The Lincoln Continental is a series of luxury cars produced by Lincoln, a division of the American automaker Ford Motor Company. Introduced in 1939 as a personal vehicle of Edsel Ford, who commissioned a coachbuilt Lincoln-Zephyr convertible as a vacation vehicle to attract potential Lincoln buyers. In what would give the model line its name, the exterior was given European "continental" styling elements, including a rear-mounted spare tire. Produced for 55 years across nearly eight decades, there are ten generations of the Lincoln Continental.
Within the Lincoln model line, the Continental has served several roles ranging from its flagship to its base-trim sedan; from 1961 to 1976, the Lincoln Continental was the sole model line sold by the division. As part of its entry into full-scale production, the first-generation Lincoln Continental became the progenitor of an entirely new automotive segment, the personal luxury car. Following World War II, the segment evolved into coupes and convertibles larger than sports cars and grand touring cars with an emphasis on luxury and style over handling. From 1956 to 1957, the Continental nameplate also saw use in the short-lived Continental Division, marketing the 1956-1957 Continental Mark II as the worldwide flagship of Ford Motor Company; as a second successor, Ford introduced the Continental Mark series in 1969, produced over five generations to 1998.
Along with the model being the final American factory-produced vehicle with a V12 engine (in 1948), the Lincoln Continental is the final example produced as a four-door convertible (in 1967); the Lincoln Continental was the final model line to undergo downsizing (in 1979).
Alongside the nationwide suspension of automobile production during World War II, the Lincoln Continental has gone on hiatus twice. For 1981, the Continental was renamed the Lincoln Town Car to make room for the early introduction of the seventh-generation 1982 Lincoln Continental. The Lincoln Continental went on hiatus again after 2002 and was eventually replaced by the Lincoln MKS in 2009. For the 2017 model year, the Continental was revived as the Lincoln flagship sedan model, replacing the Lincoln MKS
This car was used by gangsters and it was a choice of this or a Town Car when they chose a Lincoln.
- 1 First generation
- 2 Second Generation
- 3 Third Generation
- 4 Fourth Generation
- 5 Fifth Generation
- 6 Sixth Generation
- 7 Seventh Generation
- 8 Eighth Generation
- 9 Ninth generation
- 10 Tenth generation
- 11 Gangsters who used the Lincoln Continental
Lincoln Continentals from 1939 to 1941 shared largely the same body design with each other; based on the Lincoln-Zephyr, the Continental received few updates from year to year.
For the 1942 model year, all Lincoln models were given squared-up fenders, and a revised grille. The result was a boxier, somewhat heavier look in keeping with then-current design trends, but perhaps less graceful in retrospect. 1942 production was shortened, following the entry of the United States into World War II; the attack on Pearl Harbor led to the suspension of production of automobiles for civilian use.
After World War II, the Lincoln division of Ford returned the Continental to production as a 1946 model; Lincoln dropped the Zephyr nomenclature following the war, so the postwar Continental was derived from the standard Lincoln (internally H-Series). To attract buyers, the design was refreshed with updated trim, distinguished by a new grille. For 1947, walnut wood trim was added to the interior.
Following the death of Edsel Ford in 1943, Ford Motor Company re-organized its corporate management structure, which led to the 1946 departure of the Continental's designer Bob Gregorie. 1948 would become the last year for the Continental, as the division sought to redevelop its new 1949 model line as an upgraded version of the Mercury; the expensive personal-luxury car no longer had a role at Lincoln.
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. As of 2015, the 1948 Lincoln Continental and 1948 Lincoln were the last cars produced and sold by a major U.S. automaker with a V12 engine.
After an eight-year hiatus, for the 1956 model year, the Continental nameplate made its return; to launch the vehicle, Ford created a namesake Continental division centered around its new flagship vehicle. To again highlight the European influence of the original Continental, Ford assigned the "Mark II" suffix to the new Continental (also in an effort to distinguish itself from the similar Bentley Continental). Slotted (far) above Lincoln-Mercury, Continentals would be marketed and serviced through the Lincoln dealership network.
At its 1956 launch, the Continental Mark II was the most expensive automobile sold by a domestic manufacturer in the United States, rivaling the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. At $10,000, the Mark II (equivalent to nearly $90,000 in 2016) cost the same as five Ford Customlines. With a large number of power-equipment features included, the Mark II was offered with a single option: $595 for air conditioning.
Sharing its 126-inch wheelbase with the Lincoln Capri and Lincoln Premiere, the Mark II was assembled with its own body panels and interior; each vehicle was hand-built, with hand-sanding and finishing of body panels. In several elements of its design, the Mark II broke from American styling precedent. As with a Rolls-Royce or Mercedes-Benz 300d, the Mark II essentially restricted chrome trim to the window trim, grille, and bumpers. With a nearly flat hood and trunklid, the Mark II was also designed with neither tailfins (prominent on American sedans) nor pontoon fenders (then current in Europe). The "Continental spare tire" made its return, partially as a functional design feature; the spare tire on the Mark II was vertically-mounted, necessitating the spare tire bulge on trunklid.
In total, 2,996 Continental Mark IIs were produced (including two prototype convertibles). As a consequence of the nearly hand-built construction, Ford estimated it lost nearly $1000 on every Continental Mark II produced. After 1957, the Mark II was discontinued; the Continental Division was re-branded as a competitor to Imperial and Cadillac (rather than Rolls-Royce and Bentley).
To build a better business case for its flagship and the division that marketed the vehicle, for 1958, Ford Motor Company made extensive changes to its Continental Division. To widen its sales potential, Ford required Continental to reach a $6000 price (a 40% reduction from the Mark II), allowing the division to better compete against Cadillac Eldorado and Imperial LeBaron. To allow for production at a larger scale, the Continental model line was more closely integrated with Lincoln, differing primarily in roofline, trim, and grille.
In 1959, Ford ended the Continental Division; its model line lived through 1960 alongside Lincoln.
To facilitate continuation of the Continental model line, the division was forced to abandon hand-built construction. Sharing a common chassis and much of the exterior of the Lincoln Premiere, Continental production shifted to the then-new Wixom Assembly plant.
