The 1961 Continental was one of the most influential auto designs of the decade. It had power-assisted seats, windows, brakes, steering, and transmission. Ford Motor Company and Lincoln-Mercury Division in particular had much to be proud of with the introduction of the 1961 Lincoln automobiles.
For probably the first time in history, Lincoln beat its competition to market with a modern, stylish automobile for the new decade, one that would set trends for other luxury cars to follow. The new design was highlighted by a near total lack of chrome, very slab-sided bodies, and a very formal roofline. The front end was somewhat Ford-like in appearance, featuring a fullwidth grille with a horizontal bar between the headlamps.
The bumper ends capped off the lower portion of the razoredge fenders. The back end mimicked the front with bladelike taillamps mounted in small fins at the rear quarter trailing edges, and a grillework between the two fins. Overall, the new Lincolns were more than a foot shorter than their predecessors. Who said Lincolns weren't downsized until 1980?
Another leg up on the competition came in the form of the new 4-Door Convertible model. No two-door Lincolns were available at all, as they had never been big sellers in this market. So when a convertible was developed, it was designed around the 4-Door Sedan. This unique 4-Door convertible was the first factory produced model available from the Big Three since prior to World War II. Convertible top operation was similar to that pioneered on the Ford Thunderbird with electric and hydraulic motors operating the deck lid, and storing the top below the car's body lines. This had the unfortunate effect of limiting luggage space, but that is not usually a major concern of convertible buyers. Power continued to come from the 430 CID V8. Interiors were of a new design and were very formal in appearance also, with an instrument cluster that was years ahead of the competition in layout and design. With the introduction of the 1961, Lincoln simplified its lineup to a single nameplate: Continental.