Interesting Facts about Lincoln Continental

1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V Convertible
1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V Convertible. Photo by Mark Gittelman

Do you want to wrap yourself in the decadent luxury of a big American automobile? Then the Lincoln Continental deserves some consideration. Pictured here is a 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V convertible. From the modest tail fins and chrome trimmed fender skirts, all the way up to the heavy chrome bullet bumper, this car screams luxury.

The lead designer of this car was George W Walker. The vice president of Fords styling and design team had a reputation for elaborate and some would say flamboyant styling.

Ford first recognized his talents when he consulted on the design of the popular 1949 Mercury Eight.

After joining the company in 1955 he had a major influence on the award-winning style of the first generation Ford Thunderbird. His contribution to the Continental series is also memorable. Join me as we uncover details about the Lincoln Continental and its role as an American luxury car.

Birth of the Lincoln Continental

The Continental got its start in 1939. The first car was a prototype design intended for the personal use of Edsel Ford. When your last name is Ford you can exactly jump in the back seat of a Rolls-Royce Phantom III Cabriolet. Therefore, the Continental would represent a top of the line personal luxury car for wealthy Americans.

When Edsel Ford received delivery of the automobile in south Florida, his affluent friends and neighbors also wanted one. He contacted the Michigan-based factory that built the car and instructed them to build more.

One of the features that helped name the automobile was the externally mounted spare tire integrated into the trunk lid.

The mounting location of the spare tire allowed for convenient tire changes and also maximized trunk storage. Just like the Rolls-Royce Phantom the first generation Lincoln Continental sported V 12 power.

The limited production of these automobiles up until 1941 makes them a cherished collectible. In 1942 they halted production to support the war effort. After World War II the company built the Continental from 1946 through 1948.

Bringing Back the Continental

After 1948 Ford moved their luxury line into the Mercury brand. With the success of the hand built Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, Ford decided they wanted back in the game. The two door hardtop Continental Mark II launched in 1956. The hand built automobile promised the highest level of quality control ever offered by any American manufacturer.

However, you would have to pay an epic $10,000 price tag. A massive amount of money in the 50s.The sticker price made it one of the most expensive American cars ever made. Of course, the exorbitant cost was not a problem for stars like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. Political elites like Nelson Rockefeller, the Shah of Iran and Henry Kissinger also belonged to the Continental club.

The Lincoln Continental Mark III

In 1958 Ford launched the third generation Lincoln Continental. They decided to streamline the manufacturing process in an effort to decrease the price and increase sales.

Lincoln also expanded the line to include a convertible model. This made it the perfect choice for a parade car. For the first time Ford offered the Continental in Four-door models. This included the Town Car sedan and a Limousine option.

Facts about the Continental Mark Series

In 1959 they made some minor improvements to the Continental and renamed it the Mark IV. They did this again in 1960 and now the Continental would carry the Mark V emblem. These markings make the year of a third generation Lincoln Continental easy to identify.

The Mark III through Mark V series automobiles would represent the heaviest Lincolns ever built. At more than 5,500 pounds you wouldn't want to push this car to the next gas station. The 1958 Continental with a total overall length of just less than 230 inches held the record that year for the longest car ever produced.

Even the two door convertible model was longer than the Cadillac offering. In 1961 the Lincoln Continental became the presidential limousine. Known as the Secret Service 100 X Limousine it served the White House until 1967. It's the same convertible that President Kennedy was riding in when they assassinated him.