To set itself apart from a Lincoln, along with a division-specific grille, all versions of the Continental (including convertibles) were styled with a reverse-slant roofline, fitted with a retractable "breezeway" rear window. First introduced on the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, the feature allowed for augmented interior ventilation (along with air conditioning). The Continental Mark III was designed by John Najjar, Chief Stylist of Lincoln, assisted by Elwood Engel. Engel would style the 1959 Mark IV, with Don Delarossa (who replaced Najjar as Lincoln Chief Stylist in 1957) developing the 1960 Mark V. Nicknamed the "slant-eyed monster" in the Ford design studio, the 1958-1960 Continentals and Lincolns would become one of the largest vehicles ever built by Ford Motor Company
The 1958-1960 Continental Mark III-V are built upon the same chassis utilized by the Lincoln Capri and Lincoln Premiere. For 1958, Lincoln split from Mercury in body design, with Lincoln adopting unibody construction for the first time; the Continental shares a common body with the Premiere, with the exception of the reverse-slant roofline.
Shared with Lincoln, Mercury, and the Ford Thunderbird, the Continental Mark III-Mark V were fitted with a 430 cubic-inch MEL V8 engine; a 3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic was the sole transmission. In 1958, the engine produced 375 hp, and was retuned to 350hp in 1959, making 315 hp in 1960.
Using a 131-inch wheelbase, the 1958 Continentals are the longest-wheelbase sedans ever built by Ford Motor Company. Longer than a Ford Excursion, the 1958-1960 Continentals are the longest sedans ever produced by Ford without 5mph bumpers. The 1958 Continental Mark III convertible is the longest convertible ever mass-produced in the United States, with the sole exception of the (extremely rare) 1934-1937 Cadillac V16 convertibles.
In line with the previous Continental naming tradition, Continental introduced its 1958 model line as the Mark III. In a break from previous generations, each model year is assigned a separate name.
Mark III (1958)
For 1958, Continental released the Mark III in four bodystyles, including a 2-door hardtop and convertible, a 4-door pillared sedan, and a four-door hardtop sedan (called Landau). Although far less expensive than the Mark II, the Mark III remained well-equipped, retaining air conditioning as an option (relocated from the ceiling to the dashboard). The Mark III became the first Ford Motor Company vehicle to offer an FM radio tuner (as a rarely ordered option). A unique option was "Auto Lube", allowing for the car to lubricate itself (as long as an oil reservoir was kept full).
Mark IV (1959)
For 1959, the Continental Mark IV saw a minor restyling, with the elimination of Dagmars from the front bumpers. Coinciding with the end of the Continental Division, "Continental III" fender badging is replaced by separate "Continental" and "Mark IV" badging. The grille is restyled slightly, with the headlight clusters integrated into the egg-crate grille.
Mark V (1960)
For 1960, the Continental Mark V saw another styling update, with flatter front bumpers (with Dagmars). The Continental badging was restyled, with "Mark V" badging moved to the rear fenders. On the front fenders, several horizontal chrome strakes were added. Using a similar layout as the Mark IV, the Mark V was given a restyled grille.
Alongside the Mark III, IV, and V, there are two additional models of the third-generation Continental. In 1959, Lincoln added the Limousine and Town Car bodystyles; the latter marked the first use of the Town Car name by Lincoln. Available only in black, both versions were built with a model-specific formal rear roofline with a padded roof; the Limousine featured a partition between the front and rear seats. The roofline of Town Car and Limousine was designed in an effort to avoid extending the wheelbase; the deletion of the reverse-slant rear window allowed for the rear seat to be moved rearward several inches.
The 1959-1960 Town Car and Limousine are among the rarest Lincoln vehicles ever sold; only 214 examples of the $9,200 Town Car were produced and only 83 examples of the $10,200 Limousine were produced.
Nearly 40% lower in price than the Continental Mark II, the Mark III would go on to sell better than the Mark II predecessor. From 1958 to 1960, the Lincoln Division would lose over $60 million; along with the launch of newly developed vehicles in a recession economy (a factor that contributed to the downfall of the Edsel line), Lincoln and Continental was faced with overcoming the expense of developing a vehicle that was shared with neither Ford nor Mercury.
In 1961, as Lincoln redesigned its model line, the Continental went from being the flagship Lincoln to the only model line sold by the division (for the next 16 years). In the mid-1960s, Ford made a decision to develop a new successor to the Mark II, naming it the Continental Mark III, effectively beginning the Mark series. As with the Mark II and the 1958-1960 Continentals, it was sold, marketed, and serviced by Lincoln, though not officially badged as such. As part of the launch, the existence of the 1958 Continental Mark III that shared its name was heavily downplayed; a second nickname to this generation is dubbed the "forgotten Marks"
For the 1961 model year the Lincoln range was consolidated into one model. Following the $60 million in losses to develop the 1958–1960 cars, all models were replaced by a new Lincoln Continental. Making its first appearance since 1948, the fourth-generation was available only as a four-door sedan and convertible.
Although shedding nearly 15 inches in length and 8 inches in wheelbase over its 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V predecessor, the new model was nevertheless heavier than its Cadillac or Imperial counterparts. Its solid construction and rigorous post-build inspection of each vehicle reflected Ford corporate management's commitment to making the finest mass-produced domestic automobile of its time – an enviable reputation it achieved.
The fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was styled by Ford design vice president Elwood Engel. In mid-1958, Lincoln was struggling against Cadillac, with its lack of profitability putting the future of the division at risk. In 1958, Engel developed a proposal for the 1961 Ford Thunderbird with staffers Howard Payne and John Orfe in 1958. While the proposal was not selected for the Thunderbird, the design interested Ford executives to the point of desiring the vehicle as a four-door Lincoln.
At the time of the approval, Ford product planners had come to two conclusions critical to restoring the Lincoln Division to profitability. First, to instill design continuity, Lincoln would adopt a model cycle distinct from Ford or Mercury, moving from three years to eight or nine. Second, the 1958 Lincoln model line was too large for a standard-length sedan; consequently, the 1961 Lincoln would have to decrease its exterior footprint.
The fourth-generation Continental rode on a stretched version of the unibody platform produced for the 1961 Thunderbird, lengthened to a 123-inch wheelbase From 1961 to 1963. This was extended to 126 inches from 1964 to 1969.
The only engine available was the 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8 carried over from the Mark V. It was expanded to 462 cubic inches in 1966, becoming the largest-displacement engine ever used in a Ford Motor Company passenger car. A new engine, the 460 cu in (7.5 L) 385-series-based V8, took its place in 1969, shared with the Continental Mark III. All versions of the Continental were fitted with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
At its 1961 launch, the fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was offered solely as a four-door, as either a sedan or a convertible. For the first time on a Lincoln since 1951, rear doors were rear-hinged (suicide doors). To alert drivers of open doors, Lincoln fitted the dashboard with a "Door Ajar" warning light (as seen on many modern automobiles). Latching together at the B-pillar with a vacuum-operated central locking system, convertibles used a hidden pillar while sedans were "pillared hardtops". In the configuration, a thin B-pillar supported the roof structure while all four doors utilized frameless door glass (in the style of a hardtop or convertible); the layout would become used by several Ford Motor Company sedans during the 1960s and 1970s.
