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1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible:
The Last Advertisement

The last ad created for the Convertible model

Image: 1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible advertisementThe advertisement shown at left was the last ad created to promote the Lincoln Continental Convertible model. (Click on ad to view larger version in a new window or tab.) Even though the Convertible would continue through the 1967 model year, it would be discreetly discontinued at the end of that year. What had been such an integral part of the Lincoln model line up at the beginning of the decade, was now suffering with low sales and would not make it to the end of the decade.

Convertibles in general were being dropped due to slow sales, likely brought on by attractive new hardtop roof lines that looked like a convertible without any of the issues that go along with convertibles. Factory air conditioning was being installed at a higher rate every year, and new sound systems with FM stereo or 8-track tape systems just didn't sound as good when not contained within the confines of a hardtop body.

In addition, there was the expense of replacing the convertible top material if it became damaged, and the ordeal of lowering and raising the top. This process was fully automatic on the Lincoln, of course, but not so on most other convertibles.

The Ford Thunderbird Convertible ended with the new body style for 1967, which to this day has made the 1966 and earlier models more collectible in the eyes of enthusiasts. The Imperial would build its last Crown Convertible in 1968. Cadillac would discontinue the DeVille Convertible after 1970, but at the same time introduce a new Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible for 1971. It would be gone by 1977.

There were other reasons for the demise of the convertible body style as well. The world was becoming a less safe place, and top down motoring doesn't offer much protection from the unwanted attention of a stranger. There was also concern that federal regulations in the future dealing with occupant protection in a roll over accident would be impossible to meet.

So, the end came for the glamorous convertible body style. And there was nothing more glamorous than a Continental Convertible. And at the time, nothing more fully automatic nor more effortless to operate. The 1966 and 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertibles were probably the easiest cars built to date when it came to lowering or raising the top.

To lower the top, one had to only start the engine, and with the transmission selector at "N" or "P" lower all the side windows. Then, push down on the "TOP" control switch mounted at the extreme left center area of the instrument panel. This set in motion a series of relays, motors, pumps, and solenoids that put on quite a show lowering the top. Here is the series of events that occurred:

1. The deck lid would unlock and open. It is hinged near the rear bumper, and opens in reverse of normal deck lids.
2. Release the control switch and check to make sure the spare tire is properly stowed in the luggage compartment, and that no objects will interfere with the stowed top.
3. Press the control switch down again to extend the panel on the underside of the deck lid.
4. Continue holding the switch to unlock the top from the windshield header, and lower the top into the luggage compartment.
5. Hold switch until deck lid closes and locks, which creates a ratcheting sound.
6. Release switch and you're ready to go!

To raise the top, you basically reverse the process, making sure all windows and the sun visors are lowered. Pressing the switch up raises the top. Again, a ratcheting sound at the end of the cycle will indicate the deck lid is closed and locked. The entire process takes about a minute, and is accompanied by various humming noises. Some of the current model convertibles are fully automatic as well, but in its day, nothing compared to the ease of a Lincoln Continental Convertible.

One of AM's insiders tells us that two 1968 Lincoln Continental Convertible prototypes were actually built. One was red, and the other maroon. They both had full 1968 styling updates, and had been undergoing testing prior to production. When the word came down that the convertible model was dead, and that the two prototype models must be destroyed, our insider said they felt something churning in their stomach. Both cars were last seen parked near a crane, awaiting their turn to be destroyed.

The Cranberry Red 1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible featured in the final ad was certainly a fitting choice. With its white leather interior, there probably wasn't a better color combination that could have been chosen. The scene was a horse track, and the beautiful Lincoln was parked right next to the track, near a sign that indicated the area was restricted to owners and trainers only. Two women were in the car, one seated on the rear deck with her feet resting on the rear seat cushion. She was wearing a white suit, and watching the activities on the track, perhaps through binoculars she was holding, or perhaps she had a camera in her hands. Possibly, she was just clapping to encourage her favorite.

Another woman with red hair was kneeling on the rear seat cushion, looking away toward the track. Several men were posed in the background, but it's difficult to ascertain if they are with the women in the Lincoln or not. From the manner of dress, it would appear the women are better outfitted than the men, and they are there alone. The ad headline read, "Lincoln Continental expresses the excitement of your way of life."

Few cars in 1966 would have been as exciting to drive as a Cranberry Red Lincoln Continental Convertible. It's sad that such an elegant and beautiful model had to end in such an undistinguished manner. In 1966, just 3,180 convertibles were built at a base price of $6,383. In 1967, that total dropped to only 2,276 cars priced at $6,449.

If the Lincoln Continental Convertible truly did express the excitement of the way of life its owners enjoyed, things must have gotten pretty boring after 1967!