(first posted 1/5/2015)
This ongoing series (should I decide to continue it) will focus on my “Great 28,” a list of my favorite cars. To be on the list, I must ogle and daydream about said vehicle for a period not less than a year. Only the first three are in numerical order of my desire; the others are about equal. Some are attainable, others are not (Turbine Car, I’m looking at you).
Frank Lloyd Wright declared the original Continental to be the “most beautiful car in the world,” and I must agree. When I stand next to one, I become dangerously preoccupied, transfixed, lost in its beauty. Sometimes I giggle a little. I forget everything else. The ’40/’41 Cabriolet is as much a work of art as a Renoir or a Brueghel, and to think that it came from a quick sketch based on a Lincoln Zephyr almost makes one believe in divine inspiration.
The Continental’s genesis, a product of E.T. Gregorie and Edsel Ford’s respective genius, is well-documented. Much of their work still holds people awestruck today; their ability to produce timeless designs despite a styling “department” that was microscopic compared to GM’s is a testament to their abilities and to their working relationship. Sure, the ’42 and later Lincolns became a little fussy and ornate, but the original Continental was such a magnum opus that Gregorie’s abilities as a designer must remain unquestioned.
The Continental was created by sectioning a Zephyr, lengthening its hood, shortening its deck, and shifting its passenger compartment rearward. That means that the original ’40s were “lead sleds,” requiring much custom bodywork. Oh well, who hasn’t used a little bondo? The Zephyr was already a beautiful car, but it became epic as the Continental. This is perhaps my favorite view; I can stand in peaceful, gleeful reverie staring at that boatlike hood and cascading grille.
Bob Gregorie was a connoisseur of yachts, and the front of the Continental (and Zephyr) was intended to recreate a boat cutting through the water–yar indeed, said Ms Hepburn.
One can easily see how tall and stubby the nose of the still-beautiful Zephyr is compared to the Continental. The Continental also benefits from a slightly chopped windshield and more natural lower bodylines.
The rear of the Continental is equally dramatic compared to the Zephyr. Gregorie elevated and truncated the deck, and (due to a lack of trunk room) created a styling motif that lasted for decades, the Continental Spare. Of course, adding a “Continental Kit” to any ’50s car that didn’t already have one is considered automotive low-art to many CC fans. In my opinion, this is the only car that looks proper and natural with it, because it was designed to be a part of the car, not tackily tacked on.
The ’41 Continental exhibited few changes from the ’40. It earned its own body dies, so the lead factor was reduced, and the grille showcased elegant bright surrounds. Additionally, the door handles were now push-button “poppers” that actually sprung the door open about a foot when pressed. If anything, the ’41 is slightly cleaner than the ’40, but one may notice the ’41 Cadillac next to above Continental, and that car influenced a change for ’42.
Gregorie’s own ’38 Zephyr affected Harley Earl enough that he incorporated that car’s new horizontal grille motif into his Cadillacs. As has been already discussed here at CC, the ’38’s grille was in response to inadequate radiator cooling in earlier Zephyrs, but it impressed Earl enough that it became a lasting trend (even today–how many vertical grilles do you see on new cars?). Therefore, Gregorie was compelled to introduce the even more blocky and horizontal ’42 model, which lost much of the magic of the original. Still, it was not an unattractive vehicle.
Unlike many cars today, the original Continental only received a minimum of testing, including a prototype that Gregorie delivered to Edsel Ford to showcase around his winter home in Florida. People liked that car enough that Edsel ordered another prototype, and this is it. This is the only known ’39 Continental, a car that was never offered for sale to the public. Notice the ’39-style grille. Bob Gregorie actually kept this prototype as his personal car for a while, before unceremoniously trading it in!
That lack of testing was uncommon even then, but the Continental’s reputation for reliability (or unreliability) doesn’t seem any more unfavorable than its Zephyr counterpart, likely because the mechanical components were basically identical. Both cars are well-known mechanical throwbacks, with transverse leaf front and rear suspension and a flathead V12 that, to be charitable, is held in dubious regard. On this prototype, one may notice the less well-integrated (though maybe prettier) taillights and unshielded spare tire. The production Continental was certainly an enhancement in that department.
