Lincoln Capri 1958

Lincoln Capri 1958

Lincoln Capri 1958

  • Origin United States of America
  • Engine 7,046 cc, V8
  • Top speed 110 mph (177 km/h)

Believing biggest had to be best, Ford's top brand built the largest car of the post-war era. The Capri was over 20 ft (5.8 m) long, with a 375 bhp V8 to lug it along. Lincoln for 1958 was totally new from the ground up, even being built in their own brand new assembly plant in Wixom, Michigan, alongside the equally new Ford Thunderbird, and Continental Mark III.

All of these cars shared several things in common, most importantly their new unitized body construction. This type of "single unit" construction gave a more rigid body structure, quieter ride, and higher build quality than traditional body-on-frame construction. Other shared features included the all-new 430 CID V8 engine, standard on Lincolns and Continentals, optional on Thunderbird, and a new improved Turbo-Drive transmission that was shared with the Continental. Lincoln's all-new body styling was also shared with the Continental, and in fact during this model year, the Continental Division would be brought under the umbrella of the newly created Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln (or M-E-L) division. This was a cost-saving move as the Edsel was not proving to be the money maker that Ford thought it would be; it not only saved expenses on the Edsel but also allowed marketing of the Lincoln and Continental to be combined to reduce costs. From 1958 through the Continental's official demise as a separate entity in 1960, the Lincoln and Continental shared styling and powertrains, and were generally advertised together. However, for this reference the Continental will continue to be kept as a separate division.

The new car was by far the largest Lincoln built to date, and among the largest cars ever built in the modern era. It was also a love it or hate it design and a total departure from any previous Lincoln, or for that matter any previous Ford product. From the front, canted quad headlamps, fully enclosed by the front fender, were the most obvious new styling feature. The front bumper was oddly shaped with a compound "V" design, flaring at the sides when viewed from the front but coming to a point when viewed from the side. Twin "bullet-style" bumper guards were placed near the center. Turn signal and parking lamps were placed horizontally between the bumper end and the bumper guard. The grille was similar to the '56 and '57 Continental Mark II design, with horizontal strips intersected by four vertical bars. The Lincoln name was in gold script high on the driver's side of the grille.

Front fender styling was highly unusual, especially on a bodyside that was relatively uncomplicated otherwise, with a single feature line running the length of the car. A feature line began a few inches above the front bottom edge of the fender and followed the "V" shape of the bumper up to the top edge of the bumper. The crease then turned back across the flat top of the front wheel opening and continued to about a foot past the opening, turning down towards the rocker panel area adjacent to the front door edge, and then turning forward to the rear edge of the front wheel opening. It was definitely a distinctive look. Rear end styling was also designed with angles and mimicked the front end styling, although the look came off as slightly more traditional. A small tailfin was capped with a small chrome ornament, bearing the Premiere's star symbol on that series only. Taillamps were arranged horizontally on a rear grillework that was nestled between the chrome lined trunk lid edge and the rear bumper. Bodyside decoration was minimal with a single lower body trim piece extending from front door to rear end, as well as rocker panel moldings on the Premiere.

New features of the greenhouse area included a windshield that wrapped around the sides and also up into the roofline, providing excellent forward vision. The rear Cpillars on all models were canted rearwards, allowing for a full wraparound rear window also. Four-door sedan models had very thin B-pillars on the new cars, making it difficult to distinguish between a 4-Door sedan and 4-Door Landau hardtop when the windows were up. Of course interior design, trim and colors were all new, with the focal point being an all-new instrument panel. A huge, hooded, rectangular pod centered in front of the driver contained all the gauges and controls-even the clock, radio and ventilation controls. With Ford's increased attention to safety, deep-dish steering wheels and padded instrument panels were standard equipment, with seat belts available for a minimal $25 cost.

The only model change was that the Premiere convertible was discontinued. It was essentially moved to the newly designed and expanded Continental line, and would remain there through the 1960 model year. In the end, the combination of the 1958 recession, unproven styling, and the expansion of the Continental line caused Lincoln production to fall nearly 60 percent. Even if Continental and Lincoln production are considered together, total production tumbled nearly 30 percent.