After I wrote this, I realized it was a bit too general to fall under the title of "1964 Lincoln Continental." It contains things about a lot of other models, too, you see. Then I got to thinking about it and concluded that "1964 Lincoln" is as good as an identifier of suicide door Lincolns as any, since all you have to do is say "'64 Lincoln," and the audience will reply, "Oh yeah, isn't that the one with suicide doors?"
And, so, on with the show.
This delectable bit of automotive history is probably best known as being the vehicle of choice for those adorable rebels from The Matrix (Actually, that one's a '65. See below for the differences.). Most agree that the '64 Continental is a groovy machine, unless you're opposed to boxy tanks that get 8 mpg and take up as much space in parking lots as your average Greyhound bus. I understand that point of view, but I certainly don't agree (Well, that gas mileage thing is pretty poignant). Unfortunately for Lincoln, they seemed to play second fiddle to the Cadillacs at the time, the base models of which were significantly cheaper than a basic Lincoln. Cadillacs might have outsold Lincoln, but the Lincoln made an impression on a lot of people, and plenty can still be seen cruising around Main Street, USA.
The history of the '64 Continental begins in 1961, when Lincoln designers decided to cast aside the bug-eyed, bullet-bumpered, tailfinned conventions of the fifties and begin making horizontal monoliths on wheels. Take one look at a 1960 Lincoln and you'll see that this was a Good Thing, since the '60 had the worst styling features left over from the fifties, in the form of weird angles and vestigial fins. 1961 also saw the rebirth of the (Let's all say it together!) suicide doors in American cars. The design was successful, and went through a number of tweaks and minor redesigns that made the '64 to be more car than the '61 in several aspects:
- More shoulder room
- More headroom
- More rear legroom
- More trunk space
- More car!
The '64 also had more colors than the '61, and I will list them all here, because long unordered lists can make a writeup look even beefier than it really is:
- Black Satin
- Princeton Gray
- Silver Blue
- Powder Blue
- Buckskin Tan
- Nocturne Blue
- Fiesta Red
- Arctic White
- Platinum Blue
- Silver Green
- Burnished Bronze
- Huron Blue
- Encino Yellow
- Highlander Green
- Desert Sand
- Regal Turquoise
- Sunlight Yellow
- Rose Beige
- Royal Maroon
- Silver Sand
Under the forward-opening hood lay a big 430 cubic inch V8 topped with a thirsty four-barrel carb. This enormous powerplant produced 320 horsepower to shove around the Lincoln's 5000+ pound body. Speaking of bodies, the '64 came in only two styles: Hardtop (5055 lbs) and ragtop (5393 lbs). The price range was fairly narrow, starting at about $6200 for the basic model to about $7000 for a fully tricked-out, power-everything babe magnet. That's about $35,000 to $39,000 is today's dollars. U.S. dollars, for anyone who might be confused.
Speaking of confusing, identifying the suicide-door year Lincolns can be a bit tricky if you don't know what you're looking for, so here are some tips in the much-beloved unordered list form:
- 1961: Four inset headlights with a front bumper that conformed to their shape, much like that on a 1961 Thunderbird. Has a vaguely oval rear "grill" styling feature.
- 1962: Four slightly protruding headlights and a straight-across grill that is divided into rectangular sections by vertical bars. Rear "grill" contains the Lincoln badge.
- 1963: Similar front as the 1962, but the grill is divided into upper and lower halves by a chrome bar between the sets of headlights. Lincoln badge is on the trunk lid, over the rear "grill".
- 1964: Front grill similar to the 1961. Oval rear "grill" replaced by a long horizonal one just above the rear bumper. Taillight lenses have horizonal chrome strips.
- 1965: Front grill composed of horizonal slats and has a faux protruding "radiator," similar to (but not anywhere near as grotesque) as a '70 Thunderbird's. Rear very similar to the 1964.
- 1966: Front end similar to the '65. The taillights have migrated from the corners of the quarter panels and are now long horizontal rectangular bars set in the bumper. Each taillight is divided into three equal sections by verticle chrome bars. Where the taillights used to be are two sets (one on each side) of three little rectangular red reflectors.
- 1967: Looks almost identical to the '66, but the taillights are fancier and are divided by chrome strips into one large rectangle surrounded by smaller rectangles.
- 1968: The taillights have moved back up to the corners of the quarter panels. The area on the bumpers where the taillights were in the previous two years contain thin reflectors. The front end developed turn indicators on the fenders beside the headlights.
- 1969: The End of it all. These introduced some of the grossest of the 70's styling features: Flip-up headlights and faux spare tire bumps on the trunk lid. There is another body style similar to the ones of earlier years, but I've yet to find good pictures of it.
- All models from 1961 to 1967 have the same rectanglar crosshair hood ornament, handy for aiming at helpless pedestrians. After 1968, drivers had to aim using only the Mark One Eyeball.
Overall, it's a pretty sweet ride. I think most people find the suicide doors are the big Point of Coolness; without them, the Lincoln would just be another Big-Ass American Car.
99.93% of this writeup was stolen either from the websites of the Pacific Northwest Region of the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club (www.lincoln-club.org) or LOVEFords (www.lovefords.com). The price range seems awfully narrow; if anyone has different numbers, please notify me.