I was just beginning to forget about these, which is not all that hard to do. But here’s one sitting in the weeds found and shot by pbell56000, and of course, it’s sitting on its empty air bags. I shouldn’t be too harsh; I still prefer them to its successor, but that’s not saying much.
Maybe you’ve got something more positive to say, so I’ll bow out.
Well, I know where one went.
The 1974 2 door town coupe was the best…..trust me…..!
One of these was my father’s next-to-last Lincoln, a two-tone silver/dark gray one with these wheels.
It is a car I like much more now than I did then. I actively despised the car when he had it, but probably more because of generational snobbery than anything about the car itself. As one now older than my father was when he had that Connie, I have come to appreciate its attributes which joined the goodness of the Fox platform with the goodness of a traditional Lincoln. I think I might even prefer one of these to a contemporary Town Car.
The most accurate description I’ve read about these is that they “looked like a pair of $40 shoes that Christian Louboutin designed for Walmart.” I’m not sure which version was worse – the original bustleback or the restyle with the cheese-slicer headlight assembly. Maybe both.
As a young man in the 80’s who remembered the 60’s fondly (including the 61 to 63 Continental) all I could do was shake my head at what the US manufacturers were spitting out. I switched to Honda and never looked back.
they “looked like a pair of $40 shoes that Christian Louboutin designed for Walmart.”
A friend of mine bought one used about 1992, I think it was a 87, bought it at the Lincoln dealership. She had it a couple years, said she had a couple Oldsmobiles and a couple Cadillacs, but never owned a car that cost her so much to keep it drivable, she turned it in on a Buick LeSabre about 94-95. I drove one personally, a friend was working for a Lincoln Mercury dealer, I wasn’t impressed, this car has the air suspension that goes out and cost you thousands to fix, same thing with it’s successor 88-94 Continental. Lots of owners would never buy a Lincoln again after owning one of those
I have been driving Lincoln’s since 1994 a continental and have had 6 more since. I now have a 2018 Continental Black Label which I love! I only had problems with a 2003:LS. After growing up driving General Motors primarily Buick anc then having a lemon Pontiac and Cadillac I will.only drive Lincoln’s and not look back
Ford really should’ve had the guts to build a four-door Mark VII instead of this Seville-wannabe. Maybe even make the sedan *more* “Euro” than the coupe. The only people offended by aero styling would’ve just bought Town Cars anyway.
It was exactly the same mistake Cadillac made with the gen 2 Seville, only dialed back a bit, with styling that was polarizing and controversial in the wrong way that turned off the traditional customer base *without bringing anyone new to the camp*.
On the other hand, maybe that’s the Granada-based Lincoln Versailles that should had been.
The paint is still shiny. The glass looks good. And, weren’t those the same door handles used on the ’71 LTD?
Don’t know about the door handles (but I’m sure you do!), but I agree that it looks too good (condition wise) to be sitting in a patch of grass on four flats..
Whoops – guess it’s four flat air shocks.
I have always preferred this bustleback to the offerings from GM and Chrysler (though my problem with the Imperial is that it looks like they started out designing a 4 door and at the last minute badly juggled the proportions to make a 2 door), but Ford/Lincoln didn’t get it perfect. Using a V6 in a few of these was wrong, IMHO, and some of the 2 tone color combinations were less than ideal. But perhaps the worst was, just like the Versailles before it, the dashboard looked too similar to the lower priced Mercury (small) Marquis. Making this seem like a Mercury that had a roofline re-style.
Those markings on the glass bring to mind the young guy at the car wash that takes your singles and makes a scribble that tells the button pusher if you cheaped out with the basic wash or went all out with the rainbow wax and sealer, undercarriage wash, and tire shiny.
Ford pulled off the bustle-back styling better than GM did with their 2nd generation Cadillac Seville, but arguably not as well as Chrysler with their Imperial coupe of the same time period.
My aunt and uncle bought one that was identical to the car in the pictures. After years of owning various Ford products they thought they had finally arrived when they finally bought a Lincoln to replace their Mercury Monarch. The Lincoln Continental turned out to be the biggest lemon. The thing seemed to have a defective black box and would just stall for no apparent reason. Then it would start back up, not right away, but after a couple of hours, or a half an hour. The dealer could never find out what was wrong. It was the last Ford product they ever bought.