Edsel Ford so admired the original Continental that, to my knowledge, it was his last personal car. In fact, his grey ’41 Cabriolet is still on display at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe, MI, looking very similar to the car pictured above. Even Edsel seemed to prefer the ’41 to the ’42, which is no surprise. Edsel Ford was a man of infinite taste and elegance, and if a car was good enough for him, it has to deserve a place at the top of my Great 28.
P.S. Please find below a couple more Continental pictures, simply because I want to include more pictures of my fantastic favorite car.
Yar indeed. One can picture Cary chauffering Katherine home in one of these after an exhaustingly swanky evening.
1 cat’s-meow down, 27 to go.
The reference to Wright is unfortunately appropriate. Wright’s houses are fantastically beautiful but unlivable. Unfixably leaky roofs, no place to put normal furniture, lack of storage space. The Zephyr had similar problems.
Also, Wright’s own customized Continental is just plain weird. The half-moon “opera windows” don’t look right on the Continental and don’t belong in Wright’s own stylistic vocabulary. I have to conclude that he simply didn’t understand cars.
Oh, I agree! Wright should have stuck to houses as far as design is concerned. My opinion is that most “customs” detract from the original lines of the car, and his Continentals are no exception.
These were my first thoughts on the Wright quote, as well. He designed ‘houses’ that weren’t really ‘homes’. His most well-known creation, Falling Water, was rarely lived in, even when new. So, too, I can’t imagine trying to use the Continental as daily transportation. For starters, with the top up, that passenger side blind spot has got to be one of the biggest in automotive history, akin to driving around in a windowless van. Like Wright’s buildings, the Continental is a beautiful car, but it’s much more an objet d’art than an actual usable automobile.
As I understand it, Falling Water was supposed to be a vacation house for the owner. Wright sort of took over and went way over the budget. As a one of a kind house, it is a cool place, but I think keeping it up is very expensive. With modern building materials, a replica could probably be made that is far better in terms of cost and upkeep.
I am a docent at a Frank Lloyd Wright house museum. The canard that his buildings and houses serve only as works of art is unfair. As just one example, Wright’s Samara House in West Lafayette, Indiana, designed for and owned by John E. Christian since 1954, continues to be Dr. Christian’s private home today. It is both beautiful and functional. This situation is true of many of Wright’s Usonian (ranch-style) homes. Also, many of the Prairie-style homes in Oak Park and elsewhere function well for families who live in them. And properties like the Guggenheim Museum continue to delight those who visit and exhibit and work in them. One can point out flaws in Wright properties (and in those of other experimental architects) but the fact that a high percentage of them still stand and in a number of instances function as designed is an endorsement of his outstanding talent.
Finally, as Paul points out below Mr. Wright owned and admired many beautiful cars – besides this striking Continental – during his lifetime. Some of his automobile drawings, that include features such as the cantilevered roof, can be seen as prescient. Mr. Wright also designed automobile showrooms (for Max Hoffman) and gas stations. And his cross-country automobile caravans, taking students and instructors back and forth between Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, are legendary and indicative of his preference for the automobile as method of travel. Mr. Wright, who was born in 1867 and died in 1959, had a keen appreciation for the automobile as a major development in 20th century life.
As to “daily driver” status, I carpooled in a 48 Continental convertible for a couple of years when I was 5 or 6. Even then I knew it was specail and it worked just fine as a “dd”
The half-moon “opera windows” don’t look right on the Continental and don’t belong in Wright’s own stylistic vocabulary.
Oh really? I used to drive by this all the time and admire all those half-moon openings. The Marin County Administration Bldg; A fab building, inside and out.
In my teens I looked in awe at the Marin County Civic Center, as we called it, every school day. I went to high school across US101 from it. When I first started, only the central rotunda and one wing was finished. The second wing was finished a few years later.
