1963 Lincoln Continental
In the early 1960s, the Lincoln Continental Convertible became indelibly associated with the Kennedy assassination and the Secret Service.
The typical first impression of this 1963 Lincoln Continental is that it is gigantic, with a wheelbase of 10.25 feet and an overall length of almost 18 feet. The other immediate impression one gets is that it is about as elegant as a car can get, with those beautifully executed wrap around bumpers blending into the fenders, and the long slab sides, with the sharp chrome-capped crease at the top of the fenders, running the length of the car.
If ever a car was fit for a head of state, it is the Lincoln Continental of the early 1960s and it’s no surprise that a 1961 model was stretched and especially fitted out for use by the secret service. The 1963 model is largely the same as the 1961 model that took shape in Elwood Engel’s Lincoln Design back in 1958. Most notably, for 1963, the car had received an all-new grille and rear fascia. It also gained about a half-inch in length, and a modified dashboard to yield more legroom for front seat passengers.
One notable feature of all Continentals from 1961 through 1969 is the way the front door opens conventionally, while the rear “suicide” doors are hinged at the rear pillar, making entry easier. Not surprisingly, this Lincoln came well-equipped, with power steering, brakes, windows, door locks and antenna. The power convertible top is operated by a complex hydraulic system that completely stows the top behind the rear seats. Air Conditioning and tinted glass were among the few options offered.
The Continental was available as both a four-door sedan and as convertible. Sedans accounted for most of production (28,095), with only 3,138 convertibles built for the 1963 model year. Both cars were pricey, with the sedan costing $6,270, while the convertible was even more expensive at $6,916.
This big black Lincoln Continental has received paint, interior work and routine maintenance, but has not undergone a complete restoration. It is great fun for trips long or short for as many as six people, although the 25-gallon tank offers a large hint that this car is not frugal on fuel.