In what would be the first (and last) four-door convertible from a major American manufacturer after World War II, the Lincoln Continental convertible was fitted with a power-operated top on all examples. Deriving its mechanism from the Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner hardtop convertible, the Continental was fitted with a fabric roof that stored under a rear-hinged trunklid. In a similar fashion as the Skyliner, to access the trunk for storage, the trunklid was opened electrically (without raising or lowering the roof).
Another feature was the popular "Tilt-Away" steering column, borrowed from the Thunderbird, that was modified to both adjust for vertical and length adjustment.
During its production, the fourth-generation Lincoln Continental would be produced in three versions, undergoing model revisions in 1964 and 1966.
The 1961 Lincoln Continental was introduced with four-door sedan and four-door convertible versions, replacing the Lincoln Premiere and Lincoln Continental Mark V. For the first time in a car manufactured in the United States, the Lincoln Continental was sold with a 2 year/ 24,000 mi (39,000 km) bumper-to-bumper warranty. California Walnut veneer was used on the doors and instrument panel.
For 1962, a simpler front grille design with floating rectangles and a thin center bar was adopted.
For 1963, the Continental underwent several functional updates. The front seatbacks were modified in an effort to increase rear seat legroom. To increase luggage space, the trunklid was reshaped. In line with a number of vehicles in the United States, the electrical charging system introduced an alternator, replacing the generator.
For 1964, the Lincoln Continental underwent its first mid-cycle redesign. Alongside styling updates, several functional changes were focused towards increasing rear-seat space. The wheelbase was increased from 123 to 126 inches, shifting the rear seats backward. The roofline underwent several changes, with the adoption of flat side glass (replacing curved window glass). To increase rear headroom, the rear roofline became additionally squared off, in a notchback style.
In a slight exterior restyling, to eliminate the "electric shaver" appearance, the front fascia added vertical chrome accents to the grille; the rear grille was deleted altogether (moving the fuel-filler door to the left-rear fender)
In 1964, Lincoln debuted the Continental Town Brougham concept car, which had a 131 in. wheelbase, overall length at 221.3, and had a retractable glass partition between the front and rear compartments, with an exposed area over the front compartment, in typical 1930s style town car/brougham appearance.
For 1965, Lincoln made additional updates to the Continental. In a styling change, the convex "electric shaver" front fascia was replaced by new blunt hood with a flat grille design. As part of the redesign, the front turn signals and parking lights are moved from the front bumpers to wraparound lenses on the front fenders, with similar parking lights/turn signals on the rear. To improve braking ability, the Continental was given Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes for the front wheels; in addition, front seat belts with retractors became standard. To improve reliability, Lincoln added an oil pressure gauge.
For 1966, the fourth-generation Lincoln Continental underwent a second mid-cycle redesign. To better compete against the Cadillac Coupe de Ville and the Imperial Crown Coupe, Lincoln introduced its first two-door sedan since 1960. The two-door was designed as a pillarless hardtop, though the convertible remained offered solely as a four-door. In an effort to increase sales of the five year-old model range, Lincoln reduced the price of the Continental nearly $600 from 1965 while keeping equipment levels identical. The marketing decision proved successful; boosted by the introduction of the two-door bodystyle, the model range increased sales by 36%.
While following much of the 1965 restyling (distinguished largely by a new grille and the addition of "Continental" to the hood), the 1966 Lincoln Continental wore an all new body, growing 5 inches longer, and nearly an inch taller and wider. Curved side glass made its return (with less obvious tumblehome, to increase interior room). To offer a larger engine than either Imperial (440 cubic inches in 1966) or Cadillac (429 cubic inches, 472 cubic inches in 1968), the 430 V8 was enlarged to 462 cubic inches.
The convertible underwent several equipment revisions for the first time, adding a glass rear window and the top mechanism added a second hydraulic pump for opening the convertible roof and the trunklid (making the two systems separate); hydraulic solenoids were deleted from the top mechanism. The interior underwent several revisions, adding a tilt steering wheel and an 8-track tape player as options.
For 1967, the Lincoln Continental was given only minor trim updates, with the deletion of the Lincoln star emblem from the front fenders being the largest change. Several functional changes were made, as Lincoln added a number of indicator lights to the dashboard. Along with an oil pressure warning light, the dashboard was given indicator lights for an open trunk and the cruise control (if on). Following federal safety mandates, lap safety seatbelts became standard equipment, coupled with an energy-absorbing steering column.
Following years of decreasing sales, 1967 marked the final year of the Lincoln Continental convertible, with only 2,276 sold. After becoming the first four-door convertible sold after World War II, the Lincoln Continental would become the final (as of the 2018 model year) example of its type sold by an American manufacturer. As a result of numerous frame reinforcements (in comparison to the sedan), the 5,712 pound 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible is one of the heaviest passenger cars ever sold by Ford Motor Company.
For 1968, several updates were made to the Continental, primarily in response to federal safety mandates. To meet requirements for side marker lights, wraparound lenses were returned to the fenders; the front turn signals were styled similar to the Continental Mark III. The "Continental" wording was removed from the front fascia, replaced by the Lincoln star emblem (as seen on the rear); the hood ornament was deleted, in anticipation of a federal ban on the feature (which never came to effect). For the interior, torso seatbelts were added for the outboard front seats.
Intended as a 1968 introduction, the all-new 460 cubic-inch 385-series/Lima V8 was shared with the Mark III, introduced as an early 1969 model. However, the supply of 462 engines was sufficient to last through most of the model year, pushing the introduction of the 460 in the Continental towards the end of the model year.
For 1968, Lincoln made several styling changes to the Continental. To meet federal safety standards, the parking lights, taillights, and front turn signals were returned to a wraparound design on the fenders to satisfy Federal standards for side marker lights. For the outboard front seats, shoulder seatbelts were added. The new 460 cu in (7.5 l) Ford 385 engine was to be available at the beginning of the model year, 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.
For 1969, few changes were made in the final year of production. To comply with federal regulations, the front seats were updated with head restraints for the outboard passengers. The front fascia was updated, with the grille enlarged for the first time since 1965, with the "Continental" wording returning above the grille. Shared with the Mark III, the 460 V8 became the sole engine for the Lincoln Continental, paired with the Ford C6 3-speed automatic transmission.
