The company was founded in August 1917 by Henry M. Leland , one of the founders of Cadillac (originally the Henry Ford Company . During World War I , he left Cadillac which was sold to General Motors . He formed the Lincoln Motor Company named after Abraham Lincoln his longtime hero, to build Liberty Aircraft engines with his son Wilfred using cylinders supplied by Ford Motor Company . After the war, the factories retooled to manufacture luxury automobiles. The Lincoln Motor Company was active until April 30 1940, the following day it became the new Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company.
The company encountered severe financial troubles during the transition, coupled with body styling that wasn't comparable to other luxury makers, and after having produced only 150 cars in 1922, was forced into bankruptcy and sold for US$8,000,000 to the Ford Motor Company on February 4, 1922, which went to pay off some of the creditors. The purchase of Lincoln was a personal triumph for Henry Ford, who had been forced out of his second (after Detroit Automobile Company) company by a group of investors led by Leland. Ford's company, renamed Cadillac in 1902 and purchased by rival General Motors in 1909, was Lincoln's chief competitor. Lincoln quickly became one of America's top selling luxury brands alongside Cadillac and Packard. Ford made no immediate change, either in the chassis or the V8 L-head engine which was rated 36.4 SAE and produced 90 bhp (67 kW; 91 PS) at 2,800 rpm. An unusual feature of this power unit was the 60 degree separation of the cylinder blocks that helped to cut down on synchronous vibration found with similar engines with 90 degree separation produced at the time. After the Ford takeover, bodywork changes and reduced prices increased sales to 5,512 vehicles from March to December 1922. In 1923, several body styles were introduced, that included two- and three-window, four door sedans and a phaeton that accommodated four passengers. They also offered a two passenger roadster and a seven passenger touring sedan and limousine, which was sold for $5,200. A sedan, limo, cabriolet and town car were also offered by coachbuilders Fleetwood, and a second cabriolet was offered by coachbuilder Brunn. Prices for the vehicles built by these coachbuilders went for as much as $7,200, and despite the limited market appeal, Lincoln sales rose about 45 percent to produce 7,875 cars and the company was operating at a profit by the end of 1923. In 1924 large touring sedans began to be used by police departments around the country. They were known as Police Flyers, which were equipped with four wheel brakes, two years before they were introduced on private sale vehicles. These specially equipped vehicles, with bulletproof windshields measuring 7/8 of an inch thick and spot lights mounted on the ends of the windshield, also came with an automatic windshield wiper for the driver and a hand operated wiper for the front passenger. Police whistles were coupled to the exhaust system and gun racks were also fitted to these vehicles.
Optional equipment was not necessarily an issue with Lincolns sold during the 1920s, however, customers who wanted special items were accommodated. A nickel plated radiator shell could be installed for $25, varnished natural wood wheels were $15, or Rudge-Whitworth center-lock wire wheels for another $100. Disteel steel disc wheels were also available for $60. Lincoln chose not to make yearly model changes, used as a marketing tool of the time, designed to lure new customers. Lincoln customers of the time were known to purchase more than one Lincoln with different bodywork, so changing the vehicle yearly was not done to accommodate their customer base. In 1927, Lincoln adopted the greyhound as their emblem, which was later replaced with the stylized diamond emblem that is currently in use. Through the remainder of the '20s , some really fine examples of coachwork were produced. Edsel Ford was securing a more dominant presence in Ford Motor Company styling studios , and his best renderings were yet to come.
For the 1930's , there were many different types of vehicles beginning to appear on the market , and manufactureres wanted their brands to be unique , and stand out out to appeal to buyes. Designers were becoming more important to car companies now , especially at Ford , where Edsel Ford had brought about the Model A , the'32 Ford V-8 and participated in designs of the '32-'34 Lincolns. He was now in charge of Ford's styling studios.
In 1932, Lincoln introduced the V12-powered KB. In 1933, Eugene T. "Bob" Gregorie, and Edsel Ford, began designing what became the Lincoln-Zephyr[,based on the Lincoln-Zephyr the first Continental, eventually the most important model made by Lincoln, was created . The Zephyr project was aimed at the market segment currently occupied by Cadillac's La Salle - the upscale , but not actually affluent market that was now seeing Cheysler's new Airflow models.appear . Design and aerodynamics were critical for the new car to succeed. In Novembr 1935 , Eugene Gregorie and Edsel Ford took center stage , with their newest creation.
The smaller Lincoln-Zephyr was introduced for the 1936 model year as a marque of its own, it featured a 267 cu in (4.4 L) V12, it was very successful, its first year increased Lincoln sales almost ninefold. It's styling was in stark cotrast to the bigger full size Lincoln at the the time , so it remained a separate marque until the end of the 1940 model year and then became a model under Lincoln when the large Lincoln Twelve was discontinued. Only the most modest of changes marked the 1938, 1939, and 1940 Lincoln Model K as sales continued their downward slide until the line was dropped. The 1939s, however, included two of the most famous Lincolns ever built.
One was a special touring car, based on the LeBaron convertible sedan, used by England's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their historic June 1939 tour of the U.S. and Canada.
The other special 1939 was a Brunn convertible sedan on a 160-inch commercial chassis built as presidential transport. FDR himself dubbed it the "Sunshine Special," and of the several cars in the White House fleet, this was the one he ordered be flown for use at his wartime conferences in Casablanca, Tehran, and Yalta.
But not even the presidential seal of approval could save the classic Model K. Production figures for the line's three final years are in dispute.
