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Lincoln Continental Convertibles of the 1960's

24

Comments

  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    have the same thing-combustion chamber in the block? Can't remember for sure. Now THERE was a truck engine, for sure.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Could be. I don't know a thing about the Jimmy, although when someone posted a photo of one in another thread I did think it resembled the 348. It's a real mystery engine, one that hardly anyone seems to know anything about.

    Here's a great link...

    http://www.favorites.com/~jolly/GMCTruck.htm
  • roydonahueroydonahue Posts: 1
    I have a '97 Continental with 115,000 miles. Recently the "service engine soon" light came on and the local dealer claimed I needed a new catalytic converter at a total cost of some $2,400! Another mechanic, not affiliated with Ford/Lincoln, ran the same diagnostic program and switched off the warning light and told me to just drive it. So far the problem has not recurred in over 1,000 miles. Anyone out there had a similar experience? Am I just marking time and asking for more trouble down the road? thanks
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    Hi, and welcome to the Edmunds forums.

    Your post is about modern Lincolns and this topic is specifically about "classics" from the 60s.

    I'd like to link you over to our Maintenance & Repair Board, and specifically this topic, which I think you will find helpful:

    Check Engine Light Topic
    thank you

    Host
  • scootertrashscootertrash Posts: 698
    Maybe he can cut the top off and weld up some suicide rear door hinges.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    Having driven them for 32 years, and more than 1Mn miles, I know that most of the comments posted herein are incorrect.

    The 61-3 drive very well when properly sorted, and the brakes are redone, with correct 9.50x14 tyres. I drove one 100K and had a great time with it. The convertible top system was the most reliable of the entire decade...being that it DID NOT have the Upper Back Panel Limit Switch used in later cars to cut down the number of relays and switches. All of the convertibles used heavier steel and components to support the added weight and the car drove quite well considering what it was. The 66-67's drive the best and easiest to maintain. The 64-5's are the hardest to maintain, with the 65's being by far the better car.

    There is, without doubt, nothing like it on the road. Public acceptance of the car then and now is astounding. Most of them were "driven hard and put away wet" , neglected, abused, and forgotten for many years---thus there problematic reputation, dealers didn't want to fool with them. Ergo many were allowed to rot into dust, and often crushed. Why only 25-33% of these cars have survived of the 15,571 that were made.

    Ford Motor's $1.5Mn investment in the system was justified in that it gave Lincoln something that no one else had---a design concept now copied by almost every auto maker today: the automatic retracting convertible top system. I spoke with one of the design engineers for the system, a 22 year old man at the time, at it was all excitement at Lincoln then: "We had a great time doing it...a alot of midnight oil on that."

    You forget that without the '61 Lincoln, a car that McNamara threatened to cancel, that Walker & Bordinat saved from the ash-heep of history with the revised E-Studio T-Bird clay in July of 1958, Lincoln would have been history---especially if you have ever seen what they WOULD HAVE built. All you have to do is drive a
    60's Lincoln around town to see what people really think.

    As for the driving, Lincoln offered disc brakes in '65 before Cadillac and Imperial. A well sorted drum system on the early cars still works OK. A ten year development program yeilded the best results: 65-9 Lincoln brakes being the best of any other car in the world save the 300SEL, and Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. The system was not "improved" upon until the advent of hydro-boost a decade a later, but then Lincoln used non-Kelsey-Hayes calipers and the car suffered. A good '66-'69 can outdrive many cars, especially the 460 '68-69 Lincoln with almost perfect weight balance owing to the lighter but more powerful engine. No Imperial or Cadillac can keep up.

    Quality issues were excellent. Lincoln/Wixom outdid themselves in this department, with each car being driven 15 miles on public roads before being delivered, and the engine plant inspecting every 100th engine. Each car recieved a 189 point inspection program plus an additional 26 point dealer inpsection. Reason being that the 58-60 Lincolns had been a nightmare and nearly killed Lincolnin the market-place.

    The four-door convertible, the ultimate "guys" car, with room for a duffle bag and clubs with the top down, personified the era: JFK drove a '63 in Palm Beach. Earle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason series, having owned many Lincolns including his first Model K in 1933, has his hero driving Lincolns, and thus it came to be that 'Perry Mason' drove a Lincoln. Raymond Burr became a devotee as well, after having the pleasure of Lincoln's company.

