Ford confirmed today that the Lincoln Continental will be discontinued for North America after the 2020 model year. The news certainly isn't surprising given the Continental's meager sales figures, lukewarm critical reception and the fact that the Navigator has resoundingly entrenched itself as the brand's true modern flagship.
"The name will go back into the vault," Lincoln spokesperson Angie Kozleski told the Detroit Free Press. "It has a long and rich history. But production for this vehicle will be ending at the end of this year."
In an official statement, the brand said the decision was due to the continued decline of full-size premium sedans in the United States.
The Continental is built in Flat Rock, Mich., and dates back to 2017 when Lincoln resurrected the nameplate after a 15-year hiatus. The car itself technically replaced the unloved MKS in Lincoln's lineup, and although based on a well-received concept car, the actual production model failed to live up to the rather grand style statement that had been promised. The interior in particular was a letdown. Lincoln sold 6,586 Continentals in 2019; likely many of those were fleet sales.
Nevertheless, it can be argued that this Continental triggered Lincoln's rebirth. It was named something, for starters, as the Nautilus, Aviator and Corsair would eventually follow, signaling the end to the unloved and confusing MK nomenclature. And although it didn't live up to its concept, Lincoln at least learned from the episode and didn't repeat the mistake with Navigator or Aviator. They came as promised.
Though it's dead in the U.S., the Continental will live on for 2021 in China, where its sales are in decline but not by as much. And although it'll likely be remembered as a footnote in the long history of cars named Lincoln Continental, and with few fans in its corner, at least it reaches the end of the line having left a mark. Cue the Traveling Wilburys.