After a nine-year hiatus, the Town Car name made a return in 1969 as part of an interior trim option package for the Continental.
Presidential state cars
The Secret Service acquired two versions of the fourth-generation Lincoln Continental for use as a Presidential state car, serving from 1961 to 1977.
SS-100-X is a 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine modified by Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio. Designed as an open car with a series of tops for inclement weather, the car was rebuilt with a permanent roof, armoring, and bulletproof glass following the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Subsequently, all United States presidential limousines have been constructed as armored vehicles.
The Secret Service acquired a 1969 Lincoln Continental limousine for Richard Nixon; although an armored vehicle, the limousine roof was designed with a sunroof to allow President Nixon to stand in the vehicle to greet crowds in a motorcade.
For the 1970 model year, Lincoln introduced the fifth-generation Lincoln Continental. Building on the success of the Mark III introduced the year before, Lincoln sought to modernize the Continental for the 1970s after a nine-year production run.
Although shorter in wheelbase and slightly narrower than 1958-1960 Lincolns, the addition of 5-mph bumpers make 1977-1979 Lincolns the longest automobiles ever produced by Ford Motor Company.
The fifth-generation Lincoln Continental is based on body-on-frame construction, the first Lincoln to do so since 1957. To save on its engineering and development costs, the Continental was no longer given its own chassis, instead given a longer-wheelbase version of the Mercury Marquis chassis (stretched from 124 inches to 127 inches; 1974-1979 vehicles received a 127.2-inch wheelbase).
Shared with the LTD and Marquis, the Continental was equipped with coil springs at all four corners. From 1970 to 1974, the Continental was fitted with front disc and rear drum brakes; from 1975 to 1979, four-wheel disc brakes were available.
The 460 cubic-inch V8 returned as the standard engine, becoming available from 1970 to 1977; from 1970 to 1972, the 460 remained exclusive to Lincoln. In an effort to increase fuel economy and comply with emissions standards, Lincoln added a 400 cubic-inch V8 for California for 1977, with the 460 remaining available in 49 states. For 1978, the 400 became standard (with the 460 as an option), with the 460 discontinued for 1979. Both engines were paired with the Ford C6 3-speed automatic transmission.
In a major departure from its fourth-generation predecessor, the 1970 Lincoln Continental's Marquis-based frame forced the sedan to abandon "suicide doors" for conventional front-hinged doors. As with its predecessor and the Mercury Marquis, the Lincoln Continental was offered as a two-door hardtop and as a four-door "pillared hardtop" sedan (B-pillar with frameless door glass). Unlike Ford or Mercury, no Lincoln two-door convertible was introduced.
Shared with the Mark series, the fifth-generation Continental was equipped with vacuum-operated hidden headlamps; as a fail-safe, the headlamp doors were designed to open in the event of failure (a dashboard indicator light indicated their status).
During its production, the fifth-generation Lincoln Continental was sold in two versions, with a major revision in 1975.
Following the downsizing of the full-size General Motors and Chrysler product lines, the Lincoln Continental became the largest mass-market automobile produced worldwide for the 1977 model year. It was surpassed only by purpose-built limousines such as the long-wheelbase version of the Mercedes-Benz 600, the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, and the long-wheelbase version of the ZIL-4104. Following the 1979 downsizing of the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis, the Lincoln Continental was marketed as the final "traditional" or "large" sedan in the United States.
For 1970, Lincoln introduced a redesigned Continental two-door, Continental four-door, and Continental Town Car; sold only as a four-door, the Town Car was distinguished by a vinyl roof.
For 1971, the grille underwent a minor styling change, partially in an effort to better distinguish the Continental from the Mercury Marquis. The grille and headlight doors were redesigned, with the latter painted in body color.
For 1972, several functional changes were made, as the 460 V8 decreased in compression; though intended to decrease emissions and adapt to unleaded gasoline, output dropped from 365 to 224 hp. The tradition of Lincoln-exclusive engines came to an end, as Mercury began use of the 460 in the Mercury Marquis and Colony Park as an option. Minor styling changes were made, as the grille and the fenders were restyled; to better separate the Continental from the Mark IV, Lincoln reintroduced chrome fender trim. For the first time since 1967, the Continental was equipped with a hood ornament. On the inside, more rear seat legroom was added.
For 1973, the Lincoln Continental was brought into compliance with federal crash regulations as it was fitted with a 5-mph front bumper. While a number of vehicles underwent significant revisions to comply with the regulation, the Continental was able to meet the standard by moving its front bumper several inches forward and fitting it with rubber-tipped impact overriders. The rear bumper was modified in a similar manner, with a 2 1/2 mph rating; in total, the Continental gained nearly 5 inches in length.
As a counterpart to the Continental Town Car, a two-door Continental Town Coupe was introduced. In a similar fashion as the Town Car, the Town Coupe was distinguished by its padded vinyl top.
For 1974, the Lincoln Continental was given a new grille, moving from an egg-crate style to a waterfall design. As part of federal regulations, a 5-mph bumper was added to the rear, leading to a redesign of the rear bumper; the taillamps were moved from inside the bumper to above it.
After 5 years on the market, Lincoln made an extensive revision to the Continental. Coinciding with the 1975 introduction of the Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln and Mercury sought to better visually differentiate their two flagship model lines, in spite of their mechanical commonality. As part of the revision, the Lincoln Continental was able to adopt a greater degree of styling commonality with the Continental Mark IV.
For 1975, the exterior of the Lincoln Continental underwent a major revision. Although the body below the beltline saw only minor change (the taillights redesigned in the style of the Mark IV), the roofline was completely restyled. To separate itself from the Mark IV, the two-door Continental/Town Coupe adopted a fully pillared roofline with a square opera window in the C-pillar. In place of the pillared hardtop shared with the Mercury Marquis and Ford LTD, the four-door Continental/Town Car adopted a wide B-pillar; to distinguish itself from the Cadillac Sixty Special Brougham; Town Cars were given the oval opera window introduced on the Mark IV.
Along with the styling upgrades, 1975 Lincolns received substantial upgrades to the braking system. Designed by Bendix, the Lincoln Continental became one of the first American cars equipped with a 4-wheel disc brake system (as an option). To further improve the emissions performance of the 460 V8, the engine was fitted with catalytic converters, ending its compatibility with leaded regular gasoline.
For 1976, the exterior remained essentially the same as the year before (marking the first carryover styling year for Lincoln since 1963). In an effort to price the Continental more competitively, Lincoln deleted a number of previously-standard features, making them extra cost options.
