s history. That’s why we specifically included those companies that were not part of Continental at the time. The study is a consciously chosen opportunity and a renewed motive for us to face up to our responsibility and, on the basis of past experiences, to understand our identity more clearly and to create a better future.”

The company has decided to not only “take responsibility” for acts committed 70-plus years ago, but to also include businesses that were complicit with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP/Nazi) long before they joined its ranks.

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Continental Predicts Worst Financial Quarter Since World War 2

Parts supplier Continental says the extended lockdown protocols that closed countless automotive factories and dealerships will result in the worst quarter witnessed since the Second World War. It also isn’t overly optimistic about Q3, as supply chain issues will continue making normal business operations difficult while the global recession begins to take hold.

“The second quarter is just behind us. It will be the historically weakest quarter for the auto industry since 1945,” Continental Chief Executive Elmar Degenhart said, according to a transcript of a speech due to be delivered at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on July 14 that was intercepted by Reuters.

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QOTD: The Best and the Worst?

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.

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End of the Line, Again, for the Lincoln Continental

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.

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Ace of Base: 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard

Long-time readers (thanks, all three of you) may recall a certain, erm, affinity at this site for vehicles from the old Lincoln-Mercury stable. Sajeev shed many bitter tears over various Cougars and Marks found in our nation’s junkyards, while your author freely admits he suffers an odd form of Stockholm Syndrome. And the world turns.

It’s difficult to pin down just how much time the Continental has left on this mortal earth, with the Blue Oval suits pulling the plug on everything with a trunk in Ford’s showroom. Production changes at Flat Rock surely spell its death by 2021 to make room for EVs, but, for now, it remains.

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Get Yer Coach Doors While You Can

Not many of you will, of course, and not just because the Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition now sells for more than $115,000. There’s too few of them, you see.

Last year’s surprise run of coachbuilt, suicide-doored Continentals sold out in 48 hours and totalled just 80 vehicles. For 2020, the fabulously expensive long-wheelbase Conti stages what might be its last appearance, offering a greater likelihood of scoring a buy.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: $60,000 Luxury Sedans in 2020

Say you’re an auto shopper of wealth and taste who has around $60,000 to spend. Now, let’s assume the usual options from Japan and Germany are not for you. Would you turn to America or Sweden to fill your luxury needs?

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Floaty American Luxury Sedans From 1988

In the late Eighties, American auto manufacturers still sold large, traditional luxury sedans in decent numbers. Their aging sedan consumer base fondly remembered the vinyl and chrome of yesteryear and still relished brougham-style accoutrements.

Up for consideration today are three comfortable, luxury-oriented sedans from 1988. It’s hard to lose here.

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Junkyard Find: 1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV

Big, Detroit-made Malaise Era personal luxury coupes still keep showing up in the big self-service wrecking yards, more than 35 years after the last one rolled off the assembly line. Yes, the diminished-expectations Mark VI, the “What Oil Crisis?” Mark V, and the rococo Mark IV— examples of each of these will appear in your local U-Wrench yard from time to time.

Here’s a worn-out Mark IV from the year of Nixon’s resignation and Haile Selassie’s banishment from his throne in a lowly Beetle, now awaiting The Crusher in a Denver yard.

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Doors Make the Man: Lincoln's Suicide-doored Continental Proves Exceptionally Popular Among the Well-off Crowd

“Exceptionally popular” is a descriptor that does not jibe well with “Lincoln Continental,” as sales of the division’s flagship sedan haven’t exactly fallen into the category of scorching. Introduced late in 2016 as a 2017 model year vehicle, sales of the Continental fell 3.8 percent, year over year, in December, and 27.1 percent for the entirety of 2018.

While the Continental suffers from a crossover-inflicted illness impacting all cars, one Continental variant has no trouble generating demand: the lengthened, limited-edition Coach Door Edition, which bowed late last year with a price tag of just over $110,000.

People clearly want to be seen exiting from rear doors that open the wrong way.

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  • Mike Beranek "Fuel Economy, U.S.17 city / 19 highway / 18 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)":What in the world are these people thinking?
  • ToolGuy "We’ll see what happens with Haas." I wonder what happened with Haas?
  • ToolGuy Auction is 2 days away now. I've been setting aside some spare change here and there - have you? (You forgot again, didn't you?)
  • Luke42 I like the Metris quite a bit, but I never bought one.Two problems kept me from pulling the trigger:[list=1][*]It was expensive for what it was.[/*][*]For the price they were asking, it needed to have a plug for me to buy it.[/*][/list=1]I wanted a minivan that could tow, and I test drove one and liked it. The Mercedes dealer stocked both cargo versions and conversion vans. It was a nice vehicle, and I really wanted one for a while.This is the inevitable fate of cars that I like, but don't actually buy.
  • Garrett I would have gone for one of these if it had AWD. If they had offered it, it could have done far better.