To the 2017–20 Lincoln Continental: Rest in peace

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2017 Lincoln Continental

Ford confirmed what we’ve assumed for months: The tenth-generation Lincoln Continental ceases production at the end of this year. Except it will be available throughout 2021 in China, because the Chinese still love executive sedans more than we do. As Matthew McConaughey, Lincoln’s brand-reviving pitchman, once said, “Life is a series of commas, not periods.”

Which explains the Continental’s tumultuous existence, as its several rebirths over the decades were a mixed bag of successes and failures. There was internet chatter aplenty about this CD4-based, front-wheel-drive Continental being a mere springboard to a proper rear-wheel-drive, CD6-based replacement. However, Ford crushed hopes in 2018 when CEO Jim Hackett proclaimed the upcoming deaths of all Ford sedans and subsequent scrapping of any CD6 sedans.

Yet the modified Ford Fusion bones didn’t keep the Continental from being a triple threat: Base models populated airport livery lounges, an upper crust Black Label model was a not-laughable alternative to a Lexus LS, and a Coach Door limo reached rarified Maybachian air. Sadly, sales volume told a different story; as Ford put it, “the full-size premium sedan segment continues to decline in the U.S.”

2019 Lincoln Continental Coach Door

The statement went on to speak of the future, as Ford is “investing in growth segments and the brand will feature a full portfolio of SUVs, including a fully electric vehicle.” The recent cancellation (postponement?) of a Rivian-based Lincoln SUV means that future is even further away, but mark (sorry) my words, that beast was gonna be the next Continental with suicide doors ready to take down the Rolls Royce Cullinan. You should believe too … for the sake of America! 

Rolls Royce Cullinan
Rolls Royce

Perhaps the 2017–20 Continental never had a chance. Brand loyalists scoff that its front-wheel-drive architecture lacks the Town Car swagger, and nobody outside of fleet operators want a (non-Lexus) luxury sedan. More to the point, if Lexus sold an ES350 at fleet-sweet pricing, they’d dominate the livery trade just like Camrys in ride-sharing pools.

So perhaps now is the time to snap up a Continental in the trim level that speaks to your wallet. As they age and embrace Lincoln’s classic depreciation curve, perhaps those rich interiors, cool door handles, and competent Ecoboost powertrains will position the Continental as the luxury car bargain of the decade?

1989 and 2019 Lincoln Continental
Sajeev Mehta

Taking an evening jaunt in my restored (yes, really) front-wheel-drive V-6 Continental time machine from 1989 begs the question: If folks take the initiative to keep “classic” 2010 Taurus SHOs from the junkyard (difficult water pumps, zero maintenance PTOs, etc) perhaps history shall repeat itself in the land of Lincoln.

1989 and 2019 Lincoln Continental
Sajeev Mehta

Why not indulge in the bespoke world of the Lincoln Continental? It’s not like cutting edge electronics and fragile powertrains are anything new to the nameplate. My precious moments at the dealership revived my cravings for a Black Label Continental in Rhapsody Blue. So until then, RIP to the flagship.

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