With the Continental Division lifeless, a cost-weary and (newly) publicly traded Ford Motor Company headed into the 1958 mannequin yr decided to unveil a stable luxurious automobile exhibiting towards its major rival, Cadillac. However, the “Continental Mark III by Lincoln” was a Continental in identify solely: It wore the identical metallic and was produced on the identical new manufacturing facility, Wixom Assembly, as the remainder of the Lincoln fashions (Capri, Premiere) that yr.
Brass at Ford hoped the Continental identify on the Mark III would make clients imagine it was one thing particular, just like the Cadillac Eldorado with which it competed. As talked about final time, apart from its Continental identify, the Mark III for 1958 used One Simple Trick to lure patrons into its leather-based seats: a Breezeway window. First up immediately, pricing issues.
Not an issue at Ford typically, however reasonably pricing inside the small Lincoln lineup given the an identical engineering and virtually an identical appears of the three vehicles on provide. The most elementary Capri requested $4,803 ($49,087 adj.) that yr, whereas the higher outfitted Premiere was $5,483 ($56,037 adj.). However, the Mark III was $6,283 ($64,213 adj.) earlier than choices. Recall the unique directive at Continental Division was to promote a Mark III for $6,800 ($68,739 adj.), which ballooned to $9,800 ($99,065 adj.) after the unique automobile was developed. At its 1958 ask, the Mark III was about 37 p.c cheaper than the hand-assembled 1957 Mark II.
And whereas that sum was cheaper than the likes of the brand new Eldorado Biarritz convertible at $7,500 ($76,651 adj.), the Biarritz was significantly extra fascinating than the over-the-top 1958 Mark III. By the best way, the typical American family revenue in 1958 was $4,600 ($47,012 adj.).
Part of the issue was the event price of the 1958 Lincolns. Ford determined to change its luxurious arm from body-on-frame development to a unibody that yr. The new Lincolns had been very giant for a unibody automobile (maybe the biggest up to now), and Lincoln misplaced over $60 million ($613,208,391 adj.) within the interval between 1958 and 1960. A giant a part of that was product growth.
But simply as the brand new Lincolns debuted and the home luxurious automobile class obtained bigger, heavier, and dearer than it had been in a while, there was an enormous recession. The international Recession of 1958 proved itself a quick, sharp downturn. It ended up as the largest recession within the post-WWII financial increase from 1945 to 1970.
One of the main elements of the recession was a steep decline in new automobile gross sales. 1958’s gross sales figures had been down 31 p.c over the prior yr. Automakers rode a excessive of 8 million US gross sales in 1955, however that slumped to 4.3 million in 1958.
The center class began to carry onto their vehicles en masse in 1958, as an alternative of buying and selling for a brand new one. During 1958 Lincoln produced solely 20,179 vehicles, which was down 36 p.c over 1957. Ford itself was down 38 p.c that yr, in comparison with a 22 p.c drop for Chevrolet, and a forty five.1 p.c decline at Plymouth.
It turned out to be the improper time to dump a bunch of growth cash into a brand new unibody design, however Ford wasn’t to know that. The new 131-inch wheelbase on the 1958 Lincolns and their monumental and overworked our bodies made them a number of the largest vehicles on the highway. Lincoln was greater than a Cadillac, greater than an excellent an Imperial (the model that often got here with essentially the most size).
Capri, Premier, and Continental Mark III all had an identical size, width, and peak in 1958. All had been 229 inches lengthy, 80.1 inches large, and 56.5 inches excessive. In comparability, the extra prestigious Eldorado in Series 62 guise was 222.1 inches total, and 80 inches large. Even the Sixty-Special four-door reached solely 225.3 inches within the remaining yr of its sixth-gen guise for ’58. The D-body Imperial of 1958 got here up a bit brief, at 225.9 inches and 81.3 inches in width.
The Lincoln lineup rode on a wheelbase that was 5 inches longer than the yr earlier than, and the Capri and Premiere had been about 4.5 inches longer than they had been in 1957. Despite the rise in wheelbase and exterior dimensions in all instructions, that didn’t at all times translate to a rise in inside measurements. For instance, in a normal Premiere leg room decreased by practically half an inch up entrance, whereas hip room decreased by 0.7 inches.
