1968 Lincoln Continental

The 1968 Lincoln Continental model year marked the production of the one-millionth Lincoln at Wixom on March 25, a metallic blue sedan with a Heritage vinyl roof. In the PR photo marking the occasion, it was pictured with a 1925 Lincoln Brougham by Brunn. Again, Ford restated its Sixties philosophy for Lincoln, saying that "No change has been made for the sake of change. The classic Continental look continues."

1968 Lincoln Continental
A new front parking light arrangement was just
one feature of the 1968 Lincoln Continental.

The tone for the 1968 was set by the elegant front parking lights, which appeared to be a continuation of the upward thrust of the front bumper, itself a beautiful and massive sweep of chrome. For the first time since 1965, the taillights were notched into the rear fenders above the bumper. Combined with the new front parking light arrangement, this enhanced night visibility from the side of the car -- and at the same time met the government's demand for side-marker lights.

The grille was now made up of six panels of six flat, wide rectangles, and the Coupe featured a more "formal" roofline. All this helped make the Continental "A classic among American cars."

For this model year, the star hood ornament was deleted (unsafe, you know). To replace it, an applique of the logo was placed on the front of the hood. To many loyal Continental buyers, this was a puzzlement. All through the Sixties, Ford had supplied Continental owners with a hood ornament mounted on a walnut wood base, which they could proudly display in their home or office. Now the freestanding star was nowhere to be seen. Many owners of 1968 Continentals -- as well as some dealers -- decided this just wouldn't do, so they purchased the old hood ornament and had it mounted on the hood of their new car.

Collectors today are aware of at least one confusing feature of the 1968 Lincoln. Although the 462-cubic-inch, 340-horse-power V-8 introduced in 1966 was listed as standard in the brochures for this model year, many of the later 1968s were factory-equipped with the new "computer-designed" 460-cid engine, also found in the mid-year Mark Ills and all 1969 Lincolns. With a bore and stroke of 4.36 by 3.75 inches and a 10.5:1 compression ratio, the new V-8 produced 365 horsepower at 4,600 rpm and an impressive 500 lbs/ft of torque at 2,800 rpm.

More to the point, this was, according to Lincoln, "The first engine to be designed from the drawing board up with exhaust emission control as an element of the original design." Thomas E. Bonsall pointed out in The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence, that "The new engine was significantly more efficient than before, not only in terms of power and economy, but also in its burning of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. Since emissions control would be an increasingly important engineering problem in coming years, the new powerplant was well suited to help engineers meet the challenges immediately ahead. An improved induction system permitted a much greater flow of air to the carburetor.

"The intake manifold was designed to minimize air/fuel ratio variations among cylinders and permit the leanest mixtures possible. In common with other Ford engines, fuel flow was limited to optimum settings by carburetor adjustment restricters. Also included in the design was the special air pump, or Thermactor, to meet current government emissions standards. The compact cylinder block was manufactured with thin-wall casting, and an improved foundry technique permitted the block to be cast from eight cores, rather than the 12 used before."

In addition to the cleaner engine, engineers devised a "controlled-crush" front end to better absorb energy in the event of a head-on impact, and front-seat shoulder belts were fitted beginning January 1, 1968. Coupes had self-locking front seatbacks, and manually adjustable headrests were available.

Lincoln was in the news a great deal this year because of the new flagship Mark III, which debuted on April 5. A "personal-luxury" coupe, it carried many of the design themes -- such as the distinctive side sculpturing -- seen on the Lincoln Continental sedan and Coupe.

For more information on cars, see: