These would be the glory days for Lincoln. The fourth generation of the Lincoln Continental was sales success for Lincoln. Something Lincoln needed than and something Lincoln needs today.
The 1961 Lincoln was all new from the ground up. The design was initially to be the new Ford Thunderbird, but it was slightly modified to become the Continental. The new Continental had a wheelbase that was 8 inches shorter than the previous generation and overall length was 14 shorter. Where the previous generation suffered from styling excess all around, the new model featured a clean, restrained slab-sided look. The most unusual thing about the new car was the rear-hinged suicide doors. The doors were rear-hinged to give better ingress and egress for rear seat passengers. When the Continental was introduced, it was only available as a four-door sedan, but was available as a hardtop or convertible.
The fourth generation Continental is a popular collectible. It’s collectibility has been aided by being featured in several movies, including The Matrix, Inspector Gadget and The Last Action Hero.
Changes during the fourth generation were few. Lincoln would learn that this would slow sales later in the model run as customers preferred to keep their slightly used Lincoln instead of trading them in for a new car that looked liked their old car.
The first major changes came in 1964 as Lincoln stretched the wheelbase by 3 inches to allow for more rear seat passenger room. Other exterior changes included squaring off the roofline. The dash was also redesigned. Flat window glass was for additional interior space. The gas tank access door was moved from the rear of the car, where it was concealed in the rear grille, to 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.
For 1965, the Continental received a flatter grille. The Continental was given front disc brakes. 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.
1966 saw the introduction of a two-door pillarless hardtop, the first two-door Lincoln since 1960, and the engine was expanded from 430 cubic inches to 462 cubic inches. The Continental was also given all-new exterior sheet metal and a new interior. The length was increased by 4.6 inches, the width by 1.1 inches, and the height by 0.8 inches. Parking lights and front turn signals went back into the front bumper, and the taillights were set in the rear bumper. Curved side glass returned. Other changes included an optional tape player, the first available in a Lincoln, and a new tilt steering wheel.
Changes were minimal for 1967, which mainly included script changes. However 1967 would be the last year for the Continental four-door convertible. 1968 brought some exterior changes; parking lights, taillights, and front turn signals were once again in a wraparound design on the fenders, to satisfy Federal standards for side marker lights. A new 460 cubic inch Ford 385 engine was available. But there were so many leftover 462 cubic inches, that the 460 was not phased in until later that year. In April, the new Mark III, made its debut, as a 1969 model. The new Continental Mark III would be a separate model from the Continental and would allow the Continental to emerge in 1970 at a larger senior Lincoln that would share its platform with the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis.
To find a Classic to keep for yourself, see our Classic for Sale listings.