In the days when bigger meant better, Lincoln Continental had all the bases covered. It was completely full-size, longer, wider, heavier and grander than other cars. The Continental model has been around since 1940, when Edsel Ford had one made specifically for his Palm Beach, FL, vacation and everyone who saw it loved the vehicle. The decision was made to put the Continental into production that year, and it remained one of Ford's best-selling vehicles for decades; it was the flagship model for Lincoln. Ford had chief stylist and designer Eugene T. Bob" Gregorie draw up the plans for the first Continental. All Continentals were made at the assembly plant in Wixom, MI.
The Continental was made as a luxury 2-door cabriolet or coupe, with a 292 CID Lincoln Zephyr V12 engine. The body was hand constructed with hand hammered body panels. Only two dozen were made for 1939, and 400 for 1940. The convertible car had long front fenders, and the design featured an externally mounted, covered spare tire on a short trunk. This became a trademark for the Continental. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, production was held up until 1946. Continental's first generation models were built until 1948. The 1948 Continental made history as the last American car to have the V12 engine. As such, Classic Car Club of America has designated the 1939-1948 Continental to be a "Full Classic" car.
When production of the Lincoln Continental resumed in the mid 1950s, it remained on top of the line for luxury, size and status. It was forever linked with American history when President Kennedy used it during his White House years; it was also the car in which President Kennedy was riding when he was assassinated. The Continental went through many design changes over the years from 1961 to 2002. It was downsized during the gas crisis years, and upsized afterwards. In 1982, Continental designers gave the rear-wheel drive car its bustle-backed body and priced the new version at $21,302.
The Continental made more history by installing a new 4-speed Automatic Overdrive Transmission in the 1980s. It gave the car the best fuel economy improvement in Ford history and high efficiency ratings. During the 1990s, the Continental was given more rounded lines and updated completely. The car now had a Modular 32v COHC 4.6L V8 engine and an MSRP in 1999 of $38,325. Unfortunately, sales of larger front-wheel luxury cars continually declined, and the elegant Continental was discontinued in July of 2002.
Continental models from 1995 to 2002 had many technological upgrades. Heated seats, Alpine audio, steering-wheel audio controls, CD changer, power sunroof, AM/FM/Cassette Stereo, leather upholstery, keyless entry, and full power accessories were added. The suspension was improved and the car received a powerful 4.6L V8 engine that produced 260 hp. Ride comfort could be adjusted for plush to firm with electronically adjustable shock absorbers. Continental was the choice of many famous persons, like Frank Sinatra, Nelson Rockefeller, and Henry Kissinger.
... View more