Competes with: Acura RLX, Audi A8L, Cadillac CT6, Lexus LS
Looks like: A stretched Lincoln Continental
Drivetrain: 400 horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6; six-speed automatic transmission; standard torque-vectoring all-wheel drive
Hits dealers: June 2019
Eighty years ago, the first Lincoln Continental came into existence, an exquisite coupe made by Ford Motor Co. to be a personal vehicle for Edsel Ford, the son of company founder Henry Ford. It was its own brand, a car built to be special enough to challenge the likes of the world's top luxury marques like Rolls-Royce — and it was priced commensurately.
Years later, in 1961, the Continental nameplate was affixed to a gorgeous Lincoln sedan that had a unique feature: center-opening "suicide" rear doors to better allow for classy ingress and egress from the rear seat, especially for ladies in skirts and dresses. Fast forward to 2019, and Lincoln is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Continental nameplate by bringing back the suicide doors for a limited edition.
The 2019 Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition features some custom bodywork and will be built in very limited numbers, but nostalgia fans are going to go nuts for this one.
By looking at it, the most obvious change for this special edition is the 6-inch stretch to the wheelbase, all of it coming in the rear passenger compartment. The roof, rear doors and rear windows are longer, and the greenhouse has a decidedly more formal, squarish look to it. A third-party outfit, Cabot Coach Builders of Massachusetts — a company that makes its living crafting limousines out of Lincolns and Cadillacs, and luxury buses out of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit vans — handles the stretch and interior conversion.
Finished Lincoln Continental Black Labels will be shipped from Lincoln's plant in Flat Rock, Mich., to Cabot for conversion into the 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition. There, they'll have 6 inches sectioned into the rear, and the most dramatic conversion will also be performed: Rear-hinged doors will be fitted. But this isn't just some chop-shop special — Lincoln is providing a bunch of specially engineered parts for the conversion as well, from rear door panels to interior trim, to give it a factory quality look.
The new rear doors will have the same kind of e-latching system as the regular Continental, but they now will swing open 90 degrees from the rear. Until now, the only new vehicles you could get rear-hinged doors on were extended-cab pickup trucks and Rolls-Royces. The Lincoln Continental Coach Door will allow the backseat passengers to open the doors independently of the fronts, unlike most pickups, but there won't be an electronic open-and-close assist like those found on a Rolls-Royce Wraith.
The only spec for the 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition will be Black Label trim, giving buyers a choice of two interior colors: the light-colored Chalet interior or the black-and-saddle Thoroughbred theme. Being a Black Label means the Coach Door Edition will be fully loaded, including the 30-way adjustable seats, active noise control, a Revel premium audio system and more.
Special door-sill plates will be affixed to the rear, and a custom plaque will also be fitted to the interior to the owner's specs. The cars will also be numbered — as Lincoln only plans to make 80 of these anniversary editions. Fewer than 100 examples will be built for the public of the 2019 model, although Lincoln says it plans to continue the Coach Door Edition for 2020, just not in the 80th Anniversary spec.
The backseat is the place to be in the new Coach Door Edition, however. The 6-inch stretch gives the Continental the most rear legroom in its class, and a new flow-through center console adds to the tray tables and wireless charging that help luxe up the accommodations.
Under the Hood
Powering the 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition will be the top engine available in the Continental: a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 400 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet of torque. It's mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission and sends power to all four wheels via a standard torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. Three driver-selectable modes are available (Normal, Sport and Comfort) to tailor the behavior of the Continental to the conditions, but we foresee Comfort mode likely being the most employed here.
Better Act Fast
As stated before, only 80 of these 2019 80th Anniversary Coach Door Editions will be built, at the rate of about five a week with deliveries starting in June 2019, according to Lincoln. The price will be "north of $100,000" according to one Lincoln executive on-hand at the car's early unveiling at the company headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., last week.
It will be displayed to the public for the first time at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month — but if you want one, you had better get on the phone to your local Lincoln dealer right now, because Lincoln has opened up ordering immediately and they're sure to sell out fast.
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