But, referencing a comment earlier about Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the roof leaks. Always has!
Raymond Loewy had his take on a 41 Continental too. It looks better than the Wright version to me, but is still not as clean and right as the original.
From the front. The Studebaker influence is not hard to see here.
Reminds me of a Dick Tracy car, with everything leaning forward…
Do you say “Wow, a car by a Big Name Designer!”, or do you say “Ugly period custom – needs restoring!”
Awe inspiring does not even do it justice when you see one in person! I have only seen a couple of these in my lifetime but they are truly beautiful, at least in my mind.
Thanks for a great write-up.
Interesting enough, there were a few in Brooklyn, NY in the early 70s. One was a 41 Coupe, all black with just a little rust. It was a daily driver owned by an elderly gentleman that worked at Washington Jewish Cemetary on Bay Parkway and Mc Donald Av.There was also a later model, possibly a `47 or `48 convertible in white with a maroon interior. It looked like a new car. I only saw it twice. It was on Coney Island Av near Dorchester Road. At one time this neighborhood in Brooklyn was noted for its many antique shops ,and I`m sure the owner had one of those stores..Beautiful cars, wonder if they are still around.
Stunners now as when new ~ truly timeless Automobiles .
Interestingly , there were THREE of these just sitting in an abandoned Gas Station on 9Th.s Street in Down Town Los Angles in the mid to late 1970’s ~ just West of the Harbor Freeway , I couldn’t believe it as even then they were sought after cars .
I lived for a time , two blocks away on Columbia Street , a very rough neighborhood at the time .
Sounds like a scene from “The Long Goodbye,” with Elliot Gould as a bemused Marlowe in ’70s LA.
This is one of those designs that has been so classic for so long that it’s easy to walk past them. But to stop and look for a bit is to be rewarded. Few cars have such perfection in their shape, proportion and detail. This one just nails those criteria.
I once passed one of these on the Pensy Turnpike. It was humming along at about 50-55 mph with an older couple inside. I wish I would have taken a picture, but this was before the cell phone cam.
I look forward to this series.
It’s probably lucky for all involved that I’ve already covered several of the cars on my “list.” For example, ’49-’54 Buick hardtops and convertibles are on my list, but I’ve already covered my ’53 in some detail, so I’ll probably just link up to that article. Otherwise, I’ll be spewing for a half a year! 🙂
When I first watched The Godfather movie I was horrified by the scene where Sonny is gunned down in his Continental. All I could think was “I can’t believe they are destroying that Lincoln”.
All it was were Hollywood style special effects. No actual Continental was hurt or injured in the making of that film.
Uhhh – I actually saw that car at Auburn one year. It was a fairly rough car that had explosives planted in a bunch of holes drilled in the body, then covered with Bondo and a cheap repaint. They set off the charges and made it look like machine gun fire.
It was not the same car used elsewhere in the movie, and the car was probably salvageable. As I said, it was fairly rough in condition.
When you stop and think that roughly 1250 Continentals were built in ’41, it’s amazing that so many of them are still around. They must have a fairly high survival rate.
That high survival rate seems to have started early – people seemed to recognize these were special, dubious drive trains and all.
A Dec. ’53 Motor Trend was a Christmas gift from my daughter. They used to run classified ads from a national base. The total number of ads is probably around 100. The page I’ve attached is typical, 14% of the classified ads are for 1940’s Lincolns. Simply amazing considering all of the other and makes and models that had equal or much better market share.
The issue also contains many ads for Continental Kits and fender skirts and cruiser style fender skirts. I’ve gained a new respect for these as period add on accessories. I’m not sure I like them, but it sure seems that a lot of sellers wanted the public to buy them.
There was already a club for Lincoln Continental owners in 1954, as people began preserving these cars almost as soon as Ford ended production.
Ford invited owners of the original Lincoln Continental back to Dearborn for a car show as part of the ceremonies surrounding the release of the Continental Mark II.
