1962 Lincoln Continental
Quality improvements and styling refinements for 1962
The VIN is die-stamped under the hood on the right front inner fender apron above the upper suspension arm opening, as shown in the illustration at left. This is the official number for title and registration purposes, and is almost always the same as the vehicle warranty number.
VIN WARRANTY PLATE
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate is riveted to the front body pillar between the left front door hinges. Despite noting that the serial number is not for title or registration purposes, this number was indeed normally used, and as mentioned above usually matches the number stamped elsewhere on the vehicle.
The top row is the serial number of the car. It consists of 11 digits that decode as follows:
The second row includes codes for body style (two numbers and a letter), exterior color code (one letter or number), interior trim code (two numbers), scheduled build date (two numbers and one latter), transmission code (one number), and rear axle code (one number for a regular axle, one letter for a locking rear axle). (See example below for details.)
The VIN Door Plate shown below represents the car pictured below:
The VIN Plate above decodes as:
BODY: 53A = Lincoln Continental 4-Door Sedan (74A = 4-Door Convertible)
THIS IS A '62? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? IT LOOKS JUST LIKE THE '61S!
Above: 1961 Lincoln Continental Sedan in Black Cherry Metallic pulling away from the curb. Parallel parking is not the easiest maneuver for many, but the Continental's trim dimensions make this an easier task for Continental owners than for those who owned other luxury cars.
Except for somewhat minor changes to the front grille and bumper, and the rear deck lid grille, the 1962 models did look just like the 1961s. And that was absolutely intentional. Because regular, sweeping styling changes were not being undertaken, that allowed Lincoln to invest more time and money in improving what it felt was a landmark design. This meant better quality materials were being used, and components were being installed that could offer a longer life with less maintenance. Because this year's model looked a lot like last year's model, owners found that their used Lincolns were worth more at trade in time, adding more value to their initial purchase.
Lincoln's beautiful 1961 styling was a revelation to the industry, and by 1962 the first results of shocked stylists at other companies were being seen. In a dramatic move, Imperial chopped off its tail fins completely, perching its trade mark slim, circular tail light assemblies atop the rear fenders. The result was an Imperial that looked longer and much sleeker than before. Cadillac was stuck with its 1961 styling, but "squared up" its '62 design by eliminating the oval rear bumper ends and replacing them with rectangular ones. The round front parking and turn signal lights also got the rectangular treatment. The most substantial evidence that Cadillac was paying attention—and responding to Lincoln's design—was with the 1963 models, which were very different from what had come before from Cadillac. Cadillac worked in two year styling cycles, and Lincoln's influence on American luxury car design would remain for much of the sixties.
The 1964 Imperial would be completely new, and would flatter the Lincoln design considerably with very sleek, clean lines that the Imperial wore very well. The relationship between the Lincoln and Imperial designs at this point was quite clear: the man largely responsible for the beautiful Lincoln design in 1961 had left Ford and was now working for Chrysler. The '64 Imperial was his first opportunity to make his mark on that legendary automobile. The man's name? Elwood Engel.
Lincoln's sales improved modestly in 1962, with a production increase of 5,897 cars. This still fell far short of what Cadillac was selling, but Cadillac at this point had a history of styling marks that identified the cars as Cadillacs, and Lincoln was at this point in its fifth completely new design in a ten year period, none of which really defined what the Lincoln look was until the 1961 models. It would take some time for the public to see that this was indeed a design that Lincoln would stay faithful to. Also, quality control issues had plagued the previous 1958-1960 models, and that gave the Lincoln brand a somewhat tarnished reputation, although the 1961 models did much to repair that. Actually, the 1960 models had addressed most of the initial problems, but the styling wasn't loved by many, so some potential 1960 Lincoln customers didn't even consider them.
Lincoln would indeed move forward with this design, very carefully updating it each year, but the basis for styling changes would be improvement of the original design, avoiding sweeping changes that would date it.
In the May 1962 issue of Motor Trend Magazine, the editors compared the Lincoln Continental with a Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special and an Imperial LeBaron. It was noted that the Continental was the least expensive of the three, and the editors felt it was also the sportiest of the three cars. Any negatives were offset by positives: with the two-barrel carburetor feeding fuel to the 430 V-8 engine, the Continental was the slowest of the three in acceleration, with a 0 to 60 mph time of 12.4 seconds, compared to 11.0 for the Imperial and 10.8 for the Cadillac. However, the Lincoln was the only one of the three that was capable of laying rubber on full acceleration, and it also provided better fuel economy. Perhaps one of the best examples of Lincoln quality lies in this fact: speedometer error all the way up to 80 mph was zero.
Many years of service have proven these Lincolns to be durable and dependable. Even examples that have languished for years in a garage without being touched can often be brought back to life with a little time and effort. This is a result of the quality designed and built into these cars from the very beginning. Once put back into service, these cars may exhibit electrical problems with their power windows or seat, which are usually due to small issues that can be easily repaired, but they still prove to be reliable enough to get you from where you are to where you're going without issue. Not bad for a car that was never envisioned to last this long.
The public can readily identify these Continentals, a testament to their enduring styling which is now very much a part of American culture.
A full restoration on one of these cars is expensive and will take some time to do properly. Our typical advice applies here as well: buy the best one you can find. It will always cost more to restore one than it will ultimately be worth. If you do undertake a restoration on one of these cars, do it for the joy, love, and satisfaction of preserving one of these great machines. Having a classic car is a hobby, and like all hobbies it will cost money and take time. The enjoyment you'll experience when you're done makes the sweat and bruises worth it.
And if you would like to make some new friends, there's nothing like a classic car out for a drive on a sunny afternoon to attract attention. Visit a car show, even if you don't enter your car in the show, and you'll find lots of people with similar interests.
Best bets for a 1962 Lincoln Continental are the Convertibles, of course. But the Sedan is good as well, for those who don't care for the drama of a top down experience. Look for a car with factory air conditioning, most seem to prefer them today, unless you live in a part of the world where air conditioning isn't really necessary.
Above: 1962 Lincoln Continentals came with a Two-Year, 24,000-Mile Warranty, (whichever came first), that set a new standard for automotive warranties. This was possible due to the quality of the motorcars, and the thorough testing each one was required to pass before shipping.