During the Sixties, Lincoln retained the clean, classic look introduced in 1961. But the times demanded change, so the 1966-1969 Lincoln Continentals wore new -- if familiar -- styling.
By the mid-Sixties, the annual variations on the elegant 1961 Lincoln Continental design had produced a loyal clientele for the Lincoln Division. But there was a problem -- owners were so pleased with their prized vehicles that they were hanging on to them for a longer time. This phenomenon was a two-edged sword: It demonstrated the success of the design and impeccable quality control of these cars, but it also meant that the actual numbers of repeat customers were declining!
Lincoln overhauled the Continental's design
in the early 1960s. The 1968 Lincoln Continental
is shown here. See more pictures of classic cars.
Lincoln's major competition was, of course, Cadillac. General Motors had pushed its luxury marque through several major design changes between 1961 and 1965, while Lincoln did only mild annual variations on its one basic design. Some people applauded this restraint, accepting Ford's loud hints that the money saved on annual retooling was being spent on quality control.
But another segment of the public wanted a new look, something that would really make them think twice about buying a Cadillac. Ford executives, given the decreased repeat sales of Lincolns, finally decided to align themselves with the group clamoring for more substantial model changes.
Making significant facelifts while retaining the essential character of the original 1961 Lincoln Continental posed quite a dilemma. In the end, Ford designers were able to pull it off by producing a magnificent restatement of the 1961 design for 1966, and modifying this only slightly, year-by-year, through 1969.
These four years witnessed some of Lincoln's best and most luxurious automobiles. A major overhaul of the design was sorely needed, if only for aesthetic reasons. Comparing the 1961 Lincoln to the 1965, one can immediately see the end result of four annual design changes, for the 1965 had a bulkier look and lacked the true understated elegance of the 1961.
Amott B. "Buzz" Grisinger, Chief Stylist of the Lincoln-Mercury Studios, and his design group had changed the front end of the Lincoln Continental substantially for 1965. Borrowing the front rounded-bulge "coffin-nose" theme from the 1936 Cord 810 the group abandoned the straight-across grille (as seen from above) of the 1961-1964 era.
This Cord-flavored theme was not only carried over into 1966, but was made more distinctive and gradually enlarged via various facelifts through 1969. In fact, Grisinger made that theme ever more evident with the introduction of the all-new 1970 body-on-frame models.
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