Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Continental III

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Lincoln's stately Continental was always, traditionally speaking, a luxurious flagship for Ford's high-end division. The original 1939 Continental was designed to be Edsel Ford's own personal vehicle, who then greenlighted production so that the public were able to drive the opulent and extravagant thing that he drove. This pretty much sums up the model's best-of-the-best legacy, which ultimately spanned nine design generations (although, admittedly, the latter-day Taurus-based ones are rather less special).

The fourth-gen examples of the 1960s are iconic and widely celebrated, with their suicide doors and absurd, cartoonish length, and these often overshadow the third-generation cars, such as the one we see here. Built from 1958-60, they were richly studded with exciting features: a reverse-rake rear 'breezeway' window that rolled down behind the seats, aircon vents in the ceiling, an FM radio (ooooh!), and a saucy-sounding 'Auto Lube' system. They didn't sell brilliantly, though - in fact, Lincoln lost sixty million dollars on the mkIII, reflecting the vast cost of developing an enormous unibody land-barge that was considered excessive even in an age known for not being particularly understated.

Still, it's a fairly magnificent thing to behold, isn't it? I love the ridiculousness of having a car this large that only has two doors, and my favourite detail of all is the dashboard. Sure, it's basically a silver-painted tea tray with dials glued into it, but imagine how space-age it must have looked in the late fifties! Positively NASA-esque.

Spotted in the car park at the 2013 Goodwood Revival - click here for more photos.