It is not often that a car plays a part in history. But, sadly, such was the case with the Lincoln Continental. For, it was while riding in the stretched Presidential version, that John F Kennedy was fatally shot - in Dallas, Texas, 1963. The 'Continental' was tailor-made for affairs of state. The MkII Continental - released in '56 - came with every 'mod con' going. It had a price tag to match! What made it stand out, though, were its clean lines - and restrained styling! Yes, it had chrome and fins. But, nothing like so much as other exotica on highways, at the time. The Continental packed some serious gravitas!
'61 ushered in the most iconic Continental of all ... the legendary 'clap-door'. It acquired the tag on account of its rear-hinged rear door - which needed to be opened with care. Backward-looking visibility was not its strong suit! As soon as the new Lincoln was released, celebrities strong-armed their way to the showrooms. Before long, everyone who was anyone had gone Continental! The new car had the lot! To wit, shapely elegance, lashings of luxury - and a rorty Ford V8. Top speed was 125mph. The 3-speed auto 'box made it a breeze to drive ... especially, the 'power-top' convertible version. The saloon ate up the straights. Corners were less to its taste, however! 7.0- and 7.5-litre engines were fitted - with a maximum output of 365bhp. Performance-wise, the car was no slouch ... even with 5,215lb of body-weight to haul about.
The first Continental was a crowd-puller. It came complete with bulbous, but beautiful nose - and 'egg-crate' grille. Some subsequent models, though, lacked in that department. The MkIII Continental, say, had all of the size - but less of the charm - of its spotlessly-styled predecessors. Indeed, the first model had been so meticulously made, that Lincoln lost money on every car built! Into the '60s - and the car continued to pick up plaudits, like confetti. It was as if it was the best of both worlds - American scale, and European refinement. Mixing brawn with chic in equal measure, the Lincoln Continental was a one-off. A fitting backcloth, then, for that day in Dallas - when the world held its breath!