Ford is bringing back one of its most famous cars with the launch of the Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition, featuring not only additional legroom for rear-seat passengers but also iconic center-opening doors the luxury automaker used back in the 1960s.
David Woodhouse, global strategic and Lincoln Design director, says the ’19 Lincoln Continental Coach is based on the iconic ’61 Continental. The fourth-generation Lincoln Continental from 1961 was influential because it represented a step away from the heavily chromed bodywork that characterized American cars of the late 1950s and toward a smoother, more functional design.
“Cars are cultural objects” that reflect the culture and spirit of a particular era, and the early 1960s were an era of elegance, glamor and high style, Woodhouse notes. “Think of Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O,” he says.
The ’61 Lincoln Continental, with its center-opening doors (below, left), was perfect for arriving at a fashionable event in a sleek pencil skirt, he says.
“The center-opening doors became synonymous with the Lincoln Continental, even though they were only featured primarily in the ’60s,” Woodhouse says. “But they struck such a chord that they’re still remembered so fondly today.”
The center-opening door remains both dramatic and distinctive, the designer says. “It was truly a watershed moment for us in terms of iconic design,” he says. “People are still looking for elegance and glamor, and they also went an easy way to get in and out of a vehicle. These doors answer to both.”
On the ’19 Continental Coach Door edition, the doors are a “celebration of both form and function” that also showcase the interior of an “exceptionally beautiful vehicle as the doors open 90 degrees,” Woodhouse says.
Production is limited to 80 units and each car will have its own numbered doorsill plate to underscore the limited nature of the anniversary production.
Ford expects all 80 models to go quickly when dealers in markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Dallas begin accepting orders this week, according to Trevor Scott, marketing manager for Lincoln sedans and crossovers.
Ford is considering a ’20 Lincoln Continental Coach Door that could be sold outside the U.S. in markets such as China, Scott says. No final decision has been made.
The Coach Door Edition originates at Ford’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, MI, and then is shipped to Cabot Coach Builders, which modifies the vehicle according to Ford’s specifications, says Tim Sterling, chief program engineer.
Cabot, an outfitter based near Boston that has worked with Ford on various projects since the early 1990s, stretches the original Continental by 6 ins. (152 mm) and installs the center-opening doors, he says.
Pricing for the special edition will start “north” of $100,000, Sterling says.
Rear-seat amenities include a pass-through console that offers a storable tray table like those found in the first-class cabin of a passenger aircraft. The table is equipped with a tablet holder and a wireless charging pad. The car’s stretched wheelbase delivers best-in-class second-row legroom, Sterling says.
The Continental integrates technologies such as putting three different drive modes at the driver’s fingertips. The car also senses a driver’s approach and lights up with the sequential greeting that has become one of Lincoln’s hallmarks.
The head-up display contributes to a custom driving experience by letting drivers choose what information is projected onto the windshield. The feature is visible even with ambient lighting and even when the driver is wearing polarized sunglasses.
Woodhouse says in 1939, the original Continental was noted not only for exceptional styling but also for its performance, and Lincoln has carried on the tradition by equipping its special edition with Lincoln’s exclusive 3.0L twin-turbocharged V-6 that delivers 400 hp and 400 lb.-ft. (542 Nm) of torque.