The SUV zeitgeist continues to claim sedan victims. Every indication was that Lincoln would kill its last sedan, the iconic Continental. Today it is official. There is just no way the Continental could continue on with the abysmal sales it was generating. Last year it sold only about 6,600 Continentals. That’s about 25 cars a day. So the storied Lincoln Continental is dead, Lincoln’s last sedan ends production.
Interestingly, it will live one more year in China before it’s gone. When it debuted in 2016 it seemed like a hopeful bulwark to the tsunami of pickups and SUVs. But in spite of its dignified looks and iconic name, it never gained traction.
The Continental struck a chord with buyers, it sold well and elevated the Lincoln name
Part of the problem might have been there was a bit of the “bad Ford” stigma attached to it. When Ford decided to revive the Continental name in 1968 it came up with a striking rebody of the Thunderbird. It struck a chord with buyers and it not only sold well but it elevated the Lincoln name.
When it was restyled for 1972 it was still a worthy design but things were starting to get away from it. The US mandated locomotive bumpers and overhangs that started increasing compromised the Continental. The Lincoln sedans mirrored the transition. While Mercedes and BMW were just coming into their prime in the US with well-built sedans and honest interiors, Lincoln went the Barcalounger route. Tufted red velvet-like upholstery and shaky quality turned many off.
The 1970s Lincolns were like designers and product planners were in a different universe
Cadillac and Chrysler were following the same Baroque direction. It was like something was in the water in Detroit that made the product planners and designers blissfully unaware of what those outside of Detroit really wanted. It was like they were in a different universe.
By 1977 and the next-generation of the Continental was released it was nothing short of a joke. A short wheelbase, high overhangs to compensate and fake fog lamps bonked onto the hidden headlight doors spelled the end of any serious consideration. Mercedes, BMW, and then Audi dominated the parking lots of country clubs and yacht races. Except in Detroit.
That lingering reputation for producing luxury vehicles only clueless blue-hair octogenarians found appealing has been a problem for the Detroit-bred auto manufacturers to this day. While the 2016 Continental exhibited styling, engineering, and attitude far removed from those bad Ford days, it just never sold like most expected it to.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Continental Lincoln made 80 with suicide rear doors
Of interest for future collectors is the “Coach Door Edition” 2019 Continentals. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Continental, Lincoln made 80 Continentals with suicide rear doors. The 1961 Lincoln had them and it was a well-remembered feature. An outside company took regular 2019 Continentals and converted the rear doors to suicide and added six-inches to the wheelbase. Priced at $100,000 each, it was a bold move by Lincoln and a reason to get some focus back on the Continental.
For 2020 the coach-door Continental was back with no limit. But the price shot up to $116,465. It is unclear how many were ordered. The 2019 model sold out all 80 in 48 hours. Needless to say not only will the 2020 Continental be a collectible because it’s the last of the Continentals but if it’s a coach-door version there’s even more exclusivity attached to it.
With Lincoln out of the car business, it is definitely the end of an era. RIP Lincoln Continental.