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Image: 1970 Lincoln Continental Sedan
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1970 Lincoln Continental

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Image: Announcing the 1970 Lincoln ContinentalAfter spending the better part of the decade carefully cultivating a Lincoln look, that design was getting dated by the time the stylists began working on the 1970 models in the late sixties. No matter how classic or well executed a design may be, it does have a life span. And the elegant look established in 1961 for the Lincoln Continental, which was very deliberately and modestly updated year after year through the sixties was at the end of its road. The concern at Lincoln was how to improve upon it and change its look without losing the styling heritage Lincoln worked so hard to establish.

It was determined that the next cars had to be roomier, and maintain enough styling similarity that the new design would be immediately recognized as a Lincoln Continental. The center opening rear doors were dropped in favor of traditional front hinged doors, which was a concern since the center opening rear doors at that point were a Lincoln feature that had become very popular.

The silhouette of the new design was very similar to its predecessor, and maintained a squared-off look. The new grille featured a bold horizontal pattern, and stretched all the way across the front of the car from fender to fender. The center section jutted out giving the car a very powerful appearance. Dual headlamps were concealed behind doors that matched the grille and each had a polished rectangular plate positioned at center. The driver's side bore the Continental script. Combination parking and turn signals were mounted below the headlights in the bumper, which wrapped around to the side of the car and extended along the bottom of the front fender all the way to the wheel opening. The front side marker light and new standard cornering lamp were integrated into the bumper in this area. Centered above the grille on the header panel was the classic Continental star emblem.

Image: 1970 Lincoln Continental rear viewBoth the front and rear doors on the Sedan and Coupe were wider than previous models, and rear fender skirts were included for the first time since 1960. A vinyl-insert bodyside protective molding incorporated partial wheel lip moldings as well.

A massive new rear bumper stretched across the back and housed the taillamps, which consisted of six horizontal rectangles, two down and three wide. Inboard next to each taillamp was a vertical back-up light, between the two back-up lights a space for the license plate was reserved.

Below the rear window, louvers for the new Flow-Thru Ventilation System whisked interior air out of the car at the rate of 480 cubic feet a minute. And this was with all side windows closed! The vent was vacuum-operated by a switch on the instrument panel. 1970 would be the only year for this feature, as it was incorporated into the rear quarter pillars for 1971.

Increased spaciousness was a requirement on the new car, and Lincoln was wary of this, because the last time they had attempted to better the competition with a "bigger is better" design didn't turn out as they'd hoped. The new 1970 Lincoln Continentals featured a longer body and the widest stance of any Continental ever. Virtually every interior dimension was improved, including front and rear legroom, hiproom, shoulder room, and headroom. The seat cushions were deeper front to back, and the rear seat backs were four inches higher. The luggage compartment offered a generous 18.1 cubic feet of usable capacity, and was fully carpeted.

Image: 1970 Lincoln Continental instrument panelA completely new instrument panel design greeted Lincoln's customers in 1970. The horizontal bar-type speedometer returned, which displayed a red bar under the appropriate speed. Normally the area was black, but as the car speed increased, the red bar would extend from left (0 mph) to right (up to 120 mph), which made it very easy to determine your speed at a glance. Gauges for alternator, fuel, temperature, and oil pressure were square in appearance, and flanked each side of the steering column, with the fuel and temperature gauges closest to the line of sight since they were the two most frequently checked. To the left of the steering column, and below the alternator and fuel gauges, were controls for headlamps and wiper/washer. To the right of the column, below the temperature and oil pressure gauges, were the heating/ventilation/air conditioning controls.

Above the speedometer were turn indicator lights, high beam indicator light, odometer, and trip odometer with reset. A bank of six lights to the left of the speedometer provided warnings or reminders to the driver about trunk open, headlamp door warning, seat belt reminder, brake system warning, low fuel warning, and door ajar warning. Mounted at the center of the panel, just under the front padded edge, was a convenience panel and map light, which housed controls for the optional speed control on/off switch, Flow Thru rear vent control, power antenna (provided with all radio installations), and rear window defogger (blower type) or defroster (electric type). The map light would remain on for a few seconds after the driver's door was closed to allow the driver to locate the ignition switch, located for the first time on the right side of the steering column, which incorporated a steering wheel and transmission lever lock as an anti-theft device.

On the instrument panel at center was the optional radio, and below it was the concealed ash tray and cigarette lighter. To its right was an oversized glove compartment, which was double the size of the 1969 model. This basic instrument panel design would be used with revisions through the 1977 model year.

Two interior upholstery fabrics were standard on the 1970 Lincolns, an elegant brocade with wide pleat and tie-button sew style that featured puffed vinyl door trim. The other was a knitted tricot nylon in a pleated pattern. Both provided front and rear center fold-down armrests. Genuine leather seating surfaces were optional on both Lincoln models, and was the most popular choice for the year. It featured the same pleated pattern as the knitted tricot nylon interior. An optional Town Car Interior was available for the sedan, offering rich leather seating surfaces with a unique sew style, extra deep cut pile carpeting throughout, and unique door panels.

For 1970, Lincoln successfully updated its look without losing the identifying design traits it had established in 1961.With all identification removed from the car, people still knew it was a Lincoln. The styling had evolved from previous years, and even with a major update for 1970, was contemporary and lost nothing in the transition. Lincoln truly knew what luxury car buyers wanted, and would see its market share grow through the seventies.


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