The Rearview Mirror: The Car That Changed Lincoln Styling For Decades


The 1968 Lincoln Continental Mark III redefined Lincoln’s styling language.

It is been 100 decades since Henry Ford obtained The Lincoln Motor Co. out of bankruptcy, an event really worth celebrating.

However the Lincoln most remembered and revered by collectors, car designers and pop society is the 1961 design, a vehicle that certainly reset 1960s automotive design priorities with its clean up, unadorned flanks and easy class and eloquence.

But its influence would lead to a car that debuted this week in 1968, one particular that would affect Lincoln automotive style and design for the upcoming pair decades. It’s the 1968 Continental Mark III, a motor vehicle that ongoing a distinctive Lincoln lineage though redefining the brand’s style and design.

A car born of a holiday

The 1939 Lincoln Continental

The 1968 Lincoln Continental Mark III had its roots in the very first Continental, which came about soon after Edsel Ford, president of the Lincoln Motor Co., returned from a vacation to Europe in 1938. He challenged the company’s direct designer, Eugene Gregory, to generate a little something very similar to the cars he saw when on trip,­ some thing continental.

The end result was the 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Continental and priced at $2,640, or $53,500 modified for inflation. Available as a coupe or cabriolet, it was swiftly embraced as a typical design. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who thought of it “the most stunning car in the earth,” acquired two. In the end, 5,324 Continentals were being produced as a result of 1948, when Ford Motor Co. made the decision not to swap it. 

Edsel Ford in 1939.

Specifically why stays unclear. Some sources stage out that the market for these autos had dried up. Many others cite Edsel’s premature death in 1943, and the absence of vision for a new a person. But sketches for a new 1948 Continental have been considered.

A son’s tribute to his father 

But sellers ongoing to pester Lincoln, inquiring when a new Continental was heading to be generated. For William Clay Ford, 30, led the generation of a new Continental to honor his father in 1952, a single that lived up to the original. Eschewing the garish chrome trim and outrageous tailfins usual of period, the Continental Mark II wore timeless, classy traces, and was offered by means of Ford’s new Continental Division.

Run by a 300-horsepower 6.-liter V-8, and geared up with each individual conceivable comfort — air conditioning was the sole possibility — the coupe price a staggering $10,000, much more than 2 times the cost of other Lincoln designs, nonetheless Ford however missing funds on each and every a person. About 3,000 were built prior to Continental was folded back again into Lincoln. 

William Clay Ford, remaining, discusses the styling of the 1956 Continental Mark II.

It’s changed by 1958 Continental Mark III, a automobile that was every little thing the Mark II was not. And when it might have been financially prosperous, its artistry was a further make any difference. The Continental title would be employed on the 1961 sedan, a auto that truly reflected the original’s refined taste, but a new coupe wasn’t offered. It would consider the vision of Ford Group Vice President Lee Iacocca to revive the hallowed identify.

A cellular phone contact begets a new Continental

The most recent Continental was born in 1965 as a individual-luxury coupe. The motor vehicle would be called the Continental Mark III as Henry Ford II didn’t think about the heavyweight 1958-60 Mark III as real a Continental. Company structure chief Gene Bordinat supervised its layout, though Hermann Brunn, whose spouse and children had intended custom made bodied automobiles in the 1930s, was largely dependable for its inside design and style.

The 1968 Lincoln Continental Mark III influenced Lincoln structure for years adhering to.

The motor vehicle that emerged had up to date hallmarks of the 1956 Mark II, as nicely as a vinyl roof. But its neo-common grille marked a convert away from the modernist fascias that characterised Lincolns because 1961.

According to Ford Motor Co. archives, Jim Farrell, who wrote the Lincoln style and design guide and personally interviewed numerous of the designers, says that designer Dave Ash obtained a simply call from Ford Motor Co.’s Team Vice President Lee Iacocca late one night time telling him that he preferred to see a front-close layout for the new Mark that was evocative of the Rolls-Royce grill positioned on a Thunderbird. When he returned to Dearborn, designers experienced sketches all set, and Iacocca picked the just one that ended up as the style. 

What Iacocca wrought

But Iacocca’s ask for wasn’t a flash of structure inspiration Iacocca was no designer. But he realized what bought, and it is achievable that the inspiration for the grille came from an not likely source: previous Chrysler style boss Virgil Exner. 

Eugene Gregorie, the designer of the 1st Lincoln Continental.

In 1965, as the Mark III project was beginning, Fred Duesenberg, the son of Duesenberg corporation founder August Duesenberg, resolved to revive the marque, selecting previous Chrysler style and design chief Virgil Exner Sr. to style the new vehicle.

The new car’s fashion employed 1930s styling cues, some of which experienced been found on early ’60s Chryslers, other people of which had not, such as its lengthy hood, tall neo-typical vertical grille and padded vinyl roof. Absolutely absolutely nothing like it experienced been witnessed prior to. But its influence on Detroit designers would guide their types for the better aspect of the future two many years.

Presented the popular publicity provided this new Duesenberg, it is probably that Iacocca appreciated what he noticed, and preferred anything equivalent for the new Mark III, which would also boast a long hood, tall neo-basic vertical grille and padded vinyl roof. It would even boast a phony rear spare tire bulge in the trunk lid, a nod to the rear-mounted spare tire of the authentic car or truck. Unquestionably, its fashion was a departure for Lincoln, even as certain 1961 styling cues had been maintained. 

Even though the Mark III retained the Mark II’s trademark very long-hood/shorter-deck model, it owed its proportions to its use of the Ford Thunderbird system and interior system construction. It also borrowed its drivetrain and sub-dashboard assembly. A 7.5-liter V-8 with four-barrel carburetor made 365 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque.

It was a good results, starting to be Lincoln’s flagship vehicle. Shortly, its ersatz traditional cues popped up on the Lincoln Town Car or truck Versailles, and it would remain a mainstay of the Lincoln line-up into the 1990s. Its neo-traditional style would live on even as its style was modernized, some thing that would be ultimately banished within the conclude of Lincoln Town Motor vehicle output in 2010.


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By Bethann