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Image: 1962 Lincoln Continental Sedan

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Image: 1962 Lincoln Continental grille detailEven though there was evidence to suggest the public was slow to accept the new Lincoln Continental design introduced one year earlier, changes to the 1962 models were kept to a minimum. Most of the areas addressed were in response to concerns from 1961 Continental owners, who generally loved their cars and had relatively few issues with them.

Lincoln knew their design was a winner, as there was evidence it had already had an impact on the competition. One concern was Lincoln's smaller size, the implication of which was that smaller equaled less substantial. Lincoln answered that by advising that the Lincoln was the heaviest of the top luxury cars, and this added weight was indicative of more extensive sound proofing, better body construction, and higher quality.

The 1961 and 1962 models were so alike, some were a bit surprised, but this move was an intentional one on Lincoln's part, which advised that updates and refinements were being made to mechanical components and accessories, to improve the quality of the car, instead of just changing its appearance.

If anything, the 1962 models were cleaner than the introductory '61 cars. Most of the visual changes were up front: the high-bar front bumper and grille assembly was replaced by a more traditional front bumper that was placed below the grille, running from side to side. A slim chrome bar ran through the center of the grille between the headlights, emphasizing Lincoln's width. The headlights were raised about an inch to improve roadway lighting at night, and the grille pattern became a series of floating rectangles, replacing the egg crate pattern used previously. The two massive bumper guards from 1961 were eliminated completely. The result? Many feel the appearance of the '62 models is even more beautiful than that of the '61s.

Other exterior changes included an updated rear deck grille, which was now an aluminum insert featuring a smaller rendition of the Continental Star emblem, but which still mimicked the front grille pattern. The star emblem was removed from the wheel covers as well, and was replaced the the name CONTINENTAL spelled out in a circle in the center section. The standard whitewall tires had a narrower white band for 1962, a sign of the times as auto makers abandoned the wider stripes common during the fifties. These somewhat minor appearance changes imparted a styling continuity that was essential in maintaining resale values, an important consideration for some when purchasing a new car.

Inside the car, changes were made to the optional air conditioning vents, which formerly flipped down at the touch of a button. For 1962, the vents were exposed all the time, making them less complicated. Courtesy lights were added to the rear doors, providing better interior illumination at night, especially for the Convertibles, which lacked a dome light. Seat belt anchors were provided on all cars, and the belts themselves were optional. A visor vanity mirror was included as standard equipment, and the expanded vinyl used for interior trim was upgraded to look more like leather. The rubber door sill mats were now color-keyed to match the interiors, welcoming passengers into the luxuriously appointed interiors which featured new cloth materials and colors.

New options for 1962 included power vent windows, a power antenna, remote deck lid release for the Hardtop, remote control exterior mirror, and an automatic headlight dimmer.

Convertibles received attention to the top, with wider and flatter roof bows and a squared-off upper rear door glass area to provide a cleaner appearance with the top up. Mechanical improvements included a new automatic choke with water-heated design that replaced the former hot-air exhaust manifold control. This allowed the choke to remain closed longer during warm up in cold weather, providing more stable engine performance. A new kink-free speedometer cable design was introduced, but most have likely been replaced by now as they seemed to have a shorter life span than the cables they replaced.

In advertising, Lincoln emphasized the limited model availability and the lasting quality that was designed into the car. The lack of a lower priced, entry-level line in the Lincoln stable spoke of the quality Lincoln wanted buyers to embrace. With no lower cost models to attend to, maximum attention could be focused on the two top of the line models. This was directed soundly at Cadillac and Imperial, which both offered lower-priced models. Ads advised "Only the odometer knows its age," and "Someday you may want to change the color," both subtle hints at the quality and durability of the motorcars.

The steering wheel was raised 3/4 of an inch to provide additional clearance between the wheel rim and front seat cushion, addressing a complaint about the '61 cars when the seat was positioned to accommodate shorter drivers. The vast majority of the changes made between 1961 and 1962 were to improve the quality and functionality of the car. The Lincoln look established a year earlier remained and was already considered a modern classic among many.


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