It was replaced by a Chevy S-10 Blazer, which was suprisingly reliable. A Ford Fairlane was replaced by a Chevy S-10 pickup and that was replaced by a Suzuki XL7.
Until I was properly informed, I always thought the Conti’s suspension sag was due to bulk overloading or ill-executed aftermarket modifications which assured contact with speed bumps…
I like Fox Fords, but my favorite is the ’83-88 Thunderbird. I think Bill Elliot liked them too. 🙂
I hear these get cannibalized specifically for their rear axle to keep Ford Mustangs on the road. Never seen a Continental like this in Oregon.
The rear axle gets cannibalized to add rear disc brakes to Mustangs.
Maybe 20 years ago, the front hubs and spindles were useful for 5-lug conversions as the Fox Lincoln’s were the only foxbody cars to use that pattern(besides the rare SVO). I don’t think the rear axle was pilfered to the same degree the Versailles one was pilfered for Mustangs though – the latter was the only way to get rear disc brakes on a 9” until the aftermarket stepped up. For foxbodys there were other options and for 5 lug conversions it was actually more common and desirable to use ranger or Aerostar 5-lug axleshafts in the existing housing. Tbird Turbocoupes were the cars that tended to donate their entire rear axle assemblies to Mustangs, since those had 3.73 gears and rear disc right out of the box.
Now a days SN95s are ubiquitous at junkyards and have all of that ready to bolt on
A buddy had one for years in the 1990s and it was well done. It was amazing to think it was a Fox platform because it was so much smoother and more pleasant to drive than any Fairmont or Mustang. The basic goodness in that platform produced a nice handling machine, superior to the Towncar. It was also very reliable, with no failure or breakdown.
The overwrought style seemed a bit out of touch, even when these were new. But I distinctly recall this forum attacked the late 90s Continental for being too somber and plain, unlike Continentals of old. Well, this Connie certainly isn’t somber or plain so I’m surprised at the negative judgement. They have style and flash as a Continental should. I think they’re over-the-top cool. I’d love to have one now.
Okay, True Confessions time: I kind of like these. I certainly didn’t like them when they were new, but over time I’ve come to think of them as representing a somewhat more literal translation of their model name than some of their predecessors. It probably stems from the one person I knew who drove one back in the late 90’s. He was a kind of pompous British expat with champagne taste on a beer budget,and the car seemed to fit him to a tee. His was a sedate chocolate brown designer edition, rather tastefully outfitted, and he kept it up beautifully. He always talked it up as an excellent road car, and since he frequently drove quite long distances I came to take his word for it. Realistically, the styling was more understated than anything bearing the Continental name since at least the early 70’s, and it was surely more “right-sized” than its predecessors of the previous 20 years. Yeah, the styling was of its era, but compared to the gaudy bustelback Seville or the ill-fated Imperial with its eyesore overhangs it seems to make more sense, viewed retrospectively.
I think these would have been considered more original, and better received, if their revival bustle-back design didn’t immediately follow the Seville and Imperial. Even if it subjectively may have been better executed than the Seville, there is always humility in attempting to closely follow someone else’s unique idea. Especially, if it is your primary competitor. 🙂
Of course the ’80 Seville concept was was not groundbreaking, being inspired by earlier similar designs. But applying a strong retro styling element to a modern, mass-produced car, was pretty bold for the era. And was a precursor of this trend, so active today.
Luckily for Lincoln, these escaped the pop culture tackiness reputation the ’80 Seville acquired almost immediately.
No, nothing positive. its sort-of bustleback styling never appealed to me, especially when these inevitably lost the ability to keep the air suspension pressurized and started tail-dragging.
As used cars the cost to repair the failed air suspension consigned these to the junkyard even when the car was otherwise in good condition. When used car dealers were peddling any air suspended Continental at used car auctions, they would keep these idling to keep the air pumped up while it ran through the line. Didn’t help, these cars had a reputation and only changed hands very cheaply, if at all.