Richard Burns Carson, writing in The Olympian Cars, says 986 were built during 1937, followed by 378 in 1938, and 221 in 1939. On the other hand, the Encyclopedia of American Cars by Consumer Guide shows 977, 416, and 133, respectively. Other authorities quote still different numbers, but it's a fact that a few leftover 1939s were sold as 1940 models . From the 1940 model yearand on , all Lincolns would be based on Zephyr chassis and when production would resume after the War . the Zephyr name would not continue.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Continental production was suspended, to be re-started in 1946-1948. Like the other post-war Lincolns, however, the Continental had similar bits of trim added to make it look improved. The 1939-1948 Continental is recognized as a "Full Classic" by the Classic Car Club of America, one of the last-built cars to be so recognized. The 1948 Continental had the last V12 engine put in an American car.
When production ceased in 1948 a total of 5322 had been built. The Continental's spare tire mount was very distinctive, those who work on custom cars still call adding a similar mount a "Continental kit". Edsel Ford , having passed away in 1943 , left Lincoln design after the war , in a rather lackluster state. No new original designs , Henry Ford II 's tight pursestrings around the '49 Ford development , the Continental styling would give way to the bulbous shape of the slab sided 1949 - 1951 body style.
Concentrating on high-volume models, Lincoln issued two series for 1949: a 121-inch-wheelbase standard line and the costlier 125-inch Cosmopolitan. The former, sharing basic bodyshells with that year's new Mercury, comprised sedan, coupe, and convertible; Cosmo added a Town Sedan, a massive six-window fastback. The aged V-12 was replaced at last by a 152-bhp 337-cid L-head V-8 originally designed for Ford trucks. Overdrive was a $96 extra.
Dearborn's original '49 planning called for a 118-inch-wheelbase Ford and a 121-inch Mercury. What emerged as the Cosmopolitan was conceived as a Zephyr. At the last minute, Ford's policy committee, led by Ernest Breech and Harold Youngren, mandated a smaller 114-inch-wheelbase Ford, so the proposed Mercury became the '49 standard Lincoln and the 118-inch Ford was made a Mercury -- hence the latter's change from "senior Ford" to "junior Lincoln" in this period. The ex-Mercury Lincolns were thus much cheaper than the Cosmos, spanning a $2500-$3100 range versus $3200-$3950.
Predictably, given its wartime design exercises, Lincoln's '49 styling was of the "bar-of-soap" school, but clean and dignified nonetheless. Fadeaway front fenderlines marked base models. Cosmos had fully flush fenders, plus one-piece (instead of two-piece) windshields, broad chrome gravel deflectors over the front wheel arches, and thin window frames. All models wore conservative grilles, sunken headlamps (glass covers were planned), and "frenched" taillamps. Model-year volume set a record at 73,507 units.
Lincoln's first new postwar generation continued for the next two years with no major alteration. Offerings, however, were shuffled for 1950, as the standard convertible and the tubby Cosmo Town Sedan were deleted. This left a notchback coupe and a four-door sport sedan (with throwback "suicide" rear doors) in each series, plus a Cosmopolitan convertible. There were also two newcomers for 1950: the $2721 Lido and $3406 Cosmo Capri. These were limited-edition coupes with custom interiors and padded canvas tops offered in lieu of a true pillarless hardtop to answer Cadillac's 1949 Coupe de Ville. Few were sold through 1951.
All 1951 Lincolns sported a restyled dashboard by chief designer Tom Hibbard. It was an attractive "rolled-top" design with an oblong instrument cluster, a format that would continue through 1957. A self-shifting Hydra-Matic transmission, bought from archrival GM, arrived as a new 1950 option; it would be standard in 1952-54. The '51 models were spruced up by longer rear fenders with upright taillamps (versus the previous round units), plus a simpler grille and different wheel covers. For 1952 , Lincoln was completely re-styled , as were all Ford automobiles .
The 1952-1954 Lincoln Capri was the replacement for the Cosmopolitan as Lincoln's top of the line series. It was offered in three body styles. Both series rode a new 123-inch-wheelbase chassis with newly designed ball joint front suspension, recirculating-ball power steering, and jumbo drum brakes.
In the engine room was Ford Motor Company's first overhead-valve V-8, which would be extended to Ford and Mercury (with reduced displacement) for 1954. For 1953, the Lincoln V-8 produced more power per cubic inch (0.64) than any of its competitors.
Styling changed completely too, with a more contemporary squared-off look, clean almost to the point of being plain, and again uncomfortably similar to Mercurys of these years.
Extensive sound deadening enhanced refinement, and the optional air conditioning system featured flow-through ventilation. These Lincolns are highly regarded today for their superlative performance, strength and endurance in the Carrera Panamericana (Mexican Road Race) in these years. The Lincolns were used by several teams beteween 1952 and 1954.
The 1955 Lincoln Capris were about as new as they could be, considering they came in body designs that already had three seasons on them. Aside from an obligatory touch-up of external details, the 1955 Lincolns sported an all-new powertrain.
By boring out its ohv V-8 engine, Lincoln increased displacement from 317.5 cubic inches to 341. The extra cubes, a new high-lift camshaft, standard dual exhausts, and a half-point compression boost to 8.5:1 produced almost 10 percent more power than in 1954.
Thus, the "Fleet-Power" mill now made 225 bhp at 4,400 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. In place of the Hydra-Matic transmission Lincoln had been buying from General Motors, it now had its first homegrown automatic: Turbo-Drive. It consisted of a torque converter and three planetary gears, and offered the availability of low-gear starts if the accelerator was floored. The new powertrain propelled the two-ton-plus 1955 Lincoln to 60 mph in 12 seconds.
Frontal styling was freshened with a new grille made up of horizontal bars. Headlamps were newly hooded in period style. At the rear, the impression of length was enhanced via rear-leaning fender ends. Bodyside sculpting, which had risen high on the rear quarters of 1952-1954 Lincolns, was now confined to the lower half of the body and pointed forcefully forward.
