Q: Greg, I’d like to know about what happened to the Lincolns from back in the 1950s. Up until 1958, I thought the styling was quite nice for a luxury car. Then in 1958, Lincoln came out with a massive piece of monstrosity that to this day I think was the biggest Lincoln to date. What happened in 1958? Chuck L., Evanston, Ill.
A: Chuck, the year 1958 was one of those years that the stylists went crazy with “big.” Regardless of model, from Buick to Chrysler to Ford, manufacturers flooded the market with what I call “bathtub” style cars; i.e., huge vehicles carrying lots of chrome and weight. The year also turned out to be one of the worst on record for new car sales, both from the economy standpoint and, I felt, the design of the cars.
However, with all this said, today the 1958 models are sought-after collectibles, and that huge ‘58 Lincoln is one of them. Riding on a 131-inch wheelbase and a full 6 inches longer than the 1957 Lincoln (which was a great-looking car), the new Lincoln had a look all to its own, and to this day, probably stands out more than any other make that year.
Powered by a 430-inch V-8 producing 375 horses, the wide grille and “quad lite” recessed and outlined vertical headlamps, (slightly slanted actually) along with sculptured side with fender skirts produced the look we all now remember.
The behemoth weighed 4,890 pounds and came with a 22 gallon fuel tank, while the transfer of power came via a three speed automatic transmission called Turbo-Drive. Lincolns for ‘58 came in Capri, Premier and Continental badges, while an Executive Limo (same wheelbase) joined the fray in 1959 and 1960.
Although not a success at the showroom, these cars today generate lots of interest at the car shows, as do the 1959 and 1960 models.
Available in two door, convertible and four door motif, a total of 12,556 Lincolns were built in 1958, and the base entry price was an expensive $6,012. By 1960, the last year for the design, the curb weight went up to over 5,000 pounds and 11,086 were manufactured.
In ending, although I thought the car was way too big and ugly back then, today I’d love to own one. Thanks for your interest and letter.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions on collector cars and auto nostalgia at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.