Lincoln Continental - from 1938 to today


With the highly anticipated return of the Lincoln Continental for 2017, Apple Ford Lincoln of Apple Valley would like to take this opportunity to retell the story of one of its most iconic automobiles of the past century or so. Here is a timeline of the legacy of this great automobile.


1938: Edsel Ford commissioned a car based off of the Lincoln-Zephyr to be ready for his own use on vacation the following March. This would become the prototype of the Continental – a sleeker coupe and convertible fusing European design influences with V12 power underneath its hood.


1939: The first Continental appeared as a 1940 model year product. All of the convertibles were made by hand.  


1941: The first full production year for the Continental. They were sold as a coupe alongside the cabriolet. They would become an American icon for the ages.


1942: Production stopped for World War II. The Continental would return after the war when the assembly line restarted in 1945 for the 1946 model year.


1948: The last of the first generation Continentals were produced.


1956: The Continental Division was established, with the introduction of the Mark II. The coupe brought in elements of the original Continental in a lower, longer personal luxury coupe. The base price for this Mark II was around $10,000 – the most expensive American car of its time. They were produced through 1957.


1958: Continental Mark III became the top offering using the Lincoln body. This resulted in a price reduction of $4,000 compared to the Mark II. These large Continentals were simply the largest vehicles sold in this country at the time. And continued production through 1960.


1961: Ford folded the Continental division into Lincoln for all-new Lincoln Continental. The car was reduced in size, although it packed a huge V8 underneath its hood. Both the sedan and convertible featured “suicide doors” that opened away from the B-pillar.


1968: To meet the growing demand for personal luxury coupes, Lincoln introduced the Continental Mark III. It featured the Continental Tire Kit integrated onto the trunk, along with a “radiator grille,” hidden headlamps, a long hood and small rear quarter windows. This would be the beginning of the Mark Series that would continue well into the 1990s.


1970: A major overhaul of the Continental formed what was the largest car of its kind during that era. This generation would last through the entire 1970s. “Opera windows” and the Landau roof, features first seen on the Mark IV, would be added in 1975. A 1977 revision added the Mark Series’ radiator grille. 


1980: The downsizing trend came to Lincoln as the Continental was reduced to the new Panther platform, as was the Continental Mark VI. The smaller cars got a sharper look, and it would be the first time the Mark Series was offered in a four-door model with a landau roof and C-pillar Opera Windows. The 1980 model year will be last in which the formal full-sized sedan/coupe would be named Continental.


1982: An all-new Continental was introduced using the smaller Fox platform. The styling was the main feature, melding the shapes of the 1930s with the modern lines of the 1980s. Customers can choose from a V8 or a V6. This would be the final rear-wheel drive Continental when it went out of production in 1987.


1988: the first front-drive Continentals were introduced. It was a dramatic change all-around, with a new aerodynamic body, influenced by the popular Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable. It rode on a longer wheelbase, offer a larger cabin for more space. It was the first Lincoln to offer adaptive air ride.


1995: A new Continental was introduced with a more aerodynamic shape. It reintroduced V8 power back to the front-drive sedan. The final Continental of its kind was built in 2002.


2017: The wait is over!



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