Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Continental represents one of the last gasps of traditional American automotive luxury. That may make it an oddity today, but with a solid presentation and that old school kitsch, perhaps its asking price will overcome the odds of being too old-school for 2020 shoppers.
Before we take a closer look at the Lincoln, let’s flash back to last Friday’s 1993 BMW 850Ci, which proved to be an enigma out of Germany, though not quite as tough to unravel as the as the mechanical cipher coder known as the Enigma machine. That encryption device, invented in Germany shortly after the end of the first World War, was used extensively by the Axis powers to encrypt communications during WWII.
The enigma of our BMW was manifested in an ad that featured an unfavorably brief description and photos that were less than revealing. The omission of details on a car of such complexity and expense would be damning in general, and at our car’s $25,000 asking, that proved especially the case. You acknowledged this reality with a gaping 83 percent No Dice loss.
Despite that loss, the majority of comments on Friday’s big Bimmer also acknowledged its accomplishment and its presence, noting that the big coupe was truly a technological tour de force for its era. In contrast, today’s 1994 Lincoln Continental Executive — which is a full year younger — is a throwback to an earlier age. It does represent the end of that era, a transition for American luxury carmakers that was driven largely by the tastes of buyers turning to the likes of BMW, Mercedes and the luxury brands emerging from Japan.
That’s not to say this Continental isn’t noteworthy on its own. Sharing a platform with the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, the 1988-94 Continental was Lincoln’s first-ever FWD offering. It was also the company’s first product to not offer a V8 engine, even as an option. On the plus side, the Continental was the first domestic car to offer standard airbags for both driver and front-seat passenger.
This one, in Currant Red Metallic, has done a mere 87,045 miles across its two-owner history. The ad claims it to have been well maintained and garage kept its entire life. The presentation in the ad reflects that coddled life.
The car presents well in the pictures, with shiny paint and factory basketweave wheels that appear free of curb rash. On the downside, the whitewall tires appear to have taken the brunt of those curb encounters, looking dirty and drab. There are also issues with the front bumper warping below the grille and a frustratingly poor fit on the trunk lid.
That lid covers an enormous 19-cubic-foot trunk, which is almost as roomy as that of the substantially larger Town Car, a benefit of the Continental’s FWD layout. At the other end of the car lies the 3.8-liter OHV V6, which was shared with the Taurus and Sable as well as with the contemporary Thunderbird and Windstar.
Here that engine makes 160 horsepower and is paired with a four-speed AXOD-E automatic. The ad notes some recent mechanical refreshing, including a new alternator, power-steering pump and a/c compressor. The air suspension has apparently been replaced with steel springs.
Despite the relative modernity of the Taurus underpinnings, this is still old-school luxury, and popping open a door brings that to the fore. The interior is awash in burgundy leather and fake wood accented by chrome bits throughout. It does have a wonderfully flat floor aided, left clear by the transmission’s shifter being column-mounted. Unlike cars sold today, there are actually seat belts for three both up front and in the back seat. It all looks like a maiden aunt’s boudoir but also somewhat incongruously features push-button automatic climate controls and a digital dashboard.
Still, the interior looks remarkably comfortable, and it’s just as clean as the exterior. The luxuries don’t end with the interior, either. The car comes with Ford’s wonderful keypad door lock system, which is one of the best inventions of all time. You also get a soft-close trunk lid as well as heated side mirrors. The title is clear and the car wears 2021 tags.
This was the last year for this version of the Continental. The following year, the Continental featured heavily revised styling and an available V8 engine. That was a substantially better car in most ways, and yet today it’s mostly forgettable. This one, being the last of Lincoln’s old guard, is more memorable. If you jones on owning a car of this ilk, you’re unlikely to find a finer example. What might that be worth?
The asking price on this one is $3,800, and truth be told, this is a lot of car for that money. Is it a value though? What do you think, is this survivor Continental worth that $3,800 asking? Or, does that price flunk it out of even the old school?
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