The 22nd of this month will mark 56 years since John F. Kennedy was assasinated while riding in a Continental. Codenamed the SS-100-X by the Secret Service, the Lincoln became a part of history following the tragedy. There may be no other car whose historical significance is acknowledged so universally due to the fact the 35th President of the US was killed in the car — but, it was already the talk of the town before that ill-fated day.
Luxury and elegance were the two most important factors for carmakers in the Sixties and you couldn’t get any more extravagant than this. Cadillac was considered the daddy and every carmaker worth its salt was trying to better it. Produced by the Lincoln division of the Ford Motor Company, the fourth-generation model spanning from 1961 to 1969 was one of the most sought after cars in the US. On the ‘63 model the Lincoln four-pointed star never looked so proud and although body options were initially limited to a four-door saloon or a four-door convertible (the latter’s roof taking a leisurely 57 seconds to unfold) they still flew off showroom floors. Aimed at the rich and famous, Elvis and Frank Sinatra were often seen driving one.
Powering the big beauty was a choice of three V8s, the biggest being the 462ci (7.6-litre) unit mated to a standard three-speed automatic. A smaller 460ci (7.5-litre) and 430ci (7.0-litre) was also available. It was fully loaded boasting an ice cold AC, electric radio antenna, special interior trim and an automatic headlight dimmer. It also got power everything including windows, seats, brakes, steering and door locks. An electric clock, folding centre arm rests, lush carpeting and a seating capacity for six adults in total comfort was another reason people loved it.
It boasted an understated beauty and was the polar opposite of the flamboyant cars being produced at the time. Everyone else was throwing chrome and large tail fins on their models, but the hand-built Conti was dressed much more elegantly. It looked particularly fetching in Bermuda Blue paint. Accentuating its beauty was an egg-crate style grille, straight fenders and a long bonnet. Debuting in 1939, the Continental was laid to rest in 2002 but the nameplate made a triumphant return in 2016.