Much can be said for the foreboding presence that many a vintage domestic luxury sedan exudes. With forty-plus years of changing automotive trends, a premium offering like a 1973 Lincoln Continental perhaps tells even more of a story compared to when they were new.
As a cross between 1960’s restraint and 1970’s isolation, these Continentals struck a Goldilock’s “just right” once you got past the intimidating presentation.
The 1970-74 Continentals carried more than a casual reference to the 1961-69 “Camelot” Continentals that came before them. Blade fenders up front that underscored the greenhouse, before a gentle kick-up at the rear doors kept a familiar crisp continuity. However, the end caps became more brooding. Headlamps now hid under vacuum-operated “sunglasses” up front. Why show your pretty eyes in the bright of day?
Out back, the simple tail lamps of yore were replaced with full width warnings to keep your distance bracketing the license plate frame.
While the theme of refinement was ever present, the additional factors of exclusive isolation dominated the presentation for Lincoln cars of all stripes during the “Me” Seventies. Underneath it all, these early 70’s Continentals weren’t as special as they used to be. Out was the overbuilt and overweight uni-body once shared by Thunderbirds. In was an extended version of the chassis used under Ford LTDs and the Mercury Marquis. By 1973, even powertrain exclusivity was a thing of the past. The 460 V8 that once was a Lincoln exclusive became an option for top-tier Mercury offerings.
Although Cadillac still dominated the sales charts throughout the early 70’s, popularity had its vices. Where Cadillacs were rapidly devolving into luxury offerings accessible to everyone, the Continental still retained a rarefied elegance that captivated a special section of the luxury automotive market. However, Lincoln wasn’t exempt to the boundary blurring that General Motors was falling prey to with their luxury offerings.
By allowing access to their exclusivity, the Lincoln Continental became less special. Its a fate that Lincoln finds itself struggling with forty years later. Without the middle meat of Mercury, Lincoln finds itself being a “Fancy Ford” these days. Given such a heritage of refined motoring, Lincoln could do well to issue massive magic on the public like these past efforts.