Today’s feature: What if the late model Lincoln Town Car had been offered as a hardtop? Four door and two door?
Please stop. This is killing me. My head keeps exploding (thanks, E.Dan!) Oh, the humanity! What if…? What if…? What if…? Seeing one of those might even turn me into a panther fan.
One tip: The front edge of the C pillar needs to move forward a few inches ahead of the rear wheel well, that way an actual quarter window would fit. I look at those late 80’s/early 90’s Riviera coupes and convertible conversions and even though the fixed quarter window is pretty thin, the quarter window on the convertible is thinner so it clears the inner rear wheel well.
I’m all about rear windows, whether they roll down (preferred) or pop-open (a cop-out, but necessary and acceptable in some cases).
It’s a disease…
I don’t know if it would work for this Lincoln, but in my 1966 Chrysler 2-door hardtop, the rear quarter window rotates as it goes down so that it can fit entirely in the available space within the body. The convertible uses a smaller rear quarter window which descends straight down into the body, like the Rivieras you described. The convertible roof mechanism necessitated a thicker C-pillar and space in the body to store the top when down, so the 2-door hardtop quarter window wouldn’t have worked.
The straight-down quarter window drop is much less expensive than rotating and lowering the glass – fewer parts. Look at the mechanism of any early 1970’s GM 4-door-hardtop rear door and try to figure out how that works! Subaru used a cheaper version, hence the reason their rear windows didn’t go all the way down, same goes for 2-door sedans. My 1972 Nova’s back glass only rolled a bit over halfway down and it even rotated a bit, but was too large to clear the inner wheel well.
I suppose the OEM’s figured with the advent of wide-spread A/C use on cars, if the vehicle didn’t have a door, it didn’t need an opening window. Well…except for the late 70-80’s GM mid-sizers, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant!
This guy’s rear windows didn’t roll down all the way for an unusual reason:
That’s the Photoshopper’s dilemma: Do I sacrifice aesthetics for the sake of practicality and draw what would work in real life, or do I go for looks and forget about whether it would be physically possible? I usually go for the second, especially because then I don’t need to bother with complex and time consuming work on body panels. I tend to leave the rear quarter windows on sedans in place because the alternative usually looks physically impossible, but on a coupe I bend the rules to improve the looks.
I have a feeling that the window problem might be part of the reason why most big cars through the 1970s had low rear wheel openings, but I’ve never taken one apart to see if my theory is true. Of course the biggest problem is that even the lowly Caprice of the 1970s had a 121″ wheelbase while this luxury Lincoln maxes out at just 117″. As rear wheels moved forward and the C pillar moved backward, cars lost the proportions required for hardtops.
Here’s how I would fix a 1980s sedan, but I only had the idea because I love opera lights and without them 1980s cars look wrong.
Forget about what’s physically possible or not, until you’re in a position to design production cars. Keep in mind that designers typically start with pretty wild ideas.
Anyway, this is all about letting our imaginations run wild…and I encourage you to go even further in that direction. Here’s what I did with scissors and glue in 1973:
It’s good that you reminded some of us, of the spirit offered and intended.
I take back my uncharitable comments earlier.
I am shamed…
(hangs head and walks off towards horizon…)
Wow! I like that 2 door concept. I’ve always liked a “full-sized” 2 door car. Guess I’m a dying breed.
What if the rollover and crash standards didn’t exist? Well then, we could re-build the 1955 Chevrolet.
But they do; and that’s that.
Moreover, the Lincoln Panther has as massive a countenance as a Citibank vault. The idea of the pillarless sedan, was to make it look light and breezy…a convertable with the top up. The heavy, bulging flanks of this model don’t go well with that.
Although, in fairness, it’s not the first time it’s been done; nor even by Lincoln. The Mark III was a hardtop, IIRC.
Sure, the OEM’s could manufacture them, but the bodies would need much more steel in them to strengthen them for side-impact standards ala Mercedes. Roll-over standards? I don’t think there are any, as the OEM’s in the 70’s feared the possibility of that, but it never happened. What did we wind up with as a result? Fixed and opera windows! Thanks a lot GM, Ford and Chrysler!
IANAAE. But, it strikes me that there may be more than one way of meeting rollover standards. I think the real problem is the contemporary aesthetic of turning automobiles into tanks with gun slit windows.
Would I be shouted off the stage if I suggested the car trimmed like a Bill Blass Mark V – a navy blue 2 door hardtop with the white cloth fake convertible top? A little more of a rakish C pillar would make all the difference here.
I always thought that Ford had a happy medium in the 70s with the 4 door pillared hardtops. The car had a central pillar like in a sedan, but used the frameless side glass. It was much better looking than the basic sedans, and gave some added measure of structural integrity as well. I think that the Japaneese cars have been fond of this concept over the years.
No, nobody’s gonna throw rotten eggs. Although some in the audience might just wander to the restroom and not come back.
I mean no vitriol. But…this admittedly well-drawn rendition, is the answer to a question nobody asked.
“But…this admittedly well-drawn rendition, is the answer to a question nobody asked.”