For 1977, the Lincoln Continental would undergo another exterior revision. The wide Mercury-style grille was replaced by a narrower Rolls-Royce radiator-style grille, nearly identical to the Mark V (variations of the radiator grille would remain in use on Lincolns through 1997). In another trim revision, the "Continental" script was removed from the rear fenders.
For 1978, the dashboard was updated for the first time, as the Lincoln Continental adopted a revised version of the Mercury Grand Marquis dashboard. In addition to increasing parts commonality, the update was done to save weight; the plastic-frame Mercury dashboard was lighter than the previous steel-frame version. In a similar move, Lincoln redesigned the rear fender skirts, adopting a version that covered less of the rear wheels. Alongside the optional sliding glass sunroof, a fixed glass moonroof with an interior sunshade was introduced (for the first time since the 1955 Ford Skyliner).
For 1979, the interior underwent further updating, as the Mercury-sourced dashboard received additional wood trim. The 460 V8 was deleted from the Lincoln/ Mark V model line entirely, leaving the 400 V8 as the sole engine.
Throughout its production, the fifth-generation Lincoln Continental was offered with several special-edition option packages. In contrast to the Mark series, the fifth-generation Continental was not offered with any Designer Series editions.
Golden Anniversary (1971)
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lincoln in 1971, a Golden Anniversary Town Car was offered as a limited-edition option package for the Lincoln Continental. Although technically available in any of 25 paint colors available for any Lincoln, the Golden Anniversary Town Car featured an exclusive gold moondust metallic paint color as an option; 1,040 examples were painted in the gold moondust color. All examples were given a color-keyed vinyl roof with a color-keyed leather interior (with trim exclusive to the package).
Other features included a commemorative brochure, a glove compartment vanity mirror, a commemorative plaque on the dashboard, and keys plated in 22 carat gold presented in a jewelry box. In total, 1,575 examples were produced; initial production was 1,500 vehicles, with an additional 75 produced exclusively for employees within Ford Motor Company.
Williamsburg Edition (1977-1979)
From 1977 to 1979, Lincoln sold a Williamsburg Edition Continental Town Car. Intended as a cosmetic option package, the Williamsburg Edition was the only Continental or Town Car sold with two-tone paint; the edition also standardized a number of options. Along with two-tone paint, the Williamsburg Edition also included a full vinyl roof, pinstriping, power vent windows, lighted vanity mirrors, and 6-way twin "Comfort Lounge Seats".
For 1977, the option package was designed as one of the most conservative versions of the Town Car, without any opera windows or coach lights fitted to the roofline. For 1978 and 1979, the opera windows and coach lights were added to the roofline.
Collector's Series (1979)
To commemorate the end of production of the Lincoln Continental and Continental Mark V while denoting them as the final "traditional" full-size American sedans and coupes, Lincoln offered a Collector's Series for both the Continental and Mark V. As with its Mark V counterpart, the Continental Collector's Series was equipped with essentially every available feature as standard equipment. Only four options were available for the Collector's Series: a power moonroof, 40-channel CB radio, "Sure-Track" anti-lock brakes, and a plush Kashmir velour interior (in lieu of leather). The Continental Collector's Series could reach $18,000 ($60,693 in current dollars) when fully equipped; within Ford Motor Company, it was only surpassed by its $22,000 Mark V Collector's Series counterpart at the time.
Along with four options, the Continental Collector's Series was produced in four colors: dark blue, white and limited-issue medium blue (197 built) and light silver (125 built) with a dark-blue vinyl top.
With the impending adoption of federal fuel-economy standards (CAFE) making the large cars of the 1970s a potential financial threat to Ford Motor Company, the full-size cars of all of its divisions underwent extensive downsizing for the 1979 model year. For various reasons, delays pushed the release of the downsized Lincoln model lineup into 1980, three years after the downsizing of its Cadillac counterparts.
The downsizing undergone by the 1980 Lincoln and Mark provided Lincoln with the best year-to-year fuel economy improvement (38%) in Ford history. The introduction of a standard overdrive transmission enabled the division to leap its competitors, going from the company with the worst CAFE rating to the most fuel-efficient full-size car sold.
One of the most touted options the 1980 Continental offered was the new digital instrument cluster, which used vacuum fluorescent displays for the vehicle speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge. However, the biggest feature was the included "trip computer" that showed the driver "miles to empty" and (based on driver input) an "estimated time of arrival", as well as real-time average fuel economy figures. The digital instrument cluster with the trip computer, along with the engine's new standard electronic fuel injection, 4-speed AOD transmission, power steering and suspension advances, and the new EEC III engine management system allowed the 1980 Lincoln Continental to gain a major technological advantage over its competition; instead of being just a mere redesign and downsize of the 1979 models, the 1980 Continentals would be some of the most advanced vehicles ever sold by Ford up to that point.
This version of the Continental would last only for a single model year. To eliminate saturation of the Lincoln model line, the car was re-released as the Lincoln Town Car for 1981, while the Continental name would move to the midsize segment as an early 1982 model. While not officially announced as the replacement for the Versailles, the 1982 Continental would become the Lincoln competitor for the Cadillac Seville. After the end of its model cycle, the Continental Mark VI was replaced by the Mark VII, a far different vehicle.
Central to the redesign was the adoption of the all-new the Ford Panther platform, shared with the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis. While retaining the body-on-frame layout of its predecessor and using a rear-wheel drive powertrain, the Panther platform made major engineering changes to lower curb weight. In addition, the chassis itself was smaller in several key dimensions. While only approximately 2 inches narrower, the 1980 Continental shed 10 inches of its wheelbase and 14 inches in length. In losing nearly 1000 pounds of curb weight, the 1980 Continental came within 200 pounds of the curb weight of the "compact" Lincoln Versailles.
In its focus on fuel economy, the Panther platform was developed without the use of the 400 or 460 V8s powering full-size Lincoln-Mercurys throughout the 1970s. In their place was the first fuel-injected V8 engine produced by Ford Motor Company. Based on the 302 cubic-inch Windsor V8, the newly christened 129 hp 5.0L V8 (rounded up from its true 4.9L displacement) was the first "metric-displacement" American Ford engine. As an option, a 140 hp carbureted 351 cubic-inch Windsor V8 was available. In place of the C6 3-speed automatic transmission was an all-new 4-speed Automatic Overdrive Transmission (AOD). Developed under the name Ford Integral Overdrive (FIOD), this industry-first transmission featured both a mechanically-engaged overdrive (0.67/1 ratio) fourth gear and third and fourth-gear torque converter lock-up.
