1968 was the first year that the Continental Star hood ornament wasn't
provided. New safety laws prohibited it, but it would return for the 1972
Early and mid-production 1968 Continentals were delivered with the 462
CID V-8 engine first introduced in 1966. Late production units were equipped
with the new 460 CID V-8, which has caused some confusion for collectors
and restorers over the years.
Lincoln built its one millionth car on March 25, 1968. It was a Continental
Sedan, finished in Huron Blue Metallic with a Dark Blue Chalfonte fabric
interior. Contrary to some published reports, this particular car was not
equipped with a Heritage Roof.
1968 was the first year for:
- Side marker lights
- Recessed armrest controls
- Concealed back-up lights in rear grille
- Rear Defogger/Environmental Control option
- FM stereo multiplex adapter (dealer installed)
- Walnut-tone appliqué on instrument control panel
- Flared Wheel Plates option (deluxe "turbine" wheel covers)
- Energy-absorbing steering column
- Dark Ivy Gold (dark green) vinyl roof color
- Woodgrain steering wheel rim
- Vinyl covered, padded steering wheel spokes and hub
- Automatic Ride Leveler suspension system
- Transistorized Automatic Headlamp Dimmer
- Flexible coupling isolated the steering gear from the steering column
The 1968 Lincoln Continentals featured revised instrument panel and steering
Shown above, new for 1968: Energy-absorbing steering column and wheel,
woodtone rim on steering wheel, vinyl covered padded spokes and hub, Walnut
appliqué on instrument control panel, revised and relocated headlight,
heater, and radio knobs, and deeper instrument panel padding.
1968 LINCOLN CONTINENTAL:
THE VALUE OF LUXURY
When Lincoln first created its award-winning new look for 1961, it had
deliberately priced and equipped its cars to be superior to Cadillac. Lincoln
wasn't interested in competing with Cadillac's lower-priced Series Sixty-Two
(later Calais) vehicles, but wanted to target its most popular line: the
DeVilles. To justify this, Lincoln provided a more lavish level of standard
equipment, with a price representative of all the extras provided at the
base price. Lincoln was quick to advise that they did not compromise by
building less expensive models as some others did, for that would not meet
Continental's standards. This meant things like whitewall tires, radio,
power vent windows, power door locks, and six way power seat cost extra
on Cadillac, even on its higher-priced DeVille series.
By the summer of 1968, it had become apparent that Lincoln's decision to
target the higher end of the market was the way to go. In 1962, the entry
level Cadillac Series Sixty-Two cars accounted for 36 percent of luxury
volume. By 1968, this figure had dropped to just 8 percent. It was obvious
that consumer preference in the luxury market was for the very best, and
less expensive models were not acceptable. This was also somewhat confirmed
in the Imperial line, which dropped its Custom line after 1963, leaving
just the Crown and LeBaron models to market.
One might think this was good news for Lincoln, but there were concerns.
A report released in 1966 indicated that "Lincoln Continental had
not achieved prestige parity with Cadillac in the eyes of the general public
and, specifically, luxury car buyers." There was no doubt that owner
loyalty among Lincoln owners and their attitudes toward their cars continued
to improve, but the same report noted that Lincoln had "...been building
a sound platform from which to launch a more direct offensive when the
proper opportunity presents itself." That opportunity came in 1966
with the launch of a redesigned Lincoln, and the revelation that a growing
number of Cadillac owners were dissatisfied with their car, both in terms
of product and prestige.
Additionally, two areas were identified that required attention: Lincoln's
weak product offering in comparison to Cadillac's, and Lincoln's pricing
policy. Lincoln had a long-range program in place that would ultimately
bring the "Lincoln car line in a position directly competitive in
price and product with the Cadillac car line." The first step in response
to this was the introduction of a two door hardtop model in 1966, and a
reduction in the standard equipment provided on Lincoln Continentals.
