In Appreciation: 1961 Lincoln Continental

25 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on In Appreciation: 1961 Lincoln Continental
Lincoln Continental

In Appreciation: 1961 Lincoln Continental

by Stanley Yee on 10.30.2013 11:30

The 1961-1969 Lincoln Continental has been easily the most recognizable Continental to date. Various generations of Continentals were built from its introduction in 1939 all the way up until 2002, but none were as desired as the 1961-1969 model years.

The 1961 Continental was designed by Elwood Engel, and was easily the highlight of his career. Engel’s new design made a smooth transition from the large fins of the 1950s, into the slightly more subdued styling of the 1960s.

Without a doubt, the signature design aspect of the Lincoln Continental were the suicide doors. The Continental measured over 18 feet long, and the engineers originally had issues with the normal 4-door layout. Their solution was to hinge the back doors from the rear, which inadvertently became the defining feature of the car. The long body and wheelbase of the Continental was important for its comfort and ride quality.

The long wheelbase and soft suspension soaked up any imperfections in the road, making it the perfect cruiser.

The Continental’s large steel body weighed in at over 5,000 lbs, not surprising for a car of such size. To move a car with such bulk, the Continental was fitted with a 430 cubic inch V8, later expanded up to 462 cubic inches. The engines were developed by Lincoln’s parent company, Ford. The engines were rated at around 300 horsepower, with well over 400 lb.-ft of torque.

They sent power to the rear wheels through a 3-speed automatic, which would comfortably cruise on the freeway.

The Lincoln Continental convertible gained attention as the official presidential vehicle for President John F. Kennedy. The presidential limousine was often used as a convertible parade vehicle for the president. However, after President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in the back of his Continental in 1963, the decision was made to use closed vehicles instead of convertibles.

Lincoln Continental

Impressive sales numbers of the Continental, it could be said, were the savior of the Lincoln brand. The 1961 model year had an impressive launch, totaling 25,160 sold. The peak sales for the Continental peaked at 54,755 sold for the 1966 model year.

Around ten percent of Continentals sold were the 4-door convertible layout, which is now the more desirable model.

The last production year of the generation was in 1969. Afterward, the Continental would see a new design, without suicide doors or convertible layout. It was no wonder, then, that the 1961-1969 Continentals became the most sought after model. The 61-69 Continental became a desired vehicle for fans and movie studios alike; the sinister, stylish vehicle found its way into movies like The Matrix .

As the 1960s moved on, so did the Continental. The sales numbers began to decline, and so too did the demand for such a large vehicle. However, the Continental influenced the next breed of luxury vehicles which continues to carry on through the decades.

Without the Continental, the Rolls-Royce Phantom would probably not have its suicide doors or long hood section.

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