The new Panther platform allowed for changes in the new Continental's suspension geometry and many improvements were made to the power steering. With this, and the reduced overall size, the 1980 Lincoln Continental was able to retain the traditional big car ride and feel, while offering a major enhancement to its handling. Compared to the 1980 Continental's GM and Chrysler counterparts and the 1979 Lincoln models, the new car offered more agile maneuvering, as well as a reduced turn diameter by over 8 feet (compared to the 1979 Lincoln Continental).
Although sharing a common platform and powertrain with the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis, the Lincoln Continental was well differentiated from its counterparts; no visible body panels were common between the three vehicles.
In contrast, the 1980 Continental was positioned as the base model of the Lincoln model line; the Continental Town Car/Town Coupe made its return as the top-trim model. As all Continentals wore padded roofs, Continental Town Cars were largely differentiated by two-tone paint. Lincolns were differentiated from Continental Mark VIs by their exposed headlights and full-width taillamps (instead of a "Continental spare tire trunk"). Two-door Lincolns can be distinguished from Mark VI two-doors with their "notchback" roofline; they share a common wheelbase with four-door Lincolns.
Following the downsizing and adoption of the Panther platform for the 1980 model year, the Lincoln division was faced with a critical issue. After the discontinuation of the compact Lincoln Versailles early in 1980, Lincoln was left with two full-size sedans. Although each brand-new for the model year, the Lincoln Continental and Continental Mark VI were functionally identical vehicles. Aside from the "Continental tire" trunklid and hidden headlamps of the Mark VI, the two vehicles offered little differentiation.
The Lincoln Continental made its return in early 1981 as a 1982 model. To further separate Continental from the Town Car, Lincoln designers shifted the car into the mid-size segment. Though again marketed against the Cadillac Seville, the 1982 Lincoln Continental was never officially considered by Lincoln as the replacement for the Versailles. Marketed solely as a four-door sedan, the Continental shared its wheelbase and powertrain with the Mark VII introduced for the 1984 model year.
Using the lessons learned from Lincoln Versailles and badge engineering, Lincoln stylists took great care to differentiate the expensive Continental from the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar XR7 sharing a common chassis with it; unlike the Versailles, no visible body panels were shared.
Shifting from the Ford Panther platform to the Ford Fox platform, the Lincoln Continental became a mid-size car for the first time. In its redesign, the Continental would lose nearly 9 inches in wheelbase and 18 inches in length, along with over 400 pounds of weight.
Although it would be the shortest-wheelbase Lincoln ever (at the time), the Continental would use a stretched 108.5" wheelbase version of the Fox platform used by the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar. In marked contrast to its Cadillac Seville competitor, which switched to a front-wheel drive GM platform, the Continental retained the use of rear-wheel drive.
The 1982 Lincoln Continental was fitted with two different engines. The standard engine was a 131 hp carbureted version of the 5.0L V8. At no cost, a 3.8L V6 (shared with the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar) was an option; it was the first non-V8 Lincoln since 1948. Both engines were discontinued for the 1983 model year, replaced by the fuel-injected 5.0L V8 from the Town Car. All three engines were fitted with the 4-speed Ford AOD overdrive transmission. As a response to the diesel engine options available in Cadillacs and a number of European luxury brands, Lincoln introduced an optional 114-hp 2.4L turbodiesel inline-6 sourced from BMW (with a ZF 4-speed automatic transmission) for 1984. WIth only 1,500 sold, the diesel-powered Continental was rarely ordered and discontinued after the 1985 model year.
The seventh-generation introduced two features as industry firsts: gas-charged shock absorbers and self-sealing tires.
For the first time on a Lincoln-badged Continental, its namesake "Continental spare tire trunk" seen on the Mark Series was used as a decklid design feature. In addition, the decklid was lettered "CONTINENTAL" instead of "LINCOLN" (as was the Versaillles, the first Lincoln to do so). As Ford Motor Company intended for the Lincoln Continental to compete against the Cadillac Seville, the rear half of the car was designed with a sloping "bustle-back" decklid, drawing inspiration from the Lincoln-Zephyr of the late 1930s. The decklid design of the Continental proved less extreme than that of the Seville. The addition of a horizontal brushed-chrome strip that ran along each side of Continental, along with plentiful two-tone color combinations, gave it a more conventional appearance in comparison to the Cadillac.
Coinciding with the introduction of the two-door Continental Mark VII, the Lincoln Continental was given a styling update for the 1984 model year. The body was fitted with flush-fitting front and rear bumpers and revised taillamps. While not fitted with the composite headlights of the Mark VII, the front fascia of the Continental was revised with an angled grille flanked by recessed quad headlamps and larger wrap-around marker lights incorporating cornering lamps. On the inside, the doors and dashboard were fitted with satin-black trim (accented with low-gloss genuine walnut veneer for the 1986 model year only). Other changes through the rest of production run were primarily limited to paint colors and upholstery pattern details. All models were also fitted with Ford's door-mounted Keyless Entry System, not to be confused with a Remote Keyless Entry System.
For 1982, the Continental was offered in base trim, Signature Series, and Givenchy Designer Series trim. For 1983, the Signature Series trim was discontinued and given to the Town Car and Mark VI; the Valentino Designer Series was added. After the 1985 model year, the Valentino Designer Series was discontiuned in favor of the Givenchy Series. Including many additional standard features, the Signature Series, Valentino, and Givenchy Designer Series Continentals added $3,100 to $3,500 to the price of a standard model. Fully optioned Signature and Givenchy models would top out at over $26,500 ($67,200 in current dollars).
By the late 1980s, the luxury segment in which the Continental competed had changed drastically from a decade before. In addition to traditional competitors Cadillac and Chrysler, the downsized Continental now competed not only against Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi but with the top of the line vehicles of Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti. Lincoln chose to completely reinvent the Continental.
Launched on December 26, 1987 and sharing its unibody chassis with the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, the 1988 Continental became the first front-wheel drive Lincoln; it was also the first Lincoln since 1948 sold without an available V8 engine. As part of a more conservative exterior, the sloping "Continental trunklid" was deleted. Although four inches longer, it was 170 pounds lighter than its predecessor. For the first time since 1979, the Continental closely matched its Cadillac Sedan de Ville counterpart in size. By interior volume the Continental was the largest front-wheel drive car sold in 1988, and was recognized by Car and Driver on its 1989 Ten Best list.