Shoulder room elevated for entrance passengers within the ’58 Premiere, however rear passengers had much less headroom. Gains from the unibody transition had been seen largely in elevated shoulder room for all occupants. In truth, the shoulder room set a file in 1958 (63.1″ up entrance, 63″ in rear) that has by no means been bested by a passenger automobile up to now.
As one may anticipate, the large new Lincoln lineup weighed lots. The lightest two doorways with a minimal of apparatus weighed in at 4,900 kilos, whereas a fully-equipped Continental Mark III toured the nation with 5,200 kilos of heft.
All Lincolns shared the identical 430 cubic-inch (7.0 liters) MEL sequence V8. MEL stood for Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln, an engine household developed because the substitute for the Y-block Lincoln engine in manufacturing since 1952. The MEL featured wedge-shaped combustion chambers, and its piston decided the compression and combustion chamber form. That was an engineering alternative widespread to different V8 engines launched on the finish of the Fifties. An OHV design with two valves per cylinder, the MEL was in-built displacements of 383, 410, 430, and 462 cubic inches.
The 430 model of the engine was fitted to all Lincolns from the 1958 to 1960 mannequin years. Attached to the big V8 was the MX model of Ford’s three-speed Cruise-O-Matic, which was branded because the Turbo-Drive below Lincoln utilization. The three-speed wrangled 375 horsepower in 1958.
Body kinds for the Continental Mark III included a two-door hardtop, a four-door sedan, and a four-door hardtop that acquired a particular identify: Landau. The solely physique type unique to the Continental was a convertible. That halo mannequin was the costliest, and proved to be distinctive: It was the one time a Mark sequence automobile was supplied as a manufacturing facility convertible. The significance of the Breezeway as a distinguishing function couldn’t be overstated, because it was even engineered into the convertible model of the Mark III.
Options on the 1958 Continental Mark III had been restricted however included an FM radio so as to add to the usual AM band that price round $125 ($1,277 adj.). Air conditioning was an optionally available additional for the large spenders. Also optionally available on the Continental was a system unique to Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, and solely supplied within the late Fifties: Auto-Lube! What an amazing identify for a function.
Its full identify was Automatic Multi-Luber, and it requested the motive force to press a button when issues wanted to be slippery. More particularly, a dash-mounted button marked Auto-Lube managed the distribution of grease from a reservoir below the hood. Said reservoir was used to lubricate the mandatory parts within the extra advanced suspension techniques of late-Fifties vehicles. The system was developed by Ford and Lincoln Industrial Corporation (not associated), the latter of which invented the lever-operated grease gun.
Think of all of the ball joints, springs, arms, tie rods, and many others. that had been a part of an impartial suspension design – no stable axles right here! All these components had grease fittings and wanted to be greased repeatedly to stop put on and the disagreeable sounds that occur the place there’s not sufficient lubrication. This was the time earlier than the grease in your ball joint (or comparable) lasted the lifetime of the part.
For the non-luxurious motorist, visits to a mechanic with a grease gun had been required at reasonably brief intervals. But the 1958 Lincoln driver might carry on going with Auto-Lube. When the button was pressed, a system of strains beneath the Lincoln delivered grease to each grease level within the entrance suspension. When the method was accomplished, a inexperienced mild on the sprint advised the motive force all was A-okay.
It was advisable the Lincoln driver bear in mind to press the button as soon as a day whereas the automobile was in operation. Each grease container would make as much as 300 purposes of grease to the entrance suspension. The system didn’t stay on provide for very lengthy, nevertheless it’s attention-grabbing to contemplate what may occur to the strains as they sat with grease in them for a couple of years.
Lincoln might’ve used some grease to assist slide vehicles out of showrooms in 1958 as gross sales tumbled. However, even with the recession, the Continental was the quantity vendor of the model: 62 p.c of Lincolns in 1958 had been Mark IIIs, a complete of 12,550 examples. That determine was composed of 1,283 customary sedans, 5,891 Landau sedans, 2,328 hardtop coupes, and three,048 of the flagship convertible.
Lincoln headed a unique route in 1959 that may see a “new” Mark take the stage, and introduce a brand new identify everyone knows immediately: Town Car. We’ll begin there subsequent time.
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