Yes, Bill, my thoughts also.
I don’t know much but I know what I like and I like the 40 Ford Coupe better than this. Forty fords followed by the tudor sedan and several thirty models of most makes are ahead of this in my world. I am fully aware that YMMV and that this will probably fetch more at auction.
No doubt, the 40 Ford was a beautiful car. It may be a more impressive feat than this Lincoln. It is not that hard to make a beautiful large, expensive car. It is really hard to make a beautiful small, inexpensive car.
It is beyond debate that Ford Motor was on a styling roll in 1939-40.
I’ve always liked the 40 Ford Standard better than the Deluxe. $0 Standards and 39 Deluxes are the best looking imo, followed closely by the 37.
I suspect I’m really going to enjoy this series.
In an essay I published in 2005 on art and culture I wrote the following regarding the differences between the 1940/41 Continentals and the 1942/48 models: “This is not only a great example of things to come in automotive design. It also serves as a microcosmic metaphor for the transition from the tasteful austerity and graceful Art Deco influenced style of pre-war America to the beginnings of post-war stylistic excess taken to gargantuan proportions. (Somewhat mirrored in comparing the Chrysler Building to the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami.)”
Very beautiful. I have a memory of reading in one of Lee Iacocca’s books that this car made a very strong impression on him when he first saw one on the streets during his youth. I can see why.
He said in his autobiography (I believe…I read it when I was 10) that this car and the Mark II influenced his thoughts on the Mustang.
My father was about the same age. He grew up in a wealthy circumstance on Mainline Philly. He undoubtedly saw these out and around as a kid. He never forgot them, and he became a diehard Lincoln guy when he was able to.
I’d say it influenced a lot of folks in the industry. One could say it was the prototypical post-war car.
A superbly designed car, and a good choice, although it probably wouldn’t be mine.
Just to put Wright’s comment about the Continental being “the world’s most beautiful car” into context, he was speaking at the time, in terms of current new cars. I suspect he may have felt the same about his Cord L-29 in 1929 or his Mercedes Gullwing in 1955.
I’m also looking forward to this series; thanks for taking on this ambitious task, I’m not sure I could ever decide where to start. Well, maybe…. If it doesn’t show up on your list, I’l do a post on it.
Incredibly beautiful cars that increase your visual reward with each moment longer spent gazing at them. I’d love to see one in person someday!
The ’42 is a big step downward; still a beautiful car in its own right but next to a ’41 it simply appears ruined. My least favorite part is the odd headlight surrounds; what were they thinking there? The grille, while fussy, still does retain some art deco style.
Also, I know the owners of these cars probably don’t want to risk bird or sun damage to the interior, but it really does the most justice to display the car top down! Those huge blank sail panels on the top are at odds with the elegance of the rest of the car–but then again most convertible roofs don’t look very attractive while up.
As to the headlight surrounds, in 1941, Cadillac and Buick pushed their headlights out to the very edges of the cars, giving them a very nice wide eyed look. Overnight a lot of cars suddenly looked like their eyes were too close together. With the 42 Lincoln already having been tooled up for in 1941, I would guess that the headlight trims were damage control to mimic the wide look of GM’S top models. I don’t think it really worked either.
Very pretty colors on those cars. It’s interesting to watch Ford’s palette open up from it’s monochromatic beginnings into the beautiful muted tones of the thirties and forties and then explode into vivid color in the fifties and sixties. Now, of course, we’re back to the conservative, muted tones. The more things change…
My ’68 Ford is a two-tone in Wimbledon White and Pebble Beige. Off white and a little bit more off white, for pities sake! As an artist, I can’t abide it. So, in looking for a suitable color for the thing, I’ve become obsessed with Ford’s palette.
I had a ’68 Galaxie 4 door hardtop may moons ago, it was a bright fire engine red with a black interior and no vinyl top. Very striking car IMHO.
Sounds like Rangoon Red, a classic Ford red and a very pretty color. Not too deep and not too orange. Definitely under consideration.
