The Lincoln Continental is a series of luxury cars produced by Lincoln, a division of the American automaker Ford Motor Company. The first Lincoln Continental was released in 1939 and remained in production until 1948. Ford established the seperate Continental Division in 1956 to produce its flagship, the Continental Mark II. After just two years the Mark II was discontinued and the division was absorbed back into Lincoln, with the Lincoln Continental its top of the line model.
For 1961, the redesigned Continental became the sole Lincoln model, a role it would serve until the 1977 introduction of the midsize Lincoln Versailles. (A renewed Continental Mark Series, beginning with the Mark III in 1969, was not badged a Lincoln until 1986). In the 1980s, the role of the traditional full-size Lincoln was taken by the Lincoln Town Car (based on a redesigned Continental) as Lincoln sought to both expand its model line and improve its fuel efficiency. Based on the then-upcoming Mark VII, the 1982 Continental was the smallest Lincoln ever built at the time. In 1988, the Continental became based on the Ford Taurus, becoming the first front-wheel drive Lincoln.
Introduced as one of the first personal luxury cars to enter mass production, the Lincoln Continental has been produced as a two-door coupe and convertible alongside two-door and four-door sedan bodystyles. With the exception of the Lincoln Mark VIII, each generation of the Lincoln Mark Series personal luxury cars are based upon the corresponding generation of the Continental.
After a 50-year production run, the Lincoln Continental was discontinued after the 2002 model year, as Lincoln consolidated its sedan offerings to the Town Car and Lincoln LS. In 2009, the Lincoln MKS was introduced, taking over the role of both sedans.
After a 15-year hiatus, the Continental nameplate was returned to the Lincoln model line for the 2017 model year as the replacement for the MKS. Making its debut as a concept car at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the production Continental is a four-door sedan based on an extended-wheelbase version of the Ford CD4 platform shared with the seventh-generation Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKZ.