Concept Classic: Lincoln Continental Styling Clay From 1959 – Looking Forward To 1964, Or?

Lincoln Continental clay 1959

When I ran across this Lincoln styling clay at glen.h’s collection, I was a bit taken aback. It’s dated 12-04-59, which is only some nine months or so from the production 1961 Lincoln Continental’s premiere. So how does this fit in? It doesn’t, in terms of the 1961, in the way the story has been told so often.

Continental Engel-61-TBird-design

It was in or about July 1958 that Robert McNamara saw Elwood Engel’s rejected 1961 Thunderbird proposal (above), and was smitten by it. Engel’s design was given the nod to be adapted for the 1961 Continental, and although it had to be lengthened for the rear doors, as well as dropping the Ford round taillights and such, the basic body shape was obviously kept quite intact.

lincoln 1961-continental 800

It probably isn’t necessary to show the iconic ’61 one more time, but its here as a point of reference to the obviously quite different design shown at the top.

Lincoln Continental clay 1959 r

Here’s the rear view, and the date. This design has a number of aspects that actually look further to the future, like the loop front bumper looking all the world like an early seventies Plymouth. And the view from the front to the rear, especially with the covered rear wheels, predicts the  1970 Lincoln. And it has opera windows, which also predict even later Lincoln Town Cars. So the only assumption I can make is that this was for a Lincoln design to replace the 1961, given its date. The 1964 Lincoln Continental? Seems kind of early to have such an detailed clay already in place.

I understand this scan is from an old Collectible Automobile magazine. Anybody have it, and an explanation that goes along with it?