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1972 Lincoln Continental Town Car shown in Red Moondust Metallic (paint code 2G)

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1972 Lincoln Continental


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Image: The Lincoln Continental for 1972A funny thing happened on the way to writing about the 1972 Lincoln Continental. Even though many do not regard the early seventies Lincolns to be among the finest examples built of the line, there are a good many who have very fond memories of these automobiles, and rank them not only near the top of the Lincoln line, but also near the top of American luxury cars! The early seventies models bridged the gap between the sixties "slab sided suicide door" models and the last of the full-sized late seventies models, which are highly regarded in Lincoln circles. The bar was set pretty high for the 1970-1974 cars, and while collector interest in them today might not be as strong as for the models that preceded or followed them, we have to wonder if collectors are missing an opportunity.

In spite of a lower compression ratio for 1972, the big 460 4V V-8 was still a brilliant performer. It had the ability to move the 5,000 pound plus vehicle with surprising dexterity. Steering was light and responsive once one became accustomed to it, the power front disc brakes were rated as excellent at the time, and when working properly, have the ability to stop movement quickly and without theatrics.

Upon entering, many are surprised to see full instrumentation. Gauges for alternator, fuel, temperature, and oil pressure are clustered near the steering column, and positioned so the most important ones are in the driver's direct line of sight. Few luxury cars of this vintage provided gauges, and while the gauges don't provide details as to what the engine temperature or oil pressure actually is, they are far better than a warning light. (The gauges have a normal operating band spanning their center, but don't actually have markings to indicate specific temperature or pressure, so they don't provide detailed information.)

The Lincoln instrument panel is both functional and beautiful with simulated Rosewood appliqués that run across the entire upper section of the panel. To the driver's left are a bank of lights to report if a door is ajar, fuel level is low, headlamp doors remain closed when lights are on, or if the dual braking system sustains a loss of hydraulic pressure. Directly above the steering column is the transmission quadrant, and above that the linear speedometer that is quite easy to read. Above the speedo are the odometer, trip odometer, high beam indicator, turn signal indicators, and the reset knob for the trip odometer.

To the driver's right, controls are grouped for easy access by driver or front seat passenger. A panel mounted on the underside of the instrument panel pad contains the "Fasten Seat Belts" reminder light, plus controls for the power antenna and rear window defroster, if equipped. The radio is below that, and a large ash tray and cigarette lighter are concealed behind a padded section that opens when needed. Controls for the standard Automatic Temperature Control are near the steering column (to its right) and are convenient to anyone in the front seat. The electric clock is just above the temperature controls, and to the right of the temperature and oil pressure gauges.

To the right of the ash tray section is a large glove compartment, which was doubled in size for 1970 to provide plenty of storage space. A concealed deck lid release is located to the left of the compartment on cars equipped with the Power Lock/Convenience Group. It should be pointed out that even the deck lid release was beautifully designed with a rectangular upright chrome bezel, upon which the word "TRUNK" was engraved. A small round chrome button when pressed unlocks the rear deck lid. It is this attention to detail that made the Lincoln Continental such an outstanding motorcar. And special touches like this are everywhere on these cars.

When discussing old cars, people always recall a parent or grandparent who had one, or perhaps an aunt, uncle, or neighbor. And the memories of that time are usually good ones, of childhood activities, parties, and spending time with loved ones who are no longer here to reminisce with. While researching this section, we were told of the love of a grandmother's 1972 Lincoln, and the happy times spent in that car with her. Another remembered taking their driving test in one. And still another recalls his father's dismay at trading in a beloved '72 Lincoln on an economy car, and how the whole family hated driving and riding in that car.

It seems to us the 1970-1974 Lincolns are a treasure yet to be discovered. The styling is contemporary and very attractive, quality control was good during this period, performance is better than most would expect from such a large car, and they are dependable with easy access to parts. That said, let's examine the specific changes that took place for 1972.

Image: 1972 Lincoln Continental grilleA totally redesigned grille with matching headlamp door ornamentation greeted Lincoln's customers for 1972. The grille was a criss-cross pattern consisting of a series of eight rectangles across by four rectangles down. Within each rectangle, a recessed series of squares eight across and three down appeared. The headlamp door ornamentation was similar, with three across in a single row. Some feel this made the front end a bit busy, and that the ornamentation should have been left off of the headlamp doors. We concur, although we do still like the look anyway. Above the grille, a new stand-up, spring-loaded Continental Star hood ornament appeared. This was the first time since 1967 that Lincoln provided a hood ornament.

New rear door styling on Sedan models made the Lincoln look longer. The gentle angle to the upper body line was removed, so the line ran straight across the top of the door until it neared the rear edge. At that point, it curved up abruptly to line up with the rear quarter panel. The door handles on front and rear doors were now parallel to each other (before the rear door handle was mounted slightly higher on the door). New full-length polished upper body moldings were also added. These changes gave the Lincoln a dramatically different appearance, although many might be hard pressed to identify the changes quickly, without the opportunity to study them for a while.

The taillight/stop/turn signal lenses were also redesigned, now a series of three rectangles on either side of the back-up lights, which book ended the license plate at center. A change was made to the stop and turn signals for 1972. Now, just the outer two lights illuminated to signal turns or to indicate braking. The innermost light served as a running light only.

Inside, a new cloth upholstery named Nottingham appeared. The woven brocade pattern was offered in just three colors. A Bedford Knit was also offered in five colors at no additional charge. Optional Twin Comfort Lounge Seats could be ordered with a new Lamont Cloth in two colors, or with optional leather in eight shades. (White leather was accompanied by either black, dark blue, dark green, or dark tobacco components. Components included instrument panel, steering wheel and column, and carpeting.)

New standard features for 1972 included an AM push button radio with dual front and rear speakers and power antenna, which was last provided as standard back in 1965. At mid-year during 1971 production, white sidewall Michelin steel-belted radial ply tires were made standard, and they were also included as such for 1972.

The changes made for 1972 were effective, as sales jumped considerably over 1971. The 1973 models would change very little, and sales would continue to increase that year as well.The 1974 model year would bring about even more changes, but sales would slide a bit, only to rebound for 1975. The 1972 Lincolns are great cars that were thoroughly tested by the National Consumer Testing Institute. In areas of smoothness, steadiness, and quietness, 60 out of 100 owners of "that other American luxury car" said the Continentals had a more comfortable ride. Demand for the 1972 Lincolns was often greater than supply, an unusual occurrence for Lincoln, but one they would have to adjust for during the coming years.

The 1972 Lincoln Continental was the quietest, smoothest riding, and most comfortable Lincoln Continental ever offered to date, and that makes them superb motorcars today as well. And since so many collectors overlook these exceptional cars, nice examples can be found for very reasonable prices. We encourage you to take a look at them, and better yet, drive them if you can. You are in for a pleasant experience if you do.

1970-1974 LINCOLN CONTINENTAL PARTS AUCTIONS

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