Like this? Swiped from CC:
I think Rangoon Red only went through 1965. Ford’s red in 1966 (and for several years after) was a fair bit deeper and darker. Of course, it is a popular shade and undoubtedly has been chosen by a lot of Ford fans for repaint jobs.
Martin Senour lists Rangoon Red on their 59-68 Ford truck color chart, but that may have been limited to trucks. The V.I.N. code for R.R. was “J” for ’67 and ’68.
Candy Apple is a deeper red on offer. Pretty colors all.
Yep, like that 🙂 . I was young and stupid and sold it to a junkyard for $30.00 way back in 1980 when its 302 lost compression. Rock solid Arizona car too.
I’ve let a few good ones slip through my fingers. If I knew back then….
Happily, Ford punched out thousands of these, so, now that you’re older and wiser… 🙂
This is truly a majestic looking automobile. Aaron, you have sure prompted some curiosity on what you have coming next!
One has to wonder if the Continental might be that rare exception where the fragility of the drive train actually helped create a higher rate of survival.
Re the fragility of the drive train, I remember seeing quite a few of these cars that had been repowered with Cadillac or Oldsmobile V8’s, and more than one with later Ford OHV V8’s.
I remember being told by my car-mentor Howard that Mercury flatheads were popular swaps in these. He owned quite a few 40s V-12 Lincolns in the early 50s when they were cheaper than dirt. No Continentals, though.
As you say, once the OHV V8s started to become more widely available, they would have made a lot of sense.
You won’t get an argument from me! The circumstances that brought this design to reality (as with many beautiful, elegant and somewhat impractical things) was the result of timing and talent, created in a fleeting moment for us to enjoy forever. Great article, thanks.
Am I the only dissenting voice here? Majestic, Imposing, Impressive– yes. But beautiful? Maybe from the front, but from that back? That little trunk looks so strange. I’ve never been a fan of the long hood/short deck look.
I am not sure that I would consider it my first choice from that time period, but I am not sure about what else there was. There were custom bodies but in the depression not many people spent large sums of money on cars.
I am curious as to what #2 will be.
Methinks this is going to be an interesting series. Can’t wait!
Most beautiful car in the world title gets around some doesnt it, The Hillman Minx convertable series 3 also garnered that title admittedly 20 years after the Lincoln but thats how much tastes change, The Lincoln looks great from the front even the front 3/4 view is nice but from the back ew. dat growth on the trunk.
Can`t help but quote John Candy from “Uncle Buck”-“here`s a quarter. Go downtown and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face”…..eeer, in this case, your trunk.
“Bob Gregorie was a connoisseur of yachts, and the front of the Continental (and Zephyr) was intended to recreate a boat cutting through the water–yar indeed, said Ms Hepburn.”
And this is why today’s fascia of the Lincoln MKX does not work: the hood does not resemble the bow of a yacht. It is more reminiscent of a river barge.
That is totally true! Not to mention, borrowing themes from a car that hasn’t been produced in over 70 years, and is only recognizable by car people (for the most part), is not exactly the recipe for styling success.
The best description I’ve heard for the Lincoln MKX with that grille is that it resembles a baleen whale filtering krill from the ocean.
When I look at these I can’t help wondering what Ford’s post war years would have been like if Edsel had not died so young. I think Henry II did a fine job, especially considering his age when that weight was put on him, but if Edsel had a full life to exert his influence goodness only knows what he could have done.
One of the great ‘what ifs’ of automotive history.
I am apparently the only one in the world who doesn’t think the Continental was an improvement on the standard 1939–41 Lincoln Zephyr, which is a very handsome car. I think the hardtop is preferable to the cabriolet, but the only part of the customization that I appreciate aesthetically is the sectioning. I really like the Zephyr, but the Continental cabriolet is less attractive than, say, some latter-30s Cadillacs.
