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Spotted: a 1997 Lincoln Continental

October 27, 2023

The Lincoln Continental is best known in the form of the luxurious battleships of yesteryear, for example as we encountered late last year. You may also be familiar with the modern model, which came from 2016 through 2020. The model generations of the ’80s and ’90s were a bit more anonymously styled and, perhaps for that reason, have been somewhat forgotten.

Luxury in the Lincoln Continental

In late 1994, the ninth-generation Lincoln Continental entered the market for the 1995 model year. Whereas the previous model was still sleek and relatively square, the new Continental went completely with the rounded shapes of the 1990s. Inside, too, everything was right up to date, with onboard luxuries such as a JBL audio system, a CD changer for six CDs, a car phone, seat heating and air suspension. Optionally, the car could even be ordered with six seats, thanks to a front bench instead of individual seats. Remarkably, air suspension was reserved for the rear axle later in production and traditional coil springs were again fitted in front. Along with some other changes, that made a lower selling price possible.

Lincoln Continental gets a V8 again

Although the new Lincoln Continental was completely different in design, under the skin it was virtually unchanged from the previous model. One important difference, however, is that the 3.8-liter V6 was swapped for a 4.6-liter V8. This allowed the Continental to better compete with the Cadillac DeVille, equipped with Northstar V8. Unusually, however, the V8 at the Lincoln, like that earlier V6, was transverse and drove the front wheels. The V8 had an output of 190 kW (259 hp) and 359 Nm. Enough to reach 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds, very neat for a car like this. The transmission was always a four-speed automatic, at the time the most common transmission in the segment.

Lincoln Continental facelift for 1998

For model year 1998, it was time for a facelift, in which the front and rear were largely redrawn. The Lincoln Continental became a kind of hot-washed version of the then just-new Lincoln Town Car. (Only) from the following 1999 model year did on-board luxuries also increase, including extra power (now 205 kW (279 hp)) an improved audio system and even voice controls for the car phone. In terms of safety, some more side airbags were added, plus a kind of precursor to what is now the eCall system.

This model generation lasted through model year 2002, but had no successor after that. Not directly in any case. A successor was not ready until the 2009 model year, in the form of the all-new Lincoln MKS. For the 2017 model year, the MKS was again succeeded by a new Continental.

The spotted specimen

In Meppel, we came across this 1997 Lincoln Continental. The car is original Dutch. It turns out that this model generation was also just officially delivered in the Netherlands until the 1998 facelift. Many copies will not have been sold. This makes the spotted Continental perhaps one of the last to be delivered new to our country.

At the moment, there are still exactly 20 Lincoln Continentals of this model generation on Dutch registration plates. By far the majority are original Dutch, but three more examples of the facelift model were imported after official delivery. With a 1998 imported one, whether it is pre-facelift or post-facelift is a moot point. Also during official delivery, four examples found their way to our country via gray import.