As the Lincoln Continental returns; a look back

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As the Lincoln Continental returns; a look back

The production car goes on sale next year.

By (AP)

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Published: Mon 30 Mar 2015, 11:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:21 PM

This June 1961 photo provided by the Ford Motor Co. shows President. John F. Kennedy's Lincoln Continental limousine. The limo was the first presidential car equipped with a transparent roof for all compartments and has other options including fabric roof covering, or use as a convertible, as well as combinations for the rear, middle and front compartments. Thirteen years after the last Continental rolled off a Michigan assembly line, Ford Motor Co. is debuting the new Continental in concept form at the New York Auto Show on Monday, March 30, 2015. AP/ File

Ford Motor Co. said Monday that the Lincoln Continental is coming back after a 13-year hiatus. A concept version of the full-size Continental will be shown at the New York auto show this week. The production car goes on sale next year.

Lincoln, Ford’s luxury division, was founded in 1917 by Henry Leland, the former manager of General Motors Co.’s Cadillac division. Leland named the company after his hero, Abraham Lincoln. Initially, the company made motors for World War I airplanes, but by 1920 it was making luxury cars. In 1922, Lincoln declared bankruptcy and was sold to Ford, which wanted to acquire a luxury nameplate. Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, became Lincoln’s president.

US Secret Service agents stand on retractable stands on President John F. Kennedy's new plastic-topped Lincoln Continental limousine outside the White House, after its delivery in Washington.  The car has three roof combinations, a rear seat that can be raised and lowered, retractable foot stands for Secret Service men, two two-way radio telephones, and a master control panel for power accessories. AP/ File

Edsel Ford was more interested in style and design than his father. “Father makes the most popular cars in the world. I want to make the best cars in the world,” he once said. In 1938, he asked the design team to make him a European-style convertible for his upcoming vacation in Palm Beach. His friends were impressed, and he soon put the Continental into production.

Visitors to the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif get a look at the limousine that was built in 1967 for President Lyndon B. Johnson. The modified Lincoln Continental was used by US Presidents, including Nixon, until it was retired in 1978. AP/ File

The Continental was the pinnacle of luxury in the 1950s and 1960s. Babe Ruth had one; so did Elvis. It drove presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan. Continental sales peaked in 1990, but the car — and the Lincoln brand — were soon overtaken by Japanese and German rivals, who were making better cars. Lincoln’s last Continental rolled off a Michigan assembly line in 2002.


Henry Ford II, grandson of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford, is seated in a Ford Lincoln Continental. Thirteen years after the last Continental rolled off a Michigan assembly line, Ford Motor Co. is debuting the new Continental in concept form at the New York Auto Show on Monday, March 30, 2015.AP/ File

The Continental’s return is part of a multi-year overhaul of the Lincoln brand, which includes several new models and a big push into the Chinese market.

 



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