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1964 Lincoln Continental
Town Brougham Show Car

Built to test public reaction to new features

Image: 1964 Lincoln Continental Town Brougham

Lincoln followed the spectacular 1963 Lincoln Continental Lido Show Car with another one prepared for the 1964 auto show circuit. The 1964 Lincoln Continental Town Brougham was a bit more substantial as far as custom show cars went. This one was actually more than a trim and color package. For starters, the wheelbase was lengthened to 131 inches, an extension of five inches. Overall length was 221.3 inches. The additional length accommodated the front chauffeur's compartment and the division between the front and rear compartments. The division did include an operable power glass window that could be closed to separate the two compartments.

The inspiration for the Brougham body style was said to have originally resulted from a custom-ordered carriage dating back to 1837, which was placed by Henry Peter, England's first Baron of Brougham and Vaux, as well as Liverpool lawyer and Whig Party politician. He ordered an enclosed two-seat carriage with sharp, angled lines. Later, the Brougham body style became a more formal town car, still with razor-edged styling, but with an open front chauffeur's compartment that offered no protection from the weather! In fact, the only provision to protect the fully exposed chauffeur was a leather extension panel that could be buttoned between the windshield header and roof during inclement weather. Pity the poor chauffeur!

Naturally, the crisp, clean lines of the 1964 Lincoln Continental meant it was an excellent candidate for modification into the Brougham body style. The car actually started life as a 1963 Lincoln Continental Sedan, VIN 3Y82N413138, and was updated to 1964 styling. The forward section of the roof was removed, which of course created some rigidity issues. Skinny Continental Star emblems incorporated turning lights and were mounted on the front fenders, and the roof B-pillar was equipped with courtesy lights. On the rear roof sail panels, S-bar ornaments inspired by the Thunderbird Landau model were installed, and the door handles were removed and replaced with push button openers. The polished stainless trim that ran along the top of the fenders and doors on production Continentals was not included on the Town Brougham.

The Town Brougham was finished in Plaza Blue Pearl paint, a rich dark blue. The rear section of the roof was covered in black vinyl, and the rear window was a small, limousine-style window to offer privacy for the rear passengers. Inside, the front compartment was upholstered in black leather, and featured a stock 1964 Lincoln instrument panel, door trim panels, and seats. A division with glass window separated the front and rear compartments.

The rear compartment was upholstered in a light blue broadcloth, which had a stylized Continental Star emblem set in a circular design that was embroidered on the seat back cushions. Genuine walnut was used for the interior roof and window moldings. The rear compartment also included luxuries such as assist grips, magazine racks, mobile telephone, and a rear seat radio, all mounted on the front wall of the division between the compartments. An intercom system between the passengers and driver was mounted in the rear compartment quarter panels and in the radio speaker grille in the front compartment. High cut pile carpeting was color-keyed to match the seating and trim panels.

The Town Brougham was clearly a spectacular creation. But it was to be looked at only, not driven. Because the removal of the roof structure and the manner in which the wheelbase was extended was done with the knowledge that the car was being built for show only, it was never made road worthy! The additional cost and time to make the car safe for legal operation on the street would have likely prevented the project from ever happening.

Not only was no provision actually made to provide protection to a driver in bad weather, which meant the car could have only been operated on moderate, dry days, but essential instruments were not functional. For instance, the fuel, temperature, oil, and ammeter gauges didn't work. Lincoln warned in the literature that accompanied the car to shows that since there was no way of knowing how much gas was in it, to be prepared for the possibility that the tank might be empty. There were no side windows in the doors, front or rear, that could be closed. Instead, polished stainless moldings were inserted in the openings between the door panel and outer door. Custom made snap-in plexiglass windows were provided for the side windows of the rear compartment, to protect it from dust and dirt during shipping. The plexiglass windows had handles that clipped to the drip rail for installation.

Further, the rear radio, telephone, and intercom were for appearances only—none of them worked! The car was also missing a glove compartment liner and a windshield washer reservoir. The engine did operate normally, as did the transmission, brakes, lighting system, drive line, and rear axle. Even though Lincoln advised that the car not be driven, it did state that if absolutely necessary, the car could be operated but should be driven very carefully, for short distances, at low speeds.

The Town Brougham was a popular attraction at the auto shows, and was updated to again make the rounds the following year.