the view through the windshield
1963 Lincoln Continental - Fine Tuning A Masterpiece

When the 1961 Lincoln Continental was introduced the automotive trade press was stunned. The car's look was a dramatic departure from the styling of the 1960 Lincoln - in fact, it was a complete break from the fins, fat chrome trim and dog-legged windshields which were so characteristic of all cars of the prior five years. It did show some hints of fine cars of the past - the Continental Mark II influence could be seen in the mesh grille, the wraparound taillight design and the rise in beltline just ahead of the rear wheel cutout.

The new Lincoln Continental was a clean, elegant design which influenced the look of many of the cars of the 60's including the '63 Pontiac Grand Prix, '63 Buick Riviera and '64 Imperial. But the Continental was more than just a pretty face. It was a highly engineered product as well. It offered a host of features and engineering improvements to make it a luxurious, quiet and dependable automobile.

Continentals of this era are considered among the most handsome large American cars ever offered. The simple, classic lines penned by Elwood Engel stayed the same for the first few years except for minor grille insert and rear panel changes.

These Lincolns were superbly engineered with a rigid unit body/chassis, extensive sound insulation and very close machining tolerances.

The 1963 model represented a gradual improvement over the '61 original. The deck was made taller and more boxy to substantially improve trunk space. The front seat was redesigned to improve rear-seat legroom. In front, there was a return to the mesh front grill, with hints of the old Mark II. For the first time AM-FM radio was offered and all models had alternators, replacing the less-effective electrical generators of prior years.

The engine acquired a four-barrel carburetor, raising advertised horsepower from 300 to 320. The 1963 model was 213 inches long, rode on a 123 inch wheelbase and was 54 inches tall. Sedans were priced at $6,270; the convertible model carried a $6,916 price tag.

For the 1963 model years, 31,233 of these beauties found buyers - 28,095 sedans and 3,138 convertibles. Sales were up slightly over '62.

Cadillac still outsold Lincoln by more than fivefold. It was a brand which had maintained a more consistent identity over the years and offered a variety of body-styles and trim lines, not available from Lincoln. Two-door Caddies sometimes represented 20% of total sales and the availability of factory 75 Series limousines with corresponding commercial chassis models for hearses, flower cars and other special bodies gave Cadillac additional luxury caché, something Lincoln did not offer. But the handsome lines of the early-1960s Lincoln slabsides served as the foundation for the Lincoln's later conquest of the American luxury car market. (posted 5/30/12)

Remember When: 1963
auto blogIn 1963, the USS Thresher nuclear sub sank killing 129 aboard. Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was killed in Jackson, Mississippi. President Kennedy presented a $98.8 billion budget, the largest in American history, to Congress. The projected $10 billion deficit of 1963 exceeded the total U.S. budget for 1940.

In Berlin, President John F. Kennedy gave his famous "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech before a crowd of 150,000. In August, Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech before a crowd of 200,000 in Washington, D.C.

Several new products debuted in '63: TAB, Valium and touch-tone phones. Green Giant introduced boil-in-bag frozen vegetables. Mary Kay Cosmetics and Weight Watchers were founded during that year. Troll dolls became a big hit with a price of $1.95 each for the three-inch tall version. Boeing tested the 727 prototype jetliner. In Great Britain, the Leyland Motor Corporation was formed. NSU announced the Spyder, the first production car to use a Wankel engine in the Fall of '63. Slot car mania was in full bloom; in 1963, slot cars overtook electric trains in market popularity in the toy business.

Coca Cola brought out a new slogan: 'Things Go Better With Coke', while Avis Rent-A-Car introduced its 'Try Harder' campaign. In a memorable television ad, Volkswagen asked, "Did you ever wonder how the man who drives a snowplow drives to the snowplow?" And Mrs. Olsen pitched Folger's Coffee, noting that it's "mountain grown." The Post Office debuted five-digit zip codes, replacing old-style one to three-digit postal codes.

In music, The Beatles were introduced to America, beginning with the song 'Please Please Me'. Other 1963 hit songs included 'Hey Paula' (Paul & Paula), 'Fingertips - Part II' (Little Stevie Wonder), 'It's My Party' (Lesley Gore), 'Louie Louie' (Kingsmen), 'Deep Purple' (Nino Tempo/April Stevens), 'Little Deuce Coupe' (Beach Boys) and 'Puff The Magic Dragon' (Peter, Paul & Mary). The Rolling Stones were formed in January of '63.

Several new TV shows debuted in 1963, including 'Burke's Law', 'The Fugitive', 'The Outer Limits', 'Pettycoat Junction' and 'My Favorite Martian'.

Numerous movies were released in '63: 'The Birds', 'From Russia With Love', 'The Great Escape', 'Hud', the low-budget Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello flick 'Beach Party' and 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World', the first single-lens, single-camera Cinerama commercial film screened in theaters. Liz Taylor's 'Cleopatra' was considered the biggest and most expensive film flop of '63. In 1963, a movie ticket cost 85¢.

New words included 'biodegradable', 'Cosa Nostra', 'jet-setter', 'peacenik', 'pop art' 'surfer' and 'software'.

In November, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in SS-100X, his open-topped Presidential Lincoln in Dallas, Texas. Other deaths included poet Robert Frost, Pope John XXIII, singers Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf and Dinah Washington, novelist Aldous Huxley and actor Adolphe Menjou.

In baseball, the LA Dodgers won the World Series, defeating the New York Yankees 4-0. The Cincinnati Reds' Pete Rose was named 'Rookie of the Year' by the National League.

Other Pages Of Interest

copyright 2012-18 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved
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The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

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If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.