There were parts of the existing Lincoln package worth keeping. The 1955 models continued on the same 123-inch wheelbase as before, and used the same ball-joint independent front suspension that won for the "Road Race Cars". Lincoln was one of the few makes to miss out on Detroit's 1955 sales boom, but it came back strong with the 1956 Lincoln Premiere: dream-car styling, massive new proportions, and horsepower to match. Ads proclaimed the '56s "Unmistakably Lincoln," but there was nary a trace of the lithe and lively Mexican Road Race-winning models of 1952-55.
The 1956 model made up for several styling deficits left off the 1955 facelift , namely the wrap-around windshild. Even the low price cars had one by now.Styling borrowed heavily from the 1954 Mercury XM-800 show car and conveyed substance without looking fat or resorting to glitter. Wheelbase grew three inches to 126, overall length added seven inches, and width swelled by three inches. Even so, the '56s didn't weigh much more than corresponding '55s, and with a mighty new 368-cubic-inch big-block V-8 packing 285 horsepower, they were the quickest Lincolns yet. They also cost a whopping $500-$700 more than the '55s, but such was the price of "progress" in those days. Lincoln continued with two series for '56: Capri and new upmarket Premiere, each with a four-door sedan and hardtop coupe. A convertible was exclusive to Premiere and the priciest '56 Lincoln at $4747. Though just 2447 were built, Ford's luxury nameplate moved just over 50,000 cars in all, versus some 27,000 for '55.
The Return Of The Continental
In 1956, we also saw the return of a true American classic , not seen since 1948 , the Continental . Ford wanted a superior and standalone up-market brand aside from Lincoln, to compete with General Motors Cadillac and Chrysler's DeSoto brands.
The new Continental was not intended to be the largest nor the most powerful automobile, rather the most luxurious and elegant American car available, designed to recapture the spirit of the great classics of the prewar period—with prices to match. The Mark II's inspiration was the celebrated V12 powered Lincoln Continental of the 1940s, among the most notable cars of that War-interrupted decade
Having considered using an outside design team, Ford turned inside to their own Special Products Division. In Fall 1952, they designated John Reinhart as chief stylist, Gordon Buehrig as the chief body engineer assisted by Robert McGuffey Thomas; and Harley Copp as chief engineer.Ford had wanted to use unibody technology, but Copp argued against such a choice for a high-brand/low volume model, which was required to be delivered into sale in such a short time scale. What emerged was something quite unlike other American cars of the period. While other makes experimented with flamboyant chrome-laden styling, the Continental Mark II was almost European in its simplicity of line and understated grace.
There was something of the style of the early Ford Thunderbird at the front, with a tasteful egg-crate grille and a long, curving hood with straight fenders to the headlights. The straight fender line went back to behind the doors, at which point the line kicked up a little before curving back down to the taillights.
Little chrome was used compared to other vehicles of the time, and the only two-tone paint combinations offered were limited to roofs being contrasted with bodies. The car had power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, and power vent windows. The vanes on the wheel covers were individually bolted inside the frame of the cover. It sported a high greenhouse and a wraparound windscreen. Gas entered the fuel tank via a swingaway left taillight.
Most of the car was hand-built to an exacting standard, including the application of multiple coats of paint, hand sanding, double lacquering, and polishing to perfection.
For power, the Mark II featured the newly offered 368 cubic inch Lincoln V8. Standard equipment in the Lincoln line, the engines selected for the Mark II were effectively factory-blueprinted, assembled from the closest-to-specifications parts produced available. Turning out 285 HP in 1956, the engine was tuned to produce 300 HP in 1957. The engine was mated to a three-speed Lincoln automatic, and both engine and transmission were subject to extensive pre-release testing.
About 1,300 were sold in the last quarter of 1955 after the car's October debut at the Paris Motor Show; another 1,300 or so in 1956; and 444 in 1957, some with factory-installed air conditioning. Initially, Ford accepted losses on the Mark II in return for the prestige it endowed its entire product line with, but after going public tolerance for such losses fell.
Famous owners included Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, the Shah of Iran, and a cross section of the richest men in America. The car was featured in the 1956 film High Society, starring Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong. For 1957, Lincoln wanted to maintain strong sales but believed it had to compete with the all new Forward Look from Chrysler. Fins flew higher than ever in 1957, and the 1957 Lincoln Premiere had some of the tallest in Detroit- -- a literal big change from the low, handsomely sculpted rear fenders of 1956. The appendages might have been even higher, but cooler heads fortunately prevailed in the design studio. The 1957 Lincoln Premiere featured a 368 cubic-inch, 300 horsepower V8. Standard safety features included a new padded dash, 'deep-dish' steering wheel and reinforced door latches. Safety belts were optional. For 1957 , the Mark II was unchanged ,except for the addition of some new color combinations.
While technically never known as a Lincoln , and manufactured by the separate new Continental Divsion , the Mark II was sold and maintained through Lincoln dealerships, featured a Lincoln drivetrain, and sported a Lincoln emulating spare tire hump in the trunk lid. On its hood and trunk were four-pointed stars, soon adopted by Lincoln as its own emblem.
Bigger is better , or so they said - so In 1958 , Lincoln grew to it's greatest proportions. The Lincoln cars were totally restyled and re-engineered in 1958 and only minimal updates were made for 1959 and 1960. Most of the changes consisted of 'toning down' the 1958s wildly sculptured front grille and fender. By this point in history, the Continental was no longer a separate make and had been repositioned in the marketplace as the top-level Lincoln, and sold at a lower price than the limited-edition 1956-57 model.
