The 1961 Lincoln Continental the clap door is a landmark in America styling. It is a rightly renowned as a classic in automatic styling. Forsaking the fins and chrome then still popular on most domestic cars, Lincoln (an up market division of Ford) launched a car with clean, unadorned lines, very much American in scale, but very European in feel. The rear hinged rear door gave it the clap door nick name, and chrome was applied sparingly to its crisp edged flanks. It became the ‘in’ car with the rich and famous in the USA, and was even endorsed by an occupation of the White House, President Kennedy chose to drive a clap door as his own off duty from of transport. More than any other of its class from that ear, it sums up a heady mix of glamour, money and power. There was a power top four door convertible version alongside the saloon from the beginning, and a hardtop coupe joined the line up in 1966. The Continental always and the biggest V8 engine (up to 7.5 liters), automatic transmission, and every conceivable labor saving device. Packing up to 265 bhp, the 5212lb (2730 kg) Continental was a fast car, capable of up to 125 mph (200 km/h), not that such things mattered to the car’s buyers. They liked it for factors such as it snob appeal and its reliability.
The Continental changed little during its nine years production run, some new chrome here, a new grille there, and ever year a longer wheelbase, but essentially it retained the same clean shape all the way through. Unfortunately for the marque, the Continental was destined to be the last good looking Lincoln for quite a long time. However, the Mk III Continental, a two door personal luxury car, ushered in a new era of chintzy styling.