Edsel’s first year in 1958 proved very disappointing for the folks at Ford. The company’s unusual styling didn’t click with consumers, there was a sudden recession, and the average American consumer realized they didn’t have to buy a brand new car every year or two. And so it was that Edsel’s seven-model portfolio was reduced to just three for 1959. Leading the charge was the most successful (and cheapest) Edsel, the Ranger. It turned out that for Edsel buyers of 1958, less was more.
The new Continental Mark III coupe was a smash hit at its debut in 1969. The Thunderbird-based design proved a cost-saving device for the Lincoln-Mercury Division and put the company’s revenue in the black for the first time in a while. After an exceptionally long model year in 1969, regulatory forces, trim edits, and cost-saving measures took place for the model’s second year in 1970. We covered the exterior changes last time, and today slide into bucket seats in our polyester suits.
Since roughly the dawn of time (or at least the dawn of manufacturing in Detroit), pickup truck makers have enjoyed beating each other over the head in a perpetual game of one-upmanship. Torque, towing, interior appointments – it’s rare for any stone to be left unturned when one brand decides to move the goalposts.
After the Bowtie Brigade showed off a refreshed Silverado HD last night in Michigan, you just knew the Blue Oval Brutes would clap back in short order with a new take on their Super Duty workhorse. Ed. note: Arguably, Chevy crashed Ford's party. Though this story was assigned to Mr. Guy, yours truly saw an embargoed briefing held by Ford the day after the Detroit Auto Show. So perhaps Chevrolet caught wind and decided to be an interloper.
With supply constraints persisting within the automotive industry, the knowledge that a manufacturer has induced a production stall due to a lack of parts is hardly big news. Nobody seems able to source enough batteries and the semiconductor shortage has left automakers dealing with routine factory shutdowns. But Ford seems to be confronting one of the saddest examples we’ve yet seen and has confirmed that it’s delaying trucks – seemingly because it doesn’t have enough trim badging or Blue Ovals to go around.
The last time we saw the 1975 Ford was when your author dropped it off at the shipping office in Oakland. Readers can review the previous installments of the trip up through California, the prep of the car, and the purchase and arrangements of the trip elsewhere on this blog by following the links.
What follows may be of academic interest only to the American reader but if there are any fellow British folks there wondering about importing a car from the USA then the following may prove useful. It is also interesting to arrange a sort of race between the vehicle registration organizations of the two countries, to see who made it hardest and who did it quickest!
But first, the car had to make it here to the U.K.
Thus far in our Abandoned History coverage of Edsel, we’ve made our way through four of the company’s seven models, specifically the ones offered in its introductory year of 1958. Pacer and Citation were sedans that received the immediate ax, while the Roundup and Bermuda were wagon cancellations.
Much to the delight of accountants at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, the new Thunderbird-based 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III was an immediate sales success. It was a case of the right product (a personal luxury coupe) at the right time. The Mark III went head-to-head with its rival and closest competition, the Cadillac Eldorado.
And though the Eldorado nameplate had a long history and was better established than the Mark, Lincoln’s offering topped the Cadillac in sales in its first year. Part of that was down to an exceptionally long first model year that padded the figures, but credit also went to the excitement generated by the Mark. Mark III was all new in 1968 (for the ‘69 model year), while the front-drive E-body Eldorado had been on sale since 1967. Though a few updates happened within its debut model year (that ran from March 1968 to December 1969), product vice president Lee Iacocca knew his pet project needed additional updates to keep consumer interest going.
DETROIT -- The 2024 Ford Mustang arrives early next summer, but Ford isn’t waiting for next year to take the wraps off.
In an attempt to own the 2022 North American International Auto Show/Detroit Auto Show news cycle, Ford has set up a “stampede” of Mustang owners who are traveling here to the Motor City. That’s ahead of a prime-time unveiling in downtown Detroit.
I should point out, for the sake of context, that as important as the reveal of any new Mustang is, it is not hard for Ford to own the news this year, since there isn’t much else going on. Unless hot-rod Tahoes and special-edition Jeeps tickle your fancy.
Ford updated its full-sized cars for 1969, stretching the wheelbase a couple of inches and adding a completely new snout. Production of this generation of big Fords continued through 1978, with well over a half-million sold just for 1969, so these cars were everywhere on American roads well into the 1990s. Here's one of the sportiest models you could buy in that first year, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard last month.
We return to our Edsel coverage with the company’s fourth and final launch year model that was canceled immediately. In case you need a refresher, Edsel debuted in 1958 with a seven-car lineup. Four models were sedan-based (with accompanying body variations), while three were wagons.
The sedan models that never made it past 1958 included the lower-mid level Pacer, and the flagship Citation. Immediate wagon cancellations were the base model Roundup, and Edsel’s flagship wagon, the Bermuda.
Today we return to the groovy year of 1968 in our Lincoln Mark timeline. In March, the quickly and affordably developed Continental Mark III made its debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida. It generated plenty of buyer excitement overnight, and went on sale immediately. Based on the fifth generation Thunderbird, Lincoln’s most exciting car was once again a halo personal luxury coupe.
After almost a decade where Lincoln offered a small number of variations of the Continental sedan that debuted in 1961, the Mark III was something different. We covered its development and styling in our last entry, and now it’s time to step inside a world of gently tufted luxury.
A common knock on dealers these days is the propensity for some of them to slap an asking price over MSRP on what few cars they do actually have in stock or on allocation. We’ll leave discussion of free market practices to the B&B for now but, in the wake of several announcements this summer ahead of the 2023 model year, it seems manufacturers are upping the table stakes before dealers can even ante.
We return to the Lincoln Mark story at a very promising time for the personal luxury coupe. Aside from Ford’s floundering Thunderbird, several other new PLC models arrived in the late sixties. Every major Detroit automaker had one, and circa the turn of the Seventies even more would arrive!
Together, they formed three tiers of personal luxury, segmented by asking price. At the top was the long-standing Cadillac Eldorado, and in the middle were the Thunderbird, Buick Riviera, and Oldsmobile Toronado. They’d be joined in the Seventies by the likes of the Pontiac Grand Prix, Chrysler Cordoba, and Chevy Monte Carlo.
In 1965 Ford’s VP of passenger car product, Lee Iacocca, decided he’d make some use of the fifth-generation Thunderbird’s platform for a higher PLC purpose. With as much parts sharing and cost saving as possible, he’d create a luxurious new Mark that could take on the Eldorado. Ignoring the Marks III, IV, and V of the Fifties, the new Mark would start at III, and attempt to connect itself with the ultra-luxurious Continental Mark II of 1956. We begin today (oddly) with some endurance racing.