Lincoln Continental photo

1965 Lincoln Continental

The 1950s saw dramatic stylistic changes influenced by the modern jet-age and revolutionary mechanical inventions that were fine-tuned at the drag strip and the NASCAR oval. The once-proud Lincoln Division had followed the ill-advised stylistic excess of the late 1950s, resulting in its near extinction. Dramatic changes were needed.

Lincoln changed from a body-bolted-to-frame design to one of unitary construction with its 1958 models. Up to this point in history, these were the largest Lincolns ever constructed and the most immense unibody cars ever built. The bodies were complex, heavy, and adorned with brightwork and chrome. They were modern and stylish for 1958, but by 1960 had become dated, as trends and styles quickly evolved on a year-to-year basis. A new, clean design was created for the 1961 model year, originally starting out as a Thunderbird concept under the direction of chief stylist Elwood Engel. Ford had rejected this design for the Thunderbird in favor of a sportier two-door configuration. Robert McNamara, Ford general manager and soon to become company president, had spotted the clay model and suggested it be used for a new four-door Lincoln Continental. At this point in history, an evolutionary Lincoln, based on the 1958 through 1960 design, was already in process, however, Engel's design ultimately prevailed and entered production in November of 1960. Along the way from concept to final design, engineers changed the rear-door design to open forward for easier ingress, establishing the new Continental's most distinctive feature. The lack of a wraparound windshield also aided in passenger entry.

This new Lincoln Continental ultimately saved the Lincoln Division, which continued to use the design intact through the 1969 model year with few major revisions. It was a full 15-inches shorter than its predecessor, 10-inches shorter than 1961 Cadillacs, and 15-inches shorter than Imperials. The addition of a four-door convertible body style was the first since the low-production Frazer Manhattan of 1951.

During the first three years of this design, minimal changes were applied. In 1964, the Continental received a restyled tail end, and the curved side glass was changed to flat panels, which were more cost-effective. Additional rear legroom was gained by stretching the wheelbase an additional three inches to 126-inches. In 1965, front disc brakes became standard, a feature Cadillac would not offer - even as an option - until 1968.

The 1965 Lincoln Continental was offered as a four-door sedan with a base price of $6,300 or a four-door convertible priced at $6,800. The sedan was more popular with 36,824 examples built compared to the 3,356 of the convertible. The base engine was a 430 cubic-inch, overhead-valve V8 with a cast-iron block, a Carter four-barrel carburetor, a 10.0:1 compression ratio, and delivered 320 horsepower at 4,600 RPM. Standard features included an automatic transmission, heater and defroster, six-way power seat, remote control outside rearview mirror, dual exhaust, power steering, power brakes, power door locks, and carpeting. Additional amenities included windshield washer, padded instrument panel or walnut applique, undercoating, power radio antenna, transistorized radio with rear speaker, and a trip odometer. Air conditioning and heater was a $500 option, and speed control added an additional $100 to the base price. Other options included a power trunk lock, automatic headlight dimmer, movable steering wheel, tinted glass, door edge guards, directed power differential, and individual adjustable front seats.

The Continental was Lincoln's only model for much of the 1960s. Over 40,100 examples were built in 1965, an increase over the approximately 36,000 built the prior year. Its price was slightly higher than the Cadillac DeVille, which had over 123,000 sales for 1965. The DeVille's had a 3.5-inch longer wheelbase, and its 429 cubic-inch V8 produced twenty more horsepower than the Lincoln. The Cadillac Deville styling was new for 1965, created by Bill Mitchell, in both two- and four-door configurations.

The 1965 Lincoln had a similar price point to the 1965 Imperial LeBaron Series, priced at $6,600, and a mere 2,164 examples were built.

by Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2020

Related Reading : Lincoln Continental History

The name Continental was inspired by the 1940s Lincoln Continental powered by a large 12-cylinder engine. Bentley had used the name Continental on their model line, adding to the ambiance and prestige. In 1956 the Ford Motor Company formed the Continental Division for the production of the Mark II. Its general manager was William Clay Bill Ford, son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford. Many....
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1965 Vehicle Profiles

1965 Lincoln Continental vehicle information


Chassis Num: 5Y82N411619

The 1965 Lincoln Continental Four-Door Sedan finished in Fiesta Red with a white full leather interior was offered for sale at the 2006 World Wide Auction held on Hilton Head Island. It was expected to fetch between $20,000-$30,000. It is outfitted w....[continue reading]

1965 Lincoln Continental vehicle information


Chassis Num: 5Y86N409604

Elwood Engle was given the job of designing a luxury automobile that would be able to compete with the thriving Cadillac vehicles. Following the 'less-is-more' philosophy Engel created a car with graceful lines and a comfortable interior. It was outf....[continue reading]

1965 Lincoln Continental vehicle information


QSV 11427 is the license plate number of this classic 1965 Lincoln continental featured in the hit HBO Series 'Entourage' as part of the opening for every episode. This celebrity 1965 Lincoln Continental was on display at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show t....[continue reading]

1965 Lincoln Continental vehicle information


Chassis Num: 5Y82N423516

This 1965 Lincoln Continental is a low mileage example powered by a 430 cubic-inch V8 engine backed by an automatic transmission. It has its original paint and chrome, new brakes, tires, battery, exhaust, fuel lines, and carburetor.....[continue reading]

Chassis #: 5Y82N411619 
Chassis #: 5Y86N409604 
Chassis #: 5Y82N423516 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1965 Continental
1965 Lincoln Continental Price Range: $6,290 - $6,800

Model Year Production

1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)59,127
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)61,378
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)46,904
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)45,667
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)54,755
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Ford (2,170,795)Volkswagen (1,174,687)40,180
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)36,297
1963Chevrolet (2,237,201)Ford (1,525,404)Fiat (957,941)31,233
1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)31,061
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)25,164
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)24,820

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