I don’t like the exterior styling on these, but they’re quite lovely on the inside, maybe the nicest interior of any Fox platform car, especially the pre-facelift models. I’d love to find out if that dash can be swapped into a Fox body Mustang, since I know some of the Fox dashboards interchange. Speaking of which, most of the huge selection of aftermarket go-fast Fox body Mustang parts will bolt onto this Conti too.
I didn’t know this car got the air suspension; I thought that was just for the Mark coupes.
Is the air suspension fix-able? I kind of like these. Don’t know why because they are objectively horrible. Maybe because they have a certain lithe quality.
Yes the air suspension is easily fixed, often cheaply if done early. The most common problem is leaking o-rings which are a $8 per end kit that could be installed in an hour. The problem is when someone drives off with it on the stops before letting it come back up to height. Then the bags can tear. They are ~$100 per corner and all 4 can be done in just a little more time than the O-rings. Compressors of course can fail as can the height sensors, but that is less common. New compressors aren’t too bad since they fit all the Fords and the sensors are usually under $50 each and this would have 3, again they are quick replacements.
Then there is always the convert to steel option, which takes more time, particularly in the front, than replacing the bags, so usually that isn’t the cheap option many people make it out to be. Sure it is cheaper than replacing everything but you rarely need to replace everything.
Arnott sells air springs, compressors, dryers, O-rings, everything you need to fix these. Plenty of forums to help you DIY this in your driveway.
I’ve used Arnott when my Mercedes GL needed replacement parts for its air suspension – excellent quality, great prices compared to stock, and great service, highly recommend for anything air suspended that needs repairs.
I like them and felt that the overall design was better executed than GMs Seville.
For many years there was an older waitress at the local Cracker Barrel that had one of these in a pale-pastel yellow tan color. Bone stock except for chrome dual exhaust. That one always caught my eye.
Interestingly about the time she left that job a younger waitress was hired who had a B-body RWD Lesabre (in light yellow) that was pristine but (you guessed it) had dual chrome exhausts.
Made me wonder if the two ladies were related.
Weren’t these the only Licoln to get a diesel engine option (a BMW straight six IIRC)?
Mark VIIs had the BMW diesel optional too too
Saying some nice things about this car shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. To start with, the fact that it’s sitting forlornly in a field with its suspension completely disabled obscures its very nice looking overall condition. I would expect it to look much worse. Did it only recently fall on hard times? Or perhaps we can infer some durability and quality from its enduring a good amount of neglect and still looking so solid. Maybe it’s not neglected at all, it is just parked here short term.
I also like this example’s clean look, with the single-tone white paint, no vinyl top and a full set of correct whitewall tires. I much prefer the facelifted 84-87 version of the Continental as the front end’s slightly angled-back look balances better with the rear design. I agree with some of the other commenters that Ford did a better job with styling the bustleback than the others. I also agree that the interior, while nice enough by 80’s standards, should have been upgraded to lose its obvious relation to the other Fox sedans.
Particularly from the front, it’s really not a bad looking car at all. Certainly better looking and more unique than any of the Continentals that came after it, IMO.
I was negotiating a price for a two tone silver Continental with a red leather interior and drove it home for an overnight. I’ve always liked these cars because they are so ridiculously over the top. The next day at work, I was surprised by an announcement that the department in which I was employed – was terminated. We all had an hour to pack up and get walked out of the office by a guard. So my plans on buying the Continental ended immediately.
I do like these cars. Problem is now, when I see one, I am reminded of being laid off without warning.
Not buying one is what reminds you of being laid off. If you corrected that by getting one, it would smooth right over that unfortunately history!
Perhaps – however, I would still need to deal with that air suspension. It would be at least a $600 fix on top of any other challenges a 35 year old car would encounter. I still look at them when they appear online in sales, however I have not had the chance or ability when a chance arises to find another I would be willing to deal with.
You see, I love a Fox body car, and while this Continental is quite a catch, a bigger fish is out there for me – a Fox body Cougar sedan, coupe of wagon. They have the luxury of the Continental, but in a cleaner exterior design.
