The Lincoln Continental from the years 1961 through 1963 were some of the most handsome large American cars ever produced. The Continental first appeared during the 1939 model year and was meant to be a one-off car for Edesl Ford’s personal use.
The Kennedy Presidential Limousine
As a side note, the Kennedy presidential limousine was built by the Ford Motor Company at its Lincoln plant in Wixom, Michigan in January 1961. Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio was responsible for customizing the car to function as a presidential parade limousine. The car had some alterations between it’s completion in 1961 and 1963. The limousine of course was reinforced and was lengthened three and a half feet in length among many other modifications. This Lincoln Continental was given the name X-100 and also referred to as the SS 100-X.
The 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible featured in this article had a reputation of being superbly engineered with a unit body/chassis and very close machining tolerances. This was also the case with both the 1961 and 1963 Continentals.The 1958 through 1960 Continentals had some quality control issues and fortunately this next generation of cars (61-63) did a lot to alleviate that perception problem.
In 1961 the Lincoln Continental got an all new design. The new model had a fine reception among luxury car buyers. Compared to the 1960 model the body was smaller and more modern and sleek. This design largely penned by Elwood Engel set a new styling tone for American luxury sedans and convertibles.
A Great Design
The 1961 Lincoln Continental design which carried over to the 1962 and 1963 models was originally intended to be the new 1961 Ford Thunderbird. The design concept was eventually enlarged and altered a bit before being switched to the Lincoln line by Robert McNamara.
The 1961 Lincoln Continental design was conceived beautifully and became one of the division’s most successful and enduring designs. As an example of it’s design acceptance, The Industrial Design Institute awarded it a coveted Bronze Medal which is quite rare for an automobile to receive. Motor Trend Magazine in it’s May 1962 issue had editors compare the Lincoln Continental with a Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special and an Imperial LeBaron. The Continental was the lower priced of the three and the editors felt it was also the sportiest of the three cars.
During his long career Engel worked for General Motors, the Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Corporation. With Chrysler Engel became Vice President and Director of Styling.
The new design used suicide doors, which even today are quickly noted by almost all auto enthusiasts. In general the 1962 Lincoln Continental was more compact than those from 1960. For the 1962 Continental a simpler front grille design with floating rectangles and a thin center bar was adopted.
The convertible was also the first four-door open car offered in the marketplace by a major U.S. automaker since the end of World War II. More than 25,000 new Lincolns were sold during the 1961 model year. This as a huge success for Ford’s Elwood Engel, who was solely responsible for the entire design.
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1962 Lincoln Continental Specifications
The Lincoln Continentals produced from 1961 through 1963 all came with a 430 cubic inch overhead valve -8 delivering 300 horsepower. This was the big Lincoln V-8 from previous years but was detuned to an extent.
The car’s transmission was a three-speed automatic.
Suspension was a coil spring independent front and a live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs in the back.
Brakes were four-wheel hydraulic drums.
The 62 Continental had a 123.0 inch wheelbase. Length was 213.0 inches, width 78.6 inches and height for the convertible at 53.7 inches. Weight was about 5,200 lbs.
Production numbers for the 1962 Lincoln Continental were 27,849 four door sedans and 3,212 four door convertible sedans. Total four door convertible sedans built during the three year 1961-63 run were 9,207 vehicles which help make the convertibles rare today.
New car price on the 1962 Continental Convertible was about $6.700.
The 1961 Lincoln Continental was the first car manufactured in America to be sold with a 24,000 miles or 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
For registration purposes you’ll find the serial number (VIN) die-stamped under the hood on the right front inner fender apron above the upper suspension arm opening.
The 1962 Lincoln Continental Collector Car
As mentioned above, the 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible is very rare with original production of 3,212 with some of these being shipped overseas.
Continentals of this generation are favored by collectors and have appeared in several movies.
Restoring a Lincoln Continental can be a costly endeavor. Sometimes you can find an old Continental of the early 1960′s era for under $10,000 but to restore the vehicle to collectible condition can cost $30,000 to $40,000 depending on the original condition.
As of this writing you’ll likely find restored 1962 Lincoln Continentals in the range of $30,000 to $45,000 and upward. As always, degree of restoration and originality will influence the price.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)