Agreed. I think that I am one of maybe 38 people in the entire USA that really misses the big 2 door car. My last one was an 84 Oldsmobile 98 Regency 2 door. I loved being able to open one door, put a briefcase or a little cargo on the back floor, then get in and drive. I also really liked my 64 Imperial Crown Coupe.
Of course, I owned it during a point in my life where I had 3 kids in car seats, and putting those into the back seat required an awful lot of physical flexibility. So we can agree, they are not very practical, but they look so good.
Waaalll…I miss a big two-door car, too. And a big two-door wagon most of all; but I’d eagerly settle for a 1977 Chevrolet Impala two-door sedan
(and that’s a compromise, given my ingrained hatred of GM)
…but today’s big cars just leave me cold.
They’re not designed for persons like me. They’re Grandpa cars…big and bloated for the sake of being big and bloated. Just like Grandpa remembers them
The clean, crisp, lighter-weight designs I admired…they’re gone, too.
“I think that I am one of maybe 38 people in the entire USA that really misses the big 2 door car.”
JP, I must be the first on the list, or near the top!
If you no longer have 3 kids in car seats, then the big 2-door isn’t so impractical for you any more. Time to go shopping for an old car! 🙂
I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but the 64 Imperial 2dht was probably pretty low production versus the 4dht version. Beautiful cars too.
That was why I bought it – only about 5k of them were made in 64. Another car that I am sorry I sold.
+ 1 over here in Europe who sorely misses big 2-door cars too.
Not that they ever were so frequent on this side of the pond anyway. The German industry had a brief go at it in the 1960s and 1970s with the Ford Granadas and Opel Commodores (yes, these are “big” cars over here), and that’s about it. All I can think of now is the Mercedes CL, which is in a totally different price league.
Got to find one of those. We need to hear all about it!
I really do think that child seats caused demand for 2 door cars to plummet. No matter what you do, it’s a spine wrenching feat of contortionism to get Junior into his seat in the back of a coupe. There is a bit of irony in this, because in the pre-seatbelt era, 2-door cars (and 2-door wagons) were marketed to parents as being safer for kids, because they couldn’t accidentally open a door while the car was moving.
Still holding out for the 4-door Mark VII! 🙂
Don’t worry, I’ve taken everyone’s suggestions from the last comment section and I’ll do a reader request post some time soon.
How hard could it be to bolt a Mark VII nose on a 7th gen. Continental?
I think the big German sedans would make lovely hardtop sedans, especially the e38 BMW 7 series. The 8-series was pretty sharp, after all.
I completely agree, that BMW 7 Series is a very classy car. I’ve added it to the requests list, and I think I’ll even do a two door while I’m at it.
That big car looks great. Really great.
They could engineer hardtops like this that meet crash standards if they chose to. It would cost more, but it’s a luxury car.
Do they not build hardtops because there’s no market? Or is there no market because they don’t build hardtops?
It would be informative for context if you’d put a small picture of a 4-door in the article too. I went and looked on Google, and they look like the taxicabs they are next to these. Thanks!
I know that it is possible to engineer a safe hardtop because Mercedes Benz still sells two, and they like to brag that they are one of the safest car companies in the world. Of course, the CL600 costs a good $160,000, so any extra expense in the engineering department is covered.
I think the market has disappeared because they forgot the body style exists. You only ever see them at auto shows (as concept cars) and classic car gatherings, so unless you are a car nut or own a Mercedes hardtop you probably don’t know what a hardtop is. Even one of my college instructors who grew up in the 1960s didn’t know what I meant when I said “hardtop.”
By the way, here is a before picture for comparison (I don’t want to actually put it in the article, but this will save people the trip to Google).
And the rear view.
That’s a good way to do it, thanks. Beautiful work.
I was curious about this, as well. The current roof crush standards (the main area that I could see being an issue) went into effect for MY1974, which means that quite a few mid-seventies two- and four-door hardtops would have had to have passed them. The history of the Pacer tells me that at one point there were far more stringent regulations on the table for the late seventies and early eighties, but they never actually passed.
My theory is that the proposed regs were enough to make automakers give up on plans for future hardtops, even though those rules were never actually enacted. That’s sort of what happened with convertibles (which are specifically exempted from the roof crush standard, incidentally). When somebody at Chrysler suggested bringing back the convertible, a lot of people said, “Wait, I thought the feds basically outlawed them,” not realizing that it hadn’t happened. Also, I suppose hardtops had become rather passe by the mid-seventies, anyway.
Now, the feds recently enacted more stringent roof crush standards, which start being phased in next fall for MY2013. Those may make pillarless hardtops considerably less feasible. (The rules, if anyone is curious, are under 49 CFR 571.216 and .216a.)
That’s a shame, but I wonder, who says the B pillar has to be out at the sides? Why not put a pillar in the center of a hardtop, like a building? At the back end of the console between the front seat backs. Set it up with all the back seat entertainment goodies sprouting off.
I’m digging the 2 door!
If I remember right there was a 2 door Grand Marq concept around the late 90s or so. I may be wrong though.
