Hey, There’s a Cool Car: 1973 Lincoln Continental
By Charles Krome
As I was trolling through the Internet researching this beauty, I came across an interesting comment from an owner: “If God had to buy a car, this would be it”—which, I suppose, is appropriate for a vehicle that’s nearly the size of Noah’s ark.
This 1973 Lincoln Continental—a coupe, remember—is more than 19 feet long and nearly 80 inches wide, giving it a slightly larger footprint than a Cadillac ESV. On the other hand, it’s true that the body-on-frame SUV outweighs the Lincoln by a fair amount; the Continental tips the scales at a mere 5,214 lbs. And the engine here shares the same sort of epic proportions. It’s a 460-cubic-inch V8 straight from the “no replacement for displacement” school of engineering.
Unfortunately, that mammoth mill has been detuned to produce only 212 hp (to go with 342 lb.-ft. of torque) and therein lies another distinguishing feature of this particular car.
The year 1973 is well known in the industry because of the oil embargo, but a sudden need to raise fuel efficiency was just one of the watershed events that automakers were dealing with around that time. The oil panic actually didn’t occur until the fall, so its impact on vehicles from the 1973 model year was minimal in terms of sales and non-existent in terms of design. The reason the Lincoln’s V8 made about 30 fewer ponies than a Ford Fusion’s V6 is that the car companies were already under pressure to reduce emissions, and back then, cleaner exhaust almost necessarily meant less hp.
Then there’s the monstrous bumper the Lincoln is wearing. That also was a fresh change for 1973, to comply with new safety regulations.
Put it all together, and the car is a perfect reflection of an industry in transition, when automakers were implementing their first of what would be many design decisions based on a new wave of governmental regulations.
Speaking of transitions, I’ll use that theme to segue into a few more comments about this specific car, which looks like it’s going through a transition of its own. The Continental sports custom wheels and what look like aftermarket exhaust tips, but the body and interior looked to be bone stock. I wasn’t able to get inside (or pop the hood) for photos, though. The car’s landau roof hasn’t fared too well, but even in mint condition that particular design cue didn’t often fare too well. Overall, the vehicle reminds me a bit of the 2001 monolith tipped over on its side: Long, smooth and angular. Yet the subtle kink in the car’s lines, just past the door, keeps its flanks from looking like an uninterrupted slab of steel. It’s certainly more effective at adding flair to the big coupe than the affected opera windows and bustle butt on the Mark IV versions of the Continentals from this era.
And while today’s Lincoln certainly doesn’t need a car with the dimensions of a 1973 Continental, selling a model with the same sort of spirit—if I may wax metaphysical here—should definitely be on the “to do” list.