When I wrote about the Zephyr and Continental, I found a very interesting article by Griff Borgeson in the December 1955 issue of Motor Life in which argued persuasively that the Continental theme predated the Gregorie Continental by at least 14 years and was a fairly well-known body style for coachbuilt cars. (This article is reprinted in the Brooklands Lincoln Gold Portfolio 1949–1960, if anyone is interested in looking it up.) Edsel and Gregorie would certainly have been familiar with the earlier examples — Edsel paid close attention to coachbuilding trends and would arrange to license certain designs for small production runs. So, it’s likely that Edsel’s personal car began with the idea to make not so much something Continental, but a Continental, q.v.
Aren’t humans interesting? I’m less of a fan of the Continental Coupe because it seems boxier than the cabrio, and aside from the 60 Special, I’m not a huge fan of late-30s Cadillacs. I agree, however, that the Zephyr was a beautiful car on its own, especially the three-window coupes (not customized). In fact, three-windows are also on my list. 🙂
As far as the “Continental” theme, Gregorie and Edsel Ford had been designing specials for years (as you know). According to interviews with Gregorie I’ve read, it seems that Edsel wanted a car that was “strictly continental,” whatever he meant by that, and Gregorie worked several ideas over several years before sketching the eventual prototype, the one that Edsel was satisfied with. Therefore, I’d say that it was less a bodystyle than maybe an aesthetic motif.
No Aaron(non65), you’re not the only one. The Zephyr starts with that yar prow and takes that curvature through to the rear, as per the grey example above. The Continental may have grander proportions but the Zephyr is a purer iteration.
btw, I love the word ‘yar’. I love how it sounds when Katherine Hepburn is reminiscing with Cary Grant. I love how it sounds in my own mind. That the only other time I have encountered the word ‘yar’ is on CC is testament to the utter greatness of this site and the cultural depth and breadth of Aaron65.
Thanks for the compliment!
As fine a car as the Conti is, the problem with it is that it is a “custom”, a chopped and channeled production car. It wasn’t designed from scratch, which inevitably creates certain compromises.
One of the biggest for me is the hood, because in the lowering process, the top of the hood now looks squashed and flattened, and is now too close to the fenders. There are some other related issues.
It’s not a “pure” design for that reason; it didn’t start out as an original vision. But for what it is, it works quite well.
Perhaps oddly, I think that for precisely those reasons is largely why it was so hugely popular with Americans, as perhaps it reflected Americans’ love of customizing cars, something that had become popular with Fords ever since the Model T.
Americans have a long tradition of modifying their cars’ bodies to suit their own taste, being a rather individualistic folk. Europeans never properly cultivated such a tradition. Those rich enough bought coach-built cars, but that’s something a bit different than chopping and channeling and smoothing an existing production car.
The Continental is the ultimate “custom”, and as such was a huge inspiration to all the customs that followed. The whole 50s “lead sled” scene, with lowering and channeling ’49-50 Mercuries and such were inspired by the Conti, in my opinion. Never mind all the chopped and channeled Fords and other makes.
The Conti is the ultimate “American” car, despite the name. And it inspired so many cars to come: Mustang, Marks, ’69 Grand Prix, and all the long-nose, short deck coupes to come. It’s influence was huge. It’s beautiful But it lacks a certain purity or wholeness of design due to its origins.
In the early 1970’s Barlow’s Hudson was one of my Customers and there was a 1939 Zephyr Convertible sitting all dusty in a corner of the work shop , light gray IIRC .
Guy (Mr. Barlow) once told me it belonged to a movie actor , I’ve forgotten his name .
Beautiful car indeed ~ they said there was some small part they needed to put it back on the road .
Presumably most here know that ‘ Zephyr ‘ means : Hot Wind .
I thought that a zephyr was a light wind / gentle breeze, not that it is hot specifically.
I’m sure you’re right ~
I was prolly thinking of Sirocco .
Zephyr was the Greek mythological name for the west wind, which was considered gentle and mild.
