Although somewhat forgotten in this day and age, thanks to the classic 1961-69 Lincoln Continental, one of the biggest and most over-the-top Continentals of them all were undoubtedly the 1958-60 Continental Mark III, IV and V. Wait, you may be thinking, weren’t the Marks 1960s and ’70s personal luxury cars? Yes, but they weren’t the first ones to bear the name!
Lincoln’s ambitious Continental Mark II (NOT a Lincoln, by the way, it was a Continental, Continental was the marque, not the model name) did not pan out. It was a cool car, and a gutsy move on Ford Motor Company’s part, but it just failed to launch.
It was too expensive, and FoMoCo lost money on every single one of the lavish 1956-57 Mark IIs. Thus, when the gigantic new Lincoln debuted in 1958, a badge-engineered version of the Continental replaced the graceful II coupe.
What a change, eh? The 1958 Lincolns were over-the-top; big, brash and gaudy, though remarkably restrained compared to the rolling jukeboxes at Imperial and Cadillac. The Continental was little different from the Lincoln Capri and Premiere, save the reverse-slant, retractable backlight (even on the convertibles!), and plusher Bridge of Weir leather seating. And extra gadgets as standard equipment, naturally.
It was ambitious. Not only were the Lincolns and Continentals bigger in every dimension than Cadillac, it was the world’s largest unibody car as well. These things were tanks. Seriously! Tanks! But they debuted at the beginning of a nasty 1958 recession, and sales never really met expectations.
For the 1959 and 1960 model years, the original 1958 styling cues were toned down bit by bit, but these things never really faded into the background. No shrinking violets, these. The ’60 Lincoln was very nearly the last, period, point blank, as the 1958 generation had been such a sales disaster that Robert McNamara was about ready to take Lincoln out to the woodshed like Old Yeller. Only a last-minute re-do of a proposed Ford Thunderbird design saved the marque, and brought Lincoln back from the brink. In the form of the lovely ’61 Continental.
So The Year Of Our Lord 1960 was the last year for this style, and the ’60 Continental Mark V was, in my opinion, the best-looking of the whole series. The bizarre front fenders and Salvador Dali-esque front bumper were no longer in evidence, but that cool Breezeway rear window was retained.
I saw this nice black Mark V at the June Quad Cities Cruisers cruise night, and though I had seen it in the past, this was the first time I was able to snag some photos.
I actually thought it was my friend K V Dahl’s 1960 Lincoln Sedan (which he owned at the time, it’s long gone now but he has a ’62 Continental convertible now, so no worries!) but the reverse-slant window and red-and-black interior proved otherwise. These cars may not have the following of the classic 1961-69 Continental, but their scarcity and over-the-top style means I can’t help but love them!