“Exceptionally popular” is a descriptor that does not jibe well with “Lincoln Continental,” as sales of the division’s flagship sedan haven’t exactly fallen into the category of scorching. Introduced late in 2016 as a 2017 model year vehicle, sales of the Continental fell 3.8 percent, year over year, in December, and 27.1 percent for the entirety of 2018.
While the Continental suffers from a crossover-inflicted illness impacting all cars, one Continental variant has no trouble generating demand: the lengthened, limited-edition Coach Door Edition , which bowed late last year with a price tag of just over $110,000.
People clearly want to be seen exiting from rear doors that open the wrong way.
According to the Detroit Free Press , Lincoln unloaded all 80 of its 2019 Continental Coach Door Editions within 48 hours of the opening of orders. For many, the waiting truly was the hardest part.
Stretching an extra six inches between axles, the Continental owes its existence to a Ford Motor Company eager to cash in on the retro appeal of previous Continentals (while making some extra bank in the process) and Boston coachbuilder Cabot. No base trim layout or engine here, just lots of luxury and backseat room.
Lincoln claims the bulk of the demand came from L.A., New York City, and Miami, though Detroit auto parts supplier Michael Oakley told Freep he’d been waiting for one for years. That seems to be the motivator behind many of the 80 purchases — people remember the glamour of Kennedy-era Contis and wish for a little of that elegance in their own lives.
Exclusivity helps, too. Each Coach Door Conti arrives with a numbered plaque.
“Our first two calls came from New York and the West Coast, each wanted to be first,” Lincoln’s marketing director, Robert Parker, told the newspaper. “One customer was one of these people who could have whatever they wanted, and he wanted to match the Lincoln with his aircraft.”
“One guy from Tulsa has become a pen pal” waiting for this vehicle to one day happen, he added. “I even got a Christmas card from him this year. Over Thanksgiving, he was texting me because the rumors were heating up. I’ve never even met this person. I don’t know how he got in contact with me.”
Parker noted a “surprising” degree of enthusiasm from the under-40 crowd, as well.
Following its debut, Lincoln said an unspecified number of 2020 models would follow up the 80 2019 models, and that’s still the plan. The number of 2020 Coach Door Editions remains a mystery (Cabot’s capacity is surely a consideration), though Lincoln could find itself filling orders from overseas.
“We’re hearing not only from here in the U.S., but other markets that are interested, too, be it Dubai or Shanghai,” Parker said.
It looks like Lincoln got what it wanted by returning suicide doors to the brand’s fold, but the model’s future after 2020 remains hazy. While Ford hasn’t stated the Continental will go the way of the Taurus, Focus, Fiesta, or the Continental’s Fusion platform mate, the automaker clearly doesn’t have much interest in building low-volume passenger cars, save for the truly exclusive GT. Not outwardly, anyway.
The Coach Door Continental could be the Lincoln passenger car’s glitzy swan song.
a version of this article first appeared on TTAC