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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
It’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.”
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