These are weird for me. I don’t hate them, I think they’re better than the second gen Seville at least (Not saying a whole lot I know), but these are still in that awkward middle child stage for me. If I wanted an 80s sedan from Lincoln, I would get a town car. Something more modern, a Mark VII LSC. I wouldn’t throw one out of my driveway, but I wouldn’t actively look for one either.
Curious enough, there is one for sale at around 1800 dollars that’s a stone’s throw away from my house. It looks like it’s in rough shape though and I’m not sure if it will start up or what the cost to get it up to decent condition will entail.
Tom and Fran Irvin were a retired couple from Virginia who lived across the street and two doors down in our Southeast suburban Denver neighborhood. Fran had been a schoolteacher. Tom was born in 1926 and served in WWII, and after that I don’t remember what kind of work he’d done. He spoke with an accent seldom heard in the whitebread suburbs of Denver.
Tom had a couple of ’60s-’70s Ford F-series trucks, one brown and one green. Fran had a ’72 Pawnnyack (as Tom called it) Bonneville 455 4-door, blue with a uniformly dark-rust hood (and only the hood. Not the first or last time I saw that; why/how did this happen?). In 1987 they bought a new Lincoln Continental 4-door and parked the Pawnnyack. A few years later, the Lincoln developed a malady that caused it to run very rich until the engine warmed up. Like, billowing-clouds-of-black-smoke rich. They drove it that way for years; Denver’s relatively strict annual emissions test never caught it—I guess the car was always warmed up by the time they got to the test station, though I’m surprised it didn’t foul the plugs and O2 sensor and/or melt the cat. It did not surprise me that Tom didn’t get it repaired; for most of his life, some cars had smoked and that’s just how it was.
He also owned a truly frightful lawnmower, a decrepit old Montgomery-Ward thing from the early ’70s. The governer springs and linkage on the thoroughly whipped Briggs & Stratton engine had long ago gone missing, and Tom had addressed this by wiring the throttle open. After a dozen or two yanks of the rope, the engine would reluctantly come to a rough facsimile of life. It ran like a zombie, surging for a second or two, then dying off, then catching and surging, etc. It would gradually pick up speed, surging and dying, until by the very loud, very high-pitched sound of things it would reach an average speed of at least 5,000 rpm (about 140% of intended max speed), accompanied by a great deal of blue smoke. With the throttle wired open, the only way to stop the engine was to fetch a stick and knock the wire off the spark plug. I was sure that mower was going to throw its blade clear across the street and right through my ankles one day. Being a lawnmower-fixated kid, I pestered him about it from time to time. The answer was always “Ah guess ah’m ‘baout satisfaahd with it f’naow”.
It never did amputate any ankles that I know of. Eventually, he got a new mower and marvelled aloud at how quiet it was, and how easy to start. But the Lincoln never got fixed; it was still billowing black smoke the last time I saw it drive off from cold.
Since I have been chastised & warned about my strong, often negative automotive opinions that I have posted here in the past; I’ll keep my words to myself and post this instead of the harsh words that come to mind about this car; words that might get me hurled into the CC doghouse (again):
These were never common in any of the places that I lived and traveled in the ’80s. There were quite a few MK VII LSCs in their early years of production, and plenty of Town Cars were seen, but I remember sightings of these Continentals being rare enough to always notice how uncomfortable the Fairmont looked in this skin.
I do admire Paul’s subtle word-play in the title of this piece.
Love Living Lincoln.
I enjoy my 1986 Continental often, and the air bag ride floats the classic every mile..
It will be for sale in October, 2020 when I visit Clearwater, Fl…see Facebook marketplace Largo/Clearwater FL add posted from January 2020.. Check it out..
I had an 86 white over red. It was stunningly pretty. I liked all the slash cut rear end cars.
I put an 87 HO engine in mine, along with a 3.45 posi diff center section, and a built AOD transmission. It would get 30 mpg at 60 mph, and about 22 mpg at 80.
The trick was to use the trailer package heavy duty air bags, which were cheaper. It handled and rode better than a coil spring car. There’s a reason Ford used those Firestone air bags! The spring rate rises with cornering force. Real wood on the doors and dash.
When I went to sell it, no one was interested at any price. I took it apart, and junked it.
Where is this car? I’d be all over this thing.