Thursday, June 9, 2016

What do Lincoln and Kennedy have in common?

On a half-block long street near the insanely busy intersection of the BQE, Classon and Flushing Avenues sat this regal yacht in a rare color:
This is a 1966 Lincoln Continental 4 door convertible in Royal Maroon. Interestingly the exact same color was called Vintage Burgundy when applied to the '66 Thunderbird. You can date these cars by the grill; the years after this had a cross hatched pattern and the years previous had 5 horizontal chrome bars larger than the rest. Whatever; this car is cool as hell!
Look at the scope of this beast. First of all it's a 4 door convertible, something that hadn't been offered in the U.S. since the '40s. After this generation of Continental bowed out in 1969 there wasn't another 4 door convertible available until Jeep released the 4 door Wrangler in 2007. 
Wide white wall tires have never looked so good even without hubcaps.
Clean and straight design was the order of the day. From the unveiling of this generation of Continental in 1961 this design was lauded as the high water mark for the legendary designer Elwood Engel.
A 462 V8 engine introduced in '65 year replaced the 430 V8 that powered the previous. The '66 was an inch wider and taller than the '65 and tipped the scales at around 5,700lbs!
The suicide doors were a novelty not seen since the '51 Lincoln. Safety had become more of a concern in the '60s so this car came with the very first "Door Ajar" light on the dashboard. 
The '67-'71 Thunderbird offered a suicide door 4 door that was an anomaly for the fact that it was the only 4 door T-Bird. No convertible was available for the T-Bird in those years and once the '72 year came along suicide doors disappeared forever.
I have 2 terrible pics of the interior, the first of which doesn't do much except show the shape of the dash cluster and steering wheel.
From this angle you can see an oddity; the heater and a/c controls were identical in shape and style to the radio, making it look like the car has 2 radios (the knobs are missing from the radio which is the closer of the two in this image). Black plastic bags cover the seats and floor so I'm guessing it isn't watertight.
The 4 pointed star was a Continental emblem that ended up carrying over to all Lincoln models. This bumper that curves under the front of the car is similar to the Thunderbird from 1961. Both cars shared a pointed and curved front end until 1965.
The car that President Kennedy was assassinated in was a 4 door 1961 Continental convertible that had the front facade retrofitted with a more modern '63 grill. The Secret Service name of that car was the SS-100-X. To build it they took a standard factory model and stretched it by 41 inches, strengthened the floor, and reupholstered it. Incredibly there was no armor or bullet proofing at all (obviously being a convertible the latter would've been moot). 
Something that really surprised me to learn is that after the assassination the car was heavily armored and a bulletproof hardtop was fitted, and it continued to serve the president for 8 years! Imagine the feeling of riding around in the very seat of the car your former boss was killed in. Yeesh!
I took these last pics in admiration of how straight this Lincoln is. This is a gargantuan car that, with the top down and all doors open, is only as tall as the floor and frame in the middle 8 feet. The fact that the design allowed for enough rigidity to keep something this heavy from sagging.
This represents a rare instance where a model is an instant classic that has always been collected. Only 3,080 4 door convertibles were built in '66 but many remain. Still I was amazed to find one by the BQE parked on the street.

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