There was steep competition in 1959 in the ultra-luxury car segment from such prestigious nameplates as the Cadillac Eldorado, Ford Thunderbird, Buick Electra 225, and the Mercury Monterey. The Continental Mark IV measured 230 inches in length, had a wheelbase that stretched to 131 inches and had a width that spanned 80.7 inches. Under the bonnet was a 430 cubic-inch, 350 horsepower V8 engine coupled to a three-speed Turbo-Drive automatic transmission. The Continental weighed 5,200 pounds, had a drop-top configuration, built on a unit-body/frame design, and constructed alongside the Thunderbird at Ford's Wixom, Michigan assembly plant.
With just the push of a button, the convertible top would gracefully drop beneath a metal panel, leaving a clean top-down appearance with no soft boot. The top itself featured an unusual reverse-slant glass rear window. Without options, the Continental Mark IV Convertible sold for $7,056 and just 2,195 examples were produced. 1960 would see a new dash layout , a new tailamp treatment and revised front grille.
In 1961, the Continental was completely redesigned by Elwood Engel. For the first time, the names Lincoln and Continental would be paired together outside the Mark Series; along with replacing the Continental Mark V, the 1961 Continental replaced the Lincoln Capri and Premiere, consolidating Lincoln into a single product line. Originally intended to be the 1961 Ford Thunderbird, the design was enlarged and slightly altered before being switched to the Lincoln line by Robert McNamara. One of the most striking features of the new Continental was its size. It was 14.8 in (380 mm) shorter than its predecessor. So much smaller was this car, that advertising executives at Ford photographed a woman parallel parking a sedan for a magazine spread. The new Continental's most recognized trademark, front opening rear doors, was a purely practical decision. The new Continental rode on a wheelbase of 123 in (3.1 m), and the doors were hinged from the rear to ease ingress and egress. When the Lincoln engineers were examining the back seats that styling had made up, the engineers kept hitting the rear doors with their feet. Hinging the doors from the rear solved the problem. The suicide doors were to become the best-known feature of 1960s Lincolns. To simplify production (in the beginning, anyway), all cars were to be four-door models, and only two body styles were offered, sedan and convertible. The 1961 model was the first car manufactured in the U.S. to be sold with a 24,000 mi (39,000 km) or 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. It was also the first postwar four-door convertible from a major U.S. manufacturer.Despite the smaller exterior dimensions, at 4927 pounds, the new sedan was only 85 pounds lighter than the lightest 1960 Lincoln four-door sedan (2 pounds less then a two-door); at 5215 pounds, the convertible outweighed its 1960 predecessor by 39 pounds . As a result (save for their respective 9 passenger models) the new Lincoln was still heavier then anything from Cadillac or Imperial. This solid construction led to a rather enviable reputation as “Corporate management was determined to make it the finest mass-produced domestic automobile of its time and did so.”
The 1961 Continental was Elwood Engel's Magnum Opus, as he was responsible for the complete design of the car. It was a sales success, with 25,160 sold during the first year of production. In 1962, a simpler front grille design with floating rectangles and a thin center bar was adopted. Sales climbed over 20% in 1962, to 31,061. Due to customer requests, for 1963 the front seat was redesigned to improve rear-seat legroom; the rear deck lid was also raised to provide more trunk space. The floating rectangles in the previous year's grille became a simple matrix of squares. The car's electrical system was updated this model year when Ford replaced the generator with an alternator. For 1963, another 31,233 were sold.
The wheelbase was stretched 3 in (76 mm) in 1964 to improve the ride] and add rear-seat legroom, while the roofline was squared off at the same time. The dash was also redesigned, doing away with the pod concept. Flat window glass was for additional interior space. The gas tank access door, which had been concealed at the rear of the car in the rear grille, was now placed on the driver's side rear quarter panel. The exterior "Continental" script was changed and the rear grille replaced by a simple horizontally elongated Continental star on the rear deck lid. 36,297 were sold that year.The convex 1962-1964 grille was replaced by a flatter, squared-off one for 1965 . The car was given front disc brakes to improve stopping distances. For the first time, parking lamps and front turn signals were integrated into the front quarter panels instead of the bumper. Taillights were fitted with a ribbed chrome grille on each side. With the facelift, sales improved about 10%, to 40,180 units Fit and finish of thevehicle was impeccable at the time . Lincoln had reached it's goal of becomin a world class car .
A two-door version was launched in 1966, the first two-door Lincoln since 1960, and the MEL engine was expanded from 430 cu in (7 L) to 462 cu in (7.6 L) cubic inches. The car was given all-new exterior sheet metal and a new interior. Parking lights and front turn signals went back into the front bumper, and taillights set in the rear bumper for the first time . The length was increased by 4.6 in (116.8 mm) to 220.9 in (5,610.9 mm), the width by 1.1 in (27.9 mm) to 79.7 in (2,024.4 mm), and the height (on the sedan) by 0.8 in (20.3 mm) to 55.0 in (1,397 mm) high. Curved side glass returned, however tumblehome was less severe than in earlier models. The convertible saw a few technical changes related to lowering and raising the top. Lincoln engineers separated the hydraulics for the top and rear deck lid (trunk) by adding a second pump and eliminating the hydraulic solenoids. A glass rear window replaced the plastic window used previously. To lure potential Cadillac buyers, 1966 Continental prices were reduced almost US$600 without reducing equipment levels. It succeeded, helping boost sales to 54,755 that year an increase of 36%, all of it due to the new two-door; sales of both four-door models slipped slightly. Product breakdown for the year consisted of 65% sedans, 29% coupes, and just under 6% for the four-door convertible.
The 1967 Continental was almost identical to the 1966. The most obvious external difference is that the 1966 model has the Lincoln logo on each front fender, ahead of the front wheel; this does not appear on the 1967 model. It was also the end for the 4-door convertible, down to just 2,276 units, a drop of 28% over 1966. In addition to being the last production four-door convertible; at 5,505 pounds (2,497 kg) the 67 convertible holds the distinction of being the heaviest Lincoln since the Model K, and was even 55 pounds heavier then the Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Limousine of that year. Total production was 45,667.
1968 brought some exterior changes. The parking lights, taillights, and front turn signals were once again in a wraparound design on the fenders, but looked very different from those of the 1965 model. The new 460 cu in (7.5 l) Ford 385 engine was to be available initially, but there were so many 462 cu in (7.57 l) Ford MEL engine engines still available, the 460 was phased in later that year. In April, the new Mark III made its debut, as a 1969 model .Total sales would be down to just 39,134. 1969 was the last production year with rear-opening "suicide doors", with few changes from 1968 (including the addition of federally-mandated head restraints).Sales held steady at 38,383 for the Continental .
Introduced in April 1968 as an early 1969 model, the Continental Mark III is the direct spiritual successor of the limited production, ultra-luxurious Continental Mark II produced by a short-lived Continental division of Ford Motor Company between in 1956 and 1957.
Confusingly, a direct linear descendent of the Mark II, the Continental Mark III, first wore the name in 1958. Large and somewhat extravagant even for its time, it did not sell as well as Cadillac, but nonetheless earned high reviews from motoring periodicals of the day. The 1958 Mark III was the first car to be built at the new Wixom, Michigan assembly plant. Intended to compete head-to-head with Cadillac's heavily redesigned front wheel drive Eldorado, the Mark III made its debut a clear notch above less expensive, less well-appointed personal luxury cars such as the Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. As the Eldorado was built upon the Toronado frame, so the Mark III was the Thunderbird's. While the side-rail frame was identical to the Thunderbird's, the Mark III bore almost 300 lb (140 kg) more bodywork. demanding all the power Lincoln's all-new 460 cu in (7.5 l) 365 bhp (272 kW) V8 could generate.
In style, the Mark III was squarer and more upright than the sleek Thunderbird, featured a Rolls-Royce like grill, hidden headlights, and a classic albeit ersatz Mark II spare tire bulge on its trunk.
The 1970 Continental continued the slab-sided design with blade-like fenders of the previous model, but the suicide doors were gone, as was unibody construction, and rear leaf springs. The 1970 model was the first time ever a standard Lincoln shared a chassis with the full-sized Fords, somewhat expected as the Ford in LTD form had increasingly marketed itself, not without some justification, as a “poor man’s Lincoln” in the late 60s. “In essence, the new Lincoln was to the Ford and Mercury what the General Motors C-Body offerings (especially the Cadillac) were to the medium priced car lines that employed the B-shell.” Changes included headlamps hidden behind retractable flaps (a characteristic introduced on the Lincoln Continental Mark III), federally mandated bumpers in 1973, grille changes in 1971 and 1977, and progressive introduction of pollution controls. Standard luxury features gradually became optional over the decade, with the 460 cu in (7.5 L) engine becoming an option in 1978, replaced in 1979 by the 400-cubic-inch (6.6 L) engine as standard. In mid-model year 1972 the 460 cid became available on full size Mercurys. and Lincoln’s long history of distinct engines from its corporate counterparts came to an end. From 1975-1980, a Continental Town Coupé was available alongside the four-door Continental Town Car and the Continental Mark V. Town Coupé and Town Car were option packages for the Continental.
As for the MarkIII , there were only small changes for 1970 as Lincoln saw no need to break a clearly winning formula. 21,432 were sold; somewhat down from the previous year. The vinyl roof was made standard, since at the time, nobody seemed to want to order a luxury car without it, the windshield wipers were now hidden from view, and the wheel covers were redesigned. Michelin radial tires were standard equipment (a first for an American car), and a locking steering column/ignition switch replaced the dash-mounted switch per federal mandate. The metal horn ring used in '69 was deleted from the steering wheel, replaced by a Rim Blow unit. Increasingly stringent Federal safety requirements mandated the addition of red reflectors to the rear bumper, and yellow reflectors to the sides of the front parking lamp assemblies. Although horsepower remained unchanged at 365, Federal emissions requirements were met by the installation of Thermactor air injection pumps on the 460 cid engine. The interior wood appliques were upgraded to genuine Walnut. The door panels were redesigned and the power seat controls were moved from the seat edge to the door arm rests. The pattern of the stitching on the seats was modified. A power sliding sun roof joined the options list. Motor Trend’s 1970 head-to-head review of the Eldorado vs. the Mark III gave the nod, barely, to the Mark III, beginning an annual "King of the Hill" series that ran for years.
1971 saw the Golden Anniversary for the Lincoln marque, and the third and final year of Mark III production. Sales were better than ever, at 27,091 almost equal to the Eldorado's, a harbinger for the new decade.
Little changed from the 1970 model; tinted glass became standard, as did automatic climate-controlled air conditioning and SureTrak anti-lock brakes. High-back seats became standard, and a rare special-order floor console was made available. Horsepower remained unchanged at 365, but the 460 cid V8 engine gained a more sophisticated thermostatic air cleaner assembly with its associated ductwork. In its second annual King of the Hill contest Motor Trend (July, 1971) again gave the Continental Mark III the nod by a wider margin than 1970 despite the Lincoln being basically a warmed over 1968 model while the Cadillac was all-new from the ground up. M/T noted that the Mark III's leather interior was far more luxurious and better detailed than the test Eldorado's nylon cloth and the Continental's real wood dash trim was far more attractive than the Cadillac's simulate. For 1972 , the full size Lincoln pretty much remained status quo , with the exception of color and fabric choices. The big news would be the arrival of the new Mark IV. The 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV was ground-up new, styled by Wes Dahlberg under Dearborn design chief Gene Bordinat. Dahlberg may be the first designer in Ford history who had charge of both the exterior and interior on a single car. His challenge outside was to preserve Mark III visual cues within a distinctly different look. Again, frame and inner body structure were shared with the Thunderbird, which was also redesigned for 1972 to be as big as it would ever get. This time, though, suspensions would differ.
