2019 lincoln continental stretch suicide door side view open

Yes, the 2019 Lincoln Continental will have (optional) rear-hinged doors

Party like it's 1961.

As an homage to the most memorable generation of Lincoln Continental and an 80th anniversary celebration of the model, Lincoln is producing just 80 copies of its Coach Door Continental for 2019. And you can order one starting today. Lincoln is wary of using the term "suicide door" but knows full well that many who love the '61-'69 model will also refer to the 2019 model, with its center-opening doors, as such. We took a close look a pre-production version of the car finished in Lincoln's signature Crystal Blue, offering a nearly complete look of what the production version will offer.

 Like the 1961 model that offered "elegant ingress and egress", the Coach Door's lengthened rear doors and generous openings allow rear seat passengers to practically fall into the spacious rear seats that offer a unique flow-through center console and best-in-class rear legroom. Our quick math puts that at just more than 47 inches. We did notice that rear seat headroom is a bit tight for passengers taller than six feet (I'm 6'3") although the ample leg room and reclining rear seats allow for a very comfortable (if not slightly slouched) seating position that should accommodate all but the tallest passengers.

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The preproduction model shown used sturdy-looking twin hinges on each rear-pivoting door that seemed a bit bulky and didn't quite allow for 90-degrees of opening. Production hinges will solve both of those issues and deliver a full 90-degree pivot. Tim Sterling, Lincoln's assistant chief engineer for sedans, promises that despite the longer, heavier door, panel gaps and fit and finish will match the standard Continental.

Each Coach Door Continental will begin as a Continental Black Label with traditional rear doors. It is then sent to Cabot Coach Builders in Boston, Massachusetts along with a set of longer rear doors, unique trim panels, and some Lincoln-sourced sheet metal stampings. Cabot Coach Builders cuts the perfectly good Continental in two just behind the B-pillar and stretches it six inches. The process sounds daunting, but that's the same way Cabot builds limousines. This project has even more direct involvement with Lincoln than their typical vehicle retrofits.

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When the stampings are welded in place, the wiring harness extension is plugged in, the driveshaft is lengthened, and the custom center console has been installed, the Coach Door Continental should only be about 150 pounds heavier than its standard-length counterpart. It rides on the same wheels, tires, brakes and suspension as the standard Black Label and each one powers all four wheels with the top engine available in the Continental, a 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. Lincoln promises the same crashworthiness as a standard Continental.

Lincoln estimates that each of the 80 Coach Doors will carry an MSRP of just over $100,000. Orders for the 80 that will be sold in 2019 begin immediately, with the first deliveries arriving in June. If you didn't get yours in time, Lincoln has plans to extend production to 2020, minus the numbered sill plates that are exclusive to the anniversary editions. If you'd like to see it in person, this same preproduction model will be on display at Lincoln's booth at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.