Lincoln Continental Third generation
|Assembly||United States: Wixom, Michigan (Wixom Assembly)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door hardtop 2-door convertible 4-door sedan 4-door Landau hardtop 4-door Town Car sedan 4-door Limousine|
|Related||Lincoln Mark series Lincoln Premiere Lincoln Capri|
|Engine||430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8|
|Transmission||3-speed Turbo-Drive automatic|
|Wheelbase||131.0 in (3,327 mm)|
|Length||1958: 229.0 in (5,817 mm) 1959: 227.1 in (5,768 mm) 1960: 227.2 in (5,771 mm)|
|Width||1958–59: 80.1 in (2,035 mm) 1960: 80.3 in (2,040 mm)|
|Height||1958: 56.5 in (1,435 mm) 1959–60: 56.7 in (1,440 mm)|
|Curb weight||5,000–5,700 lb (2,300–2,600 kg)|
The new Lincoln was one of the largest cars ever made, larger than that year's Cadillac, and with their canted headlights and scalloped fenders had styling considered by many to be excessive even in that decade of styling excess. They are the longest Lincolns ever produced without federally mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers. The 63.1 inches (1,603 mm) front and 63.0 inches (1,600 mm) rear shoulder room they possessed set a record for Lincoln that still stands to this day; while the 44.0 inches (1,118 mm) front and 44.9 inches (1,140 mm) rear leg room make it one of the roomiest vehicles ever produced. Furthermore, the 1959–60 Continental Limousine and Town Car (which had the same wheelbase as other Continentals but the same rear seat legroom as Lincoln due to the absence of the "breezeway" window) are the heaviest American sedans without an extended wheelbase built since WW II, and the 1958 Continental convertible is the longest American convertible produced with the exception of the (extremely rare) 1934–37 Cadillac V-16 convertibles.
The 1959's range contained the original Continental Mark IV, and the 1960, the original Continental Mark V, with more restrained styling than the 1958. Two new body styles were added for 1959 and 1960, both on the same wheelbase as other Continentals, but without the reverse-angle "breezeway" window: a formal Town Car and an even more formal Limousine. Both cars had dual air conditioning units, a distinctive padded roof and were available only in black. The Limousine added a driver's partition for additional rear seat privacy. The Town Car, costing $9,200, sold only 214 over both years, and the Limousine, costing $10,200, sold only 83 over both years. One feature of these cars was the "Auto Lube", that, as long as the owner kept the lube reservoir full, the car automatically lubed itself. However, the 1958–1960 Marks were technically Lincolns as the Continental division was dropped after the Mark II. And this marked the last time that a Continental would share no major chassis components with a model made by Ford or Mercury as the 1961 Continental would share major components with the contemporaneous Ford Thunderbird.
The reputation for "excessive styling" is perhaps ironic given the enormous amount of styling talent that was connected with the development and modification of Continentals of this vintage (as well as given the elaborate marketing efforts at eliminating all memory of these Marks). George W. Walker, known for his contribution to the development of the original Ford Thunderbird, was Vice-President in charge of Styling at Ford during this time. Elwood Engel, famous for being lead designer of generation four of the Lincoln Continental and for his work as chief designer at Chrysler in the 1960s, was Staff Stylist (and consequently roamed all of the design studios) at Ford during this period and worked very closely with John Najjar in developing not only the 1958, but also the 1959 update. After John Najjar was relieved of his responsibilities as Chief Stylist of Lincoln in 1957 he became Engel's executive assistant, and the two worked closely together in the "stilleto studio" in developing the fourth generation Lincoln Continental, which of course won an award for its superlative styling. After Engel left Ford in 1961, Najjar became the lead designer of the Ford Mustang I concept car, which later gave birth to the Ford Mustang. Don Delarossa, who succeeded Najjar as Chief Stylist of Lincoln, was responsible for the 1960 update, and went on to become chief designer at Chrysler in the 1980s. Alex Tremulis, who was Chief Stylist at Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg in the mid to late 1930s and famous for his work on the 1948 Tucker Sedan, was head of Ford's Advanced Styling Studio during this period, and it was his Ford La Tosca concept car, with its oval overlaid with an "X" theme, that gave birth to the "slant eyed monster" nickname to the 1958 Continental front end. And, perhaps most ironic of all, L. David Ash was Lincoln's Executive Exterior Stylist when Najjar was in charge of Lincoln styling, the same L. David Ash who would later play such a prominent role as Chief Stylist of Ford in designing the 1969–1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III, which helped cause Continentals of this vintage (together with a marketing decision by then Ford Executive Vice-President Lee Iacocca) to be called the "forgotten Marks".