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The 1965 Lincoln Continental went into dealer showrooms with more substantial styling changes for the second year in a row. Previously limited to minor updates each year, limited mostly to the grille and rear deck applique, additional changes took place for the 1964 model year. Those changes were largely to accommodate the need for greater interior space, which was accomplished by extending the wheelbase by three inches.
1965 would be the fifth and final year of this body style, and in a market where the competition was undergoing complete restyles every other year, such as Cadillac was doing at the time, five years with the same styling was pushing the limit. Realizing this, Lincoln was emphatic about the timeless design of its line, advising that changes weren't made for the mere sake of change, but to enhance the motorcar and make it better.
Even a timeless design needs to be updated to keep the look fresh, as an incentive for people to purchase the new models. And it was apparent at this time that Lincoln's customers were holding onto their cars longer, which said volumes about Lincoln's quality and dependability, but certainly had a negative impact on repeat sales.
The styling updates for 1965 were highly visible, and made the '65 models perhaps the easiest to identify of the 1961-65 series. Up front, a new grille featured a horizontal theme with elongated rectangles that were separated by five heavier chrome horizontal bars. The center section jutted out a bit and was emphasized by a new front header panel and hood, both of which had a raised center section which gave the Lincolns a powerful appearance.
Tucked into the forward edges of the front fenders were new wrap around parking and turn signal lights. The thin horizontal chrome trim wrapping around the lenses carried the grille theme across the front of the car, and similar trim would be added to the tail lamps in back to dress them up and give the car balance. The new parking and turn signal lights resulted in a new front bumper and fenders, and allowed the headlights to be seen from the side of the car at night, a safety concern that was getting attention among legislators in Washington, D.C. Lincoln's wrap around tail lamps had been visible from the side since the beginning, and now the new styling up front matched that of the rear.
The deck lid applique that had matched the front grille design on earlier models was removed completely for 1965, although two rear grilles from the former design remained in the rear bumper, on either side of the license plate. A simple chrome molding ran along the lower edge of the deck lid, and this gave the rear of the car a less cluttered look and called attention to the beautiful, clean lines the car was known for.
New exterior colors drew attention to the styling refinements, and a new factory vinyl covered roof option for the Sedan looked quite nice on the car, and didn't spoil the styling as it did on some other cars. Available in five colors, Black, White, Blue, Brown, or Ivy Gold, the addition of a vinyl roof covering dressed up the car without being a distraction
Inside, the instrument panel introduced just a year earlier was refined. The instrument cluster was modified and the transmission selector dial was restyled. Radio controls were redesigned, as was the 16-inch safety steering wheel which had a new textured grip. Interiors represented the broadest range ever for Lincoln, offering two designs, Biscuit Design with vacuum-formed pleats, or Roll-Over Pleat Style. Fabrics include Largo Cloth, a monochromatic fabric used with the Biscuit Design style, and Moiré Fabric, an embossed material used with the Roll-Over Pleat Style. Traditional Wool Broadcloth is offered on Sedan models for the Roll-Over Pleat Style, and a new low-luster finish Leather in Roll-Over Pleat Style is standard on the Convertible, and optional on the Sedan. Individually adjustable contour front seats are optional on both body styles, and could be ordered in three colors in a combination of cloth and leather for Sedans, or in ten shades of leather for Sedans and Convertibles.
The Lincoln Continentals remained at the very top among the world's best-equipped motorcars, with almost everything one could desire provided as standard equipment. Lincoln continued to offer just two models, the Four Door Sedan and Four Door Convertible, and pointed out that there were no less expensive models offered, as some other car makers provide. This was obviously meant to address the Cadillac Calais series, brand new for 1965, a replacement for the old Sixty-Two line which was Cadillac's least expensive line dating back many years. By renaming the series for 1965, Cadillac hoped to align the series better within its line up to attract new customers who might ordinarily purchase another make of car. The Calais series models did not offer many luxury amenities as standard equipment, such as power windows, power seat, radio, whitewall tires, etc., to keep the base price low. Interiors didn't include rear seat cigarette lighters or fold-down center armrest, and some options such as a vinyl roof were not offered. The Calais remained in the Cadillac line until 1976, after which it was discontinued.
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