    For those who think the cars unweildy, wallowing, or what-have-you, you have not driven a good example, and not had the pleasure of the public acclaim driving one. If you can't catch a date driving a Lincoln Continental Four-Door Convertible, then, to paraphrase Winston Churchil, when Lady Astor told him: "Winston you're drunk", and he responded: "I may be drunk, but in the morning, I will be sober, but YOU will still be ugly"; thus it must be so: if you can't catch a date in a Lincoln Continental Convertible, you're still ugly.

    DouglasR
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    I really like those cars. Very handsome. I have driven them. I guess my major complaint on the car is that the top is pretty badly designed in terms of weather protection and rattles and squeeks. It's got enough canvas to sail a 40 foot yacht but it simply doesn't keep weather or noise out very well. I wouldn't mind owning a nice clean hardtop version, or the ragtop where the top never ever goes up.

    I think most of these cars got ratty because they never had the value or prestige of their competitor Cadillacs--being so undervalued, few people were willing to undergo a complex and expensive restoration. They just drove 'em til they dropped.

    As for quality, for Ford it was very good at the time but I don't think it approaches its nemesis, the Cadillac.
  • ...one of those. I'm not up to a project car, but I think a great mid-life crises car would be an early '60's Lincoln Continental. There's just something about the look. I guess I'll just satisfy myself with my 1/18 scale model!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,581
    who was into both Cadillacs and Lincolns and he said that back in the 60's the Lincolns made the Caddies look like crap, when it came to build quality and such. I wonder if it's because the Lincolns were unitized, and that might have helped give them more of a tank-like feeling? IMO, the Cadillacs definitely have more of a mass-produced quality about them, whereas a Lincoln just seems a bit more custom-built. Or, at least as custom-built as a mass-produced car could be.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    Hmmmmm.....it could be true that as a limited production they had more care taken in fit and finish, but that's not the same as quality. Rolls Royce had excellent fit and finish but were pretty awful cars. So the whole "hand-built" argument is ver-y tricky to translate into quality.

    You'd be hard pressed to find more bullet-proof drivelines, for instance than Cadillacs of the era, and their tops did fit pretty well and kept weather out.

    And the survival rate of old Caddies isn't bad, either.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    In the 1960's Wixom built Lincolns at the rate of 14 cars per hour, 350 per cycle, each car taking two weeks to make from raw materials to driving vehicle. Convertibles got a separate shunt line; all cars getting a 15.3 mile Road Test Around Wixom, and a 189 point check-list. Subsequent inspections either at the zone lots or dealer comprised of a 27 point checklist. Lincoln relearned how to make a quality mass produced car in the 1960's. Lincoln's volume a fifth that of Cadillac, so they could afford to take their time. No one who bought a '58 would ever have been back to buy a '61 unless they liked the style.

    Of the Convertibles, only the 66-67 leaks, the earlier cars don't as long as the top is aligned and the rubber good. The 61-3 tops usually stay working, were-as the 64-67's don't because of the Upper Back Panel Limit switch being out of adjustment, or someone has destroyed it in less than two seconds trying to adjust it without knowing how.... Yes it takes skilled labour to bring one of these cars back. But the factory put them under a third QC review before they were shipped to dealers...when new they were quite nice.

    Rolls-Royce were far from being junque at anytime in their history---behind engineering wise, perhaps, but you can always disassemble one, fix and return it to proper glory. They suffer from ill-abuse like any other car, and those are the ones that often have given them---post-facto---a bad reputation. I drove a 1970 Silver Shadow, RHD against a 1969 Lincoln sedan, and outdrove the Lincoln...the RR handling better, and outpacing the Lincoln...Lincoln catching the Rolls in the straights. I was rather shocked, since both cars were mine! We forget that R-R at Crewe only ever had 5,500 people on staff to make an amazing car---today they draw from the whole of BMW AG to make 'the best car in the world'---and it is.