Up front were the usual coils and unequal-length A-arms, but the Mark arrangement wasn't exactly the same as the T-Bird's. Coil springs reprised in back, but specific new four-link geometry with a stabilizer bar replaced the previous Mark's three-link track-bar setup.
Lower arms were stamped and conventionally mounted, but the forged-steel uppers angled inward toward the frame from mounts behind the axle housing. The primary reason for this so-called "STABUL" design was increased rear seat room, but a side benefit was a somewhat softer ride.
Steering was still geared at 21.76:1, but the mechanism was reworked for less road feel (to the chagrin of most reviewers).
Against its predecessor, the Mark IV was 3.2 inches longer in wheelbase (120.4), four inches longer overall (at 220.1), and 1.3 inches lower (52.9). It was also 211 pounds lighter (4,782 at the curb), yet it looked heavier thanks to extra overhang at each end, greater cant to windshield and backlight, thinner A-pillars, slightly bulged body sides, and larger rear wheel cutouts.
A pseudo-Rolls grille again separated headlamps concealed by electrically operated flip-up doors. The grille itself, however, sat more deeply in the bumper, and stylists made it appear taller without changing hood height by dint of a wide U-shaped central bumper cutout.
The trunk lid became shorter, its dummy spare flatter. Taillights moved from rear fenders to the bumper.
A wide-quarter vinyl-covered roof was a Mark III signature, but the IV offered a new touch of old-fashioned formality in small double-pane oval "opera windows" cut into the C-pillars. They also provided some welcome over-the-shoulder visibility for drivers.
Each window was adorned with an etched four-pointed Continental star that was silver-filled on the inner surface of the outer pane. Initially standard, then optional from mid-year, these windows began a styling fad that soon swept Detroit.
As with the full-size Continental, Lincoln's big 460-cid V-8 was detuned for 1972, with lower compression to permit use of unleaded gas. Horsepower dropped from 365 to 212 (12 fewer than quoted for the Continental), but the loss wasn't quite what it seemed because Ford, like other Detroit makers, switched to more realistic SAE net ratings.
Lincoln's three-speed automatic transmission was carried over with minor internal improvements and a quadrant shifted from the steering column into the instrument cluster.
The Mark IV dashboard was a major change from the four-pod Mark III design. Crashes with test dummies at the wheel dictated a new three-pod layout in a heavily foamed, hooded, and recessed panel. If arguably less attractive, the Mark IV panel met federal rules, which also prompted a switch from real wood to splinter-proof burl-grain plastic on dash and door panels.
New models don't generally change much in their second year, but that was not the case with the 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV. Aside from restandarized opera windows, the most visible difference for 1973 was a new five-mph front bumper per federal edict.
Much as the same as on the the larger Continentals , This bulky bumper bar added 130 pounds to weight and nothing to appearance, as it made for a stunted grille and a somewhat heavier look. Turn indicators were restyled to suit, and cornering lamps were newly standard.
Another sign of the times was another reduction in horsepower, now 208 net. A tighter 2.75:1 rear axle helped compensate.
Among other technical changes were more sound insulation, larger rear brakes, improved front disc brakes, bigger tires (230-15 Michelins or LR78-15s) and a side-terminal battery. Standard paints were cut to 15, but Moondust options went to nine, vinyl roof colors to eight.
Lincoln had lately profited from special trim options on the Continental, and the idea was extended to the Mark with a mid-1973 package, the Silver Luxury Group. Priced at $400, this comprised Silver Moondust paint, matching "Levant grain" vinyl top, and an interior done in Cranberry Victoria Velour.
Dark red leather upholstery was later added as a no-cost alternative. Also issued after the start of the model year was a Silver Mark that added silver leather seats and a pioneering sliding glass moonroof to the luxury group.
Though some felt the Mark IV hadn't changed for the better, the 1973 attracted 69,437 orders, nearly 8000 more than that year's Eldorados. It also contributed to Lincoln model-year production that exceeded 100,000 for the first time -- by a healthy 28,073 units. For the years 1974 - 1976 , changes would be contained to color and trim level choices such as Cartier , Givenchy and Bill Blass Editions , for bothe the Continental and Mark IV body styles.
In 1977 , Lincoln would introdeuce a Ford Granada variant , called the Versailles. During the late 1970s, Ford did not have as much development capital to spend on its vehicles as General Motors, which led to the high usage of badge engineering to save money. Although they had used unique platforms, powertrain, and bodies as recently as the late 1950s, the full-size Ford and Mercury product lines differed only in grille and trim. Until the Versailles, however, care had generally been taken to give Lincolns a distinct appearance and feel, in order to hide their sometimes humble origins although by the 1970s the similarities were very apparent. However, by mid-decade, even the Continental shared a number of components with Ford products. So , being unable to afford to rebody the Granada from the ground up, Lincoln stylists disguised this fact with a Lincoln-style front clip and wheel covers; the trunk lid wore a spare tire bulge inspired by the Continental Mark coupe (lettered "Lincoln" instead of "Continental"). Whether these elements really worked on a smaller vehicle could be debated, because what was in between was indisputably Granada. Doors and windows were interchangeable, the roofline was identical and inside, the potential luxury buyer faced the same dashboard design as the budget-minded Granada customer. Perhaps most tellingly, the windshield wipers remained present and exposed, long after hidden wipers had become expected not just on luxury cars, but even on intermediates. Even more, the base model Versailles for model year 1977 was exactly the same car as the top of the line 1976 Mercury Grand Monarch (which could have been purchased for 50% less than the Lincoln counterpart). Although the Versailles openly bore a resemblence to the Granada/Monarch when it was introduced in 1977, the difference between it and its stablemates became clearer in terms of quality control and control over NVH. Going beyond factory standards for the Granada and Monarch, the Versailles was designed with “matched balance driveline parts, low-friction lower ball joints, double isolated shocks, reinforced chassis areas and plenty of insulation. Balanced forced aluminum wheels wore Michelin X-radials. Quality control was at the plant was strengthened to the point of dynamometer testing of the engine/transmission, a rigorous water spray test to pinpoint body leaks, and a simulated road test. Bodies received the first clearcoat paint on a regular production car.” Also in 1977 , Lincoln brought out the all new Mark V . It was s a large coupe sold by Lincoln, the Ford Motor Company's luxury division, between the 1977 and 1979 model years. The Mark V was a restyled Mark IV, replacing that car's more rounded styling with a more squared-off, sharp-edged detailing.
