1961 Lincoln Continental

Lincoln is undergoing troubled times and needs to recapture its lost glory. However, it is not the first time Lincoln, a subsidiary of Ford Motors is facing uncertain times.

In the late 1950’s the brand was struggling as many people dismissed its models as just homely. However, the 1961 Lincoln Continental would soon change all that. During its maiden debut, the model’s simple and elegant design became an instant sensation and made its rivals look irrelevant and old. The vehicle perfectly fitted the Kennedy’s era of renewal and optimism.

Actually, the Lincoln Continental was originally meant to be a two-door concept of the iconic Ford Thunderbird. When Ford’s president of the time Robert S. McNamara saw its design in the studio, he figured out that the vehicle would better serve as a 4-door car and act as Lincoln’s saving grace.


Excellent design that stunned the motoring world

The 1961 Lincoln Continental design was so excellent that it would go on to influence other models in future like the Buick Riviera and Pontiac Grand Prix of 1963 as well as the Imperial of 1964.

The design was an excellent piece of art that didn’t rely on chrome garnish or 3-color trims like other models of the time. The exterior profile features clean and uncluttered lines with perfect proportions. The vehicle featured not even a single extraneous decoration. It had smaller exterior dimensions compared to the model it was replacing.


The continental stretched 212.4 inches from 227 inches and had its wheelbase reduced from 131 inches to 123 inches. It weighed around 5,000 pounds. Perhaps the most stunning design feature of the 1961 Continental was its rear doors which were hung from the rear and were opened from the front. This style was christened “suicide door” and later became an alias for the vehicle. The continental was offered as a 4-door sedan and as a 4-door convertible.


Drive-train and price

The 1961 Lincoln Continental was not only an attractive piece of art, rather it also packed huge power and delivered a sort of performance that backed its good looks. Under the hood, it was fitted with a 430 cu in, OHV V8 engine that delivered between 300 and 320 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. The engine was paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission system which sent power to the rear wheels.

As for the price, the continental was for the wealthy who needed a stylish, luxurious and quiet ride. The vehicle had a price of $ 6,067.


The sad history of the 1961 Lincoln Continental

The 1961 Continental was a car beloved by many even in the highest political office in the country. The Continental carried John F. Kennedy, US president of the time.


The secret service and Ford designers together transformed the continental to a presidential limousine. In 1963 the President was assassinated in Dallas while riding in this car. To commemorate his death, the car is exhibited at the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Mich.

A bouquet of flowers is often placed at the rear right of the car where the president sat when he was assassinated in 22nd November 1963. While Kennedy’s death altered the course of the country, it also altered the course of the Continental. The 1961 Continental went on to become one of the most-travelled, antiquated, and reconstructed and the most visited vehicle in the US history.

The Continental is often referred to as an automatic icon and an historic artifact with a death story in the background.



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