    What is true is that in the 1970's Lincoln learned to make their accessories as reliable as the engines, especially considering that suppliers build most of the car. The QC for basic items like trim, body, engines, driveline, etc. are excellent, getting the myraid of features to work is another issue and time consuming.

    At the end of the day, LC Convertibles weren't bad cars, an in many places better or equal to anything else then available. Complex, and painstaking to maintain: absolutely. No different than a Ferrari or a Rolls-Royce.

    DouglasR
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    My experience with Rolls has been that they are troublesome cars requiring massive amounts of maintenance and money. For the price you paid, it was pretty sad I thought. Yes, you're right, engineering was about 1936, even in 1966. And that V-8 they came out with in the 70s and 80s was just awful. Defective right out of the box. God knows how many they replaced and overhauled. Quite the embarrassment.

    A Lincoln from the 60s would be a breeze to maintain next to a Rolls IMO. I mean, you don't have to pay $8,000 for a brake job do you? On a '61 Rolls you do. You don't need special training to fix most things on a Lincoln, which makes them more appealing than a Ferrari or Rolls---where hobbyists dare not tread.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    S. H. Harry Grylls, the engineer who designed the Rolls-Royce V8 in 1953-58, used both Lincoln 368 CID and Chrysler Hemi as inspiration for their aluminum block, chrome-iron lined V8. It had to fit under the hood of a Silver cloud, thus its compact and narrow configuration unique to R-R. Bored out to 411.2 CID with new heads (changing the plug location) for the 1968-9 Silver Shadow the engine became a mainstain of the industry---the essential block still being manufactured by Cosworth for Bentley today. The V8 was built because the straight six engine had reached the end of its design parameters and could not be enlarged, having had 39 different crankshafts within its lifespan from 1922 to 1959.

    The V8 was derived from concurrent 1950's technology, coupled with decades of emperical experience at Rolls-Royce. The Merlin engines providing much input in the ultimate arrangement of the Rolls-Royce V8. Rolls-Royce even developed a DOHC version of the V8 in the 1970's---rejecting it due to its excessive noisiness at idle---moving to turbo-charging instead using a 1969 Silver Shadow test mule for its first pre-Bentley Turbo. The strength of the design is shown in the fact that its horsepower has more than doubled in its nearly 50 year production run, now standing at 453Bhp. Dr. Paefgen at Bentley intends to introduce a 550-600Bhp version of this engine in the next Arnage for 2009.

    Having extraordinary familiarity with aluminum through its aviation engine history, the V8 used aluminum for both heads and block. Rolls-Royce maintained its characteristic cylinder bore arrangement even in the V8. The Aluminum content of the engine a unique patented/registered combination of aluminum, silicon, nickel, tin, and magnesium---giving great strength and heat dissipation. You can't melt the cylinder heads with a torch...they can get soft, but not break down the material! Failure of the owners to maintain proper coolants and regular flushing of the block caused problems not inherent in the design. Any engine will fail if it can't cool properly. Current use of GM's DEXCOOL prevents breakdown of the coolant passages and scaling of the aluminum.

    Lincoln's 430 engine, by contrast borrowed heavily from the same Merlin Engines. The design engineer had worked (If memory serves, a man named Phillip Martel) for Packard during the refit of East Grand Boulevard to produce Merlins in mass quantities. He used many features of the Merlin design for the Y-Block 430, itself derived from the Mark II 368 of 1956. The 462 being the same engine with different cylinder head porting, and enlarged capacity, the basic design lasted only 10 years, the R-R engine nearly fifty years!. The Rolls-Royce engine producing similar power and torque curves at 25% less the weight of the engine---giving the Shadow a nice weight balance for drivability.

    The Shadow style was inspired, in part, by the 1961 Lincoln Continental and the Graber Bentley's of the 1950's. John Blatchley, the stylist for the Shadow, admitted as much in a 1969 interview. Elwood Engel, who designed the '61 was also influenced by the same Graber style, and Facel Vega---a car that Blatchley had also looked at. So both cars share many common historical engineering and styling traits.

