1961 Lincoln Continental

Sold For $34,650

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Auctions - HILTON HEAD 31 OCTOBER 2015

  • 430-cid V-8 engine
  • Automatic transmission
  • Highly acclaimed & beautiful styling
  • Well appointed
  • All power accessories work well
  • Soft-top retracts below flush body deck
  • Icon of 1960s style
  • Restored
  • Only 2,857 Continental convertibles built in 1961

Lincoln’s Continental lineage stretches back to 1939 and has become synonymous with the brand through its multitude of generations. The Continental actually owes its existence to a Florida vacation taken by Edsel Ford in 1939. Prior to his vacation, he commissioned Eugene Gregorie to style a one-off custom as his “company car”, a fine way to arrive in style. Using the Lincoln-Zephyr as a base, Gregorie designed a magnificent machine with swept back grilles, a long hood to accommodate the V-12 engine and a short trunk with a covered, rear-mounted spare tire – a feature that became the trademark of many subsequent Continentals. It had a folding full cabriolet top and was quite simply a magnificent machine. The workers at Ford dutifully hand-built the first prototype and delivered it to Edsel in time for his vacation. Of course, the car was shown off to his affluent friends and soon thereafter a telegram was dispatched to Ford H.Q. ordering 1,000 examples to be built. The Lincoln Continental was born. The model became a mainstay at Lincoln, the original run lasting from 1939 to 1948. It disappeared from the lineup, only to make a grand return in 1956 as a standalone brand – placed at the pinnacle of the American market. The Continental Mark II was hand-built, featured revolutionary styling and was priced at approximately $10,000, about the same as a comparable Rolls-Royce. Sales were slow and after only two model years, the plug was pulled on the Continental brand.

In 1958, Continental returned to the Lincoln umbrella and became known as the Mark III. The Mark III was a large, four-door luxury sedan or two-door convertible, built on the regular Lincoln line to keep costs in check. Styling was ornate, some might say heavy-handed, and a far cry from the elegant minimalist lines of past designs.

For 1961, the Continental was redesigned again and the “Mark” series moniker was dropped – it was now simply known as the Lincoln Continental. Styled by Elwood Engel, the new car was a drastic departure from the Mark III. It was originally intended as a design proposal for the new Thunderbird, but was wisely chosen by Bob McNamara to go to Lincoln and was tweaked to suit the brand’s image. Gone was the frenetic style and excessive detail, and in its place was an elegant, low, slab-sided sedan or four-door convertible complete with rear “suicide” hinged doors. Though still a fairly big car, the new Continental was a full 14-inches shorter than the outgoing car, and it carried its bulk much better than before. Crisp and elegant, the Continental became an icon of 1960s style and enjoyed a successful run from 1961 through 1969, with over 360,000 units sold in total. In 1961, only 2,857 Continental convertibles were produced.

This 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible is an early example from the first year for the iconic slab-sided design. This is a good looking and drivable car that wears an older restoration well, and has clearly been very well maintained and enjoyed since then. The silver paint is very good and is nicely accented by very good restored chrome trim. Fit and finish is tidy all around and the doors shut in a satisfying solid manner associated with fine quality.

Body lines are very straight and the structure is totally solid; critical factors when considering a Continental of this era, particularly a convertible. The vast expanse of black upholstery is in excellent condition and of the extensive interior brightwork has held up beautifully. The 430 cubic inch (7-liter) Mercury/Edsel/Lincoln V-8 runs strong and rests in a tidy engine bay. Of course, power steering and power brakes are fitted, allowing for effortless cruising all day – or at least as long as a tank of fuel lasts. All power accessories work well including the all-important top mechanism and side windows.

There are few cars of this era that can match a Continental convertible for sheer style and presence. Early examples are becoming more and more collectible and this particular car is ready to be enjoyed out on the road. Grab five or six of your closest friends, pile everyone in with the top down, and celebrate one of the most stylish and elegant American cars of the period.

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