When the 1961 Lincoln Continentals were introduced, they were merchandised
as fully equipped automobiles. Advertising stated that "...there is
scarcely anything you might desire that we could add to this car."
And that was pretty much true, as options during the mid-sixties included
air conditioning, tinted glass, automatic headlamp dimmer, directed power
differential, and leather upholstery on Sedans. That was pretty much it.
It was believed that so many new options were now available, the standard
equipment levels had been somewhat diluted anyway, and it was more important
to bring pricing down closer to Cadillac levels, to prevent customers from
comparison shopping and immediately dismissing the Lincoln due to its higher
It would seem Lincoln had a good plan, thoroughly researched, and carefully
timed to its benefit. And the positives of improved owner satisfaction
and loyalty created some negatives. More Lincoln owners were retaining
their cars after one year, reducing the number of people why typically
might have traded their cars in annually for a new model. In the 1958-60
period, 64% of Lincoln owners kept their cars longer than one year. This
figure had jumped to an incredible 90% by 1964! So, while Lincoln's minor
styling changes increased owner retention and satisfaction, it also limited
the number of people making annual new car purchases. The full impact of
this was being felt by 1968.
Lincoln built 39,134 cars for 1968, down from 1967's 45,667. This was typical
of a body style in its third year, but it was the second year in a row
for a reduction in production for Lincoln, after six years of production
increases from 1961-1966. It was one thing to build a car that was so well
loved and so carefully styled that owners didn't feel the need to replace
them, but quite another to allow that sentiment to impact sales of new
models. Conquest sales from Cadillac (former Cadillac owners switching
to Lincoln) continued to grow, which pleased Lincoln very much, of course,
but even with that sales still trailed far behind those of Cadillac.
Cadillac did offer more models, which no doubt accounted for some of the
gap, and Cadillac was quite proud of the wide variety of models it offered,
missing no opportunity to remind people they could choose from so many
different choices. But changes were coming, and as the 1970s passed, Lincoln
would make further advances against Cadillac's superior sales numbers.
There is one area of confusion regarding the 1968 Lincolns that needs to
be cleared up. Catalogs for 1968 specify the 462 CID V-8 engine as standard
equipment, and no optional engines are listed. However, it is documented
that late production 1968 Lincolns are factory-equipped with the new 460
CID V-8. There is a reason for this. Initially, Lincoln intended to introduce
the 460 at the beginning of the model year, announcing the advancements
in emission control and horsepower. This would be just the thing to call
attention to the line until the spring introduction of the new Continental
Before production began, 30,000 462 engines were found stored in a warehouse.
These engines had been tested, and were ready to be installed. Exactly
what events led up to this many engines being stored away is a mystery.
We've been told it was due to slower than expected sales for 1966 and 1967,
which led to an overstocked inventory. It has also been suggested that
someone made a mistake and ordered too many built, and due to communications
issues the whereabouts of the engines weren't immediately disclosed. At
any rate, the overstocked 462 engines were used from the beginning of production
until they ran out, at which point the new 460 was substituted. This would
mean that the last 10,000 production 1968 Lincoln Continentals were equipped
with the new 460 from the factory.
Is it worth seeking out a '68 Continental with a 460 vs. a 462 engine?
The new engine is more efficient and more powerful, and is a more modern
design than the 462, and both have their devotees. Both engines are dependable,
smooth running, and strong, so it's probably best to base any decision
on the car as a whole, rather than search for one with the engine you want
that may be less desirable in other respects.
As always, be sure to look for rust in the rear quarters and around the
rear window and under the vinyl roof. Look for electrical issues, as these
cars are complex and can be difficult to troubleshoot if there are existing
problems. Look for one that has most of the options on it, as people generally
prefer loaded cars from this era, and that is reflected in resale values
These cars always cost more to restore than they're worth, so buy the best
one you can afford and keep in mind that you'll likely never recover what
you put into it, but collecting classic cars is a hobby, and as such will
cost money, just like any other hobby including golf, owning a boat or
motorcycle, or any other sport.