I’m not sure if there was an official two door concept (though I have seen tons of mockups of Grand Marquis coupes), but the original Mercury Marauder concept was a two door convertible Grand Marquis.
Since there’s a lot of 2-door hardtop appreciation in this thread, it seems like a good place to post a pic that I took this morning. My hardtop will be spending the winter at a bodyshop.
Wow! I like your car and that roofline is one of the finest. I want to see a photo when it’s finished. Those mid-60’s full-size MoPars are up there right alongside the Chevys and Fords.
Love it, Love it, Love it!
That reminds me of my 300L hardtop…one of the many cars I wish I’d kept longer.
65-66 two-doors may be my favorite c-bodies (my own barge excepted). What’s being done to yours, BOC?
The whole front clip is coming off, including the subframe. Fenderwells and subframe are badly rotten. Drivers side fender has bondo from an old accident which is separating because rust is spreading underneath the bondo. I have a replacement front-end from a southern parts car that is mint.
I just love the look of fogged up tinted windows (proper blue-green tint, not the awful blackout tint that is so popular these days). Add in gold/copper/champagne/etc paint, and you can’t go wrong.
Yes those are factory tint windows. They are fogged-up because I rolled the car out of the garage and loaded it onto the dolly Tuesday night. I dropped it off at the bodyshop on my way to work in the morning.
I’ve never been too fond of the color, “saddle bronze”. I usually refer to it as gold, but most other people call it brown. I plan to change it to a metallic red/burgundy, but having a hard time deciding between 1966 Chrysler Spanish Red, 1966 Chrysler Ruby, or 1966 Cadillac Claret Maroon.
Although I usually advocate for keeping the car the factory color, your car’s original color has never been one of my faves either. What about that 66-67 copper color? I think it was Turbine Bronze. One of my favorites. Of course, maybe you do not have that parchment-color (or black) interior that would make it work. What a great dilemma you have.
My interior is also Saddle Bronze. Yes, you are thinking of Turbine Bronze. I like that color and thought about it, but I found a 66 online with that combination and didn’t like it. Let’s see if this link works….
I am with you – the two bronzes do not play well together. I remember the color so well because I once saw a 66 300 sport hardtop in the junkyard with still shining Turbine Bronze paint and loved it, even such a forlorn example.
1966 was the year of copper cars – Chevy and Ford both had a 1966-only copper color while Chrysler kept the Turbine Bronze into 67 (I think). It must not have been terribly popular because it disappeared so quickly.
Good luck with your colorful quandry.
Turbine Bronze originally came from the 1963 Chrysler Turbine experimental cars. The ones the Chrysler loaned out to the public all were Turbine Bronze with a black vinyl roof.
On production cars, it was introduced mid-year in MY1966 so it’s a fairly rare color that year. it is very nice, especially when paired with the black roof. I believe it was carried through 1968, disappearing when the slab-side look was replaced with the fuselage look.
I tend to prefer reds, blues, and greens myself, but I think that bronze color works with that car. I agree that any of those reds you mention would look better, though.
Thank you all for the kind words about my hardtop. One of these days I hope to write a CC/”auto”biography to submit here. Normally I keep one of my Chryslers in the garage at home and do some work on it over the winter. This winter, the garage will be empty for the first time in 5 years**, so maybe I will be able to find time.
**Not entirely true. I have a bit of work left to do on the new subframe before I send it along, and while the engine from my hardtop is on the stand, I’m going to inspect the bearings and replace a couple leaky seals.
Inspired by my grandparents’ 1978 model, I did a mock-up of a modern Mercury Grand Marquis coupe a while back.
I stretched the c-pillars to balance out the proportions but I didn’t try to make it a pillarless hardtop.
The top pic looks like an overinflated Toyota Corolla Marino, not a car Id consider pillared or not a Ford from 2003 would be a Falcon not a shiney turd panther
That roof line looks like a rounded off W123 coupe.
Another thing I like about two-door cars is that you can drive one with the window all the way open and the wind doesn’t take your ear off – courtesy of the longer door. That’s one of the things I like about the 2005 and later Mustangs. Of course if you’re alone in the 4-door you can lower the back window too…but in general cars nowadays are designed to be driven with the windows shut and the a/c on. You even see people driving their convertibles around in the summertime with all the windows up but the top down. I don’t get that myself – if my top’s down the windows will be down too.
This is the best bunch yet. The curvy lines of that era TC go well with the hard top 4dr and 2dr style. Of course it helps that Ford originally tried to make the aero Panthers have that hard top illusion with blacked out center pillar and chrome on the door to suggest the old chrome drip rail.
The previous B-boxes just don’t look right with that square roof line, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Panther fan and have no love for the Boxes or Bubbles.
I oh so wish that Ford had made a 2dr version of the aero Panther.
Holden actually did this to a Commodore sedan to make the Monaro, GTO to you guys They created a 2 door hardtop from the sedan.
If I had to chose between the automakers building more coupes of large cars or hardtop versions of large cars, I’d go with the coupes. Just a personal opinion.
Ford should have done these pillaless hardtops. They look so good.
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