1966 Lincoln Continental
Above: 1966 Lincoln Continental Sedan shown in Madison Gray Metallic paint with an optional Black Vinyl Roof
Unmistakably New, Yet Unmistakably Continental
For the first time since 1961, an all-new Lincoln Continental greeted the new car buying public in Lincoln dealer showrooms. Despite the new styling, the award-winning Lincoln look that was introduced in 1961 was carefully respected. One look and you knew it was brand new, but you also knew it was unmistakably a Lincoln.
Sales increased over 1965, as you would expect with new styling. An increase of 14,575 cars was realized, due mostly to the new Coupé model, as 1966 sales of the Sedan and Convertible were very close to their 1965 numbers. Top competitor Cadillac built 196,675 cars for 1966, a new production record, and within throwing distance of the 200,000 mark.
In the luxury car market, there was something to be said for exclusivity, and Lincoln could certainly make a case for that in comparison to Cadillac—as could Imperial. It's difficult to feel special when a car just like yours pulls up next to you at the intersection, or parks next to you at the club or restaurant.
Lincoln's popularity would continue to grow as the years passed, and Lincoln would eventually become a true concern for Cadillac, especially when Lincoln models began to outsell the comparable Cadillac model.
In addition to styling, Lincoln had a lot of other things new to offer as well. A powerful 462 CID 4V V-8 engine was installed under the hood, developing 340 horsepower. A new integral AM Radio with StereoSonic Tape System played pre-recorded tapes through 4 high fidelity speakers. True stereo separation was achieved with separate front-rear and side-to-side balance controls. The unit was located in the instrument panel.
Convertibles got a new glass rear window for 1966, which was a fixed part of the top and automatically folded into place when the top was lowered. The convertible top itself was custom hand trimmed at the factory, and offered in three color choices: black, white, or blue, each coordinated with interior upholstery colors.
The rear door window on convertibles continued to lower five inches automatically when the door was opened, unless the glass was already lowered six inches or more. After the door was closed, the window would automatically close itself unless it was already partially open. This prevented interference between the front and rear door glass in instances where both were closed simultaneously, and ensured proper alignment of the window seals. When this feature works properly, it's a wonder to watch. But as with so many things electrical, it can be a real headache to repair when it malfunctions. An Outside Deck Lid Release Switch was mounted to the rear of the fuel filler door, and could be operated by a key to open or close the deck lid without the need to get inside the car.
1966 would be the first time since 1961 that Lincoln offered more than two models. It would return to a two model line up briefly in 1968, as the convertible would be discontinued after 1967 production ended. The new Continental Mark III would be introduced in the spring of 1968 as a 1969 model, giving Lincoln three models again.
Unique features introduced on the 1966 Lincoln include a press on/press off combination map and courtesy light on the instrument panel just to the left of the ignition. It illuminated when any door was opened, and could be manually turned on when necessary by pressing in on the lens. The Phototube Unit of the Automatic Headlamp Dimmer was cleverly concealed in the forward edge of the left front fender, eliminating the unit mounted atop the instrument panel previously. This location provided a better view of the road ahead, which allowed the photocell to better sense oncoming traffic.
If you are considering purchasing a 1966 Lincoln, buy the best one you can find. These cars are expensive to restore, and a restoration will always cost more than the car is worth, unless prices climb quite a bit. Look for rust in the rear quarters, and check to make sure the various electrical systems are working properly. This car has relays that control relays that control relays. (Not really, but it seems that way—there are lots of relays on these cars, especially the convertibles!)
The 1966 Lincoln Continentals were fresh, powerful, quiet, and smooth. Which is everything a luxury car buyer could have possibly wanted in 1966, and they are still very popular among Lincoln enthusiasts and collectors today.