Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The very last gasp of the very large automobile

Look at this colossus! Massive, slab sided, and dripping with heavy chrome trim, this small building was parked in Queens recently:
This is a 1979 Lincoln Continental Collector's Series in Midnight Blue. This is the grand finale for supersized Detroit offerings. Being the last year for the truly full-size Lincolns they decided to pull out all the stops and offer a special edition. The Collector's Series was it.
This is a brick. Look at that mammoth tombstone grill. The bumper is more like a highway guardrail.
One of my favorite features of late-'70s Lincolns are these turn signal lights in the leading edge of the mighty fenders. They seem downright architectural as opposed to automotive. If you went to the top of the Empire State Building and saw this light 20 feet tall you wouldn't be surprised. Of course the headlights are protected by their own garage doors.
Let's do the numbers: 19.4 feet long, 6.5 feet wide, and 4,800 lbs. This car is absolutely, unapologetically massive. The 400 V8 was the only engine available in this final year and it was good for a mere 160 horsepower. A respectable 315 lbs of torque meant it could move itself somewhat but high performance it ain't.
The Collector's Series was offered with only White, Midnight Blue, or Silver paint. It's impossible to see here but the wheels have the body color painted in them between the turbine slats. What you can just make out in this pic is that the grill was accented in gold for this edition. Glitzy!
Look at this cliche. The padded landau vinyl half roof is a great touch.
The area behind the rear side windows is where the opera windows would be if this were a Town Car.
The taillights mimicking the front turn signal position add some continuity to this extremely basic design. The rear looks a little boring to me though compared to the majestic front.
Some of the special features of the C.S. were "especially deep 36 ounce carpeting" (their words), an umbrella, garage door opener, a "Quad Sound" 8 track stereo, and a leather wrapped tool bag.
Between the front and rear doors is an electroluminescent carriage light. Whenever the headlights or running lights are on that vertical panel glows with elegance.
Even the roof is oh-so plush! A very rare option was the fixed panoramic glass roof in which the front half of the roof was glass. Occasionally they come up for sale and while intriguing they are very hot on sunny days.
The interior is as mint as the outside of this yacht. These ultra plush seats were standard with the C.S. but you could order leather if you prefer.
I love the band of faux woodgrain on the steering wheel circle itself! Malaise checklist complete.
In 1980 the Continental would be greatly reduced in every category. The other full size stalwarts of the Malaise era had already left the stage at this point. Cadillac offered the Eldorado in gargantuan dimensions through the 1978 model year, as did the rest of the Ford stable; LTD and Mercury Marquis. As a parting gift to red meat eating Americans who preferred a "traditional sized" car this was the only option. I was happy to see one somehow parallel parked in the wild. If you prefer a car with listing ocean liner handling and so much sound deadening that the world seems silent then this is the ride for you!

1 comment:

  1. 6000lbs of pure luxury there. I have a grill for one of these hanging on the wall.