Doesn’t do much for me over the Zephyr either to be honest, and yes I’ve stared at a few genuine Continentals in person. I agree too the sectioning is probably the best part UP FRONT, the rest of the body just looks kind of mutilated to me, I’ve seen sectioned custom Zephyrs I like better than the Continentals
In order to understand and appreciate the Continental design and proportions, having a familiarity with pre-war European coachbuilt sporting cars such as Bentley, Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye et al. This was where the conceptual inspiration came from.
In terms of the very long hood and very short deck, the influence of European coachbuilt classics (like this Delage) is obvious.
One can take the long-hood, short deck look right back to the earliest racing cars, including Ford’s own 999 from 1901. That’s what the look was all about: emulating racing cars.
And until the 1920s, most racing cars were also street-able, driven to their races, and cars like the 1920s Mercedes SSK became icons in terms of the long-hood, short-deck look.
The Mercedes SSK was probably the most influential car in terms of bringing this look into the mainstream. And of course it was not only widely imitated, but eventually also replicated, as the first modern neo-classic, the Excalibur.
…and to a much larger extent, the Bugatti Royale…
Keep these great photos coming ! .
One of my favorites also. There is a 42 cabriolet (certainly not going to call it a ragtop!) that is owned by a gent near me who drives like it was a new Mark V. I have seen it, top down, flying down the hilly expressways in my neighborhood. The owner obviously enjoying the opportunity to command such a magnificant machine. Light yellow with a black canvas top. I caught it parked, top down, in front of the local Orchard Supply Hardware store a couple of years ago where I could get a close look. It appeared completely stock, with plain flat leather seats. The paint was not perfect but the overall appearance was of ageless class. Any classic that gets regular use ranks above any concours winner in my book. When you look at these cars it is easy to see how designers in the sixties had their impressions instilled in them. Bill Mitchell loved these cars and kept the dream alive with his fabulous 1967 Eldorado and 1965 Riviera. Lee Iaccoca had his fantastic Mark III and big Thunderbirds. The dream of these cars was kept alive by those who bought Cordobas, Cougars,and even Monte Carlos.
?? Why not call it a ‘ Rag Top ‘ ?? .
That’s what it is : a Convertible/Roadster/Cabriolet , all are Rag Tops…
Technically even Lois Lane’s 1949 Rambler ” Custom Convertible ” is/was a Rag Top although I consider it the best Sun Roof I’ve ever seen .
One of the biggest influences of the Continental was that it became Lincolns new flagship just as their old flagship, the Model K, died, giving the brand a much needed shining star and a marketing strategy that would carry them, off and on, for another 40 years. If only history could repeat itself.
I prefer the prototype without the vertical chrome stripe up the middle.
Lincoln ruined the Navigator front end in a similar manner to the post-war Continental.
I’ve been noticing lately that Ford’s styling leadership often extended to trucks. The ’40-41 trucks were direct and graceful copies of the Zephyr, while the Ford car in those years looked less like the Zephyr. GM and Dodge trucks were far behind, stuck in the mid-30s until ’48.
As a kid, this was one of our model cars. Same colors – black with a tan removable top. We’re a bunch of pre-teens and we fall for this car. Right alongside our long row of muscle cars, is sitting that Continental. It had that perfect look that was even admired by kids.
I never thought of the front end mimicking the prow of a boat plowing through water, until now. Yes. That is what it looks like, and that is definitely one of the points of perfection in the design.
I really enjoyed this series. And this is still a uniquely beautiful car.
I’m going to be be the contrarian here.
1)The lack of running boards- or fade away fenders- anything to tie the front and rear halves together.
2)The thick, clumsy C pillar.
3) The only aspect I like, the frontal view is massacred by the later, heavy handed facelift.
4) And while it’s not a styling issue, the fact it’s on transverse leaves without IFS leaves me cold.
The coupe was almost as beautiful, at least before Sonny Corleone took the wheel.
Great article and comments. The 1940 and 1941 are the beauties. The Mark II is another all time favorite of mine.
Composed, elegant, but for me, unexciting.