So many of us want this to be more than just a sick tease that results in nothing new on the showroom floor. Would we buy it even if it wasn’t? That’s debatable.
Regardless, all we have now is the tease, plus plenty of clues. Posted Thursday afternoon to Lincoln Motor Company’s social media accounts, an image of suicide doors — a feature that graced Lincoln Continental sedans from 1961 to 1969 — has appeared, along with a cryptic message.
Making a statement without a word. Center-opening doors elevated the Lincoln #Continental of the mid 1960’s to the pinnacle of mid-century style, a car driven by the likes of Pablo Picasso. #TBT… or is it? Stay tuned to our Instagram feed for more. pic.twitter.com/KZ7OYEqDzP
— Lincoln Motor Company (@LincolnMotorCo) December 13, 2018
The brand’s tweet can be seen above. Yes, the defining feature of that era of classic Lincolns (and several that came before) were its suicide doors, a feature now relegated to the ultra-luxury Rolls-Royce Phantom and Ghost.
The tweet implies we haven’t seen the last of ’em.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the prospect of suicide doors on a modern Lincoln has raised its head. Reports arose of Lincoln dealers being shown a new Continental with said doors at a convention in Las Vegas last March. Since then, Ford has seemingly declared war on passenger cars, handing out death sentences to all Ford-brand vehicles with a trunk, Mustang excluded. The future doesn’t look good for the Lincoln MKZ and Continental, both of which borrow the platform found beneath the Ford Fusion. The Fusion isn’t expected to survive beyond 2021.
Later in March, sources claiming knowledge of Ford’s product plans said a new Continental is off the table.
Just because the Fusion is going away, doesn’t mean the Continental has to. Unfortunately, the model’s customers, who initially responded favorably when Lincoln resurrected the nameplate as a 2017 model, have dwindled severely.
Lincoln sold 676 Continentals in the U.S. in November. That’s a 26.8 percent year-over-year drop from the previous November, and volume through the end of last month is down 29.7 percent. Out-ignored only by the soon-to-be-fleet-only MKT, the Continental is the brand’s second worst-selling model.
Will the brand create a new Continental, perhaps on the new CD6 modular platform (the basis for the rear-drive 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator), in the hopes of capturing remaining traditional domestic luxury buyers? Or, is this just a tease for a Detroit auto show concept vehicle that’ll never see the light of a dealer floor? The latter scenario seems unlikely, as Lincoln saw fit to add the Continental hashtag to its tweet. That doesn’t seem accidental.
Nor does the first scenario seem likely. It’s hard to imagine a cost-cutting Ford throwing much development money at such a low-volume car. No, it seems the answer to this puzzle is a refresh of the existing model that incorporates suicide doors (“coach doors,” in PC vernacular). As a photo from the dealer meeting published by Autoweek shows, Lincoln isn’t thinking of an all-new Continental with suicide doors, just a current-gen Continental with new doors. Possibly, optional ones.
The refreshed Continental, with or without those doors, is expected to bow next year as a 2020 model. It seems certain we’ll be seeing something in Detroit.