Curbside Classic: 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car – USS Lincoln Docks In Central Tokyo

All aboooooard! The final port of call for this ‘70s Detroit Barge Week will take place on the vast deck of the good ship Continental. Look, it even has a porthole on the side! Hope you don’t get seasick too easily, as this vessel is known to be a bit on the wallowy side. Anyway, sound the foghorn, anchors away and let’s see if this Lincoln floats your boat.

A late ‘70s Lincoln really sticks out like a sore thumb in present-day Tokyo traffic. Actually, it sticks out mostly on the sides. I had just enough time to grab my phone a snap a couple of pics as this two-ton slab of butter rolled by.

This is Ginza, Tokyo’s most exclusive shopping district. The main street is uncommonly broad because, up to the early ‘70s, there used to be a tram line in the middle. Now, it’s just wide enough to accommodate what became the last American land yacht. Is that an amber turn signal on the bumper? Hmm…

Stroke of luck: after going full left rudder and over the horizon, the majestic cruiser disappeared from view, but I found it again a few minutes later, docked in a side street.

Lincoln stylists really stuck to their guns with the linear look pioneered by Engel’s revolutionary 1961 Continental. Those were already pretty massive (though they were a bit smaller than the 1958-60 cars), and only seemed to grow as the ‘60s wore on. When the Lincoln got a completely new Mercury-based body-on-frame architecture for 1970, the extra inches (and pounds) kept piling on.

Actually, the 1970-74 Lincolns were not as blocky and linear as all that – the 1975 redesign eliminated any hint of curves. By the time the 1977 facelift came around, the Continental was the biggest production car in Detroit – and the largest Ford product ever made. Perfect car to own in notoriously narrow Tokyo, right?

Apparently so. These tacked-on turn signals are a dead give-away: this car was sold new here, just like the equally outsized 1973 Eldorado we looked at yesterday, when all my troubles in the mirror were closer than they appear.

Speaking of which, those mirrors look wrong. I’ve trawled Google Images for ’77 Lincolns, and not a single one had those. Another one of those Japanese market oddities, perhaps? Also while we’re here, what is the deal with that weird little side vent? Or is that just a piece of chrome on added to the window? I’d never noticed it before, but it seems to have appeared on the 1974 Continentals.

The interior didn’t really come out right, sorry. Looks nice and comfy, of course. And blurry. But also original. All in all, a great place to sit in and enjoy the cruise. Or get sea-sick in.

Behind this mock Rolls grille is either a massive 402.2ci (6670cc) V8 providing a measly 179hp – which, for a 2.3-ton car, is not exactly a generous, or an even more massive 460ci (7538cc) mill, good for a (slightly better) 208hp. The 400 was apparently destined mainly for California, but perhaps the famously frugal Japanese buyer could specify one of those as well.

Nineteen seventy-seven was the big Conti’s best vintage, sales-wise. Over 95k were made that year, of which 68k were sedans. The coupes were always sort of second-fiddle to the four-doors, given that most folks who wanted a two-door Lincoln usually went for the more exclusive Marks (and Lincoln did sell 80k Mark Vs in 1977).

Add a pinch of Versailles (if you must), and the Lincoln division tallied up just over 191,000 cars for ’77 – the marque’s best-ever result to that point. That record lasted until 1988, but by that time, true XXL-size Lincolns like this Town Car were long gone, having been substantially downsized for MY 1980.

As much as the Eldorado we saw yesterday is not really my cup of tea, it’s impossible to hate the equally barge-like and underpowered Continental. I can’t quite put my finger on why – maybe it’s that they’re so brazenly in-your-face, with the kooky grille, the caricatural squarish shape and the pillowy leather bench seats.

Heck, even the 5mph bumpers fail to ruin the design, chiefly due to the car’s massive size. Whoever said that didn’t matter was dead wrong. I’m sure we all knew that, deep down.

Sail on, USS Lincoln. May you continue navigating the asphalt rivers of Japan while taking the space of two kei cars for many more decades. And of course, this post is dedicated to Jim Brophy, CC’s original Man in Japan and Lincoln aficionado. Wish you could have been with me the day I found this one. Let’s meet up at Jingu Gaien one of these Sundays. You never know what the tide might bring in.


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Car – Best Prom Car Ever, by JPC

Curbside Classic: 1978-’79 Lincoln Town Car – The Lincoln Sleeps Tonight, by Daniel Stern

CC Outtake: 1977 or 1978 Lincoln Continental – Driving to the Hockey Game in Style, by GarryM

CC Capsule: 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Car – Vast, by Joseph Dennis

CC Capsule: 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car – Built To Last, by Joseph Dennis