The 1958 Lincolns and Continentals (technically ALL Lincolns, but for marketing fiat) were bigger than a Cadillac, plush, and with their 131-inch wheelbase, clearly had lots of stretch-out room. The expected assortment of coupes, sedans and hardtops were all shown in the annual roster, but if you wanted a convertible, there was only one way to go.
The dreamboat of the line was clearly the Continental Mark III convertible. No Lincoln Premiere or Capri drop-tops were offered, so if open-air motoring was a must, you needed to be prepared to shell out a princely $6223 for one of these yachts.
As you would expect, plenty of options were available on the already well-equipped Continental ‘vert, which boasted not only a top styled after the steel-roofed hardtop coupe, hardtop sedan and pillared sedan, but even had the very same power retractable backlight!
Yes, the Model 68A Continental Mark III convertible was a marvel of luxury and comfort by 1958 standards. It even had air suspension as an available option. Good luck finding one though, as only 2% of production had it.
All Continentals got the 4V, 430 CID V8 under the hood, with 375 horsepower. And if you wanted more power, you could have it, for a 400-hp version was available with three two-barrel carbs. It was good for 400-hp at 4600 rpm.
These prodigious V8s were necessary, as these cars stretched 229 inches long and were hardly light on their feet. The lightest 1958 Continental Mark III was the 4802-lb. hardtop coupe, while the Mark III convertible was the heaviest, at 4927 pounds.
But what about this car’s story? Fortunately, the car’s then-current caretaker was nice enough to put up posters with the car’s history.
Interesting fact: This car was sold brand new at Lundahl Motors, in downtown Moline, IL. My parents bought all their Volvos from Lundahl Volvo. Yes, the dealer was one and the same. They started out selling Lincoln-Mercury, added Volvo as a sideline, and in the late ’60s or early ’70s, became a Volvo only dealer.
Here are some “as found” pictures, which I always love to see.
Here’s the interior, which was as sleek inside as it the exterior styling was somewhat–bulky? The instrument panel is particularly attractive to me, with the “TV screen” enclosing all the gauges and primary controls. Very Buck Rogers.
Neat little details abound, such as this ash tray in the rear armrest.
I first saw this car at the annual Geneseo car show in September 2012. As you can see in these pics from that occasion, the convertible top used similar engineering as the steel-topped 1957-59 Ford Retractable and later 1961-67 Continental convertibles.
Unlike the Retractable, however, the Continental sported a REAL trunk separate from the top well and mechanism. It just wouldn’t do for Lincoln owners to have to put their parcels in the miniature horse trough that was the Retractable’s “trunk.”
Here’s a better picture of the instrument panel. I am having a hard time deciding which I like better: The 1958-59 “TV” dash, or the engine turned, Jaguaresque panel used on the 1960 model. They’re both cool.
The first time I saw this car it still had the original air cleaner and valve covers. As you can see in the engine picture further up this post, some refurbishing has been going on. I hope the owner hung on to the original parts, though.
Then we have now. With ZERO Lincoln convertibles, zero Lincoln sedans and zero Lincoln coupes. If you took the wealthy original owner of this car to 2022, what would he make of it? “What the hell happened, did the Commies win?!”
I love seeing these when they’ve been restored. As a kid in the 60’s they were still on the streets and riding in one was cool. I do miss cars like this. Back then everything didn’t look the same and they weren’t all just ‘space pods’.
The power of marketing? While Car and Driver worked for decades to convince folks that they needed a BMW, as much as the average person says they want the Ultimate Driving Machine, what they really want is something closer to the comfort and lack of distraction of a 70s big Buick. Somehow, vehicles as genetically uncool as pickup trucks became the approved replacement for the brougham world. Except they do more things then the average driver wants or needs, and does the things that people do want them to do, poorly.
Would a modernized, more aerodynamic version of, let’s say a 77+ Electra, with current safety and convenience gear, AWD, modern power plants, a big back seat and a huge trunk, really be any less usable then a pickup truck or an SUV for the vast majority of folks? Is a huge plastic/chrome pickup truck grille really any less tacky then a vinyl roof? Would that car I describe not be in every way more efficient, comfortable and usable then it’s modern day pickup or SUV replacement?
-I may be mistaken but I think I read somewhere that the 1958-1960 Lincolns amost caused Ford to drop the make due poor sales and to the tremendous loses they took on the cars they did make. Following on the heals of the dreadful roll out and response to the Edsel the Lincoln line was next up to end production. I believe the 1961 redesign was originally planned for the Thunderbird. These cars were and are loaded with miles of vacume lines, and they are very mechanically complicated from the folding tops to the power rear window (not the quarter windows but the actual rear window) on the coupes. Tom is more familiar with members of the Lincoln club, but the members Lincoln Club I know say, that members that have 1958-1960 cars are a special breed… However IMHO we are lucky to still have these around to see how it was when weight, fuel mileage, complexity were not a problem. Those giants in design and engineering that roamed the halls of GM, Ford, and Mopar in the 1950’s and 1960’s were not timid to try new and interesting ways to make their cars different from the competition….
Wow an amazing find .
Too big for me but I certainly miss riding in Land Yachts like this .
“You see one of these, and then you see the sad sacks driving……. and think geez, what the hell happened?”
Some folks will tell you the imports and trucklets were some sort of come to Jesus moment of salvation. Guess what guys, that wasn’t Jesus.
I prefer the interiors and dashboards of the Imperials that this car competed with. Not many people bought 1958-1960 Lincolns, and the 1961 Lincoln was as big of a rejection of excess for excess sake as a good compact CUV is today. It was also able to take over 2nd place in luxury sales from Imperial, which was a better execution of excess for excess sake than Ford could achieve.
No one that I am aware, well maybe Carmine, disagrees that the style of the 61s was better, but the fact that over time wheelbase was added back and the detuning of the 430 V8 was reversed, is a good case that Lincoln understood still that excess had a place.
According to an inflation calculator I found, $6223 would be $64,170 today. I don’t think it really translates well. This thing sucks, there are no backup cameras, no lane departure warning systems, no infotainment…. Had you going there didn’t I? Anyway it doesn’t really compare in that this is a rolling work of art and today’s cars are almost without exception forgettable. About the only thing these cars can’t do better is protect their occupants and meet CAFE regulations. Of course today’s cars sidestep the regs by being trucks or outright cheating by being diesels.