With its crisp, fresh look, the 1961 Lincoln Continental shook up the luxury car market, and the design is still highly regarded today. See the Continental up close in this original two-minute commercial spot.
Designed by Elwood Engel, the 1961 Lincoln Continental marked a new day for the luxury car market, and ultimately, the auto industry at large. By the late ’50s, styling had grown gimmicky, garish, and extreme. In contrast, Engel’s Continental was clean, crisp, essentially a finely sculpted box, and the slate was wiped clean. The design was originally intended as a Thunderbird, but when Ford executive Robert McNamara saw it, he instructed Engel to repurpose the coupe as a Lincoln Continental sedan. The result was nearly 15 inches shorter than the previous Lincoln package, but with comparable passenger volume.
In the two-minute television commercial presented here, the new Lincoln’s more efficient footprint is one of the major selling points. This also represented a reversal of field for the Detroit automakers, having previously sold luxury cars by the pound and by the foot. Here, a driver is even shown parallel parking a Continental to emphasize its more manageable dimensions. Also showcased here are the four-door convertible model, the only one in the industry in those years, along with the suicide-door configuration shared by both the sedans and convertibles. Here the facing doors are billed as “the grand entrance to spacious comfort.” Video below.