Power was provided by a 140 hp 3.8L Essex V6 newly introduced to the Taurus/Sable for 1988. Exclusive to the Continental was adaptive air-ride suspension. Variable assist power steering was standard. In 1990 (MY 1991), engine output was revised to 155 hp, and to 160 hp for MY 1993. All Continentals were equipped with a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission.
While the exterior of the Continental adopts many of the flowing lines, including the flush-mounted glass, flush-mounted headlights, and wraparound doors of its counterparts alongside the Taurus, it also adopts several more conservative styling features, including a more upright C-pillar, chrome grille, and long deck; the redesign of the sloping trunklid increased trunk space from 15 to 19 cubic feet (nearly matching the Town Car).
In October 1988 for 1989 model year, a redesigned dashboard was introduced to accommodate dual air bags. This unprecedented move made the Ford Motor Company the first US automaker to offer airbags as standard equipment for both the driver and front passenger (the second automaker worldwide after Porsche's 1987 944 Turbo).
In 1989 for the 1990 model year, a minor exterior update featured a new grille, hood ornament, and taillights. In late 1993 for MY 1994, a larger facelift was given, including new bumpers, rocker moldings, and bodyside moldings. Exterior trim was redesigned including a restyled argent-colored grille, redesigned taillamps, revised decklid trim, and the Lincoln nameplate is moved onto the grille and taillamps. The bucket seat option was given a redesigned steering wheel.
As part of the redesign, Lincoln simplified the trim lineup; only standard (later named "Executive") and Signature Series remained. For the first time since 1981, 6-passenger seating made its return. Leather seats were standard (with velour available as a no-cost option). Major options included a compact disc player, InstaClear electrically heated windshield (1988–1992), JBL sound system, power glass moonroof, keyless entry, anti-theft alarm system, cellular phone (starting MY 1990), three-position memory seat, and choice of wheels.
For MY 1993 (1992 production), an "individual seats" group was available which ditched the usual chrome column shifter and 50/50 "comfort lounge" split bench seating (and 6-passenger capacity) for a center console with floor shifter (a Continental first), storage armrest, Cup holder, and 5 seats.
1994 was the last year that the Continental was offered in Executive and Signature Series trims. An Executive Touring package was also available.
50th Anniversary Edition (1990)
A 50th Anniversary Edition Continental Signature Series was offered during MY 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the model. It featured "50th Anniversary" badging, geometric spoked aluminum wheels with unique center hub ornaments, titanium exterior paint with unique red/blue accent striping, and two-toned interior.
For the 1995 model year, the Continental was substantially updated with more rounded lines similar to the Mark VIII; the interior also saw a major overhaul. Production commenced at Wixom Assembly in November 1994. While the body was all-new, the new Continental shared underpinnings with the previous generation. In a departure from the previous generation and its Ford/Mercury counterparts, the Continental was given back its V8 engine for the first time since 1987; thus, it more closely matched the Northstar V8 engine that Cadillac was using for its DeVille and Seville sedans at the time. The base price for the new Continental was $40,750 ($65,446 in current dollars).
The sole engine for the Continental was the Modular/InTech 32v DOHC 4.6L V8 shared with the Lincoln Mark VIII, but slightly de-tuned for front wheel drive use. It produced 260 hp (190 kW) and 265 lb⋅ft (359 N⋅m) torque; 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) was reached in 7.2 seconds. Inside, the Continental featured a plush leather interior with many amenities and advanced electronics for the time. Some of the options included JBL sound system, 6-CD changer, power moonroof, heated seats, onboard cellular phone, anti-theft alarm system, traction control, and chrome wheels. As before, buyers could choose between five and six-passenger seating, offering Bridge of Weir leather on upper trim packages. A March 1992 customer clinic video features a final design prototype of the 1995 Continental.
1995–1996 Continentals had air ride suspension on all four wheels while the 1997 model had rear air suspension and traditional steel coil springs up front. An increasingly competitive luxury market and de-contenting of the 1997 Continental saw its base price decreased by 10% that year.
The Continental was updated again in late 1997 for 1998 with redesigned front and rear end styling. The front-end also held a strong family resemblance to the newly redesigned 1998 Town Car. Also new for 1998 was a dashboard redesign, though still keeping the reflective dash cluster. Despite these notable changes, pricing on the Continental was up only slightly over the 1997 model which itself had seen a price reduction from the year before.
For 1999, the Continental once again saw only a modest price increase to MSRP $38,525 — the same price as the Town Car. The Continental offered buyers front wheel drive, while the Town Car remained rear wheel drive, and was joined by the slightly smaller Lincoln LS. This generation Continental gained seat-mounted side airbags and even more power (now up to 275 hp (205 kW). Six-passenger capability was still available via the no-charge option of a split-bench front seat and column shifter. Also available on the 1999 Continental was the "RESCU package" (Remote Emergency Satellite Cellular Unit) which included Global satellite positioning (similar to GM's "OnStar"), 3-channel HomeLinkcompatible garage door opener mounted in the driver's sun visor, voice-activated cellular telephone, and the Alpine audio system (which included a digital sound processor, subwoofer amplifier, and additional speakers). One could also opt for the 6-disc CD changer, heated front seats, and a tinted glass power sunroof with sliding shade. New for 1999 was an extra-cost "Luxury Appearance Package" that included a wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob with unique two-tone seat trim and floor mats inside, and chrome alloy wheels and a special grille up front. Other available packages were the "Driver Select System" which included a semi-active suspension, selectable ride control, steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio and climate systems, automatic day/night outside mirrors, the "Memory Profile System" that recalled power steering assist and ride control settings for two drivers, and the "Personal Security Package" which included special run-flat tires mounted on polished alloy wheels, low tire pressure alert system, and universal garage door opener.
Between the 2000 and 2002 model years, changes to the Continental remained relatively minor as production of the model eventually came to an end. In 2000, various safety features became standard including child seat-anchor brackets, emergency trunk release, and "Belt Minder" system. In 2001, the universal garage door opener was now standard. A new Vehicle Communication System (VCS) featuring hands-free voice activated phone, Safety and Security Services (SOS), information services, and route guidance assistance was optional for 2002.
For 1996, Lincoln offered two special editions of the Continental. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lincoln, a Diamond Anniversary Edition of the Continental was offered as an option package. The package included "Diamond Anniversary" badging, leather seats, voice-activated cellular phone, JBL audio system, auto electrochromatic dimming mirror with compass, and traction control. As a continuation of the version offered the year before on the Town Car, Lincoln offered a Spinnaker Edition of the 1996 Continental. The option package featured "Spinnaker Edition" badging, tri-coat paint, two-toned leather seats, and 16" spoked aluminum wheels.
