by James Kraus
The early 1960s Lincoln Continental, in common with Ford’s Mustang and Thunderbird, was featured in two Bond extravaganzas; Goldfinger and Thunderball.
The new 1961 Continental was a radical departure for Lincoln. The clean-sheet design was 38 cm (15”) shorter than the outgoing version, and with its unadorned sides, simple lines and distinctive rear suicide doors, represented a complete break from its predecessor. Except for minor detail alterations, the new Lincoln remained basically unchanged until a slight refresh for the 1966 models.
The Continental had a couple of interesting technical highlights. The engine and transmission were mounted at a 7˚ angle from horizontal, allowing for a lower driveshaft tunnel. To cope with the required driveline deflection, a double-yoke constant-velocity universal joint was used at the forward end of the driveshaft.
The windscreen wipers were hydraulically powered, using 10.3 bar (150 psi) fluid pressure supplied by the power steering pump.
The 1964 Continentals featured in Goldfinger were visually similar to earlier versions, but benefited from a number of changes under the skin, chiefly in pursuit of making the car more commodious. Both length and wheelbase were stretched by 75 mm (3”) allowing for a commensurate increase in rear legroom while the luggage space and glovebox were also enlarged. Larger diameter (15”) wheels were fitted and the windscreen wipers were lengthened.
The powertrain continued as before; Ford’s 430 cubic inch (7.1 litre) MEL V8 driving through a 3-speed automatic gearbox.
The Continental was given plenty of screen time in Goldfinger; the first appeared at Auric Goldfinger’s stud farm in Kentucky being loaded with gold bullion for Mr. Solo’s journey to the airport. The trip proves to be the last for the doomed mobster as well as the hapless Lincoln.
After the climactic battle at Fort Knox, two more Continentals are used in a motorcade to shuttle 007 to the airport for his congratulatory trip to the White House.
Like Goldfinger’s Lincoln, these were both finished in Nocturne Blue metallic. While Auric Goldfinger’s Sedan had a Blue leather interior, the Convertible was fitted with lighter Silver Blue leather.
In addition to choosing between 37 combinations of interior materials and colours, the ’64 Continental buyer could specify seat and door panel upholstery fashioned in square biscuit or vertical pleat styles. All Goldfinger Lincolns featured vertically pleated interiors.
The Continental returned for an encore in 1965’s Thunderball. Again two versions were used. The first was a Black Satin 1964 Continental Executive Limousine seen ferrying Colonel Jacques Bouvar; SPECTRE Number 6, to his chateau.
Executive Limousines were converted for livery service by Lehmann-Peterson coachbuilders and were sold through authorised Lincoln dealerships with a full Lincoln warranty.
Later in the film, Bond is seen driving a Continental hire car in Nassau. His was a new 1965 model which featured front disc brakes and slightly revised frontal styling with recessed grille and wrap-around turn indicator-side light units. Bond’s Continental was finished in Madison Grey with a White convertible top.
The 1965 model was the last of the original version of this series, which still looked (from the side) nearly identical to the original 1961 model, a trait not usually seen among products of major U.S. manufacturers at the time. The Continental was give a refreshing for 1966 and lived on another four years before being replaced by an all-new model for 1970.
The rather nondescript replacement lacked the charm and elegance of the 1961-1969 iteration and sadly dispensed with the Continental’s signature forward-opening rear passenger doors, a classic automotive delicacy not revived until the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Phantom in 2003.
The maximum payload of the 1964 Continental featured in Goldfinger was 1,200 lbs. (544 kg). Per prior agreement between Auric Goldfinger and Mr. Solo, we see US $1 million in gold bullion loaded into the luggage compartment of Goldfinger’s Lincoln prior to Mr. Solo’s trip to the airport. Based on the 1964 price of gold, officially fixed at US $35.10 per troy ounce; that load of precious metal would have weighed 1,954 lbs (886 kg).
The former Olympic weightlifter who portrayed Oddjob; Harold Sakata, weighed in at 284 lbs (129 kg). Allowing 180 lbs (82 kg) for Mr. Solo would bring the Continental’s ostensible payload to 2,418 lbs (1097 kg); twice it’s actual capacity, yet the film depicts the car at normal ride height.
To maintain proper suspension of disbelief, we must therefore assume Mr. Goldfinger used his Lincoln for bullion transport as a matter of routine, surely having fitted it with stronger springs, a heavy-duty rear-axle assembly and higher load-capacity tyres.