The standard engine was now the Ford 400 in³ (6.6 L) Ford 335 engine instead of the 460 in³ (7.5 L) Ford 385 engine, but the latter was available as an option everywhere but in California in the first two years of production.
Mark V was the last generation to be available with the 460 V8 engine. Between 1977 and 1979 , the big Continental was in the last yeasr of it's gargantuan proportions , and was due to be downsized as were all of Ford's full sized vehicles
After lagging behind Cadillac and Chrysler, Lincoln became the final American manufacturer to downsize their full-size cars in 1980. The 1980 Continental shared the Panther platform with full-size counterparts from Ford and Mercury, which adopted it for the 1979 model year. In comparison to the 1979 Continental, the 1980 model shed approximately 900 pounds, an inch in width, fourteen inches in length, and ten inches in wheelbase; surprisingly, the redesign did lead to an increase in trunk space. As the 1970s Lincolns had sold well towards the end of their production run, much of its styling was carried onto the Panther platform, including its blade-like fenders, fake vent windows, and the Rolls-Royce grille shape. In contrast to 1970s models, most models wore exposed headlights, with the exception being the Mark VI models.
The downsizing of the Continental marked the beginning of an expansion of the Lincoln lineup. As the division had relied nearly entirely on full-size cars, Lincoln split the Continental and the Town Car in 1981 into separate models. The Town Car remained the traditional full-size Lincoln, while the Continental became a mid-size car to replace the slow-selling Versailles. When the Mark Series was redesigned in 1984, it too was redesigned; instead of a landyacht, it became one of the most advanced cars ever sold by Ford Motor Company.
From 1981-1983, the script "TOWN CAR" appeared above the headlights; this script was removed for the 1984 model year. A leather-grained vinyl full-roof covering with center pillar coach lamps was standard on base Town Car, while the padded vinyl coach roof (covering only the rear half of the roof) with a frenched (smaller) rear window opening was included on Signature Series and Cartier models (and optional on base Town Car). A cloth (Canvas) roof—re-creating the look of a convertible—was optional on all except Cartier. Inside, Signature Series and Cartier models featured 6-way power seats (and manual seatback recliners) for the driver and front passenger. All models now featured a 50/50 split front bench seat, replacing the traditional full-width bench seat.
The 1980 model year design revision and change to the Panther platform significantly reduced the size of the vehicle—the new model was 14 inches (360 mm) shorter and rode on a wheelbase 6 inches (150 mm) shorter than before—and the new car was 500 kilograms (1,102 lb) lighter. Aside from being the first Mark series available as a 4-door sedan in 20 years, the Mark VI retained most of the styling cues of the 1977 Mark V. The models retained the hallmark opera windows, Rolls-Royce style grille, and its characteristic vestigial spare-tire hump on the deck lid.The old 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 was replaced by a fuel-injected version of Ford's 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 (marketed as a "5.0" model), and a carburetted version of the351 cu in (5.8 L) V8, though the latter lasted only for 1980.
The basic body was shared between Town Car and Mark VI, but the Mark bore more resemblance to the Mark V, with hidden headlamps, the spare tire bulge on the trunk, the vinyl top and opera windows, etc. For the last time, the Mark series was offered as a four door sedan, but both Marks were dropped after 1983 in favor of a new Mark VII, and a small Continental sedan (meant to replace Lincoln's unsuccessful Versailles mid-size).
The Continental Mark VII, later shortened to just Mark VII, was a rear wheel drive luxury coupe from Lincoln. Introduced for the 1984 model year, the Continental Mark VII shared its platform with the Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar, and Lincoln Continental (the Ford Fox platform from the code name of the first program using the platform). The Fox platform was originally introduced for the 1978 Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr. The same platform was also utilized as the base for the 1982 - 1987 Lincoln Continental sedan - the Mark VII's four-door companion. Like its predecessor the Lincoln Continental Mark VI, the Mark VII was manufactured at the Wixom Assembly Plant in Wixom, Michigan through 1992. It was replaced by the Lincoln Mark VIII in 1993. The Mark VII held a lengthy standard equipment list, including an onboard trip computer / message center and digital instruments (on all except the LSC models after 1986). Mark VII's also came with full air suspension at all four wheels. The 1985 LSC was the first American vehicle with electronic 4-channel anti-lock brakes (6 months before the Corvette). Mark VII also had the distinction of being the first American vehicle with composite headlights.
For 1985, the Town Car received minor design updates. Like previous years, the scheme included a reflector running in between both taillights above the bumper mounted license plate - a design feature kept for the second generation 1990–1997 Town Car. But now, a single, wide reverse lamp was mounted in the center of the reflector panel (the lamps moved up from the previous bumper location). All four corners of the vehicle were slightly rounded, and the new, narrower bumpers were flush mounted with the sides of Town Car. Inside, the 1985 dashboard used satin black trim on the lower dashboard fascia and a slightly revised steering wheel with a padded center panel including a horn button—the previous year had a hard plastic center piece, with the horn button located at the end of the turn signal stalk. The large wood-tone applique used on each door panel through 1984 was replaced by an insert matching the seat upholstery.