    As for the cost of a brake job on a Shadow: of course it is expensive---it uses air-craft type braking systems in conjunction with the Citroen licensed height control system pressured from two nitrogen accumulators. It is four times as complex as a standard system on a cheaper car---you always have power brakes even if the engine stops running---you get a couple of jabs of the pedal in case of an emergency. The Shadow brought Rolls-Royce to the forefront in the industry in terms of braking capacity, the old Birkigt designed Hispano-Suiza system adopted by Rolls-Royce in the 1920's having outlived its usefulness by the end of the Cloud era. Four wheel disc brakes with three hydraulic power systems and one mechanical system as back-up, all on independent suspension all round, meant the car really stops!. Lincoln could only boast of Kelsey-Hayes Disc Brakes in the front, and that with a single master cylinder prone to failure at 36 months.

    Lincoln convertibles and Rolls-Royce do share one thing in common: requiring proper maintenance and service to keep them it good fettle. Otherwise they become a very expensive habit to bring back to the fore. And they both look great in your garage.

    DouglasR

    (Sources: 'History of a Dimension', S. H. Grylls, Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1963)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,581
    why would Rolls Royce overdo it on the brakes, but then keep it nice and simple when it came to transmissions. For the longest time, they were just using GM hydramatics so the tranny in a Rolls Royce was really no different than what's in my '67 Catalina.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    Rolls-Royce did what every other manufacturer had to do in the 1950's if they wanted an automatic: they bought them from GM. Packard's Ultramatic did give the Shadow its influence for the "electric shift" mechanism used on the later generation transmissions. No other transmission but the Hydramatic had had such extreme testing and design evolution by the 1950's---having been used by Cadillac and Grant Tanks during WWII.* Rolls-Royce was never plagued by the 'not-invented-here' syndrome, and its engineers always looked at ALL possibilities before chosing, thus GM's hydramatic.

    There is the very famous story that RR engineers tore down the Hdyramatic, remachined it to Rolls-Royce standards, put it back together and found that it would not work! The 'rough' Cadillac standards were necessary for smooth operation. So Rolls-Royce built them under license to the same specification with an appropriate bell-housing to match their engines, and slightly different valve body to match the shift points and torque curve of the R-R V8. The other issue is that Packard spent $7Mn to develop their own Ultramatic, (also sued by GM for patent infringement, though they lost that battle), spreading their costs over 75,000 units per year (so they planned, meaning its cost $100 per car in the first year and $33 per car in the third year!). For Rolls-Royce to develop their own unit would have cost at least as much, but over volumes of 2,500 cars per year, meant that the transmission would have added at least $2,800 to price of every car in the first year, the costs not amortised over fifteen years to bring it into aligment with either Cadillac or Packard!! Even Lincoln used Hydramatics in the begining, not introducing their own transmission until 1956.

    Rolls-Royce did not overdo it on brakes; their testing on concurrent conventional 1950's power systems found fading and failure after repeated hard stopping---which the old system did not do. Thus they went with an adapted Citroen system---prototypes called "Burma" and "Tibet" were driven 1Mn miles before production began. Quite simply, they never wanted their customers to 'restyle' the front ends of their cars because of premature brake failure---major brake service required every 48,000 miles!

    Lincoln by contrast, had tried disc brakes in the 1950's on prototypes, but the control mechanism/fluid technology was not up to the pressure/temperature ranges required of disc brakes: the result was boiling brake fluid and loss of brake pressure. 'Treadl-vac' systems used in the 1950's were OK at best and disasterous at worst, they were not up to the task of repeatedly stopping a 5,000 plus pound vehicle. If you have ever driven a 50's Lincoln across the Blue Ridge Parkway you know what I mean. Lincoln did not arrive at a near perfect brake system until 1967-9 with the advent of the combination of Kelsey-Hayes calipers and rotors plus the dual master cylinder made by Bendix. The Hydro-boost system was an improvement over the vacuum booster, but it was coupled with the cheaper single piston Ford derived calipers, which are not as effective as the Kelsey-Hayes units, the rotors were also not as thick and warped sooner.

    Test a 1967-9 Lincoln against a Silver Shadow, and throw in a 300Sel for good measure and you can gauge were braking technology really was in the 1960's. It was extraordinarily good, and not outdone until the advent of electronic controls on brakes.

