Each of us has a signature look. It doesn’t matter how much or how little one cares about one’s appearance. We all have a combined set of personal aesthetic choices based on styling, grooming, clothing, and other rituals we perform at home with elements common to our day-to-day presentation that others can identify with us. This can change more frequently as we grow from teenagers into full-fledged adults, and the frequency and/or severity of adjustments may level off at some point. Depending on how style-conscious we may be, a slow, steady evolution of one’s look may be something that continues throughout our lives. My own personal presentation has remained fairly constant over the past ten years or so, though my previously scruffy face remained clean-shaven for all of 2021 as a kind of symbolic break from the past in my first full calendar year of sobriety since the 1990s. I hope to celebrate two years in less than two weeks.
In another, earlier stab at reinvention, I had once shaved all of my hair off as a teenager upon my family’s relocation to Florida following my high school graduation. This wasn’t completely out-of-the-blue. Shortly after moving, I had stopped into a 7-Eleven convenience store near Ft. Myers Beach to buy a Slurpee along with some snacks and magazines. This store didn’t stock Billboard, which would have been my first choice as the eternal music lover I am, but they did have Spin, of which I was also a fan. I also bought a magazine like Us or People, though I can’t remember exactly which one. I was hungry to read about any current pop culture trends or celebrity news as an escape from my sense of isolation in this new environment, having been basically yanked away from my friends and support system back in Michigan before starting college that fall, for which I was still very excited.
In one of those magazines was an article featuring pictures of a fashion show in which celebrities walked a catwalk for charity. In the magazine were pictures of Daryl Hannah, RuPaul (my first time ever reading about them), and a tanned, bald-shaven, and suave-looking Billy Zane. About the latter, and though I had no idea who he was at the time, I said to myself: That is a handsome man, and that bald thing might be for me. Telly Savalas was another other example of a famous, brownish-skinned man who had rocked this look very well, and so I gave myself permission to shave off my then-signature curls and go for it.
This was at a time in the early ’90s when very few guys were doing this, versus now, where it’s the go-to for many of us losing our hair and uninterested in Rogaine, Bosley, or other such treatments. Fortunately, I’ve always liked the way I look sans hair, but at the time, I remember one salesperson at a clothing store at the Edison Mall referring to me audibly as “Sinead O’Connor-lookin’ m***** f*****”. I left without making a purchase. I wonder if that guy’s general rudeness ended up costing him that job at some point.
Before this incident, though, my first disastrous attempt at shaving my head against the grain was an unresearched decision from which I learned very quickly was a direct path to a rear scalp full of painful razor bumps. In 2022, however, I have two solid, unbroken decades’ worth of experience with shaving my head with such familiarity that I can practically do it with my eyes closed. (Again, not recommended.) All this is to say that a bald-shaven head has been very much part of my signature look for most of my adult life. Inspiration begets inspiration, and behind many trendsetters or fully-formed personas are usually at least a handful of individuals from whom ideas were derived or borrowed. Not everyone looks great with a shaved head. I can remember having various friends and acquaintances try it themselves with varying degrees of success, and so I remain thankful I can pull this off.
Second-generation Cadillac Seville. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Friday, April 22, 2016.
A rear bustle was already the signature look of the radically-styled 1980 Cadillac Seville by the time the ’82 Lincoln Continental had arrived. Brendan Saur had written an excellent Curbside Capsule on the ’82 Connie some years back, in which there were many opinions in the comments regarding “Who wore it best?”, also including the ’81 Chrysler Imperial in that comparison. For my own personal tastes, none of these three cars is breathtakingly gorgeous, nor are any of them the ugliest thing on wheels that I’ve ever seen. This tacked-on-trunk look was short-lived for a reason. I think that once that c. 1980 fascination with with the ’40s was celebrated and over, the remaining vestiges of those ideas of old glamour, including the sloped-butt styling of these three cars, were seen as passé as my brother’s hand-me-down bell-bottoms I was forced to wear in the ’80s.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Thursday, May 30, 2013.
The ’82 Continental was based on a stretched version of the Fox platform, with a 108.5″ wheelbase. This was in comparison to the 105.5″ wheelbase of the Ford Fairmont and Granada to which it was related. This model year marked a bunch of major changes for the Continental, and not only in looks. It was newly classified as mid-sized car, and it was also the first Lincoln offered with a six-cylinder engine, the optional 121-horsepower 3.8L V6. Standard power came from 5.0L V8 with 130 horses, which drove the rear wheels through Ford’s four-speed overdrive automatic transmission.
The model year of this example can be narrowed down to the first year of this design, as the telltale “Signature Series” badge on the C-pillar (it’s tiny in these pictures, but it’s there) gives it away. The Signature trim level was discontinued for the Continental after ’82, essentially replaced by the Valentino edition the next year. The Signature model cost $3,154 (~$9,100 / adjusted for 2022) over the $21,302 (~$61,500) starting price of the base model, and it quite literally allowed the first owner to put their signature on the car. For this extra premium, it included plaques on the front doors customized with the owner’s initials, the aforementioned C-pillar emblems, center pillar coach lamps, and a choice of three, exclusive two-tone paint combinations. Only the Givenchy designer model cost slightly more – about $350 (~$1,000) over the price of the Signature.
Sales were decent throughout this generation’s run, averaging over 22,600 annual sales over its six model year run, with a grand total of just over 136,000. This was much improved over the average annual sales figure of the Lincoln’s previous smaller sedan, the Versailles, which managed about 12,500 annual sales over its four model years between 1977 and ’80, with a grand total of just over 50,000 units. One clear advantage the ’82 Continental had over the old Versailles was that the newer car definitely had a signature look – whether you loved it or hated it.
The Versailles, while not a bad looking car at all, looked just like a U.S.-market Ford Granada in a tux and tails. There was no confusion while looking around the room in determining who the Versailles’ parents were. The ’82 Continental, by contrast, looked nothing like a Fairmont, or any of the other members of the FoMoCo Fox family. Our featured car almost looks like it’s wearing a tuxedo, with its factory Black over Medium Dark Pewter Metallic paint. I’d wear different “shoes” with this tux, but I don’t find these custom wheels offensive.
So what of it, if the Continental didn’t pioneer this rear trunk treatment? I’ll circle back to my earlier question of “who wore it best”. Strictly from the perspective of looks and nothing else, I’ll say that between the Imperial, Seville, and Continental, the Lincoln looks the most attractive. It’s also the most derivative and least distinctive. I’d grab the Imperial first. I’m a coupe man, and the financially distressed Chrysler Corporation from the late-1970s through the early-’80s just tugs on my heartstrings.
The Seville’s appeal was in its daring approach to breaking from traditional Cadillac styling cues, looking like absolutely nothing else on the road at its introduction. As for the Continental, it was a little late to this bustleback party, which was starting to break up right when it arrived. I remember hearing it said that if one is going to borrow someone else’s idea, that one should aim to improve upon it in some way. I’m not sure Lincoln did that here, but its new look for ’82 was definitely memorable, and so I’ll say that it stylists succeeded.
Uptown, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, August 2, 2013 (unless otherwise noted).
Brochure pages were sourced from www.oldcarbrochures.org.