In 1985, Cadillac DeVille and Fleetwood were both downsized, the former converted to front-wheel drive. Lincoln, however, continued to field the Town Car as a traditional-sized luxury car. In response to the downsized Cadillacs, Lincoln began running a series of ads in late 1985 titled "The Valet" which depicted parking attendants having trouble distinguishing Cadillacs from lesser Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and even Chevrolets, with the question "Is that a Cadillac?" answered by the response "No, it's an Oldsmobile (or Buick, Chevy, etc.)." At the end the owner of a Lincoln would appear with the line "The Lincoln Town Car please." The commercial saw the emergence of the new advertising line, "Lincoln. What a Luxury Car Should Be." which was used into the 1990s. The mildy-revamped 1985 Town Car sold well in comparison to the newly re-styled GM vehicles that not only all looked like each other, but also too similar to lesser GM models. While the Town Car retained its traditional layout and large size, fuel prices dropped to a contemporary new low at the time, and operating economy became less of a concern to buyers than a decade prior.
Visually, 1986 was a virtual re-run of the popular 1985 model, but with the addition of the federally-mandated third brake light, mounted on the parcel shelf in the rear window. The dashboard featured more wood-tone accents (in simulated blonde walnut burl), whereas the 1985 model held satin black lower dashboard panels. Tall, four-way articulating front seat head restraints arrived in many Ford vehicles for 1986, including Town Car. The biggest mechanical change for 1986 was the switch to multi-port fuel injection for the 302-cubic-inch engine. This replaced the throttle-body fuel injection system that had been used previously. The MPFI engines are easily identifiable visually, by their cast aluminum upper intake manifolds with horizontal throttle body (vertical throttle plate), replacing the more traditional-looking carburetor-style throttle body with top-mounted air cleaner of previous Town Cars. 1987 was more of the same for Town Car, and changes were minimal. The top-notch Cartier model - which was previously only available in two-tone arctic white and platinum silver, changed to dual shades of platinum (a metallic beige), along with a new interior color in a revamped sew-style, with a sandy beige color ("Titanium") replacing the former white and gray upholstery. Also new was the available JBL single-slot CD Player.
A very minor facelift occurred for the 1988 model year, which saw an early release in the spring of 1987. Town Car now included a wide brushed metal panel on the rear of the vehicle just below the trunk lid opening. The reverse lamps, previously located in the center, now moved to the outer edges of the reflector panel. On the front end of the vehicle, Lincoln returned to the waterfall grille versus a crosshatch design from 1985-1987. Inside, the standard dashboard held a new cluster featuring round gauges set within the square bezels. The burled walnut wood-tone trim was replaced by American walnut applique, and the horn pad changed slightly with more detailed plastic trim.
For 1989, Town Car's grille featured satin black paint on the sides of the segmented grille blades (similar to Mark VII), and now included the "LINCOLN" logo (in a larger, more contemporary font), on the grille itself - down from the header panel above the headlight. Parking lamps were changed from clear to amber, and the background of the Lincoln medallions in between the headlamps was changed from clear to black. In back, the brushed metal panel above the center reflector held a series of fine horizontal instripes, and the new "LINCOLN" logo and "Town Car" script emblems moved up from above the tail-light panel (where they had been since 1988), back onto the trunk lid itself. The standard vinyl roof on the base model featured a smaller, more formal "frenched" rear window this year, and did away with the exposed trim surrounding the glass. Large, chrome Lincoln "star" emblems were embedded onto the opera window glass on base and Signature models.
The 1990's would represent a new direction for Lincoln. The stylists would begin to abandon The '61 Elwood Engle idea ,which had served Lincoln so well, for so many years , making the car legendary in design status. The rounded off design of the '90 Town Car is testament to that. Ford was looking into differentdirections to market Lincoln. Light duty trucks , sport utility vehicles were now being considered for underthe Lincoln umbrella. 1990 would still see the Continental , Mark VII and Town Car marketed as their status and heritage dictated. The new ideas may yet pan out , as Lincoln has alwas been at the top of quality and detailin luxury automobiles. tHis site here is a dedication to the many classic cars Lincoln has produced between 1922 and 1990. We can always add any new classics ,as time goeson.
1949 Lincoln TV Promotion..........www.youtube.com/watch?v=luxbMHu80iM&feature=related
1954 Lincoln TV Promotion..........www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNflPjrp8cM&feature=related
1957 Mark II TV Promotion....... www.youtube.com/watch?v=StaBceSZKWg&feature=fvwrel
1957 Lincoln TV Promotion......ww.youtube.com/watch?v=WDmLNMAANXQ&feature=related
1966 Lincoln TV Promotion..... www.youtube.com/watch?v=__q93LZ1Fzg&NR=1
Hot Rod Lincoln.... www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBYawwM_9pw&feature=related
Did You Know....
That for six seasons , The lead character Jock Ewing , on the hit tv show ''Dallas '', always drove a Lincoln Mark V . The family , known for a driveway full of expensive imports , Mr. Ewing preferred American luxury.
In the hit tv show ''Green Acres''from the '60s , Oliver Wendell Douglas drove a 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible around Hooterville.
In the 1969 movie , ''Hellfighters'' , Chance Buckman ( portrayed by John Wayne) , owner of an oil well fire fighting business , drove a 1969 Lincoln Mark III .
Private eye , Frank Cannon , the overweight detective from the CBS drama ,''Cannon'' , drove a 1972 Lincoln Mark IV during the run of the show over 4 seasons.
In the upcoming movie , ''The Lincoln Lawyer '' , about a lawyer who works out of his car - actor Matthew Mc Conaughey chose a 1988 Lincoln Town Car for the part .