Category Archives: Bentley

It has a passion, the Continental

Red and no longer dead

Red and no longer dead

There’s nothing like reviving an iconic name from history to bolster the fortunes of a flagging brand.  At the very least, it gets consumers nostalgic about the glorious past and builds awareness.  It seems to have worked for Chrysler (“300”), Chevrolet (“Impala”) and Volkswagen (“Beetle”) and now moribund Lincoln is getting into the act.  Ford’s luxury brand that hasn’t really offered any luxury cars of late changed its name to The Lincoln Motor Company but its range of offerings were just warmed over Fords with more sound deadening and thicker seat cushions. Model designations seem to have been chosen at random from a box of Alpha Bits — MKS, MKZ, MKT, MKX, MKC — grabbed nobody’s attention. Matthew McConaughey’s commercials did make some noise: the sound of many millions of fingers scratching millions of heads.    This past week TLMC took the wraps off its Continental Concept at the New York Auto Show and the buzz began in earnest. It’s clearly, ahem, “influenced” by the current Bentley Flying Spur (see  comparison photo) and Bentley has accused Lincoln of outright plagiarism.  Come to think of it, Continental is also a Bentley model so this may get interesting in terms of litigation not that anybody’s threatened that. Bentley’s chief designer, Luc Donckerwolke —  a fine English name if ever there was –threw down the gauntlet when he publicly mused, “Do they want us to send them the product tooling?”

Plain or peanut?

Plain or peanut?

All of which gives us an excuse to look at some older (Lincoln, not Bentley) Continentals caught in the wild and to rev up the old Victrola to hear Fred Astaire croon, “It’s quite the fashion, The Continental.

Do we have to spell it out for you?

Do we have to spell it out for you?

Over the years, starting in 1939 and continuing with some interruptions until 2002, the Continental nameplate has been affixed to both sedans and convertibles as well as two door coupés , the later usually sporting the “Mark” designation (as in Mark II, Mark III and so on).  The very last “Mark” was Mark VIII but, truth be told, Ford repeated Marks III, IV and V as part of a “do over” program that began with the introduction of the Mark III in 1968, as opposed to the 1958 Mark III.  We know what you’re thinking so go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief because there definitely won’t be a midterm.

Money pit for FoMoCo

Money pit for FoMoCo

Feral Cars Field Scout Matthew Reader found this ’57 Mark II posing glamorously the other day.  Despite the fact that when new it cost more than a Rolls, Ford lost money on every one sold.  The cost of prestige can be steep and unprofitable.  Still, we think it’s on of the most distinguished designs of the ’50s and flies in the face of be-finned, chrome dripping, excess that typified the era.

Land shark!

Land shark!

Did somebody just say “excess”?  Here you go: it’s a 1960 Mark V convertible loitering by the side of the road. This behemoth weighed almost 5200 lbs, measured 19 feet from step to stern and could be counted on to get a solid 8 – 10 miles per gallon.  We kinda love it.

White flight

White flight

Breezin'

Breezin’

We caught another Mark V, this one a four door hardtop, in motion.  Dig those “Dagmar” bumper bullets and the “breezway” rear window, a feature that sister brand Mercury featured over the years.  It’s a great way to let fumes into the car to lull the rear seat passengers to the land of nod.

Aircraft carrier wanna be

Nothing succeeds like excess

Speaking of huge, here’s a ’79 Continental Town Car that has its predecessor beat in the length department by another half foot.  Those oval portholes, the half padded roof treatment and the B-pillar opera lights  and fender skirts presaged the whole “Dynasty” look by a good two years. We don’t have much to say about the somewhat older one seen below except that it may very well have been hit by a meteorite and seem none the worse for wear. Certainly, nothing that a little duct tape couldn’t handle.

Needs some work

Needs some work

Suicide mission

Suicide mission

Say “Lincoln Continental” and chances are someone will respond with “suicide doors” or “JFK.”  Here’s a dusty ’63 convertible– yes, the same model year as the one that wasn’t able to get through Dealey Plaza unscathed.  Those rear-hinged doors in the back make ingress and egress a breeze and it’s kind of shame that Ford The Lincoln Motor Company didn’t see fit to equip the new Continental with this signature feature since that’s what, inevitably, springs to mind and Bentley doesn’t have them.

Formal looker

Formal looker

Tight!

If you were a Mafia don in ’62 this is what you’d drive — so much trunk room!

This ’62 Continental sedan says “New Frontier” in no uncertain terms and we applaud the fact that vinyl roofs hadn’t yet been foisted upon us. This is the car we wish the new Continental recalled but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.  Pity.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.51.36 PM

 

We think the Continental Mark III a/k/a “The French Connection Car” presents better in black but it’s unfortunate that this one seem to have its “eyes” stuck open.

Straight outta Marseilles

Straight outta Marseilles

We never "tire" of this classic look

We never “tire” of this classic look

The Mark V was produced from 1977 to the 1979 and was is the biggest of all “Marks” and  the best seller:  an average of 75,000 of these big boys were sold in each model year.  This example also sports that wide-eyed look.

