Automotive Mileposts  

1974 Lincoln Continental

Image: 1974 Lincoln Continental Coupe
September 20, 1973
81 - Style 65A Lincoln Continental Coupé $8053
Weight: 5,210 Built: 7,318
82 - Style 53A Lincoln Continental Sedan $8238
Weight: 5,195 Built: 29,351
Weight: Town Coupé—5,254 lbs.; Town Car—5,259 lbs.
A 460 CID 4V V-8
Bore and Stroke: 4.36" x 3.85"
Compression Ratio: 8.0:1
SAE Net Horsepower: 215 @ 4000 rpm
Torque: N/A
Carburetor: Motorcraft 4-barrel
U SelectShift Automatic (C6)
2.75:1 (Traction-Lok)
3.00:1 (Optional)
3.00:1 (Optional; Traction-Lok)
Standard tire: Premium WSW steel-belted radial ply with 3/8" stripe
Dual hydraulic system
11.7" Power ventilated front disc
11" Finned and flared rear drum
Self adjusting
Sure-Track Brake System optional
127.2 inches
Front Tread: 64.3 inches
Rear Tread: 64.3 inches
Steering Ratio: 17.1
Length: 233.1 inches
Width: 80.0 inches
Height: 54.9 inches (Coupé)
55.0 inches (Sedan)
Trunk: 20.9 cubic feet
Ground clearance: 5.3"
Interior (Coupé - F/R):
Head Room: 38.2"/37.4"
Leg Room: 41.9"/38.8"
Shoulder Room: 61.8'"/60.8"
Hip Room: 62.3"/60.9"
Interior (Sedan - F/R):
Head Room: 38.7"/38.0"
Leg Room: 41.9"/41.7"
Shoulder Room: 61.8'"/61.6"
Hip Room: 62.3"/62.3"
Fuel Tank: 22.0 gallons
Fuel required: Regular (research octane rating of at least 91)
Cooling System: 19.5 quarts
Engine Oil: 5 qts. (including oil filter)
Power Steering: 3.9 pts.
Rear Axle: 5.0 pts.
The oil crisis of 1973 began on October 17, 1973, just 23 days after the 1974 model year introduction. Sales fell by 21,967 cars, or 62.5% of 1973's total. New for 1974:
- Energy-absorbing 5 mph rear bumper
- Solid State Ignition
- Seat Belt Starter Interlock
- Cartier clock installed in all Lincoln models as standard equipment
- Spare Tire Lock standard

After a record-setting production and sales year in 1973, Lincoln and the U.S. auto industry were both anticipating another record year for 1974. And everything was in place to make that happen. Lincoln restyled the front and rear of its cars, giving them a definite similarity to the Continental Mark IV up front with a new grille and wrap around front parking and signal lights. Slimmer taillights in back were now placed above the rear bumper, and recessed into the body, wrapping around the edges of the rear fenders to incorporate the rear side marker lights.

The 1974 Lincoln Continentals were introduced on Thursday, October 20, 1973, just 23 days before the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo in response to their perceived U.S. support of Israel during the Yom Kippur war. OAPEC declared it would limit or suspend oil shipments to the United States and other countries that showed support for Israel during the conflict.

Almost immediately, the cost of gasoline shot up and it wasn't long before some gas stations began running out of gas. The embargo ended in March 1974, but the fear of not being able to purchase gasoline changed consumer tastes almost overnight. Suddenly, people who always purchased full-sized cars were looking for something smaller and more economical. The big luxury cars like Lincoln suffered dramatic sales losses.

Even though the embargo lasted less than five months, it happened during the busiest time of the year for new car sales, and there was no way to recover in the few short months that were left when oil shipments resumed.

Demand for smaller, more fuel efficient cars was suddenly forced upon the U.S. auto industry, and that included the premium luxury cars, which were already under attack from imports like Mercedes Benz and BMW.

Lincoln sold 58,636 Continental Sedans and Coupés in 1973, and just 36,669 in 1974. Just at the moment Lincoln's momentum to truly challenge Cadillac had some traction, events elsewhere in the world created the need for a smaller Lincoln.

Cadillac was in a slightly better position than Lincoln at this time, as it had a new, smaller sedan already in development to challenge the luxury imports, but it was still over a year away from being ready. Nevertheless, the gas crisis made sure the new smaller car was a priority at Cadillac going forward. The new car, of course, would be the "international sized" Seville. Introduced in April 1975, it appeared in dealer showrooms on May 1, 1975 and 16,355 cars were built by the end of the 1975 model year.

Lincoln would be the last full-sized luxury car, but that wouldn't happen until 1979, when luxury cars as we'd known and loved them for so many years came to a close. Lincoln's first small car would be the Versailles, built from 1977-1980. It was not a big seller, but it does have its admirers today. Based on the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch platform, the Versailles was at a disadvantage from the very beginning because its origin was obvious. Cadillac's Seville was based on the Chevrolet Nova platform, but unlike the Versailles, didn't share any exterior or interior resemblance to that model.

Between 1974 and the end of the decade, Lincoln would enjoy a mostly improving sales picture, starting with the 1975 models, which would come close to 1973's record year. 1974 was the last year for this look, as the 1975 cars received an all new, more formal roof design and new vertical taillights returned for the first time since 1968, harkening back to the classic styling of the sixties Lincoln Continentals.

The 1974 Lincoln Continentals are big, luxurious, well built cars that are fairly easy to work on, as far as luxury cars go. Areas to watch for include rust in the rear quarters and under the vinyl roof. Some exterior trim pieces can be difficult to find, but most mechanical parts were shared with other Ford vehicles, so they are readily available at your local auto parts store.

1974 served as a transitional year for Lincoln, bridging the early seventies cars with the late seventies cars. One truly may not be able to comprehend how wonderful these automobiles are without driving them. Considering their size, they are wonderful automobiles to drive and ride in. They are just perfect for that next long trip, where the going to and from could be as much fun as the destination, if you're in a 1974 Lincoln Continental.