    DouglasR

    *Use of automatic transmissions in Grant and Sherman tanks used by Montgomery at El Alemain in 1942 allowed the British Army to defeat Rommel's Panzers because they could turn faster into the firing zone, and likewise escape out of firing range before Germans could strike---offsetting the difference in armor plating and gun capacity. Rolls-Royce could not ignore such 'testing'.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    The parallels to Lincoln are quite apt in some ways. Lincoln was once a very prestigious automobile, especially in the 1930s, but the parent company never put the investment in it to keep up the car's reputation. It challenged Cadillac a few times but could never sustain itself. Now the company seems to have lost all identity. Really a shame. The KB Lincolns of the 30s were magnificent cars.

    I'm not impressed by the mythology of Rolls Royce. It's a great example of a product "resting on its laurels". After WWII, the car simply did not deliver what it promised in the 1930s. The British auto industry was going down the drain and Rolls went with it.

    The Rolls is a prime example of useless complication and a waste of talent and resources IMO. Everything was "good on paper" and sounded terribly impressive as churned out by Rolls PR department, but in the real world people are not Spitfire mechanics, they pay $100K for a car and they want to turn the key and drive it (or have their chauffeur drive it). For all that complication in the 70s and 80s, you got a fussy old-fashioned and rather clumsy car better suited to 1935 than 1985. Nice wood and leather though, and the Brits made the very best chrome for a long time. So my two cents about Rolls is: "All show and no go".

    The final word on old Rolls Royces from the 70s and 80s is, I think in the resale value. You can't give them away. Buyers run away in droves....they are virtually worthless. You could get more for a nice Camaro than a 70s Rolls.

    Cars are like everything else in that it is in the "execution" that it all works out or doesn't. Promises, statistics, specifications, testimony from engineers...all well and good...gee, the Corvair sounded so good, too, and so did the Vega. You'd buy one in a minute if you just read the brochures and never drove the car.

    HYDRAMATIC: The Rolls Hydramatic was is a Rolls case and it was valved differently and changed a bit internally, so no, it's not really like your Catalina in the sense that you couldn't switch them. I think Rolls was desperate for an automatic that worked well since they couldn't design one themselves apparently--and didnt' have the money anyway, even if they could.

    One has to remember that Rolls was a very undercapitalized company and bled money for decades. The car company was completely unprofitable, and no wonder. Without subsidization from its aircraft division, and its subsequent purchase by the Germans, it would have been long dead, an outdated, uncompetitive and eccentric piece of English history way too long in the tooth for the modern age.

    Finally the Rolls is a decent car again, thanks to German technology (and money).
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    OMG! I thought classic car discussions in the Edmunds Forum were put out to pasture years ago - which I always thought was a misguided decision by the powers that be.

    As I'll explain, I've not even bothered to check in here for a few years. For someone who was within a whisker (if not closer) of buying a collector car 4-5 years ago, I've had absolutely no interest over the last two years. But, that's what a divorce will do to you. My passion for collector/classic cars was absolutely and completely sucked out of me. But, I'm much better now. I'm actually allowed to handle sharp objects these days. LOL!

    Anyway, more shocked I could not be to see a Lincoln discussion thread I started back in '02 was still alive and kicking - well, alive anyway. Hello Shifty (Joe). Glad to see you're still riding heard here. I'm even more glad you have this outlet again to share your impressive knowledge on this subject. And, I see Andre1969 is still here too. Wonder if any more of the "old guard" are around anymore.

    Hope to make return visits here.
  • Hi parm!

    Yep we're all here with some new folks, too--but we don't hang out in this discussion much.

    We're in Project Cars quite a bit, as you might imagine! Drop over there!

    Shifty
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,581
    Welcome back! Sorry to hear about your divorce; I can relate to what you're going through. I went through a divorce about 10 years ago, and it wasn't fun.
  • My lincoln top is giving me all kinds of trouble, I believe stemming from the upper back panel limit switch (and possibly some stubborn relays). Where should I go for help? Are there any rebuild shops that know these lincolns very well? Also my fuel sending unit appears to have failed. Is this common/easy to replace?
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