Those fender gills help it breathe

Those fender gills help it breathe

By ’82 Continental was back as a sedan but significantly downsized from the aircraft carrier class of which it had been part.  The truth was that underneath that “eleganza” exterior with “bustle back” styling, was the platform upon which the lowly Ford Fairmont was built.  Talk about selling the sizzle sans steak!

The bustle makes a comeback!

The bustle makes a comeback!

Two tone baloney

Two tone baloney

The Mark VII, introduced in 1983, shared much with Ford’s Thunderbird and Mercury’s Cougar but held its own for nine model years.  This one is an LSC, the performance variant, and if you don’t look too closely it does sort of resemble BMW’s 635CSi except that BMW hasn’t, to date, ever built a car with a fake spare tire stamped into the trunk lid.  Their loss.

Mark-ing time

Mark-ing time

Bimmer wanna be

Bimmer wanna be

As noted, the last of the “Marks” was the Mark VIII.  We found a ’97 LSC that seems to have some issues with its clear coat, not to mention the rear-mounted cell phone antenna. Those “salad shooter” wheels are aftermarket so don’t blame The Lincoln Motor Company for this particular lapse of taste.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.56.55 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.55.51 PMIt’s a fact that your President Nixon gave Brezhnev a Continental when the latter visited the former at Camp David in 1972.  We just love this dramatization of that wild encounter.

We think this low mileage (66,800) ’69 Continental Mark III with brilliant read leather interior offered in nearby Beverly, MA for under $13,000 would make a great addition to your fleet.  We’re happy to help you make the “connection.”

 If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

British idles

Humans are actual size

Humans are actual size

We offer an original Mini Cooper here, bookended by Amy and Scott who, we freely admit, are tall individuals but do provide some human scale as testimony as to just how tiny these are.  They were built in mass numbers from 1959 until 2001 by British Motor Corporation, formed by a merger between Austin and Morris.  The original Mini was just voted Britain’s Best Car of All Time by the readers of Autocar. So take that, Aston-Martin, Armstrong-Siddeley and other hyphenates (Rolls-Royce?) too numerous to mention! Today’s version is built by BMW, which insists that the brand be formatted as MINI.  Isn’t the use of all upper case letters tantamount to shouting? Pipe down!  It’s huge by comparison.  The original weighs in at something like 1400 pounds and the new, ALL CAPS, edition weighs more than twice that amount.

All ears

All ears

FeralCars Field Scout Heather Crist captured this Mini variant, a 1969 Riley Elf, just the other day.  It’s a more deluxe version with an extended trunk and luxury interior and never, officially, imported (note: steering wheel on the “wrong” side).  We don’t think the Union Jack painted on the roof came standard but, hey, who are we to suggest not letting one’s freak flag fly?

We encountered a stunning ’65 3.8 litre Jaguar Mk 2, the other day and were, frankly, enthralled.  The interior replicates the leather and wood look of a mens club and the curvy body lives up to its feline moniker.

Jagadelic

Jagadelic

Mark of the beast/Nice kitty!

Nice kitty but we’ll NEVER pronounce it “Jag-You-Wahr”

Today the British motor industry is essentially, foreign owned.  Of course there’s Ford and GM’s Vauxhall, which are American controlled and Jaguar and Land Rover which are, most improbably, part of Tata of India. Stifle those titters, will you please?  MINI is under BMW control; Rolls Royce, too,  is a vassal of BMW while Bentley is Volkswagen’s English trophy marque.  Lotus is owned by a Malaysian conglomerate and Aston Martin is funded by a consortium of Italian, American and Kuwaiti investors and headed by Stuttgart-educated CEO Ulrich Bez who just made a deal with Mercedes’ AMG division to provide engines for these “British” supercars.  It’s kind of sad that the only British-owned car makers today are niche players Bristol, Morgan, Caterham and McLaren.

 

B all you can be

B all you can be

MG was once had significant presence in the US market and is now, for better or worse,  a Chinese brand. There are still lots of MG B roadsters in various states of repair to be found as these recent shots attest.

Sometimes it B like that

Sometimes it B like that

Triumph was MG’s big competitor in the US sports car market.  Not sure if they actually offered them in fuchsia as seen on this “tasteful” TR-6

Union jack on

Union jack: on

In the 1950s and ’60s, and into the ’70s British cars were a real presence in the American market but faded out, almost completely when such brands such as Hillman (that’s one below) Humber, Austin, Morris, MG, bit the dust. To be sure, there’s a resurgence going on with current sales successes enjoyed by MINI, Rolls, Bentley, Land Rover, Jaguar but, again, all of those brands are foreign owned.  Dare we say it? The sun may very well have set on the British automotive empire.

Over the hill, man

Over the hill, man

We found a film clip shot at the 1961 Earls Court car, ahem, motor show and there’s actually a Riley Elf featured!  You simply must check it out!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.