For 2001, a Limited Edition was offered, featuring unique leather interior with "Limited" embroidery, two-toned interior trim, wood steering wheel, 6-disc CD changer, and 16" spoked aluminum wheels. It was sold as a Greenbrier Limited Edition Continental in select markets.
To commemorate the end of the model run for 2002, a Collector's Edition was offered featuring a genuine walnut burl steering wheel, instrument panel, and side door trim, "CE" logos, platinum painted grille, 10-spoke chrome wheels, and more. In addition to the Continental's other exterior color choices, a CE-exclusive charcoal gray was also available. Approximately 2,000 were produced.
Cancellation and replacement
After several years of declining sales, Lincoln announced that 2002 would be last year for the Continental. Alongside its struggling sales, the cancellation of the Continental was caused by several other factors, including internal competition. For 2000, Lincoln introduced the mid-size rear-wheel drive Lincoln LS V6 & V8 sedans. Although planned as a sport luxury sedan, the introduction of the LS V8 brought further overlap to the Lincoln model line, as the LS V8, Continental, and Town Car all competed in nearly the same price range.
All Continentals built since 1958 were assembled at the Ford Motor Company Wixom Assembly Plant. The final ninth-generation Lincoln Continental rolled off the assembly line on July 26, 2002. The factory continued to manufacture the Town Car and the LS, as well as the limited production Ford Thunderbird 2-seat convertible and the Ford GT mid-engine sports car. The final vehicle produced by the Wixom factory as it ended production was a 2007 Lincoln Town Car.
For the 2009 model year, Lincoln launched the Lincoln MKS. While effectively replacing the Lincoln Town Car as the flagship Lincoln model line, the MKS was closest in size and market position to the ninth-generation Continental. Based on the 2010 Ford Taurus, the Lincoln MKS was produced from 2009 to 2016, replaced by the 2017 Lincoln Continental.
After a fifteen-year absence/hiatus from the Lincoln model line, a new tenth generation Continental went on sale in the fall of 2016. Previewed by a namesake concept car at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the 2017 Lincoln Continental is the successor of the Lincoln MKS. Alongside the Ford Mustang, the Continental is manufactured in Flat Rock, Michigan.
The tenth-generation Lincoln Continental is based upon the Ford CD4 platform. Shared with the Ford Fusion (Mondeo) and Lincoln MKZ, the Continental shares an extended-wheelbase CD4 chassis with the seventh-generation Ford Taurus. At 117.9 inches (5.7 inches longer than the Fusion/MKZ), the Continental is the longest-wheelbase Lincoln sedan produced since 1979. While front-wheel drive is standard, this generation marks the first use of all-wheel drive on a Lincoln Continental; depending on trim, all-wheel drive is either optional or standard equipment.
While sharing its fundamental chassis underpinnings with the Lincoln MKZ, the Continental is powered exclusively by V6 engines. As a standard engine, a 305hp 3.7L Ti-VCT V6, shared with the MKZ and MKS. As an option, a 335hp 2.7L twin-turbocharged V6 is available, shared with the Lincoln MKX. At the top of the engine lineup, the Continental is fitted with a 400hp 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6; exclusive to the Continental and MKZ, the 3.0L engine is the highest-horsepower engine ever fitted to a production Lincoln vehicle.
All three engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. When fitted with the 3.0L engine, all-wheel drive (with torque vectoring) is standard equipment.
Deriving much of its exterior from the 2015 Lincoln Continental concept car, the tenth-generation Lincoln Continental introduced a new design theme for the Lincoln division. In a shift away from the previous split grille, the Continental switched to a rectangular design, with a slightly recessed grille. To reduce confusion with Bentley, the Lincoln star emblem was centered within the grille along with wraparound horizontal headlamp units; elements of the design were integrated into the 2017 facelift of the MKZ and 2018 redesign of the Lincoln Navigator.
Carried into production from the concept car, the Lincoln Continental is equipped with electronically-latched doors; named "E-Latch" by Lincoln, the feature pulls the door shut if a door is not completely closed before driving. In place of conventional door handles, the interior door panels use a button near the door pull handle to unlatch the door; on the outside, the exterior is distinguished by the door pulls, which are integrated into the beltline window trim.
In place of a console or column-mounted transmission shifter, control of the transmission was changed to "PRNDS" buttons mounted to the left of the infotainment/navigation touch screen. "S" represents "Sport mode", where the suspension, power steering, and transmission shifting are programmed for more spirited driving. While largely done in an effort to increase center console space, the layout is a similar approach to Chryslerand Packard designs of the 1950s (though the Continental is also fitted with paddle shifters as standard equipment). As an option, the Continental is available with either 13 or 19-speaker audio systems from the "Revel" division of Harman, distinguished by aluminum speaker grilles in the door panels.
As with the Lincoln MKS, the Continental is fitted with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology, as an option, the Continental offers a 360-degree camera system to produce a "virtual overhead view" of the vehicle.
In line with current Lincoln product offerings, the Lincoln Continental is offered in three standard trims, Premiere, Select, and Reserve. In continuing with Lincoln tradition, Bridge of Weir "Deepsoft" leather is used for upper-level trim (Select and Reserve).
Revisiting the tradition of the 1970s Designer Editions, as a flagship trim level, Lincoln is producing the "Black Label" Continental. As with the previous Designer Editions, the Black Label vehicles have specially coordinated exterior and interior appearance packages, including Rhapsody (unique to the Continental), Chalet, and Thoroughbred.
Gangsters who used the Lincoln Continental
- Carmine Galante Bonnano Crime Family Boss 1977 Model Sedan
- Lawrence Dentico Genovese Crime Family Consigliere 1997 Model Sedan
- Santino Corleone a character in the godfather 1942 Model Coupe
- Vittorio Scaletta main character in Mafia II 1941 Model Coupe called the Jefferson Provincal in the game.
- Anthony "Tony" Soprano main character in the sopranos 1998 Model Sedan
- Corrado Soprano a character in the sopranos 1964 Model Sedan
- Jackie Aprille jr a character in the sopranos 1985 Model Sedan
- Carmine Lupertazzi jr a character in the sopranos 1998 Model Sedan
- Dominic main character in Godfather II The game 1964 Model Sedan
- Alain Charnier a character in the french connection 1970 Model Coupe
- Thomas Vercetti Main Character in GTA Vice City 1985 Model Sedan called the Washington in the game.